Un bel di

August 29, 2010 • 10:49 am

What could be better than seeing a bunny on your way to work and then having someone bring you a pake—all on the same day?

In the past couple of years there has been a small explosion of eastern cottontail rabbits, Sylvilagus floridanus—otherwise known as “Nature’s buffet”—in Hyde Park.  About one day in three, if I come to work early enough, I’ll see one or more grazing on the quad.  They are of course very timid: this is the closest I could get.

And I am the recipient of a pake!  A pake (“pie + cake”) is a recently-invented dessert that incorporates a whole pie baked inside a cake, usually covered with cream-cheese frosting.  It may sound dire, but it’s actually scrumptious.  Here’s mine: it features an entire blueberry pie baked inside a spice cake, topped with an entire peach pie baked inside a yellow cake, all generously slathered with cream cheese frosting:

Yes, I know it’s a bit crude-looking, but don’t scoff: it was someone’s first attempt, and it was delicious.  And I know it’s an artery-buster, so don’t bother reminding me; those comments are gratuitous and will be deleted!  I estimate the weight of this pake at about 8 pounds (no kidding), and a 15-degree slice is a generous serving.

Here’s a more professionally baked pake, the famous cherpumple: cherry, apple, and pumpkin pies in three layers of cake (white, yellow, and spice respectively):

This is no from-scratch treat: it involves baking store-bought pies inside batter from a cake mix. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can get the recipe here or here.

91 thoughts on “Un bel di

  1. In Peoria (where Bradley University is), bunnies are almost as common as squirrels. Within a 2 mile radius of my house (which is about 100 meters from the campus(, I’ve seen: bunnies, chipmunks, ground hogs, foxes, deer, opossums, rats, raccoons and wild turkeys.

  2. Somehow, this reminds me of the Christian’s favorite meal: cheeses fried in lard, lamb with cod.

    Or, at least, that’s what they say is their favorite meal, right before they break out the stale crackers and bad wine…which probably explains why I was never able to find a recipe….



  3. Is there a difference to baking a pie covered in cake batter as opposed to just putting a layer of cake on top of a pie?

  4. Hmmmmmm…funny, but I can’t get into it. I’m a total pig about desserts but I don’t want too many things going on at once. I want to appreciate them singly, or in the usual pairs or triplets that make up a dessert. Like the strawberry mousse tart on a crust of rich chocolate that was served at the meeting of atheist feminist Swell People in an apartment on Sveavägen in Stockholm a week ago yesterday. Two things, good separately and good in combination. The triple pake would be way too much for me to process in a satisfactory way. Too multi-tasky.

    1. (A pecan pie on Sveavägen would be swell, too!) But if you’re in Stockholm again: Restaurang BYN, on Torsgatan (not far from Karolinska). The best meal I’ve ever had in all respects – the food, the presentation and the ambience! Reindeer medallions in a mushroom sauce with blackcurrant gele in a tall narrow glass such as you might drink an aperitif from. For drinks, they specialize in ciders, served in little pottery bowls. Rustic chic has never been better.

  5. I once stalked a French Apple pie (to get it half-price the next morning). A frosted apple pie is as close as I think I want to get to the dessert version of pigturducken. Otherwise, the king of all pies is pecan, and those need no toppings or additives. Plus, they seem to be stable @18C for at least a couple weeks, so you can consume them at the same rate you’re capable of metabolizing them.

    Campus fauna: I’ve seen a flock of turkeys grazing in front of the all-glass-facaded business school @ U Pittsburgh. Where was the camera when I needed it?

      1. This Southern-bred boy has an inordinate hankerin’ for pecan pie. Them’s good eatin’. (And if it’s bourbon pecan pie, well, that’s as close as this atheist comes to heaven.)

    1. I’m actually kind of indifferent about desserts except for 1) chocolate, and lots of it 2) fruit-based ones, especially if they aren’t overly sweet, and 3) nut-based ones, like pecan pie or helva.

      But it would be rude not to try a piece of pake.

  6. “A pake is a recently-invented dessert that incorporates a whole pie baked inside a cake.”

    Ewww! It sounds like a freak of gastronomy! It sounds… very American. 🙂

    Maybe it tastes good, but it’s still wrong. Remember, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should!

      1. Nah, because I can imagine barbecue potentially being invented elsewhere. But the Carl’s Junior Foot-long Cheeseburger comes to mind. 😉

      2. American as in: You guys also invented burgers with meat, bacon, cheese DOUBLE UP. And Turduckens and other strange dishes that seem to favour size instead of … I want to write ‘taste’, but am afraid to come through as too much of a European snob. Ahhh to heck with it: A pake seems to focus on size more than taste. There.
        (But the English, I believe, invented Marsbars with batter – deepfried. Yuck)
        I would taste a piece of pake if it was served, though. It’s not like I’m exactly frugal when it comes to cakes.

            1. I’ve seen them for sale in Edinburgh. Not just Mars bars either: you can have pretty much anything you like battered and fried. A friend has had a deep fried bounty (coconut in chocolate) and a deep fried crunchy (cinder toffee in chocolate). He says they were good. Both in Scotland.

