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May 16, 2009

7 immutable laws of dessert.

1. Cake must be portioned sequentially. Round cakes are a blank slate until the first slice is removed. At that point all future slices must follow either clockwise or counterclockwise. Square and rectangular cakes must be portioned as if you are reading a good book: left to right and top to bottom. Moving out of sequence to grab a tasty corner piece verboten. (Tony)

2. A pie is only as good as its crust. In fact, the only reason we eat pie is to justify eating crust. Consider an apple pie. What do you call the apples? Pie filling. Therefore pie is crust.

3. Bake Alaska went extinct in 1957. Stop making it.

4. While it is possible to blend cakes and pies i.e. Brown Betties, Cobblers, Pan Dowdies, etc, doing so creates ethical dilemmas. First, these Frankensteinian creations must always be made in square or rectangular pans and must follow the rule of cake. Second, while it is acceptable to scoop out portions with a spoon, you may NOT continue to spoon the fruit filling onto your portion as it oozes out from surrounding future portions. You must consider the fruit-to-topping ratio of the original product and adhere to this ratio with each portion. It is advisable that the baker label the product with this ratio to assist you in eating it.

5. Trifle presents diplomatic problems and should be avoided if at all possible. It is a chaotic mix of pastry cream or pudding, cake, fruit, and whipped cream. Your most refined guests will passively accept whatever you scoop on their plates, and possibly even ooh and aah over the event, since to them the serving will be no more than a prop to hold while they discuss their place in society. Less refined guests will insist upon scooping their own trifle but those in line will shout at them for Bogarting specific ingredients thereby leading to hurt feelings or all-out arguments. Your least refined guests will resort to physical violence at this point, possibly directed toward you for serving something called "trifle."

6. Ignore other cultures: fruit is not dessert, it is food. It only makes the journey from food to dessert if it is teamed with one of the 5 cornerstones of dessert (yes there are five corners): pastry, crust, pudding, jello, and Cool Whip.

7. Ice cream is not dessert. It is a tasty treat with no connection to the traditional dinner course system.


  1. Please be advised: Any desserts displayed on trays at restaurants more expensive than Applebys are actually made of...cardboard!

  2. I'm more of a cheese platter kinda guy. And, elsewhere in the world, pies are usually the main course, rather than dessert.

  3. JerryK: cardboard is a good source of fiber.

    Husbands: You are muting my immutable laws. We like our chicken pot pies in the US so either this too is a dessert or apples are a meat product.

  4. I love #6. My sentiments exactly.

  5. What about cheesecake? It has a crust, but cake is right in the name.

    Ruling please?

  6. Cheesecake? Thankfully I didn't suggest that there were only 7 laws. I would posit that cheesecake does not have crust in that crust = pie and cheesecake <> pie (see, it's mathematical rather than opinion.) Cheesecake definitely follows the rule of cake. Beyond this, I would add #8:

    Cheesecake must contain cream cheese and eggs or else it is not cheesecake - eggs create the structure. If you use one of those horrible mixes or if you combine cream cheese with geletin you are at best creating mock cheesecake and at worst creating cheese Jell-O.