Home Home Home Home Home Home Home
CakeSpy

Featured: 

What is Pumpkin Pie Spice?

Unicorn Love: the Eating Disorder Recovery Blog

 

 Buy my brilliant books!

Buy my new book!

Buy my first book, too! 

CakeSpy Online Retail!

 

Archives
Gallery

Fantastic appliance for cake making on DHgate.com

everyrecipe.co.nz

Craftsy Writer
Tuesday
Sep142010

Sweet Notes: Little Love Letters to Chicago, from CakeSpy

So, if you read this site, like, ever, you probably know that the guiding principle of CakeSpy is that I am seeking sweetness in everyday life, and hopefully leaving the world a sweeter place with my work. I know, so cheesy you could die, right?

Well, don't die yet. First, check out these sweet little love-notes I left around Chicago, with hopes that they would sweeten the day(s) of those who found them:

First, Floriole. I was thrilled to hear that these dudes had opened up a retail spot, because I had been delighted by a canelé I picked up at their Farmer's Market booth 2 years ago.

Alas, Floriole was ferme on Lundi! Sacre bleu! Well, I left them a little something to find when they were ouvert again, to let them know I cared. A note, nestled between their outdoor tables, to be discovered by an employee in the morning! (picture of note is at the top of the post)

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Second, while browsing some delightful secondhand clothes at The Buffalo Exchange, I thought I might add to the "treasure hunt" aspect of thrifting by hiding a treasure in a handbag for sale.

Of course, anyone who buys an Andy Warhol handbag has good taste, and they should be rewarded, right?

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Third, I was struck by the beauty of this gorgeously appointed...storage space? So I left a little note nestled in by the toes of this Egyptian dude. Call it a footnote!

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Well, after all of this walking around, some caffeination was in order, and what better spot for a Seattleite to hit up for strong coffee than Intelligentsia? And to say thank you for the totally sweet latte, a totally sweet little note was left on the counter.

Thanks for the totally sweet times, Chicago! Love ya, miss ya! 2 good + 2 be = 4 gotten! (Note: A full bakery roundup to come)

Tuesday
Sep142010

Totally Sweet: Roly Poly Recipe from Macrina Bakery

Image Credit: Macrina BakeryLet's see. Things that are delicious: Croissants. Cinnamon Rolls. Things that are even more delicious: the Roly Poly, a beautiful marriage of carbohydratey treat which brings together the best parts of both and also adds coconut and raisins. This is the version from the lovely and amazing Macrina Bakery, featured as their Recipe of the Month. Yes!

Their intro to the recipe:

My Grandmother Bakke made the most incredible cinnamon rolls I've ever tasted. One day, always open to improving on a good thing, she decided to add two of her favorite ingredients - coconut and walnuts. The results were spectacular. I recommend forming these pastries the night before you want to serve them.

Roly Poly

Ingredients 

  • 1 recipe Croissant Dough (see recipe)
  • 1/2 cup seedless raisins
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • Spray bottle of water

Procedure 

  1. Complete the Croissant Dough recipe as instructed and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. Place raisins in a small bowl and cover with hot tap water. Let soak for 10 minutes, then drain and squeeze with your hands to remove excess liquid. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes. Chop coarsely and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine sugars, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Mix well with a wooden spoon and set aside.
  5. Take Croissant Dough from refrigerator and remove plastic. Cut dough in half and place 1 piece on a lightly floured work surface. (Cover remaining dough with plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator.) Roll dough into 12" x 20" rectangle and lightly mist dough with spray bottle of water. Spread half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over entire surface. Sprinkle half of the raisins, half of the walnuts and half of the shredded coconut on top. Starting with one of the long sides, roll dough away from you into a log. The finished log should be about 3 inches in diameter. Repeat process with second piece of dough.
  6. Using a sharp chef's knife cut each log into 6 equal rolls. Tuck the loose end of each roll underneath. Place the rolls tuck side down into oiled muffin tins and cover with plastic wrap. Let proof in warm room (about 70 degrees F) for 1-1/2 hours. Rolls will rise slightly. Transfer to refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight. The dough will continue to ferment while it's in the refrigerator, developing a slightly sour flavor that contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of the filling.
  7. The next morning, remove the cinnamon rolls from the refrigerator and let sit, still covered, at room temperature for 1 hour.
  8. Preheat oven to 385 degrees F.
  9. Remove plastic and bake for 40-45 minutes. Finished rolls will be a deep golden brown. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then turn pan over and gently remove the rolls. Don't let them cool for too long in the pan or the sugars will harden and the rolls will stick.

