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Monday
Jul122010

Taking the Cake: The Exquisite Pain and Joy of Eating an Entire Birthday Cake

Have you ever eaten an entire birthday cake? Have you ever wanted to?

If you have, as one site says, it's probably for one of two reasons: A) You want to keep others from your birthday cake, or B) You're trying to impress a girl.

But sometimes, it just happens.

Picture the scene: evening, your kitchen, the night before someone's birthday for which you've made the cake.  You are putting it in the fridge, to sit, covered. And it looks so...pretty. Surely nobody would begrudge you just a bite? There are so many frosting flowers. Too many flowers. And since your equipment is still out, you use a spatula and you gently extract a single, entire, rose. And eat it.

And it tastes so, so good. Too good. Like butter and sugar, a vague whisp of birthday memory.

You fetch the cake top (the one you'd cut off to level the cake) which is resting nearby. Or maybe it's not. Maybe you rescue it from the trash (nobody can see you). You scrape the frosting left over from the bowl right on to it. And as good as that finished rose was, this is. Even. Better. The butter seems as if it was invented solely for this moment, to melt on your tongue. Maybe your eyes close a little, for a moment.

Then, maybe without realizing it, you take a fork to a teeny tiny corner of the cake. One that you can easily replace with frosting. and you eat it. Yup: it's even better than the scrap.

And then you cut a slice. There is a moment, here, when  you could smooth over the frosting. But no.

You eat that slice.

You never cut out a second slice, because suddenly, the remainder of the cake is slice #2 (it's a very big slice).

Now, eating an entire cake is not a quick process. You have the luxury of time to reflect while you're eating on various subtleties of the flavor. Too dry? To oily? Should more vanilla have been added? You can think about these things as you take bite after bite. Really, it's making you better able to examine the cake.

Then, about 3/4 of theway in, something unexpected happens: you feel like you can't do any more. Too. Much. Cake. Maybe you lay down. Maybe you sit. Maybe you even walk away. But then you rally.

When the cake is gone, you don't need to lick the last of the frosting or clean up the last crumbs with the tines of your fork, those things that you do when you don't want a dessert to end. Because you've had your fill.

Alternately you feel euphoric, numb, and incredibly uncomfortable. You burp birthday cake for hours, which is more pleasant than burping, say, spicy Indian food, but not exactly comfortable. Your tummy feels taut. Your head feels fuzzy.

But still, you fall asleep quickly. Is this sugar crash, or a rush to sweet dreams? Maybe a little of both. One thing's for sure, though: you'll bake another cake--a better cake--in the morning.

So there you have it. Ready to experience this sweet nirvana (or fresh hell) for yourself? Pick up some professional eating tips here.

Sunday
Jul112010

Sweet Stuff: How to Make Cupcake Bath Fizzies

How to Make Bath Bomb Cupcakes from Soap Queen on Vimeo.

Memorandum

From: CakeSpy

To: Cupcake Lovers Anonymous

RE: Sweets, but not to eat

It hurts me to say this, but you can only eat so many cupcakes per day. 

However, if you need a sweet fix at any time of that day that won't wreck your appetite for dinner, why not learn how to make Cupcake Bath Fizzies from this sweet tutorial from CakeSpy buddy Anne-Marie Faiola? They're delightful, and though they aren't delicious, they sure will make you feel (and smell) sweet. 

And everyone deserves a treat!

For the full tutorial and supplies needed, visit The Soap Queen!

Friday
Jul092010

Crust or Crumb? A Cake Vs Pie Showdown at CakeSpy Shop!

Hey, Seattle. Brace yourselves, because come August 9, it's time to bring it on.

CakeSpy, Edible Seattle and Jenise Silva present: Cake vs Pie.

We're encouraging bakers from both sides of the fence to show off your favorite cake or pie at the CakeSpy Shop on Monday, August 9. The contest is open to amateur and professional bakers alike!

Judged by "Pie & Cake Masters" Brittany Bardeleben, Jill Lightner, Kate McDermott and Jessie Oleson, We'll award prizes based on overall appearance, taste and texture (crust or crumb).

Prize sponsors include Art of the Pie, Cupcake Royale, Edible Seattle, Chef Shop & more! All pies & cakes must be made from scratch and pans/plates marked on the bottom with your name and contact information.

How do you get in on this awesome? To enter, rsvp by Monday, August 2 to jenisesilva@yahoo.com. Please include your name, if you'll bake cake or pie, phone number, and email. Given space and time limits, we can only accommodate the first 20 entries received. Please, one entry per contestant. Registered contestants will bring their wonderful baked creations to the CakeSpy Gallery 415 E. Pine on Monday, August 9 between 6- 6:45 pm. Judging will begin at 7 pm.

