What On Earth?…


Or I guess I should say—what in the sea?

I recently came across this cake pan online, a unique piece of baking equipment that effectively combines my most favorite thing in the world (cake) with my least favorite thing: heinous beasts from the deep with tentacles.

Look. I can understand making a cake that looks like a castle, a clown, or a toy car. Barbie is cool, and so is Winnie the Pooh. Or even a turkey with red lipstick. (Er, sorry Noodlr, I take it back about the turkey with lipstick.) But I don’t understand what kind of event where a cake in the shape of an octopus would be appropriate.

Sure, if you were celebrating someone’s graduation from marine biology school or to fête some dude who at-long-last, conquers his fear of evil tentacled creatures from the deep. But I don’t think there are that many of those kinds of celebrations to warrant a company going through the trouble to fabricate, produce, and market an octopus cake pan. I could never imagine owning one. Ever.

Except today, I woke up thinking about it.

And did I say that I went to bed thinking about it, too?

I mean, who on earth, or in the sea, would want a pan like that? And where would I store it? My kitchen is about the size of a changing room at Ross Dress for Less (although with a bit more charm, no pins on the floor, and more flattering lighting) and I have no where to put this monstrosity. I could have one shipped, but for $30 for the pan, plus $50 for the shipping—plus $65 in customs fees. And how would I explain what it was to the customs officials anyways?

“Mais oui monsieur. C’est un moule à poulpe…pour un gâteau, bien sûr.”

Somehow, I don’t think so.

So I’m going without. But if I’m still thinking about it morning, noon, and night a few weeks from now, when I make a quick trip to the US, I may just pick one up. I’m afraid I’m becoming obsessed with it. I don’t know how they managed to reel me in with this kooky cake pan, but I think they’ve got me—hook, line & sinker.

Never miss a post!


  • February 11, 2009 2:54pm

    What if you colored the cake with squid ink?

  • February 11, 2009 3:05pm

    Not sure if they do this elsewhere, here in NZ cake supply stores will rent out wacky cake pans such as these to you. As I’m not sure I buy the pan either, although I may hire it for a one off occasion if my girls desired and insisted upon it. Perhaps if it was copper it wouldn’t look out of place on the kitchen wall or when making a big scary fish mousse?

  • Dawn in CA
    February 11, 2009 3:15pm

    Courage, Daveed! Don’t do it! LOOK AWAY FROM THE LIGHT! You could buy a lot of really good chocolate for that kind of money…

  • Annalise
    February 11, 2009 3:17pm

    I currently work at Williams Sonoma, and we do still have this pan at our outlet malls, which I am planning on visiting this weekend. If you want the pan, let me know, and we can work something out :)

  • February 11, 2009 3:20pm

    Would have been really useful for my six year old’s underwater themed birthday party though God knows how you get it out without losing half the cake up the tentacles. But yes it is gross.

  • February 11, 2009 3:22pm

    My question: how do you grease that beast of a cake pan? What happens if you miss one of the suckers on the tentacles? Does his tentacle come off when you pull the cake out of the pan?

    The answer to your question: Who WOULDN’T want an octopus cake pan? You could terrify your kids or your neighbors, or your neighbors’ kids when you throw a party. Just don’t frost the cake, because then you’ll have a lumpy hunk of frosted cake that may or may not resemble a octopus.

  • Loren
    February 11, 2009 3:23pm

    Good god! OK, from a viewpoint of practicality… is it of uniform depth? The photo makes it seem as though it would topple in the oven!

  • Andrea
    February 11, 2009 3:24pm

    I think it is more scary to think about getting the cake out if you haven’t properly greased the inside! Also, think about the level of decorating detail that is necessary to make this cake look like an octopus rather than some blobby brown or beige cake monster thing.

    The good news is these wacky pans often end up at Marshalls or TJMaxx at a much discounted rate; so, if you try one of those stores when you get to the states you might find this guy and a few of his buds.

  • February 11, 2009 3:30pm

    That is absolutely PERFECT for my son’s birthday. It’ll match his giant octopus chair. ;)

  • February 11, 2009 3:32pm

    Andrea: Actually, I could see it more of a garage sale item, along with a good story:

    “Well, we got if for little Tommy’s birthday, but it scared him so much and the nightmares got so bad, the psychologist recommended that we put it in the garage. And now we’re just getting around to selling it. If you’re really interested, we”ll let it go for a dollar.”

    “Um…make that fifty cents…”

  • Nauce
    February 11, 2009 3:35pm

    I’ve seen the pan before and think it is fantastic.

    Many people want unique and detailed cakes, kids and adults, there is a strong market. Although I myself prefer to “sculpt” the desired shape these kinds of pans are easy for the casual user.

    Also, there are a couple sprays on the market that are great for detailed pans. No flouring needed. You have to be careful of over spraying (which can bake the cake unevenly on the edges) but otherwise they work wonders getting into every nook and cranny.

  • delphine
    February 11, 2009 3:44pm

    I think that there is a whole world of weird and bulky cake pans just waiting to be discovered by you.

    OT – did you add your flickr to the rss feed? or did I do that somehow? I was so confused when I went to my reader this morning.

    No, I toggled the wrong button at Feedburner and it loaded Flickr images to my RSS. Luckily it didn’t include the porn shot that got accidentially uploaded to my Flickr page by someone via their cellphone, which I sent to the Flickr folks, who told me, “We deleted the booty shot from your page.” I loved that message!..(And that’s why I love Flickr xx)….-dl

  • babyjenks
    February 11, 2009 4:00pm

    i kinda think it’s cute. but i guess that’s because i like octopus. they’re so interesting and intelligent (for sea creatures). i don’t think they’re gross so the cake pan doesn’t freak me out. but i still don’t see any need to own an octopus cake pan.