 

Tuesday
Sep142010

Are You Ready for this Jelly? Peanut Butter and Jelly Tart Recipe for Serious Eats

The problem with the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich? Like most childhood treats, it's rarely as delicious as you remember. However, there's a way to update this classic in a totally sweet way: turn it into a tart. Anchored by a substantial buttery shortbread crust, this peanut butter and jelly pie is sophisticated enough to satisfy adult palates—after all, it's an adaptation of the Rosemary-Scented Date-Nut Bars from The Perfect Finish by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark—but simple and tasty enough to please eaters of all ages.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Tuesday
Sep142010

Cake Byte: Update on Cupcake Royale's Bellevue Location!

Dudes, dudettes. How exciting is it that Cupcake Royale is expanding to Bellevue?

Well, they've done an official press release, which is pasted below to give you all the sweet scoop!

We've been in Seattle for seven years now, baking our cupcakes fresh from scratch each and every day using mostly local, organic, and sustainable ingredients. We make 'em with love, the way Grandma did, and we hand-frost each and every one with real American buttercream. It's been a super sweet seven years, and we are proud to call Capitol Hill, Ballard, Madrona and West Seattle home. Now,we want in on all the Bellevue fun.  As a token of our friendship, we're bringing cupcakes! Seattle's Best Cupcakes, actually. That's right, folks. At the end of this month, we are opening the doors to our newest cupcake café...in Bellevue!

Our fifth cupcake café is gonna be an extravaganza of cupcake and coffee Americana goodness! The newest addition to the Cupcake Royale family will make its home in one of America's original IHOP buildings, complete with all the architectural charm and whimsy of those bygone days. Remember the A-frames and the wood paneling? As Jody likes to say, this is "what our café would have looked like had we opened in 1971." We're lucky enough to work once again with Roy McMakin on a quick and easy, guerilla-style makeover, to create a hip and homey neighborhood cupcake café that we think you'll really love.

This café is going to be special for sure. A little bit different from our Seattle locations, this one will celebrate the history of the building and the quirkiness of the original design with a sweet and sassy combo of found decor, relics from the original IHOP, and custom pieces created especially for Cupcake Royale, like the 30-person, Doug Fir picnic table where you and all your friends can hang out on our patio. For those of you who frequented the original IHOPs of yore, you may remember those cool open kitchens. Well, we're keeping that, too! The café will feature a wide-open kitchen where wide-eyed cupcakers of all ages can marvel at the magic of our behind-the-scenes operations.

The perfect partner for all this cupcake love? STUMPTOWN! We'll be the first café in Bellevue to be brewing those legendary Stumptown beans. That's right, people! We're bringing the very best, small-batch, freshly roasted beans in the whole wide world to Bellevue. And for those lazy days at home, we'll feature a fine little assortment of whole beans and home-brewing equipment.

Hold on! There's more! The new café will open its doors at the end of this month, and we know it sure wouldn't be very Royale of us to get our brand new friends-and-neighbors-to-be all excited about the impending cupcake funtimes...and then leave them waiting. So...the piece de résistance...THE MOBILE CUPCAKE PARTY-CART!  We are super excited to be debuting Puget Sound's first-ever mobile cupcake cart! It's like a hot dog cart, only way more awesome, and filled with cupcakes. We'll be parkin' our cart in the parking lot and serving up fresh-baked goodness to our new friends and neighbors until the doors to the café are officially open. We sure would love it if you stopped by and said hello. Anyone who gets a cupcake from the cart will also get a thank you card good for a free coffee when the doors to the café finally do open. Once the café is open for business, the Cupcake Party-Cart will head out into the world, available for birthdays, company parties, weddings, anniversaries, you name it!

For more info, visit cupcakeroyale.com!

Saturday
Sep112010

Rhue the Day: Rhueberry Pie Recipe from Wendy Sykes

So, when we had a Cake Vs. Pie party at CakeSpy Shop, the winner of the evening was pie. It's ok. Really. While on the one hand I'm still a little bitter (team cake!), I must admit that the pies were some fine ones indeed.

Happily, one of the standouts (and 2nd Prize winner!) can now be made in your very household, because the baker, Wendy Sykes (who just debuted a totally sweet website, Four and 20 Blackbirds!) has kindly offered up her recipe for the unlikely, but totally delicious, combination of rhubarb-blueberry which makes up her Rhueberry Pie. In a nutshell? If you don't make this, you'll rhue the day. Oh, yes I did just say that.

Rhuberry Pie
Source: Wendy Sykes

Note: Use a fairly deep pie dish for this recipe!