Friday
Jul092010

Sugar Sweet: Sugar and Meringue Presents Cookies for a Cause

Image c/o Sugar & MeringueDid you know that today is National Sugar Cookie Day?

I know. Awesome, right?

But what's even awesomer? How 'bout this sweet online book featuring the sweetest collection of recipes, lore, and info about sugar cookies, designed by Emily (who you may remember from her Star Wars Cookie guest tutorial here!) of Sugar & Meringue.

Not only is this e-book filled with sweet stuff, but it also contributes to a sweet cause. Several pages have a link to donate to The Great American Bake Sale, a sweet (literally!) organization which works to make sure that no kid in America grows up hungry!

Why do this? Well, according to Emily, "I had to create some on-line flip book style catalogs for work, and I thought it would be fun to create a little cookbook or project book for National Sugar Cookie Day. I also wanted to make National Sugar Cookie Day a little more meaningful by tying it to a charity and The Great American Bake Sale seemed like a fitting choice. "

So why not enjoy some cookie dough...and then donate some (non cookie) dough?

Check it all out here.

Friday
Jul092010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

 

These links won't ease the heat wave, but they may bring on a sweet wave! Happy Friday!

Not to brag, but...my artwork is totally featured in the Stranger's spread about Urban Craft Uprising (coming up this weekend, people!). 

When Can meets Sandwich: The Candwich. Which begs the big question: How soon til they make an Ice Cream Candwich?

Pake: Pie inside of a Cake. Discovered via This is Why You're Fat.

What's really in a Twinkie? Find out here. 

Speaking of Twinkies, remember when I killed a bunch of them?

How hot is hot enough to make Garlic Ice Cream sound like a good idea?

Still using regular measuring cups like a jerk? Matryoshka measuring cups are far cuter.

Accent on cute: Dri Dri Gelato opens in London, and has a very cute aesthetic!

Shoe-in: A cake that is shaped like Converse is adorable, and likely tastier than its sneaker inspiration. (thank you Sarah!)

A sweet interview: Cupcakes Take the Cake asks Jace Robinson of Lick It Bite it Or Both the hard-hitting cupcake questions.

Best Breakfast: Caramel apple french toast.

In case you didn't know (don't worry, I didn't): there is a Cinnabon Cereal.

Stracciatella: is there a sweeter word in the summer?

 

Thursday
Jul082010

So Bad, But So Good: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Filled Funfetti Cupcakes

Nobody's going to challenge the idea that cupcakes are delicious. It's like, fact.

But you know what? They're even better when stuffed with cookie dough.

I learned this, of course, when I found myself with a boatload of extra Funfetti cake mix and cookie dough from making a Cookie Cake Pie, and decided to make a batch of cupcakes with a dollop of dough dropped in each cup of batter before baking.

Now, if you've never done it yourself, here's what you can expect.

First: A heads up: the cookie dough will sink--the cake will bake around and over the dough. But this is OK, because each one has an unexpected, gooey little sugar bomb inside.

Note: It will be gooey, by the way, so if you are worried about things like, oh, salmonella, use an egg-free cookie dough.

Second, and perhaps more importantly: It will delight you and your friends to eat them.

Now, I'm going to confess: my favorite delivery method is with either Funfetti or Rainbow Chip cake (a mix. Yup, I said it). But please, please, please: Make your own frosting. It's so easy, and it adds an extra dimension of delicious to this ever-so-slightly trashy (but delightfully so) treat.

Here's the recipe I used.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough-filled Cupcakes

 Components

  • 1 box Funfetti or Rainbow chip cupcake mix
  • 1/2 batch of chocolate chip cookie dough (um, bake the rest as cookies)
  • 1 batch fudge buttercream (recipe below, as found on AllRecipes)

Procedure

  1. Prepare cupcake batter per box instructions--but before baking, fill the cups about 2/3 full, then give each one an added dose of awesome by adding a generous spoonful of cookie dough.
  2. Bake as directed on box instructions.
  3. Remove from oven and let cool. 
  4. Meanwhile, make the frosting (recipe below). When the cupcakes are room temperature, frost liberally, and enjoy.