  • February 11, 2009 4:04pm

    You’re always quite witty, but this little sentence (pardon me) takes the cake:

    “I recently came across this cake pan online, a unique piece of baking equipment that effectively combines my most favorite thing in the world (cake) with my least favorite thing: heinous beasts from the deep with tentacles.”

    I’m *astounded* that Williams-Sonoma was trying to foist this thing on the public!!! For shame! Annelise, do tell!!

  • February 11, 2009 4:16pm

    The thing that would stop me from buying this awesome pan is that I would probably use it once and never again.

  • Laura
    February 11, 2009 4:16pm

    I think you should buy this cake pan next time you’re on U.S. soil and bake a cake with it and post about it. Just leave out pics of Paris this time because they make me want to go back and visit again! : )

  • February 11, 2009 4:28pm

    I’m thinking a Little Mermaid, Under-the-Sea themed birthday party? Once decorated, I think it could be kind of cute, unlike ACTUAL octopi*, which are ugly, frightening creatures that make me afraid to go in the water.

    *Or octopodes or octopuses if you prefer. I had to look this one up.

  • Cris
    February 11, 2009 4:30pm

    My five year old daughter just walked up and said, quizically, “Is that supposed to be a silly statue?” I told her it was. She got the oddest look on her face and said, “but its really strange.” I agreed, but then told her it was to make cake. Her face cleared and she said, “oh, then that’s alright.” Apparently cake covers many sins.

  • February 11, 2009 4:35pm

    Barbra: That’s ok. I had to figure out if it was moule à poulpe or moule de poulpe.

    I was going to ask a French friend, but figured there’s no way I could explain this pan.

    And I’m always amazed the French can figure out the difference in the sound of the words poulpe (octopus) and pulpe (pulp). They sound exactly the same to me.

  • Susan
    February 11, 2009 4:37pm

    Well..I’m, I’m..speechless! Don’t let the mfg’r get that nickle from your pocket. Don’t do it!

  • February 11, 2009 4:53pm

    This post got me through the last part of my day at work. Hilarious. I have pondered this same thing when looking at other oddly shaped cake pans. I like the idea of renting them that another commentor mentioned though. In case you ever do have that friend graduate from marine biology school.

  • February 11, 2009 4:54pm

    That is really interesting!

  • Annalise
    February 11, 2009 5:00pm

    Well, I own this cake pan too.. but then again I have something around 10 unusual cake pans after working for Williams Sonoma over the years.

    The cake pan I have has the gold touch lining, all I did was spray it with baklene and it popped out easily without breaking.

  • February 11, 2009 5:00pm

    Maybe its something like the Armadillo grooms cake in Steel Magnolias. Ha!

  • Evy
    February 11, 2009 5:42pm

    Thank you for your blog and for keeping it so up to date! I love reading your blog!
    The “as small as a dressing room at Ross Dress for Less”–your blogs always make me smile while I learn something!

  • February 11, 2009 5:48pm

    My husband is an avid scuba diver and he’d love a cake made in a pan like this one.

  • Vivian
    February 11, 2009 5:58pm

    I actually bought the pan. I my 5 year old niece had a beach themed birthday last summer and I bought the pan specifically for that. It turned out really great. I had decorated it with gray butter cream icing gave it some jelly bean eyes and tentacles and used crushed graham crackers for sand. She loved and so did the other children that were there. I have to admit I am a sucker for pans like this. The last time I counted there were 28 Nordicware form pans in my collection and I barely have the room for them but they are fun to play with.

  • February 11, 2009 6:00pm

    Yep, I saw this too in the store on “sale” for $20…and I decided against it. What it gains in it’s ability to terrify small children and some very small people it lacks in it’s complete inability to support the most important feature of any cake: the frosting! Can you imagine one of these “creature cakes” covered in a thick layer of fluffy buttercream? It could pass for the Lagoon creature for sure. Though I also agree that if I found it at a garage sale for a buck, the temptation would take over and I’d be looking for a nook in my tiny cupboard to fit that monster right now….or I’d grow a plant in it.

  • Nichole
    February 11, 2009 6:18pm

    To all who have purchased this pan: please post pics of your deep-sea creations for us all to enjoy.

  • Jean
    February 11, 2009 6:25pm

    It’s wrong, It’s just wrong. It’s like those people who make cakes in the shape of animals and use red velvet cake so it looks like blood when you cut it.

  • O.C.
    February 11, 2009 6:27pm

    It may be weird looking, but I think this pan would maximize the tastiest part of the bundt cake: The dark, crispy crust. Mmm… bundt octopus crust…

  • February 11, 2009 6:44pm

    octopus and cake both taste delicious, what a perfect combination. :D

    however, i’m curious as to why all the suckers on the tentacles are facing upwards. is this guy trying to impress someone with his flexibility?

  • Tags
    February 11, 2009 6:46pm

    It may have belonged to a Detroit Red Wings fan. The fans throw octopuses on the ice when they score.

  • Erica
    February 11, 2009 8:30pm

    Too many inappropriate jokes come to mind …

  • February 11, 2009 8:41pm

    Ooh, I’ve seen that…I personally think cephalopods can be quite cute. That pan isn’t cute, though. It looks like a pain to get out in one piece, but maybe fun to decorate anyway.

  • February 11, 2009 9:34pm

    Haha! That’s cute. I like your perspective, David!

  • Sally K
    February 11, 2009 10:03pm

    Detroit Red Wings hockey fans could make these cakes to celebrate another Stanley Cup win.

