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Tuesday
Dec082009

Cake Byte: Jane and Michael Stern in Seattle in January!

Milk and Cookie in Seattle
Jane and Michael Stern talk a lot about foods like hot dogs, mac and cheese, burgers, and savory things.

But from time to time, they also break out an exquisite gem of a sweet find--which are reported on their site, roadfood.com. And generally the sweets they love are of the intensely decadent, no holds barred variety (yesss!).

And now they're coming to Seattle!

They will be speaking on January 12, 7:30 pm at Benaroya Hall, Seattle; Tickets are $25-50, $10 for students/under 25; available at lectures.org or at 206.621.2230. There will also be a community dinner the evening before (it's pricey, but hey, if you're a super fan, why not?); for more info, click here.
Monday
Dec072009

Cake Poll: Sweets In Movies, and a Sweet Giveaway!

Sweet Giveaway
Are you ready for some Christmas magic? Heck yes! With that in mind, how 'bout another giveaway?

This time, it's a totally sweet prize pack brought to you by the movie It's Complicated, featuring Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, which was directed by Nancy Meyers and will be in theatres on December 25. Why this movie? Well, because as you know I am fascinated with dessert in movies, and this one features the inimitable Meryl as a baker!

Here's what you can win:

Prize 1: “Uncomplicate Your Holidays with a Visa Cash Card!” -- one winner will receive a $50 Visa Gift Card, and an It’s Complicated tote bag filled with an apron, t-shirt, blanket and the official soundtrack!

Prize 2: Five additional *daily* winners will receive an It’s Complicated Tote Bag filled with an Apron & T-shirt!

These sound like some sweet prizes for movie enthusiasts!

How do you enter?

It's easy: just leave a comment below saying what your favorite food-in-movie scene is! And since I'm feeling generous, feel free to post your favorite sweet or savory food moment in movies!

The giveaway will run for two weeks! In the meantime, check out the trailer below--you can also find out more about the movie on the official website or on Facebook!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AYhcdPtZnw&hl=en_US&fs=1&]
Friday
Dec042009

Cake Poll: Favorite Christmas Cookies and a Huge Wilton Cookie Exchange Giveaway!

Wilton Giveaway - It is Huge!
So, check it. Several weeks ago I received an email from Wilton asking if I'd like to check out their new book, Wilton Cookie Exchange--a collection of ideas and recipes for creative Christmas cookies, with plenty of cookie-exchange party ideas. Um, of course I would like to check it out. And to my surprise and delight, about a week later, I received a package--with not only the book, but a veritable truckload of sweet cookie swap schwag--from cookie cutters to decorating gel and sprinkles, to parchment paper and decorative boxes, and even invites--so that I could host my own cookie exchange party. Yes! And so I did. Here are just a few of the cookies people brought:
Lisa's Cookies"Lina" CookiesMarshmallow DreidlsRobby's Creamsicle squares dipped in Chocolate
Pretty much, it was the awesomest holiday party ever, with dozens and dozens of beautiful cookies and great company.

And you know what? You too can experience this cookie nirvana. Wilton has very generously offered to donate the works--the cookie exchange book and comprehensive party package, including what by my estimation tops over $100 worth of cookie decorating and party products--to one lucky CakeSpy reader.

How do you enter yourself to win? It's totally easy. All you have to do is leave a comment saying what your favorite Christmas cookie is (while not necessary, please do feel free to link to a recipe!) in the comments section below. But enter soon: the Cake Poll will close at 12PM PST on Tuesday, December 8, and one winner will be chosen at random. US entrants only this time, please. Good luck!
Friday
Dec042009

Batter Chatter: Interview with Carrie Sellman of Half Baked - The Cake Blog

Cherry blossom cake by Carrie Sellman for CakeSpy Interview
Let's talk about cakes. More specifically, beautiful cakes--which are in abundance on the great site Half Baked - The Cake Blog. Written by Carrie Sellman, a former cake shop owner-turned blogger, this site is a great resource for not only cake but party ideas, and you can easily lose yourself looking at the gorgeous pictures. And now is the time to discover the site--there's currently a pretty awesome $100 Crate & Barrel gift card giveaway going on! But who is behind the blog? Read on to learn more:

CakeSpy: First off--tell us a bit about who you are.
Half Baked Cake Blog: My name is Carrie Sellman. I’m a cake designer and former specialty cake shop owner, now turned blogger. Most importantly, I’m a lover of all things cake!

CS: What is your first cake memory?
HB: Growing up, my mother always went out of her way to celebrate family birthdays. There was always party decorations, our favorite meal and of course, cake! I have such great memories of my childhood birthdays! Making a wish and blowing out candles. Chocolate cake was always the staple for my family. Ironically now as an adult, I prefer something lighter when it comes to cake.

