Can’t Decide Between Pie and Cake? It’s Time for Piecaken!

Planning the holiday dessert lineup is always the best part of entertaining. Christmas Cookies and Italian Strufoli (sweet honey balls with non pareils and candied fruit if you are unfamiliar to this tradition)? Check. 20+ varieties of Grandma’s favorite cookie recipes? Check. Pies and cakes? Not so fast. Think piecaken. It’s a perfect dessert if you cannot choose between a slice of moist cake with melt in your mouth frosting or a traditional holiday pie.

Piecakens have been around for several years now. They have a keen sense of surfacing in food magazines, blogs and bakeries every Thanksgiving and Christmas but I bake them for Valentines Day as well.

Tradition rules with holiday pies. If you don’t have the time to bake one, go out and buy a pie. Pumpkin, Apple, Pecan or Sweet Potato to name a few. Cakes however, are a matter of choice whether they are double dark fudge, cinnamon spice, buttery bourbon, rich red velvet or any other flavor that floats your boat. Bake them together by placing a baked pie inside a cake with complementary flavors and there you have it. The dessert conversation piece. Your Piecaken.

I first learned about them a few years ago when I read about Zac Young, a talented out of the box young culinary chef who playfully and creatively crafted these little culinary wonders during the Thanksgiving holiday. My first reaction was ‘is this a good thing?’ so I had to try making one myself. I scoured the internet for derivatives of the original which called for layering pies and cakes, one on top of the other with frosting in between. If that was not unusual enough, I was intrigued with other bakers who opted to actually bake a pie inside a cake.

So off I drove to my local grocery store in search of pies that would complement my cakes. The checkout employee must have thought I was on a pre-Thanksgiving sugar rush with my purchase of nine pies in different flavors and sizes. I think that I could have told her that I was getting ready to build up my strength for black Friday shopping and she would have believed me more than my description of a piecaken. Her response was classic. She laughed and said “Are you sure this will taste good?”   I told her that I would let her know and I am happy to report that they turned out great.


Here is the process:

Spray coat the baking pan which needs to be at least 2” (Preferably 3 inches) tall. Pour 2/3 of your cake batter in the pan. Take the pie out of the tin. OK. There is a note on this. You CAN also bake a pie but in the interest of time, I opted like so many others to buy a ready baked pie. Gently drop the pie into the center of the cake pan so as not to sink the pie. Pour the remaining batter over the pie in the cake pan. Bake for 350 degrees for the following size pans:

6 inch pans with a small mini pie –   35 minutes

9 inch pan with an 8 inch pie –   55 minutes


Test for doneness remembering that this is a very moist cake with a pie inside.

Let the piecaken cool. I personally like to refrigerate the piecaken for at least 1 – 2 hours.

Frost the single piecaken and decorate or for a more traditional piecaken which kind of resembles mismatch day at school when you were a kid, layer 3 piecakens using cream cheese frosting between each layer.

Decorate, chill, serve and enjoy the reactions of your family and friends.

This may never exceed traditional pumpkin pie or spice cake but it will have guests buzzing in the weeks ahead.

Happy Holidays everyone and Happy Piecaken!

Beach Bons

Moderate Recipes

Moderate Recipes

Beachbon 101 image 2

Want a new take on favorite ice cream movie bites?  Try making these at home. A plate of three different oversized ice cream bon bons makes a memorable ending to a great meal.  At our store on Sanibel Island, we refer to these giant treats as ‘beach bons’ because they were created with our homemade original Italian ice cream flavors inspired by the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva islands. We also received Taste of the Islands BEST DESSERT for these little treasures.  You can use your own gelato, ice creams and sorbet to create these flavorful frozen confections but keep in mind that the key to beautiful beach bons lies in the preparation. Enrobing is much easier if the ice cream is hard frozen. You can prepare the bons up to two days ahead before enrobing them.  Have fun and enjoy!

Basic Beach Bons:

Take a 4 oz scooper. Scoop a round ball of vanilla bean ice cream.

Select a stuffing for the ball such as diced maraschino cherries or dried fruits and nuts.

Poke a hole in the center of the round ball and stuff with your choice of filling.

Mold the ball like a small meatball.

Cover in saran wrap.  Freeze for 1 hour or more until frozen and formed.

Melt Chocolate in a double boiler or crock pot.

Remove saran wrap bons. Dip in melted chocolate with a slotted spoon.

Lay them on a small tray of waxed or parchment paper to cool.

Place them back in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.

Leave them in simple chocolate or drizzle with some melted chocolate to hold dusted cocoa, sprinkles or your choice of topping.

Return to freezer until ready to serve.

Decorate the plate with whipped cream and Lyons Raspberry sauce for garnish.

Beach Bon variations:

  1. Pinocchio’s Original Italian Ice Cream Sanibel Krunch© ice cream coated in toasted coconut which has been enrobed in chocolate and stuffed with mixed nuts.
  2. Pinocchio’s Original Italian Ice Cream Dirty Sand Dollar© ice cream coated in crushed whoppers and dusted in cocoa.
  3. Pinocchio’s Original Italian Ice Cream Sel de Mer© chocolate, caramel and sea salt gelato stuffed with creamy caramel and coated in dark chocolate with sprinkled sea salt