    It was tradition (before it was banned) to go to the fish market and get octopi to throw on the ice at games…

  • Charlene
    February 11, 2009 11:00pm

    I admit this silly pan kinda “hooked” me, too, the first time I saw it. That same “Who would use that? Who needs it? OMG, I NEED IT!” response.
    But what un-sold it for me was knowing you have to put candies on the cake to finish the effect. There’s something about incongruous flavors that repulses me, no matter how small the proportion–Swee-Tarts on chocolate cake, for example. Yech. I decorate gingerbread houses, so I know that some candies look cuter than they taste, and I just can’t be bothered with cute-but-yucky.

  • Robert Yesselman
    February 11, 2009 11:04pm

    Perhaps its not for a cake at all, but a huge seafood mousse or gelee. Imagine the tentacles holding fruites du mer? Maybe not?

  • CityMInx
    February 11, 2009 11:11pm

    Is anyone else thinking Jell-o Mold?

    I mean, c’mon! Think of the add ins and color variations!

    I know, I’m queasy thinking about it. But still….

  • February 11, 2009 11:11pm

    daveed said : Barbra: That’s ok. I had to figure out if it was moule à poulpe or moule de poulpe.

    actually, none is really accurate.
    moule à poulpe : something to put octopus in, to give some octopus flesh a shape.
    moule de poulpe : something made with octopus flesh, in order to contain something else and give it a shape.

    another possibility is un moule poulpe. Here, octopus is a quality for the mold as it could be green or squared. But actually, this sentence could be also understood as un moule à poulpe : something used to give octopus a shape, on the same model as un casse noix means “something to break nuts”

    The fully accurate sentence would be un moule en forme de poulpe (octopus shaped mold), which is the most precise in that case (this sentence “en forme de” is pretty common in french.).

    daveed said again : I’m always amazed the French can figure out the difference in the sound of the words poulpe (octopus) and pulpe (pulp). They sound exactly the same to me.

    Oh ? so I think you have the same problem between une poule et un pull :)

    i’m searching what english world would have the sound [u] in it, but I can’t find even one…

    and about that funny mold obsession, you know, it’s like when you have a melody that runs in your head and you cannot help it : you need to sing something else to make it go away. You should start browsing the marvelous world of odd cake molds, or maybe those little ones for eggs ? :D

  • Linda H
    February 11, 2009 11:17pm

    David, kids love this pan. From the Little Mermaid’s popularity to SpongeBob, kids know and like under-the-sea things.
    Or maybe the Beatles are involved, “in an octopus’s garden.”

  • Eileen
    February 11, 2009 11:18pm

    Isn’t it amazing how much stuff is out there that we don’t need? AND, that there are people out there making a living designing things like this?

  • February 11, 2009 11:20pm

    Come up for air, David. I think you need the chamber. Reel yourself in, slowly. I can’t imagine whats come over you, but if you simply must have that danged thing, well, I’m sure we can take up a collection and zip it to you. I mean, seriously, are you serious?

    Well. Okay. Maybe you are. Serious. But for the life of me, I can’t wrap my arms around this item.

    Maybe I need tenacles.

  • phil
    February 11, 2009 11:26pm

    that really is off the wall… the same retailer you’re looking at sells a pirate ship, too, no? pirates don’t do it for you? just octopi?

  • Maureen
    February 11, 2009 11:40pm

    If I used this pan to make a cake for my 3 year old nephew – ah….I would the cool aunt. They make other cool pans too – ones with stars for 4th of July, 4 car trains, santas, pine trees, castles, pansies, hearts – I have a collection. I may have to hit the store for another nordic ware pan.

  • Modern Girl
    February 11, 2009 11:47pm

    In Japan, the octopus is considered a very erotic beast. There are many old prints that show beautiful pearl diver girls entangled in the octopus’ arms. Eyes rolling back, mouth open, much like Lita with the swan.
    Maybe it is the end of a meal of oysters, with pearls.
    Modern Girl

  • Debbie
    February 12, 2009 12:35am

    Speaking of strange cakes….has anyone ever seen the “Cake Wrecks” blog? It’s very, very, VERY funny, and showcases real-life photos of PROFESSIONALLY decorated cakes that have gone strangely awry. Definitely worth checking out.

    My personal favorite is this one: http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/2008/05/this-made-me-laugh-til-i-cried.html

    Hope you enjoy!

  • Andrea
    February 12, 2009 1:05am


    This is perhaps too crude for your sweet blog, but I feel it merits mention given the uproar over the cake pan.

    You have heard about the California woman who gave birth to octuplets last week, yes?

    Well she has had the misfortune of acquiring a nickname on the internet that, shall I say, would justify baking her a cake with this pan. (Think James Bond)

    Perhaps this will decrease your desire to own the pan!


  • February 12, 2009 1:56am

    I Found this blog to be amusing…
    For some reason I keep envisioning it being filled with chocolate….and yes I realize how much of a Pain in the A…I mean butt it would be.
    I agree w/ the other noters…TJmaxx or Kohls or something…. : P

  • Matt B.
    February 12, 2009 2:12am

    Ì’m pretty sure PZ Myers would love it…

  • delphine
    February 12, 2009 2:25am

    “And I’m always amazed the French can figure out the difference in the sound of the words poulpe (octopus) and pulpe (pulp). They sound exactly the same to me.”

    Well in case you were wondering, there is research to indicate that infants are born with the ability to hear all of the phonemes used in the world but lose the ability around 6-9 months (I think).
    If you skip to :45 in this video you can hear one of the women say two different words that I would never be able to tell are different. http://tinyurl.com/cz78w7
    And this video shows the procedure they use to test whether or not infants can tell the difference (complete with terrifying bunny toy) http://tinyurl.com/bqglfr

  • February 12, 2009 2:50am

    I was going to guess the octopus was a fanciful citrus reamer, but hey.

