Bake Even Cake Strips

February 13, 2008

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Now, no one has ever accused me of being shy…

But even if I were, I think I would be able to overcome my shyness to offer up a helpful tip or advice to a stranger. If I’m in the produce section, for example, and hear someone ask a clerk what is/where are the parsnips, and then see them proceed to pick out the largest ones on offer, I don’t hestitate to nicely let them know that they should choose small or medium ones, as the large ones have a large, tough core…something they will end up paying a lot for and then need to cut out and throw away.

This happened to me in New York Cake and Baking Supply when a fellow shopper introduced me to Bake Even Cake Strips. It was one of the nicest things–for my baking life, particularly–that a stranger has ever done for me. Now this was years ago…not long after I had moved to NYC. It was my first trip to NY Cake and Baking…and I suspect I was running around the store with glee, gathering up armfulls of the supplies I had only ever dreamed about finding all in one place back in CT—when a very nice man leaned over to me as I was standing in front of the wall—yes I said WALL!–of food colorings—pastes, powders, gels, liquids….ahhhhh *smile*….and said “You should try these,”…holding out a package of what looked like weather stripping to my New Englander’s eye….”Just wrap them around your pan and they will help you to bake the most even cakes you’ve ever baked. Trust me….”

And in the face of that stranger’s kindness, of course I bought them. Even though they looked like strips off a space suit and didn’t come with instructions for use–I thought “insider tip” from a NYC baking master…..this is going to be great! Well, this being the age before Google, I was left to just give it a go on my own….so I rushed home and that very day set about baking my first even cake……and it wasn’t a pretty sight!

Using them quite as intuitive as I seemed to think, based on those very few words from the kind stranger. With my first try–I almost set them on fire. I managed to pull them out of the oven before true flames began–but they do bear the scorch marks to this day. I guess I hadn’t heard the part about needing to soak them in cool water first. Oops. With the second try–I soaked them, but didn’t put them on tightly enough, and they slipped down to the bottom of the pan and rested on the oven shelf….causing another few marks to appear…..but after a few more tries, I got the hang of it and haven’t baked a cake without them since!

They are a breeze to use–it really only takes a minute to wet them down and wrap them around your pan–and while I don’t find them useful when baking a bundt cake (the shape doesn’t allow the strips to hug the pan tightly enough)…for layers and 9 x 13’s etc. they cause your cake to bake evenly and without that pesky dome on top. So if you bake and decorate cakes at home–they are absolutely worth getting and using.

And while you’re in the store picking them up, spread the good-will and tell the person next to you about them. They’ll be oh-so-happy you did!

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