              It’s not an urban myth, but it’s not very common. More of a novelty than general practice.

              Some Scottish fish and chip shops used to deep fry mini pizzas too, for some reason (not in batter though). Perhaps they still do.

          1. I wonder which one has more artery-clogging potential: batter-fried Mars bar, or Ukrainian delicacy of pig fat coated in chocolate.

        1. Yep, it sounds extremely American to me, and I was born and raised there. More than any other country, Americans treat eating as an extreme sport.

          1. My apologies to the English. I think I saw the deepfried Marsbar for the first time once I was in London, and then apparently jumped to conclusions. Bad me … but even badder scots.

  7. Sunday will find you with bunnies!? Cool!

    “pake”. Ah, a new invention in deeds and words.

    I feel bad for the rabbit, having to make do with the greens!

    I estimate the weight of this pake about about 8 pounds

    Oh, so you mean it is a massive a…hem, dessert!

    Gotta try one; the web recipes may help to sell someone on the project. Or I will have to try it myself. But damn it’s indeed a massive undertaking.

  8. OK with adding the rabbit, but I’d stay away from the “florid anus” species – do they not look at these names when they come up with them?!

    1. Isn’t that a bit like complaining about Uranus?

      Now if they took a bucketful of cakes and called it [you know where this is going, after the stomach we can go only lower] “buckcake” – then at least they crowd on another language’s seamy sides.

      1. No, it’s a lot like complaining about Uranus and just as puerile but it’s Sunday and I have to be serious again tomorrow. :-))

      1. It looks (and sounds) very appealing, and–I must say–very patriotic. The only way it could be more patriotic is if each pie-inside-the-cake was stuffed with a cheeseburger.

        1. [more wild laughter]

          Why do I find this so funny? I don’t know…partly there’s just something about that second photo, the cherpumple or whatever it is. It’s so gross-looking it cracks me up.

          I think Phil Plait should give a speech about it somewhere.

  9. Let’s have a pool on how long it will be before some entrepreneur decides to deep-fry pieces of pake in batter, and sell them at county fairs in the South.

  10. Hmmm… I wonder if there are any cherporples? Cherry, porcupine, and apple of course. Ah, those porcupine pies …

    1. PeeZee has posted a Porana on his website. (I’m worried that he’s ill, posting cute baby animals and all).

  11. I’d have to have vanilla ice cream on it, maybe streaks of caramel and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Just a Sunday sugar orgy, then a walk and a nap.

  12. Speaking of state fairs in the South . . . I was gonna try one of these, but the line was too long! I am talking about the Donut Burger (made with Krispy Kreme donuts) at the Kentucky State Fair. For picture.

  13. At first I was revolted – then hungry – then convinced it is a fantastic idea. Plus: ‘cherpumple’; who couldn’t like that name?!

    1. Yes, this is a good, relaxed Sunday thread. I’ve been expecting someone to come up with a religious/atheist angle (can’t imagine how) but maybe Sunday is just atheist Funday – ooh, that’s so anti-Christian!

  14. I am shocked—shocked, I tell you—that this coterie of skeptics poo-poos the pake without trying it. What about the evidence?

    I too was dubious, but when I tried it I realized that a pake could be really good.

    Ditto for the deep-fried Mars bar, which I tried at a chippy in Edinburgh. It was REALLY good, and I wasn’t even drunk.

    1. Oh come on now, this is food we’re talking about. If it makes us feel queasy even just to look at it, we’re allowed to say no thank you. (Remember those supermarket cinnamon rolls? Remember I told you – if they’re the kind with the gooey white icing, just don’t even bother? I was right, remember?! This is inference to the best explanation. Pumpkin pie, spice cake; no.)

      And as for poo-pooing it…well the whole thing is just so funny.

  15. (Although I will also add that I had a version of the deep-fried Mars bar at a local eatery, and it was quite good.)

  16. While I agree with OB on preferring to savor desserts individually, my primary objection to pakes would stem from being the person in the family to whom always befalls slicing duties. aaaaaacccckkkk!

    1. Well right. And who has a plate big enough to hold the slice? And what does Jerry mean anyway when he says “it” is really good – what is “it”? You obviously can’t eat a vertical bite, so you’re never actually tasting “it,” you’re just tasting part of it, so I don’t see the point, unless it’s just for the gross-out effect.

      I suppose if you really tried you could stuff a whole vertical bite in your mouth if you did it in sections, but that would be awfully messy – bits might fall out when you opened your mouth for the next section. And then would you have room to chew it? I don’t know; I see difficulties.

      1. LOL! (Are we anal or what? [And does that term still have any meaning for newer generations? I think I should probably stop using it…I was never a Freudian, anyway…])

      2. Way back in high school I had a friend who would on occasion amaze one and all by demonstrating his miraculous ability to cram an entire Big Mac into his mouth at once, chew it up, and swallow it.

  17. Don’t knock the deep fried mars bar. Best breakfast I ever had? Chicken balti and a deep fried mars bar. Ah, happy daze.

    1. Ah, a classic!

      (What is remarkable about that particular video is that it is quite late in their careers, and they must have done that routine together hundreds of times before, yet Dudley Moore could barely contain himself.)

