Pros: easy to make a cake that your princess will love
Cons: takes some finangling to use; uses more than one cake mix, which box doesn't specify
My daughter began talking about her third birthday MONTHS in advance. You could ask her when her birthday was, and she'd answer "A Cinderella Party with a Cinderella Cake." Any time you even mentioned the word "birthday" you'd get the same response, even if it was someone ELSE'S birthday. At that time, Wilton didn't have its Cinderella pan in production, so I went with the next best thing: the Wilton Stand-Up Doll Cake Pan Wonder Mold Kit.
What's in the Box
Included in this kit is the Wonder Mold pan, a base for the pan that attaches with a nut and bolt, a heating core for even baking, and a brunette doll pick.
Using the Pan
The attachable base is a godsend. You can read my complaints about another similarly-styled Wilton Pan, the Wilton 4-Piece Sport Ball Pan which doesn't have a sturdy base like the Wonder Mold, and this makes a big difference. I don't need to worry about balancing the cake pan in my oven once it's full of batter, especially since it takes more than one box cake mix (which they conveniently forgot to state on the box). Most Wilton pans let you know how much batter you need on the pan insert, but apparently since this is a kit in a box, they left it for the instructions. My first try I didn't have enough cake mixes and had to improvise.
The heating core sets on the exposed nut/bolt assembly and helps to evenly conduct heat through the cake. Most people might not realize that when you put two cake mixes in a pan of this size, it's a little harder to get the middle to bake through without drying out the sides, but Wilton has provided a heating core with this set to remedy that problem (they also sell a heating core separately for use with other pans that don't include one). I did notice that the heating core has a tendency to lean a bit, even with the pan is filled with batter, but it really wasn't an issue because the "hole" that would appear in the top of the cake was centered.
I had no problems removing the cake from this pan, again using my trusty Baker's Joy (or Wilton Cake Release). I have found with Wilton character pans that traditional greasing and flouring often doesn't work, and I continue to use the same method on all my Wilton pans just to be on the safe side.
Decorating and a Few Minor Gripes
Decorating this cake couldn't be simpler: just attach the doll pick with some frosting, frost her torso like the bodice of whatever you want the dress to look like, and the bottom cake portion as the "skirt" of the dress. Wilton provides you with several decorating ides in the instruction pamphlet, including ball gowns and a mermaid sitting on a rock. The possibilities for this cake pan are endless (and I've even used this pan and the 4-Piece Sport Ball Pan for, ahem, "adult-themed" cakes on request)! Please note, however, that you need to use a doll pick with this cake; even if you hollowed out a larger hole in the center of the cake, it's not tall enough to just "stick" an 11-1/2 inch fashion doll into, as the "skirt" would come up only to about her buttocks.
The complaints I have about this cake pan are minor, at best. First (and I can't believe I'm saying this!), this set only comes with a brunette pick. I think that Wilton could have splurged and thrown say, at least a blonde and brunette in one box, and then perhaps done an African-American version, but if you want any other doll cake other than a brunette, you are going to have to hunt down the right doll pick. I had no success in finding a blonde doll pick, and resorted to a bit of plundering, buying a Cinderella doll at the Disney Store, popping off her head, and substituting it on the doll pick. I also used her "gloves" which saved some frosting time.
The other minor problem is the heating core. As I mentioned, it does tend to lean while baking, and while that isn't really much of an issue, it seems that with a longer nut/bolt combination, it might have been made more steady.
Also, this is yet another pan that has various small parts. I hand-wash all my Wilton pans, so I don't need to worry about losing them in the dishwasher, but I do worry about losing them in storage, particularly the nut and bolt. In fact, when I first got the pan, they fell right out of the box and I thought that I had gotten a set that was missing them.
How the Princess Liked Her Cake
As I said, my complaints were minor, and this does make a fabulous cake. My daughter couldn't have been more thrilled to see her Cinderella cake (as this pan serves 8-10 slices, I put it on a sheet cake surrounded by glass slippers), and it was a big hit.
One really great feature of this pan is that it does tend to compact the cake batter. I'm not sure if it's a result of using the heating core, since this is the only pan I have so far that I use it with, but even using box mixes, the cake compacted enough to have a more sponge-cake-like consistency which helps with stability in stand-up cakes and in frosting them.
My only advice is to slice the cake out of the view of your little princess and her court. Cutting up Cinderella doesn't always go well.
Also, this is a perfect item to pick up at Michael's with a coupon. The price I paid reflects that.