Unless you’re the parent of an elementary-school child or you attend a disproportionate number of retirement parties, it may have been a while since you last encountered a frosted, bakery- or grocery-bought sheet cake. Think back to that most recent sheet-cake experience. What did the cake look like? What color was its frosting? Were there icing flowers? Icing text? Now that you have its image in your mind, we want to know: Which piece of cake did you pick?
Maybe it was a corner piece, with frosting on two sides and a big, sugar flower. Maybe it was an interior piece, with frosting only on the top. Or maybe it was an edge piece with just two frosted sides. Frosting-to-sponge preferences vary wildly here at The Takeout, with some of us preferring all the icing while others want as little frosting as possible. Please state your personal case in the comments.
At parties with frosted, square cakes, I’ll scan the abandoned plates left on bistro tables next to crumpled-up napkins. So often, people have left what I’ll refer to as the spine of the cake piece: the frosted edge where the layers end in a glorious expanse of buttercream or ganache. Why, people? The frosting is—that’s it, I’m saying it—as good as the sponge-cake portion.
“But it’s so sweet!” people whisper, setting down their cake with two mini forkfuls nibbled out of it. Yes, friends, it’s a sheet cake. The frosting is the point. You don’t want your frosted part? Give it here. I try to select the slice with the most garish frosted rose atop it, usually an easy get unless I’m at a child’s birthday party, in which case I might have competition.
I so rarely in my everyday life eat desserts that are straight-up sugar bombs. Even ice creams these days are all savory-gourmet, with fancy coffee bean or delicate pistachio flavor. Sweet desserts are not cool. The “true” pastry people are all about desserts made with corn and matcha tea and charcoal and more salt than sugar. “It’s not even sweet!” is somehow the highest praise for desserts these days.
Frosted cakes are my twice-a-year sugar overload, and why fight it? I’m going to dig into that fondant rose like I was born to do. I may need to chug three glasses of water afterwards, but that’s to be expected. [Kate Bernot]
I am on the record as not the biggest sweets person. So I’m not about to wrestle Kate Bernot to the ground for that fondant rose. On the other hand, neither am I about to say no to cake, especially if it’s a delicious mid-work-day break, Office Space-style, or the sweet end to a shower or other afternoon party. I’ll take the square piece in the middle there.
See, I think too much frosting overpowers the cake (hopefully it is a moist cake that deserves to stand on its own, not a dry cake dependent on the frosting to save it). So I like the more equal mid-piece frosting/cake ratio. Obviously my enthusiasm toward this middle piece depends on the flavor of frosting—and also on how good the cake is. Chocolate, definitely. Buttercream, absolutely. Lemon, love it. Plain old sheet cake, meh. But carrot cake with cream cheese frosting? Everybody better get out of my way for that one, I want it all. But I will still save the fondant roses for Kate. [Gwen Ihnat]
Kate “Papa Bear” Bernot likes too much frosting.
Gwen “Mama Bear” Ihnat likes too little.
Kevin “Baby Bear” Pang has it juuuuuust right.