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Cake or Pie? Take your pick

Dessert

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#1 Mayhaw Man

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:14 AM

First a story, then, on to the rules of this important survey concerning one of the burning issues of our times.

The other night I went with my friend Pableaux for a first dinner at Cochon, Donald Link's (owner of the superb Herbsaint Restaurant) new place dedicated to one of my favorite things-meat. It's in New Orleans in the most uptown part of the Warehouse District and it seems to be doing very well indeed. The food was really great, extremely reasonably priced, and the service was excellent. PLUS! They are putting together a moonshine program (details later when I get them).

Anyway, over the course of dinner everyone that I knew in New Orleans showed up. Every foodwriter for every publication and a couple of them were towing guests, Alice Waters (who was in town to work on a School Garden Project-it's happening and I will be writing lots about it. It's pretty heartening and not a little exciting) and Davia Nelson (1/2 of NPR's The Kitchen Sisters). So, the meal ended up being like old home week, or a Southern Foodways Alliance meeting, or a lecture-any of the above would probably be accurate.

By the time dessert rolled around, we were more or less piled up around one table. The desserts that evening included several cakes (pineapple upside down, German chocolate) and some pies (humorously, I can't even remember what they were-but that's kind of my point, as you will see).

Everyone ordered, selections came, were enjoyed (Link's desserts are always simple, always outstanding), and conversation continued. I had enjoyed the pineapple upside down cake-alot-and it occured to me that most of my fellow diners had gone with something other than cake (in fairness, there was an excellent iced dessert selection-cream, sorbet, etc-but that is not to enter into the query at the end of this little tale). So I posed this simple question:

Given the choice of great pie or great cake, all things being more or less equal in terms of quality and flavor, which would you choose? There can be no, wishy washy, namby pamby, "I like both" answers (though Alice Waters managed to explain why she liked both, so I'm giving her a pass-but no one else can have one). You have to choose.

On this evening, what became apparent to me, is that I am in an extreme minority as a lover of cake. I will always choose a well made cake over a well made pie. Now, I like both, mind you. I'm not crazy (or maybe I am, but that has no bearing on this particular argument) and I will happily eat a piece of pie when offered one. The point here is that if I am offered both, I'm going for the cake every time.

I love cake. I love all cakes. Most of all, I like caramel cake. I like it so much that, at a dinner the other night, several days after a round of blistering and opinionated emails popped up in mailboxes all over the country concerning this important question (this reading is not for the faint of heart or the politically sensitive-but those emails were very entertaining), I brought my favorite cake-Caramel Cake. I also brought some delicious Creole Cream Cheese Ice Cream from Creole Creamery to back it up.

I made the cake from a recipe I managed to pry from a friend, Ann Cashion, (a pie person, for God's sake) who is a big deal chef and who is kind of famous for this cake. It's really good. Really, really good. It was served at the Southern Foodways Alliance Conference in Oxford, MS in 04 (scroll down a bit to see the cake and the whole, fabulous meal) at the end of the single best mass served meal that I, or most of the people sitting there, had ever eaten. That cake has become the stuff of legend among those of us who were there and I was really happy to be able to take a crack at making it. I did, it was a pain in that ass, lots of steps, lots of caramel icing making (you have to do it twice-so it's time consuming), and because it's caramel icing, you have to work fast, as it pretty quickly becomes unspreadable. But, in the end, it's pretty delicious. Three layers of light moist cake, each seperated by a layer of tooth achingly sweet caramel. The thing is the bomb. And coupled with a little not so sweet Creole Cream Cheese Ice Cream, well, you can't ask for a better dessert-or you wouldn't want or need to, anyway.

The cake was a hit, of course, and those pie lovers scarfed it up, but even then, at the end of the evening, the lovers of pie stood unchanged. When asked, simply, "cake or pie?" they still went with the pie.

Now, this could be because they were embarrassed to admit that they might have been wrong all of their lives, or perhaps, cake is just too complex for simple people such as my friends to enjoy, or, just maybe, they really do like pie better than cake. Whatever the reason, the question remains:

Cake or pie?

Both is NOT a good answer.
Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

#2 Jason Perlow

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:19 AM

You went to Cochon and you didn't take photos?
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#3 Swisskaese

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:20 AM

I prefer pie. All types of fruit pie, except for rhubarb.

Key lime pie and lemon pie without the meringue are delicious.

I also like fried pies. :wub:

I had the most amazing pie at Moody's Diner in Waldoboro, Maine and huckleberry pie in Montana.

Edited by Swisskaese, 26 April 2006 - 08:53 AM.


#4 Mayhaw Man

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:21 AM

You went to Cochon and you didn't take photos?

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No, not that night. But I will.

Nevertheless, this isn't about photos. It's about cake vs. pie. You'll need to decide if you want to play along.
Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

#5 therese

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:25 AM

I'm in the cake camp.

I like pie, but find many, especially American-style fruit pies, to be gooey and wet. A waste of fruit.