  • February 12, 2009 3:41am

    rouquinricain & Krysalia: Wow, I didn’t know that the same word could be masculine or feminine. How did you folks ever learn French? ; )

    And thanks for the tip on un moule en forme de…. It wasn’t right as I wrote it, but when I asked Romain, he had no idea what I was talking about. (In his defense, I don’t think any French person would understand a cake in the shape of an octopus.)

    delphine: I finally can hear the difference between dessous and dessus, so I’m getting it. I just had to teach Romain that we’re going to the beach in March, not the bitch.

    If he says that in America, we’re going to get a lot of funny looks!

  • February 12, 2009 4:25am

    my first thought would have been to use it as a jelly mould… it wouldnt be the classiest of dessert but it sure would look cool :)

  • siri
    February 12, 2009 4:32am

    I’ll tell you who on earth would want (and therefore has purchased) that pan- my Norwegian mother-in-law on her first visit to the states. The woman loves baking, so we took her to Williams Sonoma, and it was the one thing that caught her eye in the whole damn store. That and blue food coloring. Blue is outlawed in Norway.

  • mindy
    February 12, 2009 4:37am

    I WANT THAT!!!!!

  • February 12, 2009 5:01am

    It would be great for fish mousse – much edgier than the old 50s and 60s slightly curved fish tins that you can still find in secondhand shops … and fish mousse is utterly delicious, I’ve recently found – another forgotten food our mothers and grandmothers knew was good

    Loved the post … looking forward to seeing an octopus cake on this blog sometime soon ;)


  • February 12, 2009 5:15am

    OMG! David, that mold is so freaking adorable!!! I can totally see why you want it.

    First of all, I love octopi. I think the are so cute. Especially animated ones. For some reason I like them best when they are aqua and purple, or bright blue. Unlike you, I do love to eat them, as well.

    Anyways, I am all for getting it. Live like it’s 1999, baby!

    If you don’t end up making a bunch of aqua and purple octopus cakes, or any other color combo for that matter, perhaps you could make other things like really kooky gelatin molds, or seafood mousse (mmmm… salmon mousse… crab mousse… sole mousse… hey, you could even layer them and use bay shrimp where the tentacles go, or cucumbers and lemons). Or even better, how about a big chocolate octopus covered in white chocolate, and finished with metallic coloring effects? Maybe with peanut butter mousse filling, even. Yum!!

    As for the folks that keep coming on your comments forum and criticizing your grammar… what is the deal???

    This is a blog folks!! David is sharing his recipes and his life, and we love it! This is not a published book. You are getting this for free. He makes time to post just about every other day, and he does it with tremendous skill and finesse. I wish I could pull that off. And, as far as I can tell, he has excellent manners, and a tremendous amount of tolerance. Cut him some slack stone throwers. It’s getting tiresome.

    ‘Nuff said.

    Peace out,

    ~ Paula

    Hi Paula: Thanks for sticking up for me, but it’s fine with me for French folks (or French-speaking people) to point out quirks and inconsistencies with the language, and with my use (or abuse) of it. Luckily 99% of those comments made are nice and friendly, and I welcome corrections made in that manner. When people are rude about it, that’s not very nice and is certainly uncalled for. I do get a kick out of when people point out a grammatical error or typo, and their comment is full of similar mistakes! Merci~ -dl
    : )

  • February 12, 2009 5:35am

    Did you ever think about making ice for a seafood buffet with it? That’s what I’d do.

  • February 12, 2009 5:42am

    Lucy: If you think that would fit in my freezer, you obviously have larger freezers in Lyon than we do in Paris!

  • February 12, 2009 6:09am

    I would have taken it for a mold for seafood mousse or (ugh) gelatin. It still wouldn’t sell me, but I should think a cake would cook very unevenly with the pronounced differences in thickness.

  • February 12, 2009 6:33am

    Bonjour, David! Si j’etais vous, j’achetais le moule a poulpe. Ce n’est pas tous les jours que vous trouvez quelque chose comme ca.

    J’ai une question pour vous, et je sais que je suis un peu…hmmm…en retard, mais c’est la vie. Je vais visiter a Paris ce weekend (samedi jusqu’a mercredi), et je voudrais vraiment vous rencontrer. Je suis etudiante americaine a Angers. Aux Etats-Unis je suis etudiante aussi, mais je suis aussi fromagere a une petite ferme des chevres. Donc, j’ai une passion pour le fromage, mais aussi pour le chocolat, le vin, et le pain (et les patisseries bien-sur). Je sais que vous avez un emploi du temps plein, mais moi aussi. Seulement 4 jours pour voir Paris! Est-ce que vous pouvez imaginer ca? Donc, si vous avez seulement 15 minutes pour parler avec moi, je serai tres contente. En tout cas, merci et bonne journee!

  • tut-tut
    February 12, 2009 7:45am

    I try to keep my snarky self lurking in the background, but when I see an engraved invitation just sitting there on a silver platter…Meg, kiddo…just a couple of questions.

    If you are American, and you’re writing to an American on a blog written in English, then why in the name of all that is holy would you write in French? We’re all duly impressed that your French is better than ours, but criminy. Did you not see that all of the above entries are in English? Any reason why you’d make someone read something that is not in his/her native language, especially when you’re asking a favor?

    And oh yes…we’d all like to have un petit rendezvous with our dear David, but perhaps you should refer to this, from the FAQ up there in the green bar at the top of the page:

    “Get Togethers: Because of my various projects and writing, my schedule doesn’t leave time for get-together with visitors—I barely have time to see my friends! But I host get-togethers in Paris & elsewhere, which I post on my blog and Schedule page when they occur and are great ways to meet up.”

    I’m just sayin’.

    (tosses my purple feather boa over my shoulder and sashays away.)

