Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hate to Love / Love to Hate

On the topic of bundt pans (um, is this really a post about cooking utensils???), I think I've mentioned that the one I used for years - cheap, teflon coated and practically disposable looking - was an incredibly frustrating baking companion.

Why it took me years to replace it is the question du jour. In truth, I barely baked for 10 years, so it's not like I was in the market for new cooking tools.

I also hadn't, at that stage, fully embraced the concept that you're only as good as your raw materials. Of course, I've always applied that philosophy to ingredients. But the implements are also so key to good results...

Really, this post is about how I went to Williams-Sonoma to replace said crap pan with a fancy, spesh one and had a rather shocking encounter.

For starters, even though I like to bitch about the place and laugh about the "more money than brains", professional mom baker clientele, I love everything about that store. I mean, except the price tags.

I love how they give you samples of seasonally-themed treats created from upscale, pre-mixed baking boxes you can then buy on the spot, not that I do. I love how they greet you at the door. I love how they don't bat an eyelash as they tell you about the $400.00 copper pan you are never going to purchase. I love how they display everything.

There are things I never knew I needed till I walk into W-S!

But here's the thing: A couple of weeks ago, when I'd finally committed to the idea that I would need to replace my bundt pan for a new one, I opted to check out my options there. I looked at 4 cast iron pans - 50 bucks each - all of which were cast incorrectly, leading to slight imperfections in the depth of one or another of the grooves. I reviewed each one deliberately. The SA went to speak with the manager about why every pan in stock seemed to display a similar imperfection and, if you can believe it, the manager suggested that the nubs of iron, gooping at the base, would not impact the overall appearance of the finished cake?!?!

I mean, you don't need a PhD in baking to realize that, whatever the batter abuts while cooking will reflect itself in the final mold. They didn't offer to order me a new one from America. They didn't remove the botched pans from the floor. What is happening people? I sense I'm witnessing the final decline of our civilization.

As a last straw, I checked out the bottles of food colouring and was horrified to see that they are charging $21.50 for 4 mini bottles of water with chemicals. The same water with chemicals I purchased later that day from Fiesta Farms for $2.25.

I walked over to The Bay and got a nicely weighted Cuisinart bundt for $25.00 - on sale for $19.00. It was not beautifully presented inside a box. It had no imperfections. It made a lovely, delicious cake. Hmmm.


  1. Wow. I guess they really DO expect their clientele to have more money than brains.

  2. Heeheehee! I also love to check out WS but rarely purchase anything of serious significance, because the prices are sooo over the top. I tend to do more research there, buy knick knacks I really don't need and then make the major purchases at

    How odd about the whole bundt cake pan debacle! I'm no baking pro, but, um, helloooo. Perhaps the manager doesn't actually bake. :)

  3. Now you are good because I'd have walked right back into the store and showed that manager what a perfect inside looks like!

    Merry Christmas

  4. ws is so funny, it really makes me feel like an insufficient female because i really havent a clue what half the things in the store is all about, you might as well put me in the tool section at home depot!

    that said... i did a project at ws headquarters in san francisco, and it was bizzare how every one, i do mean everyone there was a blonde female. i was literally the only brunette, save a few asian women. it was by far the creepiest place i ever worked, and i have worked in creepy places!

  5. Sal: Mysteriously, since I posted this, I've found myself on a WS email list. I'm getting spammed daily!

    Sonja: Isn't it weird? Of all people, you'd imagine that manager would know what she's talking about. And very good plan, research - then buy at a reasonable price!

    Kate: Ha! Nothing would last that long - perfect or no...

    Jennine: Fascinating! And the whole place is designed to make you feel like an inferior woman. It's part of the evil plan :-)