Is 'Aerosol Can Cake' the Next Big Thing?

Rachel Tepper Paley
July 21, 2014

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Forget “just-add-water” boxed cake mixes. Two Harvard University students may have invented the next big thing in lazy baking: Spray Cake, a microwaveable cake batter packaged in an aerosol can.

Spray Cake’s inventors, John McCallum and Brooke Nowakowski, reasoned that the accelerant in aerosol cans (which infuses bubbles into the batter) would enable cake to rise without the benefit of baking soda or powder. Not only were they right, but the result apparently doesn’t taste half bad.

The pair appealed to Joanne Chang, the Harvard-educated pastry chef and owner of Flour bakery in Boston, Massachusetts, for her tasting notes. “I’d add a little more salt, but that’s just me,” the Boston Globe reports her saying.

This isn’t the first time aerosol canisters have been used in the kitchen (hello, whipped cream), but McCallum and Nowakowski’s new application is by all accounts a novel one. But, we wondered: Does a product that asks so little of the baker—one only needs to squirt out the batter and microwave it—do more harm than good? Does it discourage “real” baking?

Photo credit: Spray Cake/Facebook

Tiffany MacIsaac, James Beard Award semi-finalist and owner of Buttercream Bakeshop in Washington, D.C., doesn’t think so.

"People tend to steer clear of dessert because it’s not a necessity," MacIsaac emailed us. "If this gets people in their kitchen baking at home, then that’s just a step away from scratch-baked. So I’m a fan."

She added that aerosol cake batter requires less baking time, which makes it a great option if “you only have eight to 10 minutes to get a dessert on the table.”

"I’d like to try it," she concluded.

Things are clearly looking up for Spray Cake: McCallum and Nowakowski recently took home $10,000 at this year’s Harvard College Innovation Challenge, plus another $2,500 at advertising trade group The Ad Club’s recent "Brand-a-thon.”

Perhaps a Kickstarter is in order? We think Spray Cake is plenty more deserving than some boring potato salad.