  • February 12, 2009 8:11am

    Perhaps better suited to pate` than cake? Do you really think you could get that kind of detail to work with cake – and then how would the detail fare after icing? I’m just sayin’. Although if anyone could do it, I’m sure it is you, David! Maybe with a superdense flourless chocolate concoction…..?

    I still say it makes more sense as a mold than as a cake pan…..

  • February 12, 2009 8:19am

    anna: Hmm, maybe I could use it as one giant chocolate mold. After all, the fête du poisson is almost coming up, and I’m sure all those chocolate fish in the pastry and chocolate shops could use some company.

    But that’s an awful lot of chocolate..perhaps 2-3 kilos, or more…

    tut-tut: I think she was just trying to make me feel bad because my French is less-than-perfect ; )

    But you’re right that unfortunately I don’t have time to get together with folks and do host events in Paris, which I put on my Schedule page. Merci~

  • ChefCitron
    February 12, 2009 8:45am

    I saw this pan at a Williams-Sonoma outlet for $7 this past summer. I had it in my hands, and then decided I did not need a cake pan in the shape of an octopus. As we drove from the outlets and entered the highway, I was filled with deep, deep regret. I, too, could not stop thinking about the possibilities. Forget cake…I was thinking giant frozen octopus floating in the pool at a pool party. Jiggly, fun colored giant Jell-o monstrosities (for those who like Jell-o). An ice-cream-octopus…the more I though about it, the deeper my regret grew.

    I am happy to report that I returned to the W-S outlet a few months later, and bought this pan for only $5! I also gave one tyo my best friend for Christmas (he loves Jell-o). I admit I have yet to create anything, but summer is right around the corner.
    Hope you get one, too, David!

  • February 12, 2009 8:54am

    My first instinct was to giggle, my second to hum ‘Under the Sea’. I wouldn’t pay full whack for it but don’t think I could resist if it was on sale…

  • February 12, 2009 9:06am

    ChefCitron: If you’re trying to make me insanely jealous, you’ve succeeded!

    (Glad your story had a happy ending, though. Nothing worse than buyers remorse, but nothing better than scoring on the rebound.)

  • Eily
    February 12, 2009 9:39am

    You MUST see Cake Wrecks. Truly inspired. http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/ Hilarious. Horrifying.

  • February 12, 2009 9:50am

    This is so funny…I just came across this as well a couple of weeks back…at the Brooklyn Kitchen where I was taking a pig butchering class. It is completely bizarre. I don’t know who on earth thought it was a good idea. Although I think the Williams Sonoma cakepan that was supposed to be a pumpking patch but ended up looking more like a collection of boobs was worse.

  • Elisheva
    February 12, 2009 9:56am

    I’ve seen pans like that (lobster-shaped was the most egregiously/delightfully absurd) at a restaurant supply store in Toronto’s Chinatown. I also wondered who would ever use that and why. I guess you could make some pretty disturbing jello molds, though… jiggly lobsters and fish and octopuses (octopi?).

    P.S. Perhaps l’étudiante Américaine en France was trying to practice her French? As a (bilingual) anglophone in Montreal, I know it can be intimidating sometimes to want to practice but not know where or how. :)

  • February 12, 2009 9:57am

    I would totally put jello in it. :D

  • February 12, 2009 10:07am

    Paula Maack> about those grammar and language correction, I only do this because david said that he likes it, and I try to be funny, friendly and accurate in the same time (ok, sometime it’s just plain boring but who succeed all times ? :D).

    If I knew that david is annoyed with these comments i’ll stop immediately. As I said to someone before, here, maybe those pesky people in the comments that point out david’s errors as being a shame need more fibers or prune juice in their food. But I think I do not “point the shame in the mistakes”, instead I try to point out the intersting part of english/french differences. I see this as an friendly exchange : I’m glad to help with a point of french vocabulary, tradition or grammar (and I do this especially when david marks hesitation about a word, that I see as an invite to precise the point in the comments), and doing this I’m helping my poor english to get better (ok, maybe one cannot see that now, but maybe one day, à force… :) ).

    I’m sorry to hear that you find this tiresome. I think we all sometimes find other comments tiresome or have different ways to interact in blog comments, for example I just don’t finish comments like a XXth century handwrote letter. I think that Il faut de tout pour faire un monde, comme on dit :)

  • February 12, 2009 10:13am

    My sister-in-law purchased a castle-shaped one about a year ago and bakes in it every once in a while for my brother, because he likes castles. :) But she got it at a discount store for $15–I can’t see spending more for such a specialty pan.

    Personally I think they’re cute, but I don’t really bother much with frosting & decorating shaped cakes. My skills are not great in that area–I’d rather bake a tasty cake and sprinkle powdered sugar on it and be done. Call me lazy!

  • MysticMeg
    February 12, 2009 10:14am


    Could this be a J. Verne answer to the LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA?
    Did the manufacturer of the pan have a special request by a BEATLES fan or Band Member? Or is it simply humor? I vote for humor. In 2009 we all need some laughs – twisted or not? I have a friend who is afraid of octipi – don’t know why maybe a bad snorkeling accident. Could this be sliced into a torte or a Boston Cream Pie Cake. Just wondering. This pan would be great for a Summer Fever Party – a Hawaii or Swimming Pool Party in February.

    Thanks for the Laugh – I needed to see this pan person !!! Anyone who owns it please send pictures. Just to Love It!

  • February 12, 2009 10:21am

    Salut Krysalia: I love your comments, as well as those of others, and I know how proud the French are of their language. And I’m sorry I make a mess of it, but at least I try.