CS: Your site mentions that you are self-taught. How did you develop an interest in cake decorating?
HB: When I was about 10, I got my first set of cake decorating tips and a pastry bag from the craft store. I made my dad a character cake of a golfer for father’s day. You know my star tip got a workout on that cake! I’m sure there is a picture somewhere… but let’s just say that my talent was not yet at full potential. Fast forward many years through college and a career in IT. I started to think that my hobby could be something more. Thanks to the encouragement of my husband, family and friends, I decided to go for it!

CS: You closed your business in Dallas to relocate--any plans to open a new location where you are now, in Illinois?
HB: Yes, closing my business in Dallas was a heart wrenching thing to experience. But my husband got the opportunity to pursue his dream job. So we relocated to Central Illinois. I truly wish I could reopen here, but I just don’t think it’s the right market or the right time. So I’ll have to settle for writing about cake, for now…

CS: Do you find that the baking scene is different in Illinois than in Dallas? How so?
HB: Most definitely. I think all trends tend to hit the big cities first and then spread throughout the rest of the country. The cupcake trend is just now settling in here. I think it will be a little while before cake design, as I know it, will be in demand. I wonder if the high costs inherently associated to a cake that requires such intensive labor will prevent modern cake design from ever truly becoming popular here. But what do I know!

CS: Fondant seems to be a type of icing that can often taste...well, not good. Do you have any tips for making it more delicious--recipes, types to use, things not to do, etc?
HB: You would not believe the number of clients who love how fondant looks but prefer the taste of buttercream. Most often my solution is to give them a little bit of both. The majority of my cake designs have a buttercream base icing with fondant accents only (i.e. the stripes, polka dots, flowers, bows, etc). The perfectionist in me spends way too much time smoothing the buttercream to give it that porcelain look, but I think it is worth it. The end result is a stunning cake that still tastes good! If I cover the entire cake in fondant, then I use Satin Ice and I roll it as thin as possible.

CS: Tell us about one of your personal favorite cakes that you've made.
HB: It’s really hard to pick a favorite. It seemed like I used to have a new favorite each week! But one of my all time favorites is a design that I created for Bride & Bloom Magazine (pictured top of the post). I was given basic guidance that the theme was Asian Contemporary and the colors were red and black. But other than that, I had complete creative control. I always feel that I do my best work when I have more freedom with the design. It was three tiered (one tall, two short) with ivory fondant and black satin ribbons. The cherry blossom pattern was inspired by a sleek and modern pillow from Crate & Barrel. We placed some black river rocks around the base of the cake stand for the photos, which was the perfect finishing touch.

CS: Your blog focuses a lot on parties (at which cakes are consumed, natch). What role does cake play in a party?
HB: What’s a party without cake? Cake is the best part of any party. Really, think about birthday celebrations in the workplace. Why does everyone head to the conference room for some awkward idle banter? It’s all about the cake! Cake brings people together. :o)

CS: How does your blog feed your cake obsession?
HB: I truly miss owning my business, working with clients to design a cake for their event. You feel like such a part of their big day. I loved that! But my blog allows me to play a small role in my reader’s events. Whether it provides them with some inspiration or connects them with a fabulous cake designer in their area via our Top Tier Directory. And I get my cake fix by featuring hot new cake designs, the stunning events where they were enjoyed, and the talented artists behind the cakes. Throw in some inspiration boards, real parties, insightful articles and fab finds. You’ve got yourself a party. Have I mentioned that I LOVE parties?

For more sweetness, check out Carrie's site, Half Baked - The Cake Blog; you can also stay updated via twitter!
Friday
Dec042009

Cake Byte: Preview of the Trophy Cupcakes Show!

Add Bardahl (and cupcakes)
Dudes and Dudettes. I am, like, so excited about my upcoming artist reception at the Wallingford Trophy Cupcakes tomorrow evening!

It is going to be an action-packed day for me: I will be selling artwork all day at the awesome Urban Craft Uprising (P.S. check out the interview I did on their blog!), then rushing over to Trophy at 6 p.m. for some delicious cupcakes and the artist reception!

Note: Don't worry if you can't make it to the reception. I'd be happy to see you, of course, but the artwork will be up all month, through January 2! Plenty of time to pick up a holiday present for a loved one (or for yourself. You totally deserve it.).

I've been painting my little fingers weary, and wanted to give a preview of what will be on show at Trophy from among the nearly 80 new works, many depicting Seattle scenes, such as...

Cuppie Loves Lunchbox Laboratory in Ballard, Seattle
Cuppie enjoying a delicious burger at Lunchbox Laboratory;

Ballard Sunday Market, Ballard, Seattle
Cuppie shopping local at the Ballard Farmer's Market;

Cuppie Makes a Splash at the Farmer's Market!
Cuppie making some mischief at a produce stand at Pike Place;

Cupcakes at Le Pichet in Belltown, Seattle
Cuppies hanging out at cute Belltown cafe Le Pichet;
Preview of show at Trophy Cupcakes
and so, so many more! Hope to see you this weekend! For the Wallingford Trophy Cupcakes location and more information about their cupcakes, visit their site!
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