  18. I don’t rightly know what to think about this. The gluttonous, poor white trash part of me wants a slice, and also wants to cackle in embarrassed delight with friends while we all eat it.

    The purist part of me wants to reject it outright because:

    a) It does, as Ophelia says, have too many things going on at once

    b) I cannot – cannot, cannot- abide store-bought pies, or most pies made by restaurants, for that matter. Especially apple. See, an apple pie worth eating doesn’t look light beige, it looks positively brown. It looks that way because it’s made correctly, with all brown sugar (no white), and a LOT more cinnamon and cloves than you’ll ever get in a commercial pie.

    In short, the only apple pie worth eating is mine (or my mother’s, which is the same one I make). So there. 🙂

        1. Basically, you use only brown sugar (about a cup and a half), and triple the amount of spice most recipes call for. I use granny smith apples – anything else is too sweet – and I put in a tbsp. of lemon juice to boot. Mix in a little less than a quarter cup of flour, then put in a proper (that is, made with lard or butter or a combo of both, never shortening) pie crust. Dot with a half-stick of butter, then put the top crust on and bake.

    1. Does the gluttonous poor white trash part of you want a slice even of the cherpumple? I can almost see the blueberry-peach one (except for the spice cake, and the frosting, which start to make me feel sick again), but combining cherry pie and pumpkin pie? That sounds simply straightforwardly disgusting to me – all wrong – tart plus pumpkin-sweet, cherry filling texture plus pumpkin pie texture – no, no, no, no. My brother and I used to have a game of suggesting disgusting food combinations when everyone was feeling very full after a Sunday lunch or holiday meal or similar – and this would fit very nicely into that game.

      I get overkill, I’m fine with overkill, but it has to work; the flavors and textures have to combine well.

      I’m terribly sorry but I’m going to have to insist on this point!

      :- )

      1. Oh, about that game you and your brother played – I thought I was the only one! And, sadly, I still do it, with my close friend George, and I find it just as funny as I would have at 8 years old. Something about the thought of someone’s face when they bite into a chocolate-covered cherry with a warm, creamy garlic-mayonnaise filling. . .I’m snorting.

  19. Lethbridge, Alberta. Not daily occurrences, but almost. Well, not bunnies, but jackrabbits — those long-legged leporids. Also, almost too common, mule-deer, Richardson ground squirrels, some amazing raptors, porcupines, weasels, a plethora of songbirds (in season), and, of course, crows, ravens, and the ever-amazing magpies. And, for much of the year (between migrations), brown pelicans (which, as you probably know, are brilliant white) catching air above the river valley (before lazily landing below the weir to suck up the fish), while the Ospreys from much higher above more deliberately hunt the fish. We also have feral cats and pigeons (our main university buildings provide excellent cliffs for pigeons, and the coulees are an almost perfect environment for feral cats), but their presence fluctuates with the presence of raptors: currently, both feral cats and pigeons appear to be non-existent; as the raptors thus leave, those populations should once again increase. And, then, of course, rattlesnakes. A protected species, but not uncommon on the sunlit paths on campus.

    There have been rumours of mountain lions and coyotes on campus (the river valley is a major wild-life corridor), but I haven’t personally either heard or seen either. Still, as my office window overlooks the river valley, I do get to see most of this every day.

    Still, for Jerry to get bunnies in deep Chicago? Cool.

    1. psypro: I much enjoyed that lyric description of your community fauna! (I believe, though, that down here our white & brown pelicans are separate spp…)

      For the most part I welcome the glimpses I get of urban-adapted wildlife (and technically, I live in the “country,” so I’m most lucky); but this fascinating blog post I read recently about coywolves ( http://sciencetrio.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/more-hybrid-lovin-coywolves-wolves-and-coyotes/ ) did give me a little pause. Urban-adapted wolves? Hmmmm…

      Still–evolution in action! (I like the author’s remarks on looking at hybridization in a different than usual way.)

  20. One look at that ‘dessert’ and I no longer can say I just lack any belief.

    I now know there is no God!

  21. I wonder how something that is “recently-invented” can acquire a “usual” property (“usually covered with cream-cheese frosting). Doesn’t it take time for something to develop customary or normal properties?

  22. Pretty funny to read your “don’t scoff” line, when “scoff” is British slang for eat–well, it’s more like ‘devour’. So you present us with the idea of the pake and then–to a British reader–say “don’t eat it!”

    I hadn’t heard of pakes. Are they really any better than eating cake with, say, a fruit topping? The British make trifle, which is fruit (sort of like pie filling) piled into a bowl lined with booze-sprinkled cake and topped with whipped cream; not so different, maybe, but I predict when the media over here gets hold of this we’ll be in for another round of comments on how Americans are all obese (yeah, that’s why they win so many Olympic medals, right) and how Americans will eat anything if there’s enough sugar and fat in it. Sigh.

    Gotta wonder how somebody thought about baking a pie in a cake to begin with, though…

    (for a post on the British heart-attack-on-a-plate breakfast, I invite you to the current post at http://mefoley.wordpress.com )

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