    (Although I did just get a fabulously passive-aggressive message from the manager of a famous restaurant in Paris, who said, “I enjoy your blog. Pity it’s not in French.” Unfortunately he didn’t invite me for dinner, so I could practice it. Which would’ve been nice…)

    Everyone, including you (: D) is welcome to leave comments and corrections. As mentioned, it’s always the manner in which they’re spoken. I didn’t delete or edit any of the previous comments because I thought they were all meant in the spirit of passing on information and sometimes online, people tend to be more assertive than they actually are. French is really difficult and as I say, “Even the French have trouble speaking French!” (The same holds true of Americans, as some of us have atrocious English. But the worst offender, thankfully, is gone as of last month.)

    Thanks for your thoughts, and comments. Now I need to go back and stare at the picture of the cake pan again. If only I could figure out how to make a Marjolaine or Paris-Brest in it.

    : )

  • February 12, 2009 10:49am

    Actually I do not find you french “a mess”, not at all. when I had young french students, their work was a mess, I can see the difference. You’re perfectly right when you say that french is difficult even for french people :) .
    glad to know I’m welcome as the others, I love to comment here. But maybe i’ll refrain a little my enthousiasm for french/english language debate, or keep it when you’re clearly questionning a point in your article.

    about the cake pan, I found this link. The cake she made is even more fascinating than the pan, especially with this round blue eyes !
    she got it at Sonoma for ten bucks or something.

  • rouquinricain
    February 12, 2009 11:06am

    Paula> I don’t think i was very harsh in my comments, in fact, i did everything not to be harsh. but i’ve spent a LONG time learning french and know how easier it is to live in france speaking correctly. i expect people to correct me whenever i make mistakes. i mean, how else are you supposed to learn?

    david, you must know the other famous word that has two meanings depending on gender. UN poêle is a stove (for heating a room) UNE poêle is a frypan.

    and that u sound in tu, pulpe, cul, what have you, simply doesn’t exist in english, which is why most english speakers are never able to distinguish the ou sound and the u sound (ie poulpe and pulpe)

    i find the best way to make the u sound in pulpe is to pronounce a crystal eeeeee sound (with lips stretched to the side) and while doing so round the lips as much as possible like you’re making a big pucker, that should do it.

  • Sezz
    February 12, 2009 12:17pm

    I feel your cake pan pain ;-) I bought the nordicware Castle pan in a charity shop for a pound. The ladies working there wanted to know if it was a very industrial strength sand castle mould. So my problem is…………. it’s remained in the dark depths of a cupboard unused as I don’t know what recipe to use. Any suggestions ?

    Having actually graduated as a marine biologist I should of course have bought the mermaid one though.

  • dave
    February 12, 2009 12:59pm

    If you used the pan to make panna cotta and then, assuming you were able to get it out of the mold intact, set it atop of nice flat custardy pie (pumpkin or something else) you would, of course, have an Octipie.

  • Sunny
    February 12, 2009 1:23pm

    Sezz, my experience with shaped cake pans is that the highly three-dimensional ones (like our 8-legged friend here, or the teddy bear that I was requested to make for years and years for baptisms, christenings, first birthdays, etc.) is to use a heavy, dense cake, such as a pound cake.

    They are heavier, and “stickier”, it tends to stick together better, and the sugar contents make for a fairly solid crust that caramelises beautifully and further holds it all together.

    Just make very, very sure that you grease and flour the mold well — I used a pastry brush to ensure I got into all the nooks and crannies, and then left a little more flour in the fat than I would with a square or round pan.

    I’ve destroyed a few, but I’ve overwhelmingly had success with all sorts of funky shapes by following these tips.

  • February 12, 2009 1:28pm

    It has a fun factor of 9 out of 10. Don’t overanalyze yourself so much, Lebovitz! Just run with it!

  • February 12, 2009 1:38pm

    I think it’s fabulous, and it makes me wonder who has the largest cake pan collection in the world…

  • Kathleen
    February 12, 2009 2:02pm

    The moment I saw the photo and before I read a single word I was reminded of the thousands of times my little girl watched The Little Mermaid. I still know all the words to Under The Sea. I would have bought that mold 15 years ago.

  • emily
    February 12, 2009 3:26pm

    I bought this cake pan for a friend. She LOVES octopuses. Now that Williams-Sonoma no longer carries this pan I want it sooo bad! (I checked to see if there was an outlet near me, but there isn’t.)

    If you spray some oil in there the cake just pops out. I’ve had several octopus cakes in my short lifetime. Who needs an occasion to make a cake? All you need is enough people to eat it ;o) Bad day? Make an octopus cake!

  • emily
    February 12, 2009 3:41pm

    Also, when I bought this from WS, it was at WS-Kids, not the regular store. I love this pan, but it is easier to see how this would appeal to children more than adults.

  • February 12, 2009 3:48pm

    Most Awesome Cake Pan! EVER!

  • February 12, 2009 4:23pm

    Wow, that pan certainly engendered a lot of discussion, didn’t it?

    I think it’s pretty nifty, but only if it washes itself. My daughter (6) would LOVE it. Here’s my question, though – how do you ice it? With different colors for eyes and suckers? In grey, or purply-pink, or mottled? And who is talented enough (certainly not ME) to let the design show through the icing?

  • February 12, 2009 6:32pm

    Wow, $145 for a cake pan?? Now that’s a monstrosity. However, if you did end up purchasing it, I would imagine that this would make a very entertaining cake for a child’s birthday and a great conversation piece for all the grown-ups in attendance. I can imagine it as the colorful top for a cake in a themed birthday cake competition…though using the pan would probably be cheating. :-)

  • Janet
    February 12, 2009 6:57pm

    Resist the force!

