The Big Top Cupcake is a two-part silicone cake pan -- one for the base, and one for a cone-shaped top. It also comes with a silicone insert to shape the bottom layer so it has room for a filling, such as pudding or ice cream. The result is a big cupcake-shaped cake measuring 6.5 inches in diameter and 7 inches high that weighs almost 25 times an ordinary cupcake. Most recipes use one box of cake mix.
We found mostly positive reviews of the Big Top Cupcake, though a few users are disappointed that it's smaller than they'd expected. It may take more than one Big Top Cupcake to serve a party. Reviewers say it can take some experimentation to get the exact results you want, but if the cake turns out lopsided, it can be trimmed to shape as soon as it's cooled. You can even cool it quickly by putting it in the freezer.
Though the Big Top Cupcake kit is advertised as nonstick, reviewers recommend using a cooking spray before filling the molds with batter. We found some concerns about the safety of silicone bakeware, but it's approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and there's no evidence that silicone can migrate from a baking pan into food. We found a few complaints about fumes from cheap silicone bakeware, but none about unusual smells or tastes from the Big Top Cupcake pans. Altogether, the Big Top Cupcake is cute for kids' parties, and owners say it's a lot of fun to make and decorate.
The most interesting reviews we found are from news stations that include video clips. At KFVS (Cape Girardeau, Mo.), a teacher tests the Big Top Cupcake in her second-grade classroom, while the video at KPLC (Lake Charles, La.) provides a step-by-step demonstration of using the molds. About a dozen users review the Big Top Cupcake at Amazon.com. We rank the detailed video review at StarReviews.com lower because the page includes an ad for the product and the affiliation isn't clear.
We found discussions of the safety of silicone bakeware at several sites, including Green Living Questions and Answers, where quite a few people comment about specific brands. Articles at two lifestyle-oriented blogs -- Care2.com and BlissTree.com -- include links to more information about this concern.
1. KFVS (Cape Girardeau, Mo.)
In this review, complete with video, a second-grade teacher tests the Big Top Cupcake in both her classroom (using a convection oven) and in her home. The class gives the Big Top Cupcake an A, the teacher an A-minus. Testing it at home in a regular oven, the teacher ups the grade to an A. The kids love using the Big Top Cupcake and eating the results; the teacher concludes that it's a good buy.
Review: Big Top Cupcake: Does It Work?, Lauren Keith, Dec. 16, 2009
2. KPLC (Lake Charles, La.)
Reporter Jeff Jumper enthusiastically tests the Big Top Cupcake for ease of use and taste results, concluding that "it's a yes." The video provides an excellent demonstration of how to use the molds. Jumper also weighs the completed cake, noting that at 24 oz. (compared with a 1-oz. regular cupcake), the manufacturer's size claims are reasonable.
Review: Big Top Cupcake, Jeff Jumper, 2009
About a dozen owners give the Big Top Cupcake mixed reviews. Most say it requires some experimenting to find the best temperature and baking time in your particular oven. One user reports that the insert for filling doesn't work well, but another recommends overlapping the two rims to keep the insert in place (as indicated in the instructions). Using it with one box of cake mix produces a fairly small cake, so for most parties you'll need more than one.
Review: Big Top Cupcake, Contributors to Amazon.com
This reviewer notes that it can take some experimenting to find the appropriate levels to fill the two molds, but concludes that the Big Top Cupcake is fun to use and deserves a rating of 5 stars out of a possible 6. The review should be taken with a grain of salt, however, since the page features an ad for the Big Top Cupcake.
Review: Big Top Cupcakes Video Review, "StarArthur", Aug. 22, 2009
5. Green Living Questions and Answers
This discussion gets off-topic at times, but comments from contributors indicate that some people can smell unpleasant fumes from some silicone bakeware, mostly cheaper brands. (We found no reviews of the Big Top Cupcake that indicated any unusual smells or tastes caused by the silicone.)
Review: Offgassing From Silicone Bakeware, Debra Lynn Dadd and Contributors
This article, which includes several links to information about the safety of silicone, concludes that the jury is still out about whether or not silicone can migrate from a baking pan into food -- and if so, whether or not this poses any health risks.
Review: Is Silicone Bakeware Safe? Ask Annie, Annie B. Bond, May 6, 2008
This reviewer also researches questions about the safety of silicone bakeware, concluding that there's no evidence that it isn't safe to use.
Review: Silicone Baking Pans Safe or Not, Marye Audet, September 24, 2007