Cake or Pie?


One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.

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80 Responses

  1. What about the Hostess ™ or other types of “pies you can buy that are almost like candy bars”? I love ’em.Report

  2. Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    You can put race cards on cake? Is that for the Al Sharpton/Jessie Jackson Appreciation Society meetings?Report

  3. Burt Likko says:

    My wife’s cakes made me doubt the veracity of the claim advanced in the OP. Margarita cake. Bourbon-chocolate cake. Chocolate creme de menthe cake. Chambord raspberry cake. (Her liberal use of booze in cake batter is sort of a trend, of which I approve.)

    But ultimately, good pie is indeed better than good cake. The fresh fruit, cooked in sugar and its own juices, produces a purity and intensity of flavor that delights. And, if you want, there’s no reason you can’t booze up a pie!

    Where are we classifying cheesecake? Structurally, it more resembles a pie than a cake.Report

  4. Chris says:

    I prefer cake (chocolate mostly, but there is a bakery down the street that makes a strawberry cane that is irresistable), and cobbler in fact, but a good pie is something special.Report

  5. Burt Likko says:

    Last night for our dinner party she made a margarita cheesecake mousse. Cream cheese, ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, unsweetened whipped cream, unsweetened lemon gelatin, tequila, agave nectar, lime juice powder, lime oil, and lime zest. Rich, tangy, and thoroughly delicious! Perfect for afters of a big ol’ plate o ribs, and inducing of a deep carbohydrate coma.

    Her next project will be incorporating bacon into her chocolate bourbon cheesecake.Report

  6. Kazzy (or anyone else who wants to answer),

    Where do you put pot pies? Are they part of the discussion, or are they too much like a main course to count?Report

  7. Saul Degraw says:

    I am with you on Pie but every now and then I want a good yellow cake with chocolate frosting and possibly a raspberry filling or a New York Cheesecake. And then there is stuff like Boston Cream Pie which feels like it should be cake but is called a pie.Report

  8. aaron david says:

    “But bad pie? Or, really, crap that isn’t pie but gets call pie (e.g., McDonalds apple “pies”) and poisons the well? Godawful.”

    Why do you hate labor working together to unionize our taste buds @kazzy ? Industrial food is the future! Do you feel your tongue is worth more than health care?

    “The cries of the children are the cries of victory!”Report

  9. Damon says:

    I concur on Pie vs cake.

    In order of superiority:

    Ice cream cake

    Pie: Key Lime, Mincedmeat, pecan.
    Ice cream cake: any
    Cake: German chocolate, any cheese cake, any regular cake with non whipped cream topping. Best part of cakes-icing roses.

    When will we discuss the ranking of crumbles and other baked pie-ish things?Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to Damon says:

      Reasonable people can put pie above cake (they are wrong, but they are not necessarily unreasonable). But ice cream cake? What kind of godawful cakes have you been eating your whole life?

      If the icing rose is the good part, I think I know what kind of cake we’re talking about, and I agree, that stuff is worse than pie, and maybe even than ice cream cake. But it’s also much much worse than cake.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to dragonfrog says:

        I’m not an ice cream guy (I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either). Still, I never understood the appeal of an ice cream cake. The ice cream (mostly) retains it’s normal properties but the cake is, well, frozen. I can’t imagine anyone thinking it delicious to freeze a slice of chocolate cake and then dig in to it, but somehow they find it tolerable to do that if ice cream has been injected into the middle.


      • Damon in reply to dragonfrog says:

        Dude, Ice cream cake:
        It’s not premium ice cream, or gelato, or homemade, which are my preferred, but it’s pretty good. Got the choco and vanilla with a layer of oreo cookie in the middle.

        As to icing roses, I’ve always liked the ratio of icing to cake in the 2 to 1 or greater. Yah, the cakes are not that good, but when this is the crap most folks bring in to the office as they are too lazy or unskilled to make it from a box / scratch.Report

      • Damon in reply to dragonfrog says:


        See the link above. There is no cake in the ice cream cake. There are versions that do, but, yah, that sucks worse than regular cake. I prefer the all ice cream IC cake.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to dragonfrog says:


        But if there is no cake, then isn’t it just ice cream? What’s the point of that?Report

      • Kazzy in reply to dragonfrog says:

        @mike-dwyer @damon

        Some ice cream cakes have frozen cake. They suck. Carvel makes a masterful cake. If all whales were Fudgie the Whale, not only would I support whaling, but I’d probably rival Mike’s animal kill count.

        I think the appeal of ice cream cake is being able to eat ice cream in situations where shoving a bowl full into your face would be looked down upon.