Prepared pie dough for 9” covered pie

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 4 T cornstarch
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 T butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 C rhubarb, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 C blueberries, picked over

Procedure

  1. Beat 3 eggs until light and frothy.  Stir in sugar, cornstarch, salt, vanilla, and pieces of butter.
  2. Gently mix in rhubarb and blueberries.
  3. Pour berry/custard filling carefully into pie shell, making sure fruit is evenly distributed. Cover with vented crust, or lattice top.  Brush top with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
  4. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until crust just begins to turn golden brown. Turn oven down to 350 and bake for about 40 minutes until filling is really bubbling and crust is a nice golden brown.
  5. Let cool and chow down!

 

Friday
Sep102010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links


Bring on the weekend! Let's start out on a sweet note, with a batch of sweet links:

Sweet art: at Seattle's Fresh Flours in Phinney Ridge, a showing of photos of Japanese sweets and pastries; the photographer also has a fascinating blog.

More sweet art: You haven't forgotten about the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago this weekend, have you?

A real San Francisco Treat: a dessert CSA in the Bay area, discovered via DailyCandy

Mr. Cupcake is mighty cute, methinks.

Things that make me shiver with happiness: Doughnut French Toast.

Are you ready for this Jell-o? Jell-O Sensations!

Because low-fat is for losers: a selection of High Calorie recipes, including bread pudding, pies, and cheesecakes to make you fat and happy.

Mac and Cheese...and Chocolate? In Baltimore, there's a place called Jack's Bistro that makes it.

Sweet shots: Jon Polka (isn't that a great name?), a reporter for the Seattle University Spectator, took some totally sweet shots of CakeSpy Shop!

Sweet and smart: An Upside-down measuring apron!

Feeling blue isn't so bad, when you've got blue iced sugar cookies by your side, via The Crafty Penguin.

Get Stoned: How to use a baking stone (and why you should), via Baking Bites

It's never too early: have we discussed how my totally sweet holiday card collection is available for sale?

Sweet memories: Remember these cotton candy cupcakes?

Wednesday
Sep082010

Curiosity Killed the Cookie: Another Experiment in How Not To Make Chocolate Chip Cookies

Not sure about whether or not curiosity killed the cat, but it sure did compromise these cookies. 

That's right: I've been messing with chocolate chip cookies again. It all started about a week ago, after a lifetime of conscientiously creaming the butter and sugar at the beginning of making chocolate chip cookies. I had received a big ol' parcel of freebies from Nestle Toll House (giveaway coming in a few days!) and had cookies on the mind.

A question occurred: "what would happen if I swapped the order in which the flour and sugar are added?".

Well, needless to say I was gonna find out.

And so, instead of creaming the butter and sugar, I "creamed" the butter and flour, and then added the sugar in, bit by bit, later on in the recipe, at the time when I would normally be adding the flour. I didn't mess with the actual measurements of the ingredients, though.

So what happened?

Well, the fact that these were going to come together differently was evident right away. The flour clumped up with the butter like...well, pie crust. (this makes sense, right?)

And then, adding in the eggs and other ingredients, things seemed to start looking like normal cookie batter.

Adding in the sugar, bit by bit, the dough looked, smelled, and felt pretty normal. I added in the vanilla and chocolate chips.

I let it chill for a while. Normal-looking. I spooned it on to the baking sheet, finishing off some of the cookies with these cute Nestle chocolate and white chocolate chip mini morsel toppers.

When the cookies came out of the oven, they looked completely perfect: lightly browned on the edges and bottom, soft in the middle.

But then something strange happened. As the cookies cooled...they turned into cookie crackers!

They looked right. They smelled right. They even tasted pretty right. But the texture was...well, disappointing. Crackery. Weird.

As I found out on Baking911.com, I had basically skipped an important step by making this switcheroo: "Creaming incorporates the maximum amount of air bubbles so a recipe will rise in the oven and be light in texture." So while I can't get technical about the chemistry of why this crackery texture was the result, I can say that while I was happy to have seen for myself what happens when you skip this step, I'm not likely to do it again.

Here's the recipe I used--feel free to try my experiment for yourself, or honor the good Mrs. Paul Franklin, Wife of Governor, from Phoenix, AZ, and follow the directions correctly (listed correctly below). By the way, this is the book the recipe is from--isn't the cover just too much?

Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Favorite recipes of America desserts Including Party Beverages, Vol 1  

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, sifted flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot water
  • 1 6-ounce package semisweet chocolate morsels or pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Procedure

Cream butter and sugars; add egg and beat well. Sift together dry ingredients (except for chocolate); add to creamed mixture. Add hot water; mix until well blended. Add chocolate pieces, nuts, and vanilla, and blend just until incorporated. Drop from teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Makes 3 1/2 dozen small cookies.