Plus there's no frosting on pie, dammit.
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#6 Jason Perlow

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:27 AM

I'm not going to make Sophie's choice like that, you bastard.
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#7 Swisskaese

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:28 AM

I'm in the cake camp.

I like pie, but find many, especially American-style fruit pies, to be gooey and wet. A waste of fruit.

Plus there's no frosting on pie, dammit.

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I only like pure fruit pies. I really dislike pies made with tapioca and tons of goop. My homemade pies are only the fruit, a tiny bit of flour and a little sugar.

#8 cakewalk

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:36 AM

Cake, definitely. Pies are okay, I've never turned one down (although I often end up eating the crust and leaving the filling alone.) But given a must-choose ultimatum, let me eat cake. :smile:

#9 Parmhero

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:41 AM

I'd like to be able to give a clear black-and-white answer, but the truth is that it would depend. I like cake and pie, and could go either way depending on the particular types and choices. I'd have to see them or at least know something about the comparitive selection. A great chocolate cake could trump a pie, but a great homemade pie could trump a cake, depending on type and flavor. It could also depend on mood. However, if it's a really great cake, I'd probably lean that way.
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#10 Mayhaw Man

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:41 AM

And Cakewalk, your name reminds me of another bit of evidence that proves the power of cake:

Have you ever, ever heard of a "piewalk?" No, of course you haven't. Who would be silly enough to walk around in circles just to get a pan full of goo? No one, that's who. That's what a cakewalk is all about. People hungry for a better life walking in circles, for as long as it takes, just to get a light, airy, slice of heaven.
Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

#11 srhcb

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:44 AM

If I have to make it myself, cake. :smile:

If somebody else makes it, I'll have pie :biggrin:

SB (crust challenged) :sad:

#12 Swisskaese

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:44 AM

But, Mayhaw Man, cake can have goo on it too!

I do not like icing on cakes. I grew up in the South, too where it is mandatory to put a gazillion pounds of frosting on top and between cakes. For example, a hummingbird cake.

Edited by Swisskaese, 26 April 2006 - 08:45 AM.


#13 Jason Perlow

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:46 AM

Dammit, if you really have to press me to a choice, it would be cake. But ONLY if the cake was really, really, moist. And dense. Like a really good German Chocolate cake or a Carrot Cake, where you put the fork into it and it sort of sticks to the fork (like the casing on a Devil Dog or a Twinkie that forms like a streak on your hands when you eat them) and no crumbs fall off. Approaching brownie-like consistency.

Average pie beats dry cake any day of the week.

Edited by Jason Perlow, 26 April 2006 - 08:47 AM.

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#14 jsolomon

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:50 AM

Meh, good pie has pork fat in it. How can you beat that?

Also, I have had many more cakes that have been so terribly disappointing, that I don't bother anymore.

But, here is the actual deal: when it comes down to it, I am a sour/bitter flavor kind of person. I generally don't come across a cake that does much other than sweet, and those get way too cloying for me. A rhubarb pie has sour and depth of flavor that I've simply never come across in a cake. Ditto with grape or sour cherry.

But, it could also be that I've simply been around better pie makers than cake makers. People 'round here think a good cake is iced with good-looking frosting, instead of something you want to eat. They're nutters, if you ask me.
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#15 Live It Up

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:53 AM

This is one question I have no problem answering: PIE! However, truth be told, most of the time I would choose neither. I don't have much of a sweet tooth and I hate (hate!) frosting, so most cakes are out. I do like flourless chocolate cake with ganache or whipped cream, but that almost doesn't qualify as cake. Usually I won't eat pie either unless I have some reason to expect that it will be reasonably good (like my mom made it). But, if I have to choose, I'll always choose pie or tarts. Actually, I like most tarts...must be the lack of goo.

#16 cakewalk

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:56 AM

Piewalk? Of course not! Humph! You'd sink to your knees, and what kind of position is that? But a cakewalk, ah, now that is a matter of floating along, tasting airy and light and flavorful cakes from all walks of life, creating ear-to-ear smiles on the faces of all who choose to join the parade.

:wink:

And Cakewalk, your name reminds me of another bit of evidence that proves the power of cake:

Have you ever, ever heard of a "piewalk?" No, of course you haven't. Who would be silly enough to walk around in circles just to get a pan full of goo? No one, that's who. That's what a cakewalk is all about. People hungry for a better life walking in circles, for as long as it takes, just to get a light, airy, slice of heaven.

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#17 chile_peppa

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:58 AM

Cake, definitely cake. I can make a decent cake, but I'm lousy at pie crust.

Plus some of the things that people pass off as pies, those colorful items made with Cool Whip, instant pudding, or Jell-O sitting on cookie crumbs, they just frighten me.
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#18 jgm

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 09:10 AM

Pie, definitely, but it has to be made from scratch. Otherwise it's not worth the calories. No pudding mixes allowed, nor any canned pie fillings. Yeech.

