Sweet surrender: There are no losers in the Cake vs. Pie debate

Video: Which dessert will reign supreme in our "Sweet 16" bracket?

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Cake or pie? Choose your side. The war starts now.

The words scribbled in blue chalk, scrawled on the cement parking lot of Iowa City’s Bread Garden Market, caught my eye last summer. I never found out who declared the cake-pie war, but the Gazette features department had no trouble taking sides in this delicious debate.

(The majority of us are on Team Pie.)

We wanted to see what dessert our readers back, but we needed a better reason to open the debate than a random chalk message. A Google provided our hook: February. February is National Pie Month and National Cake Month.

We posted a survey on Facebook, asking readers to vote for their favorite. Selecting both wasn’t an option, no matter how much people begged for that option.

In the end, Team Pie proved victorious, but that isn’t surprising to John Hoard.

“Pie is kind of like an impromptu get-together,” says Hoard, co-owner of Hoard’s Bakery in Riverside. “People are out, they decided to buy and pie and suddenly they have dessert. Cake is more of an occasion or an event. You can always eat pie.”

Not that Hoard is against cake.

“We like cake and cake people,” he says with a laugh. “We appreciate them.”

Christopher Ryan, owner of Christopher Ryan Confections at NewBo City Market, sides with Team Cake, but like Hoard stresses that his preference shouldn’t ostracize pie fans.

“I could eat pie, I could eat cake,” Ryan says. “I just find cake a little more versatile. I personally can turn cake into anything. Pie is a little more limiting.”

“It’s really up to a personal preference,” says Kathy McCauley, owner of Kathy’s Pies in Cedar Rapids.

When asked to choose a side, McCauley falls into the “both” category.

“We make a really good German chocolate cupcake, but I’m a pumpkin pie girl, too,” she says.


Unable to choose a side? With this recipe, you won't have to.


  • Cooking spray, for the pan
  • 1 18.25-ounce box vanilla cake mix, plus required ingredients
  • 3 cups quartered fresh strawberries (about 1 pound)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 12-inch rolls refrigerated pie dough
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • Coarse sugar, for sprinkling
  • Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a pie plate with cooking spray. Make the batter; pour into the pie plate until three-quarters full. Bake until set around the edges but slightly wobbly in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the strawberry filling: Toss the strawberries, granulated sugar and salt in a bowl. Let sit 20 minutes.

Unroll 1 piece of pie dough on a lightly floured cutting board. Cut into 1- to 1 1/4-inch-wide strips with a knife. Set aside.

Unroll the remaining piece of pie dough. Cut three 1-inch-wide strips from the middle of the round and press the strips together, end to end, to form one long strip. (This will be used for the piecrust rim.)

Transfer the partially baked cake to a rack; cool slightly. Drain the strawberry mixture and spoon it onto the cake, pressing the berries into the top to hold them in place. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.

Arrange half of the pie dough strips in parallel rows over the strawberries, about 1 inch apart, using the shorter strips on the ends. Fold back every other strip halfway. Lay one of the remaining strips across the center of the pie, perpendicular to the others. Unfold the strips over the perpendicular one. Repeat, alternating the strips you fold back, to create a lattice top. Trim the overhang.

Drape the long pie dough strip around the edge of the plate, on top of the lattice ends. Trim as needed and press the ends together. Tuck the edge of the dough under itself, then crimp decoratively with your fingers.

Sprinkle the lattice crust with coarse sugar and return the cake to the oven. Bake until the crust is golden, 10 to 15 more minutes. (Cover the pie rim with aluminum foil if it browns too quickly.) Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Source: Food Network Magazine

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