  • February 12, 2009 7:13pm

    I think that pan is pure genius. I would give it pride of place on an Italian Christmas Eve Table and I might use it twice. Once as a Lemon-Rosemary Jello mold to clear the palate from all the courses of fish and once again as a Panna Cotta surrounded with Chocolate Sauce. (Olive eyes?)
    Hugs to you big D.

  • Steve G aka Epstein
    February 12, 2009 10:30pm

    Williams Sonoma seems to have a whole series of these. We purchased an unwieldy rabbit shaped one to make an Easter cake for a terminally ill friend of ours who is irredeemably in love with cute pink things. These cake pans are a LOT of work.

    1) The pans don’t like to sit flat in the oven. There’s a magical position where they’ll sit flat, and a second position where they’ll list at a drunken angle, somewhat more stably–notice that only 3 arms have support bumps, and they aren’t a perfect tripod. When my boyfriend loaded the bunnies into the oven, they tipped from perky upright bunnies into disasters when he slid the rack in.
    2) Buttering the pan does not work. Synthetic sprays mentioned above might.
    3) The recommended batter is ridiculously butter-heavy. It’s a genoise that gained 50 lbs. I tried a normal genoise and it stuck like mad.
    4) They’re really hard to decorate. All the fantastic detail gets covered up, unless you painstakingly recreate it on the surface with a paring knife or similarly sharp ended item
    5) The end result is far more detailed than could be achieved with sawing up a block of cake and trying to assemble it brick by brick into an interesting 3d shape. If you know someone who would die for an octopus cake, I don’t know if there’s anything that would make them happier.

    Oh, and the fish mousse comments put me in mind of a tomato aspic my mom made one thanksgiving in a bunt pan. Some sort of octopus aspic would work too; you could make a dashi broth, dye it a gentle sea green, add gelatin, and then suspend baby octopi and jelly fish in it to make a “subtlety” or “entremet” fit for a banquet.

  • February 13, 2009 3:52am

    Sorry for the sh-tstorm in your comments, David. I feel awful about it, now.

    Krysalia and rouquinricain: I don’t know why you think I was talking about you. I was not referring to either of you, and I am so sorry if you were offended by my comment. I was actually referring to recent posts (not this one) in which David’s English was being criticized, not his French. I apologize for the confusion.

    Either way, it was none of my business. I just feel bad when fellow bloggers are under attack, and I am particularly fond of David. And, I am the kind loyal girl who likes to stick up for the folks I dig. That’s all. I was actually seconding the prune juice statement that you made a few posts back.

    Honestly, I expected people to get upset about the rude over-generalization I left on a previous post of David’s about American v French women. I kicked myself for two days and lost sleep over that comment, and wish I could temper or delete it, but it’s published and that’s that. Alas, I often read David’s blog extremely late at night or first thing in the morning with my coffee, and my comments are always Pulitzer worthy, I’m afraid. Sorry. I’m a very busy gal.

    As for my comment closures, it is a personal thing. I think people do not have enough closure in this digital age. It surprises me how many people won’t say goodbye on the phone or in person anymore. So, that’s just my thing. Call me old fashioned if you like. I will consider it a compliment.


    ~ Paula

  • February 13, 2009 4:25am

    Oh I totally fell into a Sunday morning wormhole of shaped cake pan research by accident last fall. Tractors, stadiums. A many-headed-hydra pineapple thing. Totally absorbing, could not help but invent a narrative that went with the event the cakes would be eaten at and what kind of person would bake them.

    The most baffling to me was the one that is shaped like a two-dimensional side-view drawing of a cupcake. A cake shaped like a cartoon of a cupcake. Still trying to figure that one out.

  • February 13, 2009 4:53am

    hahaha, that cake mould is just fantastic!!! :-)))

  • Joanna
    February 13, 2009 6:36am

    That’s really cool.Fifty cents, you say? Agreed ;o)

  • February 13, 2009 12:41pm

    I love this! My husband had a crab pan like this silly under the sea contraption you are obsessed with and he used it as a decoration in the entrance way of his house. It stored some memories that had something to do with green jello and vodka and an old friend. I tried for years to get rid of the hideous thing to no avail. When we moved to our current/ transitional location (a kitchen smaller than the Ross changing room) I insisted it be donated to the goodwill. Believe it or not in all the joy of marital bliss, I finally won! And now I read this blog to him and he still morns the darn thing. Just get it will ya! Life is too short to pass up the things that give you some creative (unexplainable joy), and then once it has served it’s purpose (or porpoise in this case) of one memorable evening and then sits on the wall of your tiny kitchen for 15 years you will one day have to let it go. And so it goes. It may be time to have an underwater costume party. Do they do stuff like that in Paris?

  • Paula González Silva
    February 13, 2009 1:01pm

    Hello, David.

    I’ve just seen this adress on Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie, and I’ll loved your recipie of vanilla icecream with stracciatella. It looked delicious :D´´

    Don’t worry about the pan, probably when you cover the cake, the octupus will disappear. Unless you prepare un pudding on it. Probably for a pirates bortherhood. Or for St. Peter’s day. Or for teasing somebody who hates octopus.

    I hope I continue visiting your blog.

    Huges from Chile,


  • oliverde
    February 13, 2009 1:27pm

    Just one more thing to litter the earth with. Consumerism with a capital C. Ugh.

  • February 13, 2009 1:36pm

    I don’t know if my perspective would bring anything to this boiling pot, but as a French, I’d say “moule poulpe” although I would try to refrain from saying it since it is quite frightening. “poulpe”…think “pool” with a p at the end. I am still thinking of one for “pulpe”…Oh wait, “pull” with a p at the end. I guess that works.
    Your French is “delicious”…if such a word applies to language :)

  • February 13, 2009 3:19pm

    Longtime reader, first time commenting. David remarked: But I don’t understand what kind of event where a cake in the shape of an octopus would be appropriate.

