Saturday, June 16, 2012

Makin' the piecaken

Final product
I looked and looked and looked for a web site, or a recipe, or something that gave complete instructions on this elusive piecaken, and honestly, couldn't find one.  So (NOT that I'm an expert - just have done it twice and have some definite words of wisdom/advice).  So - here it goes.

What is a piecaken?  It's a pie baked inside of a cake.  What do you need:

8" pie plate (any bigger and it just doesn't work well)
LARGE Springform pan
cookie sheet

I've made two piecakens, and each has been different, and each has had varying degrees of success, the second one MUCH better.  The first was blueberry pie and white cake with cream cheese frosting.  We all enjoyed it (my family and I), but I think it's a bit on the too sweet side.  Blueberry pie is not tart, and with all the extra sweetness of the cake and frosting, I don't know that I'll make that particular one again.

The second was cherry pie with vanilla cake and chocolate frosting.  A much better choice - with the tartness of the cherries, and the sweetness of the rest - it was a good choice.

Here are some tricks for the pie:

Day 1 - make the pie - Line the pie pan with wax paper - completely on the bottom, and up the sides.  OR - generously grease/flour the pan.  I did it both ways, and found that the wax paper a much easier option (you will see why later).  You have to make the pie at least a day ahead of time.  I have not made a pie without a top, because I'm just not sure how it would set in the cake, so both times I made a pie, and then put pie crust on the top completely sealing it.  After it has baked/cooled - I put it in the refrigerator for a full day so it is nice and cool/hard.  One thing about the pie - MAKE SURE that if you are doing a fruit pie, your juice is nice and thick.  I'll be honest, I used canned pie filling.  However, if you make your own (apple pie for instance), just make SURE that in the end the syrup part of the pie is going to be thick - because when you serve it, it WILL ooze all over the place if it's too thin.

Day 2 - break out your largest spring form pan.  GENEROUSLY grease and flour the bottom and sides of the pan.  I made the pie from scratch, but used two boxed cake mixes - I would assume if you made your cake from scratch, you would need to double your recipe.  Place about 1 cup of cake batter on the bottom of the pan - spread it around so it is even on the bottom.

Next, take a look at your pie.  Look at the crust and make sure that you have trimmed any excess crust off around the edges.  The thing is, the cake batter needs to completely cover the pie crust, with no crust sticking out (I'll discuss why later).  I thought mine was fine at first, but once I got it into the pan I trimmed it a bit more.  So - what do you do with the pie?  You FLIP IT OVER (why I found the wax paper easier) onto your hand - because it's completely cold and solidified, it should easily stay together in one piece.  Now gently place the pie upside down into the spring form pan.  This is one of the things I learned from my first attempt.  The first time I made this, I put it into the pan right side up, but I found that the top of the cake kind of collapsed in on the pie - this time was MUCH better because the bottom of the pie is completely flat.  So - now with your upside down pie in your spring form pan, check the pie crust.  Make SURE that there isn't any pie crust touching or close to the edge of the spring form pan.  Why?  It will leak.  Trust me on this.  This is what happened the first time I made a piecaken.  So, this time I trimmed all the crust and it turned out perfect.  So, with the batter oozing down the sides of the pie, one thing to keep in mind is to give it some space to rise.  Again - I learned this with experience.  If you fill up the pan, it will WAY OVERFLOW ALL OVER YOUR OVEN.  :-)  Yes....that was a mess - but more on that in a second.  The way my cake batter looked is it kind of was a small dome in the pan - with a little more batter on the top of the pie.  I then put this on top of a cookie sheet (for the batter that overflows), and pop it into a 350 degree oven.  Now here's the tricky part.  I can't really tell you how long to bake it - except it's for a LOT LONGER than you think.  I think I ultimately ended up baking it for an hour and 45 minutes?  I kept checking the top and sides with a toothpick until done.  You must check both - the sides of the cake cook faster then the top - it's the top that takes the longest because the pie is blocking the heat from baking the top portion of the cake until the end.

Some tricks - once the top of the cake has cooked a bit - generously grease (I used Pam) a piece of tinfoil and put it on top of the cake, and let it fold down a little on the sides.  Because the cake takes SO LONG to bake, you don't want to over bake the top of the cake.  I did this for awhile, until the sides of the cake baked until completeness.  However, the top part of the cake takes longer.  So, I ended up cutting a whole in the center of the tinfoil, to protect the sides and top of the cake, but allow for good heat to get to the center of the cake.  Next time I may just start it that way - with a hole in the center of the tinfoil, because the center of the cake never looked overbaked, but I could tell the sides were going to get crispy if I didn't do something about it.

Once done, I then placed the piecaken on a cooling rack, and after about an hour or so, I took off the sides of the spring form pan to let it cool the remainder of the time.  I did end up trimming some of the cake that had overflowed the pan a bit before I took the sides off so I wouldn't tear the cake, and it made for a prettier cake anyway.  The center did end up sinking in just a bit, but nothing like it did the first time.  Once completely cooled, I frosted and decorated the cake, then put in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

When you are ready to cut, just be gentle.  It's a little tricky to cut, and know that some of the pie gooey goodness is going to ooze out, but if you have made it thick, it will only ooze a little.

Side view of the sliced cake

Plated piece of piecaken
I didn't take pictures along the way - next time I will.  I wasn't thinking about doing a blog about it until after it was all said and done.  But, hopefully my mistakes will help make your piecaken the best.  If you have made a piecaken and have some additional words of wisdom, or ways that made yours easier to make - please feel free to add your comments in the comment section.

Buen Provecho!


Liz K said...

You crack me up! I will have to tuck this idea away for when the boys are teenagers. It seems like something a 15 year old boy would think was way cool mom!

Mrs E said...

Thanks for the tips!! I'm making a vanilla/peach piecaken right now, as requested for my 13 yr old son's birthday

Nikki Lovell said...

Thank you soooo much for posting this! I'm in the process of making one for Thanksgiving (an apple pie inside of a spice cake) and when I saw the middle of it I didn't know what to do! I put the foil over the outer part and am baking it again now. Just watching it in the oven, I can tell it's going to be ok now. Whew! :)

Linda O. said...

This is very helpful as I'm trying to figure out how to make a pecan pie/german chocolate piecaken in a bundt pan. :) Now that I see the center of the cake needs extra time, I feel more confident that I'll just cut a hole in middle of the pie for the center tube and use the bundt pan. I'm excited and figure I'll learn something from the experience. I rarely bake and don't have spring form pans. Happy Thanksgiving 2016!