However:

I made the cake from a recipe I managed to pry from a friend, Ann Cashion, (a pie person, for God's sake) who is a big deal chef and who is kind of famous for this cake. It's really good. Really, really good. It was served at the Southern Foodways Alliance Conference in Oxford, MS in 04 (scroll down a bit to see the cake and the whole, fabulous meal) at the end of the single best mass served meal that I, or most of the people sitting there, had ever eaten. That cake has become the stuff of legend among those of us who were there and I was really happy to be able to take a crack at making it. I did, it was a pain in that ass, lots of steps, lots of caramel icing making (you have to do it twice-so it's time consuming), and because it's caramel icing, you have to work fast, as it pretty quickly becomes unspreadable. But, in the end, it's pretty delicious. Three layers of light moist cake, each seperated by a layer of  tooth achingly sweet caramel. The thing is the bomb. And coupled with a little not so sweet Creole Cream Cheese Ice Cream, well, you can't ask for a better dessert-or you wouldn't want or need to, anyway.

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I can't believe you'd be so mean and rotten as to post a description like this and not offer us the recipe. :sad:

Caramel is like heroin to me. I have to have it, and even if this cake is a pain in the ass, I want to give it a try. Please post the recipe; I'm going to whine incessantly until you do!

#19 TMus1111

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 09:11 AM

If I have to choose, as hard as that is to do - between my favorite cake, maybe chocolate with a mocha icing or my favorite pie, either peach or cherry - and they were both equally well made, I would go with the CAKE. I do love the softness and lightness and airyness of a beautiful piece of cake, and I certainly love me some icing. And there are probably way more kinds of cake that I like than pies anyway, actually I think I like cobbler better than pie so yeah, I'll stick with CAKE.

My 2cents

#20 jasie

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 09:25 AM

Cake definitely. I don't like eating most cooked fruit, and where I grew up in SE Asia, we don't really have pies, at least not when I grew up. My first and only exposure to pies was apple pie from McDonalds... (nuff said?) I also prefer sweet to the usually tart/sour/gooey fillings of pies. So.. its Cake for me!

#21 Priscilla

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 09:29 AM

Cake. Cake cake cake.

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#22 Kouign Aman

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 09:39 AM

I usually choose to eat pie, because I usually have to make the choice when I'm already pretty full. A nice tangy pie (or a pecan pie) can slide into the spaces (like jello, thank you Mr Cosby).

But I dont remember many pies after the fact (except this one pecan pie :wub:). I have very vivid memories of a number of delicious cakes.

So, if it were a matter of equal quality, and sufficient appetite, I would choose cake. And yes, that's my final answer.
(unless, she waffled, pecan pie was one of the choices.....)
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#23 kiliki

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 09:41 AM

Pie, assuming it's good pie, which is very hard to find unless you make it yourself.

I've never liked cake and never understood why so many people love cake. Everytime I go to an event where cake is served, and I try to politely decline a piece, it always causes a scene. "You're not on a diet, are you?" "How can you not like cake?" "Don't you even like the frosting?" Etc etc.

#24 lesfen

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 09:45 AM

Pie, every time. Sweet or savory, I don't care. A good flaky pie crust is a thing of beauty, especially if you get one that's got a little salt to it. Mmmmm... pie.

#25 Grovite

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 09:49 AM

Pie. Everyone loves pie. If you don't love pie, I question the existence of your soul :raz:
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#26 Varmint

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 09:53 AM

Pie, because there's a lot more different types of pie that I can think of than there are cakes.

Pie, because lots of cakes are actually called pie (Boston Cream Pie, e.g.).

Pie, because there's no better convenience store snack than a fried pie (ok, a Moon Pie is also good, but again, it's a "pie").

Pie, because I'm really, really good at making them.

Pie, because they named a number after it. :wink:

Pie, because it's what the diner waitresses with the stacked hairdos who call me "hun" and "shug" serve me.

Pie, because as the seasons change, so do the pies.











But cake ain't too bad, either.
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#27 Mayhaw Man

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 09:53 AM

Pie. Everyone loves pie. If you don't love pie, I question the existence of your soul :raz:

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You aren't the first, by any means, to question this.
Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

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#28 natasha1270

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 09:53 AM

Cake. Birthday cake. Anyday cake. Angel Food. Devil's Food. Red Velvet. Carrot Cake. Tremendous possibilities in cake.

I like pie, too. Maybe even love it at times but cake is where its at.

N.
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#29 Katie Nell

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 09:56 AM

Cake, all the way... because there aren't as many kinds of chocolate pies as there are chocolate cakes... and that's really what it's all about.... CHOCOLATE!!
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#30 SweetSide

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 10:15 AM

If I must choose between the two, cake. But only the "so good on it's own that it doesn't need 8 million pounds of frosting to make you want to eat it" kind of cake.

Tarts are what I would really choose.
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