        “Hey, it’s noon on a Tuesday… why are you eating a bowl of ice cream?”
        “Hey everyone! It’s Mary from accounting’s birthday! ICE CREAM CAKE TIME!!!”Report

      • Will Truman in reply to dragonfrog says:

        @mike-dwyer You ever freeze candy bars? Yum.Report

      • Kim in reply to dragonfrog says:

        it’s ice cream, with graham cracker bits.And godiva on top! what’s not to love?Report

    • Don Zeko in reply to Damon says:

      Important distinction: when you say pecan pie, does the word pecan rhyme with can or khan? Because my grandmother has taught me to only trust pee-can pie.Report

  10. Mike Dwyer says:

    I have been firmly in the pie camp for years. And I have to say I even love McDonald’s apple pies.

    I must also take issue with this:

    “Unfortunately, the South generally doesn’t drive national culture.”

    Perhaps not in the total sense but I think we’re firmly in the driver’s seat when it comes to cuisine. So of course the many, many pies of the South will hopefully get their day.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


      I think the American South has by far the most local cuisine of any region in the nation. But — until very recently — I don’t think it drove cuisine. I don’t think you had NY or LA or Chicago chefs thinking, “What are they doing down in New Orleans? Or Memphis? Or the Carolinas?” Thankfully, that seems to be changing.

      It also has far and away the best desserts… and not just the pies. Good gawd, y’all do dessert right!Report

      • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

        Tsap Tsui (chop suey) is local to the Pacific Northwest (and fortune cookies to san francisco).
        The mid-atlantic has Italian American food.

        I don’t think the south’s cuisine is terribly local — they have goobers, for god’s sake, and those are from Africa, and collards and those are from Italy, and syllabub, and that’s from England and … the list goes on.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:


        I agree most of the South’s cuisine is derived from other countries, but for the sake of this discussion I think it’s fair to say ‘southern desserts’ lean in the pie direction, though it’s certainly not exclusive.

        And we haven’t even touched the love of jello-based desserts in the midwest.Report

      • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

        *shudders* jello, the quivering desert.
        Southern cake is better than northern cake, though!Report

  11. Michael Drew says:

    Pie is better than cake. I didn’t think it even needed to be said.

    The percent of cakes I’m honestly, genuinely interested in eating or even trying is like 18 or maybe 23. It’s like 69 percent of pies.Report

  12. dragonfrog says:

    Shmoo cake.
    Fruitcake (the real stuff with a quarter inch of marzipan under the icing, dried fruit and most of a bottle of rum in it, not some abomination with candied maraschino cherries).

    These things are not merely good – they are better than pies. All pies.Report

  13. Brandon Berg says:

    There’s no need to resort to the No True Pie fallacy, Kazzy. Pie is so vastly superior to the tarted-up bread we call cake that the good pies can carry the Hostess fruit pies and win anyway. Besides, grocery-store birthday cakes.Report

  14. LeeEsq says:

    I think pies and cakes fulfill different culinary needs. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. Pies might be more difficult to make but they also provide a more simple joy than a cake. Pies are more homey of a dessert, especially if it is a good apple or cherry pie. Cakes are when you want something with an air of sophistication or complication even if they are technically easier to make than a pie. Many of the great cakes like the Sacher torte or even the simple ones like Saul described have an air of elegance and beauty to them.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:


      I’m actually only part-joking about that. I do think we have attached an air of sophistication to cakes because many of them are borne out of European pastry work as opposed to pies which are a largely American, Southern, and ‘home-y’ style dessert. But I think that is in error. The best pies can rival if not surpass the best cakes in terms of depth and complexity of flavor, sophistication, and ornateness.

      There is nothing elegant about grocery store birthday cake. There is nothing elegant about cake out of a box. Or cake with unfunfetti in it. There is nothing elegant about overly rich frosting designed to mask the dryness and blandness of dessert bread.Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Kazzy says:

        There is about as much elegance to those things as there is depth and complexity of flavor in a Tenderflake crust with canned pie filling gooped in it.

        Bad cakes exist, bad pies exist – but we’re not comparing the average pie to the average cake, with each category’s ratio of around 10 poor-to-middling to 1 good? We’re comparing good cakes to good pies.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy says:

        @kazzy cakes allow for a degree of artistry in both presentation and taste that pies do not. You can combine a variety of flavors better into a cake than you can into a pie. With a cake, you can also create a truly dazzling piece of work that is great to look at and eat. A pie always looks like a pie.Report

      • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

        You know little about pies, I am certain.
        I have made many pies, and few look alike. True, they all look like a pie, but that simply means my canvas is flat… like the top of a cake. I can doodle whatever I want on top, or use crust cutouts, or lattices.