    We lived on a beach in Mexico when our son was young … and had an amusing adventure involving a small octopus. He (and our daughter, who wasn’t born at the time of the adventure) both adore the story, and beg us to tell it to them on almost every road trip. It’s become something of a family legend … and thus, their grandmother bought us the cake pan for Christmas. When I do make our first cake with it, we’ll probably all join in the fun of decorating it, and I’m sure our octopus story will be told and retold. Judging by the heft of the pan, the octopus story—now improved! With Cake!—may last to my great-grandchildren’s generation!

  • Frank
    February 13, 2009 5:39pm

    When my flatmate dragged one of those babies to Scotland, all I could ask was “WHAT?!?”

    I’m planning to use it for a Irish stout chocolate cake for St Patrick’s Day. IT will be a Shamrocktopus Cake.

  • February 13, 2009 9:59pm

    Oh, geez!

    Krysalia and rouquinricain: I finally read all the comments before my first one. I don’t always have time to do that. Doh! Now I get it. Of all times to say what I said, no wonder you guys thought I was talking to you.

    I guess I should read all the comments before I post. Apologies, again.

    ~ Paula

  • February 14, 2009 11:29am

    That is the strangest pan I’ve seen. It doesn’t even work as a Jello mold.

  • February 14, 2009 12:17pm

    I realize now that I meant “pull” as in “sweater” when we try to say “pullover”…

  • Marina
    February 14, 2009 9:14pm

    My friend’s nickname is a combination of her name and the word octopus in Russian. “Octopus” as a word does sound cuter in Russian. So far I’ve given her a birthday card with an octopus on it and an octopus plush toy for her baby boy. I’ll possibly get the pan and make a cake for her, so thanks for posting it :)!

  • February 15, 2009 6:24am

    These molds are absolutely wonderful, I recently gave one with little roses to my baking-crazed sister and will give her a few more very soon. Hopefully she’ll bake one of her wonderful cakes for me next time I’m back in Italy. :)

  • February 15, 2009 6:27am

    By the way, I can buy the molds here in Holland so I guess they should be available in France too. Ciao!

  • Eliane
    February 15, 2009 8:41am

    Oh please buy it! We NEED to know what an octopus cake would look like!

  • February 15, 2009 12:28pm

    What an excellent Cake tin! Suitable for so many themes:

    1. Underwater parties!
    2. The gaining of a scuba diving certificate
    3. Celebrating the octopus’ ability for multitasking
    4. … ran out of ideas at 1, if I am truly honest! That doesn’t mean, of course, that I can’t see the delightful attraction of the tin! Its too darn tempting! Until now, I never knew I wanted an undersea themed party…

  • HB
    February 15, 2009 1:09pm

    I have one of these. My dissertation was on octopuses, and I still work with them. I make octo cakes for my lab sometimes–it’s super fun to decorate them. I use candy buttons, lifesavers, etc. I’ve even made a “fancy” one with those Godiva seashell candies as decoration. It’s kind of a tradition in the lab now, for my students who get into grad school or who get great jobs to get an octo cake.

    And it does work for Jello if you spray it with neutral cooking oil spray. It takes a bunch of packets of it to fill the thing, though.

  • Stephanie
    February 16, 2009 4:21am

    Ahhhhh…I had this pan and sold it at a garage sale last year before moving to Paris. I thought that my kitchen here would be hopelessly too small to have things like Octopus pans and right I was. I wish I had saved it now and would have offered it to you in exchange for a meeting in person (you say you are not that interesting and don’t know why strangers want to meet you, but I am pretty sure you are interesting and someone I would enjoy very much). I do have the matching octopus apron from Williams Sonoma…..and would be willing to part with it….even though it belongs to my 3 year old son who would cry if it went missing. Oh, and did I mention the apron is a child’s size but you are thin and it is adjustable.

    Funny story….during my apartment hunt in Paris, I mentioned that a spare closet would be perfect for my husband’s many sweaters (speaking in French)….but I pronounced ‘pull’ as ‘poule’ and the real estate agent quickly ushered me out and said that he could not rent us an apartment if I planned to raise chickens! This [u] sound is a plague upon all anglophones!

  • Abbey
    February 18, 2009 4:36pm

    I own this pan. I got it (along with a finished cake from this pan) for my 21st birthday. It’s quirky, cute, and I love it!

  • Susanna
    February 18, 2009 7:05pm

    It is oddly appealing. I can only imagine the look on my guests’ face when I set down an octopus for dessert. (We keep kosher, and seafood is forbidden).

  • February 19, 2009 6:44am

    I love it! It would be great to make panna cotta in a dish like this…

  • emily
    February 19, 2009 12:55pm

    actually, david! i’m a senior in college and i live with 7 other girls…making 8 of us… and well, we call ourselves (appropriately and crudely) the octopussies! we would buy this cake pan in a heartbeat…if we weren’t broke college students.

  • February 19, 2009 12:58pm

    emily: well, some of the other readers said that they saw this pan at discount outlets. I’d imagine it’s not exactly a super-popular design for cakes, so you might want to check around. And you girls sound like fun! Maybe you could make a 8-legged jello shot cake!

  • Jo
    February 19, 2009 1:49pm

    Looks like it’s available in France at Artgato.com

  • cab
    February 22, 2009 10:49am

    I love nerds and am experienced in shopping for quirky, nerdy gifts for my fiance.

    I think he would love an octopus cake for sure, especially if it weren’t just an octopus but a monster – think cthulhu.

    I’m not sure he would be jazzed about bringing in a special kitchen item to take up room in our scarce storage space. I love him, but how many times a year can I bake him an octopus cake? I think he would rather that I figure out a way to make the cake happen without the pan.

    Nerds are so cool.