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Cake Pops Are the Worst: The 7 Layers of the Cake Hierarchy

Lemon meringue cake
Lemon meringue cake
Rachel Miller

My husband stormed into the bedroom the other night in a rage. I know you are starting to think you clicked the wrong link and that this is Katie Johnson's awesome Jackalope Ranch column, Courting Disaster, in which she writes about sexual exploits. Nope, just a cake pop hater here in this Sugar Rush column.

Anyway, my husband was upset because a reader commented on my column Pastry Trends We Wish Would Die in 2014 with the following:

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"This is truly a sign of the decline. Maybe it's only a matter of time for the vision of the original owners of this zine to get lost in the corporate shuffle. Cake pops are delicious. I don't like cake much, but cake pops are doughy and delicious. Fuck yourself. What happened to facts about corruption instead of bashing on desserts. Dear editors, you are losing your integrity rapidly this way. Sincerely, a longtime reader and supporter. Remember when you were pissing off sheriffs instead of local bakery owners. Think about the local companies, douchebags. Let us bring hard hitting articles back. Don't make yourselves something less than what you can be. It matters to us."

Apparently I offended him and his deep passion for cake pops. My husband got mad about someone telling me to "f--k yourself." I laughed uncontrollably about the comment.

So, let me just take a moment to extend this heartfelt sentiment . . .

Cake pops suck! And not in a good way. Welcome to my hard-hitting article on the hierarchy of cake.

We will start at the top of the cake pyramid, with real buttercream, and slide down the scale to the bottom of the pit with cake pops.

Chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream.
Chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream.
Rachel Miller

Real Buttercream or a Variety of Housemade/Homemade Frosting/Meringue/Glazes with Housemade/Homemade Cake Light, ethereal mounds of buttercream on cake made with real butter. This is the epoch of perfect cake. Also falling into step with this category are more artisan cakes. That perfect pineapple upside-down cake or the persimmons cake that sometimes makes an appearance at FnB. A lemon meringue cake with toasty dollops of meringue. These are the cakes you want to nourish your sweet tooth.

Thick Sugary Icing with Housemade or Homemade Cake Made with powdered sugar and butter, this icing is tooth-achingly sweet, but it is perfect for your niece's 5th birthday party, as it's reminiscent of your 5th birthday party. A rich treat for a special occasion.

 

Fondant-covered buttercream-iced cake.
Fondant-covered buttercream-iced cake.
Rachel Miller

Fondant with a Layer of Buttercream or Icing with Housemade or Homemade Cake Fondant is beautiful, don't get me wrong, but it's pretty disgusting. I don't know many people who actually like to eat it. Peel off the fondant and hopefully you will have real buttercream and housemade cake.

Cupcakes Cupcakes have been made trendy, but they are a trend that will stick. Perfect for a party, so that you don't have to cut cake. Your own individual cake that you don't have to share. Just make sure that it's real buttercream or icing and housemade or homemade cake.

Fake Buttercream with Homemade or Housemade Cake Nasty fake buttercream that is not light with butter, but heavy with cheap shortening. The mouth-feel is infinitely different, and let's be honest, fake buttercream is just plain disgusting. If you go to the trouble of making a cake, why sully it with bad buttercream?

Fake Buttercream with Box Cake Just don't. No point. Don't waste the calories.

Cake Pops Cake pops are like "fun size" candies at Halloween. A small bite when what you really want is a whole cake. Cake pops are perfectly good cake crumbled. Then frosting is added to bind it all together. Lastly it is rolled into a ball, placed on a stick, and coated with melted candy or liquid fondant. The chocolate-coated ones are more palatable, but just barely.

I've seen some that were sweetly decorated. Kudos. To me, they taste horrible, a dense mass of cake and frosting smashed together and chilled to semi-firm, dipped in a waxy coating, and covered with a bunch of sprinkles (or whatever) for decoration. From a business standpoint, they are costly on labor and don't have a great return financially. When Starbucks starts selling them, you know you should cut and run. It's a trend, one that I hope will peter out as soon as possible.

To all the cake pop lovers of the world, I respect your right to adore the cake pop. Even though I think you are making a horrible food choice, I say get down with those cake pops and eat them all up. In turn, please respect my right to hate the cake pop here in my column that is based on my opinion and allow me to hope for its demise in 2014.

Rachel Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, and single-handedly keeps her local cheese shop in business. You can get more information about her pastry at www.pistolwhippedpastry.com, or on her blog at www.croissantinthecity.com.

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