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December 19, 2012

specialty pans: zoo animals & stars!

Holiday time has arrived! I am inclined to put a little more effort into making things look nice and be more themed around this time of year.

Enter: these molds.

Look at them. They're adorable! I want to go buy a pretty plate so I can display them on something other than a scratched up 9x13 baking pan or the really old white bowl I eat oatmeal in. Actually, with only one final to go and all day to study, I may just go shopping now ...

But that's besides the point. The focus is on these molds.

Certain ones are greased better than others. Can you tell what they all are?

I've had the star mold for some time; I think I got it from a distant family friend, who I last met when I was 1 - 2 years old ... so no memory of them. All I know is that we exchange Christmas gifts religiously (haha get it? except not really, because I'm not Christian) every year. And that they live in another state and are very nice people. And have good taste in friends.

- WIlson Star mold - silicon / naturally nonstick
- Nordic Ware zoo animal mold - Pro Cast aluminum / good quality / sturdy / nonstick (so don't use metal utensils on it, only plastic)

Both work very well, granted you take the time to properly prepare them. This requires fastidiously greasing and flouring them.. The prep work and cleaning these pans involve can get annoying, but look at how the cakes come out. There is so much detail! You can clearly distinguish the one below as a monkey. And I just love the hippo's teeth.

I actually got the zoo animal pan as a secret snowmonster (play off secret santa) gift exchange we did for our Dance Marathon Central Planning Board! We had a holiday party in an arcade-style place on campus, (which sounds dumb, but oh, think again), and opened our gifts at the end.

Surprise surprise, my roommate had me! And I didn't know! I can be incredibly nosy (which usually sucks for any surprises I am supposed to get), but I had no idea! She got me the zoo animal pan, and I love it. She also got me this adorable little Yeti-in-a-box thing.

Anyway ... I do indeed have one more final to study for. Buh. Less than 24 hours to freedom!!!

Last note about these pans: DO NOT use the recipe the zoo animal pan comes with to make cupcakes. Seriously, it sucks. The directions say to mix yogurt, softened butter, and eggs. This will never form a homogeneous mixture (well I mixed by hand, I don't know about mixers). And it's weird. What happened to the creaming butter & sugar step? Yogurt should be alternated with the dry mix or added last. I used the below recipe to make my little tasty cakes. It worked.

Funny final note: I've made this spiced applesauce cake before. My post about it is absolutely horrendous. I am not even going to link it, so you can find it if you'd like, but I would suggest you to not.

Spiced Applesauce Cake
verbatim from smittenkitchen; this is a very reliable cake, and I always choose to not use frosting. this filled up all the zoo animal and star molds, with about a cup leftover batter.
  • 2 cups flour 
  • 2 tspns baking powder 
  • 1/2 tspn baking soda 
  • 1/2 tspn salt 
  • 3/4 tspn cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tspn ground ginger 
  • 1/8 tspn ground cloves 
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed 
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce 
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped (optional, but so good)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8" or 9" square pan. If using specialty molds, grease pan and then flour to coat the majority of the surface of the mold. 
  2. Mix ingredients from flour to cloves. Set aside. 
  3. Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla for a few minutes, till lighter in color and fluffy. 
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. The mixture should remain fluffy. 
  5. Beat in applesauce. 
  6. Stir in flour mixture, until just combined. Mixture will look curdled, but don't worry about it! Add walnuts, if using. 
  7. Spoon batter evenly in pan. If using molds, fill a little more than 3/4 of the way up. 
  8. Bake 30-40 minutes if using pan. If using molds, bake 20-25 minutes. Gently poking the center. If the cake springs back up, it is ready. The edges will look a little darker, as well. 
  9. Remove from oven. Wait 5 - 10 minutes, then invert. Cool completely. 

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