Never choose between cake or pie again: Put tiny pies in a cake

January 17 2013 | Guest post by Amanda Cook

cake-1Recently it was my husband Sam's birthday, and I am always responsible for making cakes on such occasions. This cake, however, was no ordinary cake. This cake had been in the works since 2007.

Five years ago, Sam and his friend Vance had this conversation over Google chat:

Sam: We should invent a cake that has little tiny pies in it, that way you wouldn't have to choose.
Vance: That may be the best idea you've ever had.
Sam: Yeah, way better than chocolate pants

Five years later, I decided to make that wish come true. I made a cake with tiny pies in it. Here's how I did it.

Step One: The Pies

minipietrioI decided to keep this part pretty simple, since I knew the whole thing was going to be a bit of work, and I didn't know if it would actually work out in the end anyway. So I had Sam make some pie crust, and I just used some store-bought cherry filling to make some pretty adorable tiny pies. I used a mini muffin pan, which worked really well. If you don't have one, I highly recommend getting one because they are a lot of fun!

Step Two: The Cake

DSC_0125In an effort to keep the flavor palate simple, I went with a plain yellow cake, which I often forget is quite delicious. I mixed the batter, poured it into the pans, and simply placed the tiny pies on top. In hindsight, I should have put the pies in upside down so they would end up being right side up once the cake was assembled.

Step Three: Assembly

DSC_0126I cooled the cake layers thoroughly, and assembled them as I would any other cake. I was afraid the pies would make the cake crumble more easily, but I think they actually held the cake together even better! I decided to make a simple whipped cream topping for this cake.

Whipped Cream for Cakes

  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract (to taste)
  • Whip until stiff enough to spread/pipe.

I made this cake on Thursday, but had to wait until the party on Friday night to see if it actually worked, and if it actually tasted good. It was a fun and exciting time for everyone, because we were all trying something totally new.

DSC_0163
We have a tradition with our friends, in that we put a shot on top of a birthday cake rather than candles. His was bourbon and orangecello.

I was nervous to cut into the cake because I was certain that the texture/density disparity between the cake and the pies would make the cake fall apart, but it actually did really well until the very end, when most cakes begin to fall apart anyway.

DSC_0183

I was so excited to see it actually worked! And not only did it look really neat, but it tasted SO good! The cherry pie plus the moist yellow cake, with bits of buttery, flaky pie crust and creamy whipped cream — delicious! I honestly did not expect to enjoy it, but I really did! I think the key is to not over-saturate with flavor to keep the cake light.

Other possible flavor combinations:

  • Chocolate cake with banana cream pies
  • White cake with lemon pies and meringue frosting
  • German chocolate cake with pecan pies
  • Spice cake with apple pies and caramel frosting

  1. so cool!

    at a country club i worked at, we did something similar but with a whole pie inside a HUGE cake. it was ridiculous! this seems much cooler.

    • I'm not sure, actually. This is something I've pondered too. I haven't made another one of these since then, but I really should!

      I don't think a crumb topping pie would work well, but I bet a one crust pie (like pumpkin) would do alright.

      If you try it, let me know how it goes!!

  2. Is that a shot of whiskey as a cake topper?! I might not have the skilz to make pie cake, but putting a shot on as a cake topper is definitly something I'll be doing in the future!!

    • Heh. Yeah, it is. Well, actually it's Bulleit and orangecello.

      I forgot to bring birthday candles for a birthday party one time so we just put a shot on top instead. That was about 2 years ago, and there have been no birthday candles since.

  3. There's a whole great cookbook called Bake It in a Cupcake. One of the recipes bakes pies in cakes and then puts those into a cheesecake; it's insane and wonderful.

    • So I was chatting with my coworker about this idea and his response was, "That's awesome, except I feel like I would be wondering why you're interrupting my cheesecake to bring me a regularly scheduled cupcake." =P

      Truly, though, that must be the Turducken of baked goods.

  4. I made a similar cake for my 26th birthday but they were full pies. Cherry pie in a chocolate cake and apple pie in a vanilla cake, slathered with strawberry icing. It was much more delicious than anticipated but you need a glass of milk to have more than a bite or two. 🙂

  5. I find myself wanting to know more about the chocolate pants.

    The flavour combination sounds great, but I'm not sure I'd be able to handle pie crust IN my cake – it's a texture issue.

    • I totally thought the same thing (about the pie crust, not the chocolate pants…I'm not sure I want to know about that).

      I think what happens is that the cake batter, while it's still wet, softens the pie crust some so that the texture differential isn't quite as noticeable.

      I'm a very picky eater, especially about texture, and the intermittent bites of buttery pie crust was actually quite enjoyable!

  6. We wanted to do something special for my son's first Thanksgiving, so we had a things baked inside other things theme this year (though may have made more sense as a theme for last year when he was inside me :). To go along with Brie en Croute and Turduken, I made a piecaken. The one I made was two layers with apple pie in vanilla cake and pecan pie in chocolate cake with all layers iced with cinnamon frosting and decorated with pecans. It actually looked and tasted pretty good. I used bought pies and cake mix. I used springform pans which meant I only flipped the top layer over so only baked that pie upside down. They took forever to bake though in the area where the pie was since it blocked some of the heat. I had started to bake them in my electric ovens, but found it was better in my gas oven on the convection setting to get them to bake more evenly. I like the idea of trying it with mini pies.

  7. OMG, this is blowing my mind and completely changing my plans for this weekend! A couple of logistical questions, though:

    1. With the mini pies already fully baked, didn't their crusts become overdone during the cake baking phase of the project? Or did the liquid cake batter engulf them quickly enough to save them from burning?

    2. How on earth did you get your whipped cream frosting to hold up and stay pretty for a full day?

    Thanks!

    • 1. I had this same concern. Actually, this was my chief concern when I made this the first time. But no, the liquid cake batter kept the pie crust moist. The *only* issue was with the few pies that sank to the bottom. Those got the slightest bit crispy, but it definitely wasn't to the point of being burned.

      2. The corn starch in the powdered sugar helps a LOT. Also, the stiffness of whipped cream depends quite a bit on how long you whip it. If I am just topping a dessert with whipped cream, I don't whip it as long. If I am icing a cake with it, I whip it considerably longer. Unfortunately, it's the kind of thing you sort of have to play around with until you develop your own method. I've also heard that adding a bit of cream of tartar can help it stay stiff as well.

      And maybe I refrigerated it. I don't remember.

      If you make one, please let me know!! I'd love to hear how it goes.

  8. The war between my boyfriend and I is over…
    haha, but for serious, this is excellent! What a great little idea. I like the combinations at the end, especially the German chocolate cake idea.

  9. I once attended a party where people brought their interpretations of Piecake and we all sampled and voted on them. They were all delicious, but this would totally have won.

  10. Yum. would this work with store bought pie crust? i'm worried that fresh crust will disintegrate and the store bought would hold up better from all the preservatives. ha! can't believe that's a plus for once. but it's for a bday party picnic and it'll be hot out so i'm concerned. or could you give your recipe for the crust that worked for you? thanks

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.