There's something that unites us serious eaters every holiday season, and it has nothing to do with the snow, the gifts, or the tunes. It's that perverse excitement we get when our calendar fills up with potlucks—with reasons to impress via culinary prowess—and our bookmarked pages of technically ambitious recipes can finally find justification with our peers. It's in that vein that I pounced on the Frieling Layer Cake Slicing Kit ($42, boncui.com), a trio of cake-assembling accouterments to befit the season of showing off.
The first is meant to fit around a cake that's just come out of a springform pan. It adjusts from 10 to 11 inches in diameter, though in neither setting does the form actually click into place—instead, a sliding lock (that doesn't lock) must be held into place, lest it snap out and shower your kitchen with the crumbs it catches in transit. It's an inconvenience you can get used to, but one that's too simple not to fix (get on that, Frieling!).
Once it's held in place, the form provides seven different slicing guides, allowing you to theoretically cut your cake into eight layers which can be separately picked up and placed with the cake lifter.
The only trouble is that these guides only go halfway around the perimeter of the form, requiring you to rotate and match up on the other side. In most cases, this isn't a problem—matching two or three layers is fairly brainless—but an ambitious 8-layer-cake (the kind you make when you really want to show off) can get a little dangerous if you misalign ever so slightly.
Especially when you compare the price tag to old-school cake slicers, which slice through in one fluid (albeit less stable) motion, it calls into question how much this gadget is worth buying. But the fact that the knife and cake lifter function as such reliable accessories tips me in the favorable direction. Perfect it is not, but for three or even four layer cakes, Frieling delivers quite nicely. I'll take it as a reminder to lower the ante just a bit, and preserve my holiday sanity a whole lot better.
Note: The tested Layer Cake Slicing Kit was a sample from Broadway Panhandler.
About the author: Nikki Goldstein is a freelance food and nutrition writer living in New York City. Aside from her Gadgets and Brunch columns here at Serious Eats, you can find her writing in SELF and the New York Post's new iPad edition, The Daily. Even in her 500-square-foot studio, she devotes an entire walk-in-closet to all things gadget-related.