Tuesday
Sep072010

Hot Dog! Chilly Willy Ice Cream Sandwiches on Hot Dog Buns Recipe for Serious Eats

CakeSpy Note: I created these for a Labor Day entry on Serious Eats. Even though Labor Day is over, they're a great way to use leftover hot dog buns!

When it comes to Labor Day food, the general rule is "it's more fun on a bun." Happily, dessert can be part of the party when you combine ice cream and hot dog buns to make Chilly Dogs.

I was delighted when I first came across this confection at Snacks!, a bodega in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood. Unlikely as it may seem, the combination of toasted hot dog bun lined with peanut butter and jelly, then topped with ice cream is actually quite delicious—the light sweetness of the bun works nicely with the ice cream, with just enough sponginess to absorb the flavor of the ice cream, but sturdy enough that it will keep it contained for a sweet hand-held treat. Of course, it might get a bit messy toward the end, but isn't that part of the fun of outdoor eating?

For the full post and recipe, check out Serious Eats!

Tuesday
Sep072010

Ask CakeSpy: What Cupcakes Should I Try in NYC?

Dear CakeSpy,

Living in New Jersey, I have access to all of the great cupcakeries in NYC, but choosing which one to visit on a day trip is a rather daunting prospect. I'm rather curious about Crumbs, especially as I hear they have a s'mores cupcake, but don't want to make the wrong decision. What to do?

Sincerely,

Buttercream Daydreamer in Belmar

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Dear Buttercream Daydreamer,

When I think New York, I think bright lights, big city, and huge cupcake presence. When I lived in New York as a college student, there were two main choices: Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich Village (largely credited with kick-starting the cupcake trend) and the Cupcake Cafe in Hell's Kitchen (which has since relocated down the street; I preferred the old location). At that time, I have to confess that while I liked both, my affections leaned slightly toward Cupcake Cafe, which offered up cupcakes with extremely buttery and not extremely sweet frosting. They were a bit more of an acquired taste, but I probably could have eaten my weight in them.

These days, it seems like there are more and more amazing cupcake bakeries every time I have gone back. While I don't feel as if I am qualified to weigh in on the best, I am going to suggest that you check out this very throrough roundup of "The Best Cupcakes in New York City" on Serious Eats.

To cross-reference this post, I went ahead and did some research on some of the ones that offer s'mores flavors. From the "12 best bakeries list", I have put an asterisk next to the shops which offer a s'mores cupcake flavor specifically listed on their menu (however, be sure to call for availability).

Buttercup Bake Shop
Sweet Revenge 
Robicelli's
Sugar Sweet Sunshine
Tribeca Treats*
Tonnie's Minis
Amy's Bread
Kumquat Cupcakery
Spot
Chickalicious Dessert Bar*
Two Little Red Hens
Baked

Finally, my thoughts on Crumbs. I have been there a few times. My experience: the first time I visited I had a cupcake that was a fairly dry affair which had initially turned me off toward them, but after several positive reviews, I gave them another try. To my delight, on several succeeding visits I have had perfectly delightful cupcakes there which didn't suffer from dry cake disorder and were, on the contrary, quite moist and flavorful. Flavors I have tried: Vanilla/vanilla, Baba Booey, Artie Lange (favorite!), and Half Baked.

So while I don't have a single answer to the "what cupcake should I try" question, I hope I've left you feeling better equipped to tackle this delicious day trip.

Always sweetly,

CakeSpy

Sunday
Sep052010

Sweet Love: Ode to the Vegan Oat Bar, Caffe Ladro, Seattle WA

Vegan Oat Bar might not sound like the sort of sweet that would inspire a sonnet, but it is. Let me prove it with a terrible one:

Oh vegan oat bar
beautiful morning sweet
what a lovely thing you are
for me to happily eat

You may not have butter, eggs, or milk
but I don't feel deprived
'cos unlike some pastries of your ilk
you don't taste contrived

You're so sweet, tart, and nutty
when push comes to shove
I have a confession, buddy
I think I'm in love.

Reading that poem, I hope that two things have come across. First, that I should never pursue writing poetry professionally. But more importantly, what I hope that it's conveyed is that this bar is a very special treat which is worthy of love and affection. It's good--seriously good. Starting with a rich cookie base, it has a layer of rhubarb which adds a tart layer of flavor and soft, lightly gooey center, which is all crowned with a generous oat-and-crumb topping which is sweet, lightly salty, rich, and startlingly addictive. Not just "good for a vegan treat", this bar is so good that you'll never miss the butter. And as someone who generally firmly believes that the secret ingredient is butter, and lots of it, this is a bold statement.

This is all to say--this is one sweet treat worth seeking out.

Vegan Oat Bar, available at Caffe Ladro in Seattle; for locations, visit their website.

© Cakespy, all rights reserved. Powered by Squarespace.