        You don’t even know the proper top for a plum pie, I’d wager. (Every fruit has a different classic top).Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:


        That is part of my beef. Presentation isn’t unimportant, but we’ve allowed ourselves to be snookered in by Big Cake and their style-over-substance approach!Report

  15. Kim says:

    Who thinks the American South came up with pies? Pies are an English invention, taken by the Cavaliers to the American South.Report

  16. North says:

    I must echo Kim in that any attempt to claim pie as american is absurd and almost risable. Pie’s are old old old, far older than our fine republic; likely older than the first republic.

    That said I think you are fundamentally correct that pie is superior to cake. I would, personally, classify cheesecake as cake (unless it has been poured into a pastry shell in which case I suppose there can be some debate. Boston cream pie is also cake.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to North says:


      I’m referring more to perception. When we think of pies — in their best form — we think of them sitting on windowsills. When we think of cakes — in their best form — we think of French pastry chefs.Report

      • North in reply to Kazzy says:

        Oddly when I think of pies I think of my Grandmother (divine breads also have this association) and when I think of cakes I think of my mother (even though she is an excellent bread maker and pie maker).Report

      • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

        Do we? My french pastry shop down the street makes a mean eclair — and wow, their bavarois!
        But… cakes? Nah…

        You have your Southern Cakes, all grease and moist, and your Northern Cakes, dry and flaky.
        You have your eastern european gingerbread/spice cakes. And your Korean cakes, with buttercream. There are so many things that are cakes, I wouldn’t put French anywhere on the list. I do need to try an actual German Black Forest Cake — with real sour cherries.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to North says:

      Yeah, but we filled them with fruit instead of eels.Report

  17. Pinky says:

    Cake is an excuse to eat frosting; pie is an excuse to eat fruit. Fruit is better. Hence, pie is better.Report

  18. zic says:

    I challenge the notion that cake is easy to make.

    Cake mixes are easy to make. And they have qualities that we perceive as good cake. But they are not good cake.

    Good cake is not easy. It’s a very precise set of chemical reactions that have to take place in the right sequence and at the right temperature and the correct cooling sequence to turn into good cake. It’s not easy at all.

    Now I love me some good pie, and I’m quite skilled at making good pie. But I never make cakes. To be good at it, it’s something you have to do regularly, expecting some failures; and those failures teach you a whole lot more about how to make good cake then mediocre successes, so I fully encourage anyone interested in making good cake to make plenty of bad ones, too.

    And therein lies the problem. Most of us are unwilling to throw cake away, and so we eat it. And that shit’s okay in small quantities, but in cake-sized quantities on a regular basis, it’s lethal.

    So I have two answers. Eat pie at home, good pie you don’t make is hard to come by. And leave the cake making to people who practice it regularly, and when you encounter it, eat a piece. Even bring a piece or two home. And don’t bother if it wasn’t made by someone who makes cakes as a serious profession and knows exactly how to make a good cake because they bothered to make plenty of bad ones on the path to really, really good cake.

    (And cheese cake is not cake, it is its own beast, and worthy of its own goodness as a totally separate entity.)Report

    • Kim in reply to zic says:

      A good spice cake’s a pleasure, and not terrible hard to make. Ditto with Honey Cake.

      There are the multi-layer monstrosities that you’ve got to make with cake flour, and take precision.

      If you’ve got to make a cake, make it Strawberry Shortcake — in season.Report

    • Patrick in reply to zic says:

      Eat pie at home, good pie you don’t make is hard to come by. And leave the cake making to people who practice it regularly, and when you encounter it, eat a piece.

      I heartily endorse Zic’s comment.Report

  19. rexknobus says:

    When living in LA, we had a house. Our house had a double oven. Our friends were far from their families. Ergo: we hosted Thanksgiving for all the orphans.

    In the interest of visual impact (rather than true culinary excellence), I bought a large chicken roaster thing and made an apple pie in it that used upwards of forty apples. Gigantic. People muttered religious imprecations or hummed the five “Close Encounters” notes. Good pie, not great. But then, good apple pie fresh from the oven is always pretty special and it was huge. I have actually made very, very good apple pie in normal sizes.

    But I have never, ever been able to make a cake from scratch that was as good as a cake from a mix. Don’t know why, just haven’t.

    @kim I will try a spice cake. And strawberry shortcake is one of the unexpected Miracles of God. Particularly the way that strawberries and sugar mixed in a glass vessel devolves into a lush crimson nectar.Report

  20. Bill O says:

    Cake or pie? Yes, please.

    Sorry to be so indecisive, but there you go…Report

  21. Kim says:

    Honestly surprised there are so many pie people around here. My mum was never one of them, so I didn’t have a pie until I was out of her house.Report

  22. A Compromised Immune System says:

    Death, please. No, cake! Cake! Cake! Sorry. Sorry…Report

  23. ScarletNumber says:

    Adam Carolla has been saying this for years.

    I might make an exception for cheesecake, but I don’t think of cheesecake as cake per se.Report