A few months ago I found myself wandering around a craft store. I believe it was summer because my husband and kids were with me, though the three of them were wandering elsewhere. As for me? I was in the baking aisle. Of course I was in the baking aisle. I mean, I like yarn, but so do my cat and daughter. I like fake flowers, but have nowhere to put them. I like making pretty little things with vases, flowers, marbles, sand, etc., but it’s not always child-friendly. No, I can usually be found in the baking aisle.
By the time summer had rolled around, I had been ratio baking for about 6 months. Most of that time had been taken up with making 8 inch 2-layer cakes. That’s a lot of cake for one person to eat. And a lot of cake that ended up being thrown out. I suppose I could have made single layer cakes, but I really adore making multiple layers. I suppose I could slice one layer in half, but I can’t do anything in a straight line and the middle always looks like I somehow inserted a weed whacker into into it. No, layer cakes are my things.
Whenever I’m somewhere that has baking tools, I always find myself staring at the baking pans and sheets. I can’t help but think of all the things I could make with all those shapes and sizes.
And then I saw them. The answer to my frustration.
4 inch cake tins. A package of 3. 3 4-inch cake tins.
They were adorable. They are adorable. I adore them.
Do let me tell you why…
They’re Magical for Ratio Baking
I’m still a beginner ratio baker. I’m still learning and experimenting. Using large pans to make things has just become utterly wasteful. My family does help. A bit. But the eating mostly falls to me, and I just get sick of it after a couple of days. These cake tins have been instrumental to helping me figure out how the ratios work, how to make things, and absolutely don’t provide more than I’m willing to eat. I can experiment and, if it doesn’t turn out well, I’m not wasting an entire 8-inch cake or something equally large.
The best part of ratio baking is being able to scale it up or down. I start small. When a ratio calls for an egg, I use one egg. When it doesn’t call for an egg, I use the smallest unit I can get away with. That way I make just enough to try it. If it works, I can easily scale it up. If it doesn’t, I don’t feel as bad about throwing out just a little.
These mini cake tins have been a huge help to me. I no longer have to wait for a craving to strike me. No, now I can just experiment, try a little bit, and not feel too guilty about not finishing or throwing it away because it was disgusting (fortunately, that doesn’t happen too often!).
Now that you know why I love them so much as a ratio baker, let me tell you how they’ve really helped me.
Experimenting with Gluten-Free Cakes
My mom is gluten-free and I usually make her birthday cake every year. For a few years, I used a chocolate cake recipe that usually turned out well, but was a bit too crumbly. Last year, I decided to use the cake ratio to see if I could make a better one.
Those mini cake tins really helped. Instead of having to make a whole cake while testing, I could just make mini cakes. Instead of potentially wasting a lot of ingredients to make something that might or might not have turned out well, I was using just a little.
It took a couple of tries to get the gluten-free cake right, but I did it. Oh, sure, I could have use a muffin tin, but why use a whole tin when I could just use a single tin? I could use all 3 of them or just one or two or even make different things that would bake at the same temperature, but for different amounts of time. I mean, there’s just so much I could do with 3 4-inch cake tins.
Experiment with Pie
I’m not a big pie eater. I enjoy pie once in a while, but I don’t usually wander into the kitchen and think I want pie. I’m more likely to want cake.
When I decided I was ready to try pie, I didn’t like the idea of using a 9-inch pie dish, though I’d still like to get a glass pie dish one day. And, yeah, the cake tins aren’t exactly shaped for pie. But, you know what, it doesn’t really matter when I’m just in the experimentation stage. I don’t care how things look. I care about how they taste. So these little pans did the trick perfectly.
But the best part was being able to make multiple pies with different fillings at the same time. Instead of making a single 9-inch pie, I was able to make 2 different kinds of pie in 2 different ways: an apple pie and two blind baked pie crusts for a chocolate custard. And then I made a couple more because I was on a pie high and made a strawberry pie and ice cream pie using homemade ice cream. Seriously, nothing felt better than making a dessert where I not only made the crust myself, but the ice cream, too.
For someone who likes pie once in a while, these tins have been amazingly helpful. I get the serving of pie I want, I get plenty of room to experiment, and I don’t waste any!
And I Have Plans For More
So far, I’ve just used them for cake and pie, but I can’t wait to try to make bread, quick bread, and even cookies in them. Being able to make a single serving or so feels great. Their tiny size gives me room to experiment with minimal guilt, and they just look so darn cute. I can’t wait to try making mini layer cakes. I’ve never made a 3 layer cake before, but I can’t wait to try.
I adore these 4-inch pans. They’ve made my ratio baking adventures a lot more fun, and me a lot more excited to try new things since I don’t have to make an entire cake, pie, bread, etc.
Stay tuned for more pie posts later this month!