Cake pans

BORROW AND BAKE: Ashland Public Library Director Heather St.Clair and library employee Jay Hansen show just a handful of the cake pans available to check out at the library. (Staff Photo by Pamela Thompson)

ASHLAND – A donation of nearly 30 Wilton cake pans to the Ashland Public Library allows library users to borrow and bake a wide array of whimsically themed desserts.

Any bakers asked to produce festive cakes for a special occasion now have another option: check out a pop culturally-themed cake pan from the library.

With 28 different designs available, the silver cake pans offer a creative alternative to simply checking out a DVD or a book.

If you can’t make up your mind between superhero, Smurf, spaceship or Sponge Bob, the library has a three-ring binder at the checkout desk filled with photos and dimensions of each unique pan.

One change to the usual recipe is that these special pans are large enough to hold two boxes of cake mix. How many guests the cakes will feed depends on the portion size.

Library Director Heather St.Clair said a local donor brought in about 20 different Wilton cake pans about a year ago. Initially, St.Clair wasn’t certain how to proceed with the gift.

“The trickiest part was how to add them to the collection since they weren’t books or DVDs,” she said. Since then, more pans were donated by others.

Working with a non-traditional collection came with other challenges, she said, specifically, how and where to display the platter-size pans. Now, the collection can be found stretched out along the lowest shelf of a central shelving unit near the genealogy room.

So, which cake designs are making an appearance at local gatherings? St.Clair said the most popular designs are the cat and the frog. A close second would be the puppy, pony or tractor.

Other clever designs include a gumball, hot air balloon, crown, castle and baby buggy. Then there’s Wonder Woman, a van, a cross, a football helmet, a clown, Winnie the Pooh and Wall E.

St.Clair said the library won’t actively purchase more cake pan designs, but would welcome additional holiday themed designs such as a Christmas tree, a jack o’lantern, cupid or a witch.

For occasions other than a birthday party, there’s one pan with Congratulations stamped across it. Another greeting that would get a lot of use, she said, would be one stating “Happy Graduation” along the bottom.

Asked if she’s personally checked out a pan yet, St.Clair shook her head.

“No, I haven’t had an occasion yet to make a cake for a large group,” she said.

All the cake pans can be checked out for three weeks. That’s the standard checkout time for all borrowed items. St.Clair said this policy is consistent with the more traditional library items, namely books and DVDs.

“All we ask differently of our patrons is that they wash the pans well before they return them,” she said.

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