Chocolate Fudge Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup hot fudge topping
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Procedure

  1. Cream together the butter or margarine with the shortening.
  2. Sift the cocoa with the confectioners' sugar and add to the creamed mixture. Mix together adding 1 tablespoon at a time of milk to keep mixture smooth. Don't add more than 1/4 cup of milk.
  3. Add the hot fudge topping and the vanilla extract. Blend until smooth and creamy.

P.S. In case you were wondering how the Cookie Cake Pie came out? Delicious.

Thursday
Jul082010

Cake Byte: TV Show Kid in a Candy Store Debuts 

OK, so watching TV is pretty awesome. And I have to confess that I'm pretty excited about this new show which is debuting on Monday, called Kid in a Candy Store, which is described thusly:

This July, Adam Gertler (The Next Food Network Star), uncovers the most outrageous, most innovative, and most loved sweet treats in Food Network’s new primetime series, Kid in a Candy Store premiering Monday, July 12th at 8PM ET/PT with back-to-back new episodes each week.  From food truck fare and down-home delights to wacky twists on traditional favorites like deep-fried cupcakes and sweet beet ice cream, this series celebrates the most scrumptious and creative candy, cakes and snacks.

With upcoming shows centered around cake balls, cake shakes, and Dessert nachos, not only does the dude seem like he might be a soul twin to all sweet tooths, but it also sounds like we might learn about some cool desserts and baking trends around the US. Sweet!

Let's all see for ourselves if it's as good as it sounds: the show debuts on the Food Network this Monday at 8pm.

Thursday
Jul082010

Cake Byte: Urban Craft Uprising is This Weekend in Seattle!

OK, friends. Don't, like, pee your pants or anything, but it's almost time: Urban Craft Uprising is this weekend! And you'll see my artwork everywhere: I designed the posters/postcards for this awesomeness!

That's right: this weekend over a hundred indie artists of the highest caliber will be showcasing their wares at Seattle Center (including CakeSpyThis Charming CandySecret Stash Sea SaltsMucho Design, and so many more!)--and, in case I didn't mention it, it's on the same day as the Mobile Chowdown! Like, hello awesome!

Guess what: I'll have a ton of new products, including new mugs, Seattle-themed art, and cards! Yes!

Here are the details:

Urban Craft Uprising

July 10 & 11, 2010 (Sat. and Sun.)

Seattle Center

For more details, visit the official website! And you might also like to check out the Crafty segment going on at The Stranger's Questionland!

Wednesday
Jul072010

Brownout: A Tale and Tasting of Two Brownies from 1923

Brownies are undoubtedly delicious, but when it comes to the story of their origins, things are less clear. While today's not the day to delve into that at great depth (soon! promise!), we are going to take a moment to discuss a bit of the brownie's ties to The Boston Cooking School Cook Book.

As I learned here, the 1896 edition of the Boston Cooking School cookbook was among the first known publications to feature "brownies" - but this version was really more like a blondie, little individual cakes garnished with nut halves.

However, as I learned here, the 1905 version of the book had a brownie redux, and this time, they had chocolate. 

But then, in the 1923 edition of the Boston Cooking-School Cookbook, with no explanation at all, there are not one but two chocolate brownie recipes--simply labeled "Brownies 1" and "Brownies 2". There were a couple of differences in the recipes--most notably the absence of butter or oil in #2, which seemed to get all of its fat content from eggs and nuts. In both cases though, the brownies are only a cousin to the brownies we know today, which are generally far denser and more chocolatey than these ones (and I vote that modern chocolate-y ones have evolved into higher states of deliciousness).

Well, naturally this prompted some curiosity, and so I baked up a few batches of each (sans nuts) and put them out at my store with this sign:

Big surprise: people were more than willing to take this challenge. As for the results?

File under duh: people wanted a combo. Tasters mostly preferred the flavor of Brownie 1 (what with its delicious butter), but overwhelmingly preferred the chewier texture of Brownie 2. Which is to say...Brownie 1.5 takes the cake?

A big thank you to the generous tasters and their input. Here are the two recipes, BTW.

Brownies 1

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 egg, unbeaten
2 squares chocolate, melted
3/4 teaspoon vanilla (to mix things up you could also use almond extract, as I did in one batch)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup walnut meats

Procedure

Mix ingredients in order given. Line a seven-inch square pan with paraffine paper. Spread mixture evenly in a pan and bake in a slow oven (I did 325 for 30-35 minutes, just until dull on top). As soon as taken from
oven turn from pan, remove paper, and cut cake in strips, using a sharp knife. If these instructions are not followed paper will cling to cake, and it will be impossible to cut into shapely pieces.

Brownies 2

2 eggs
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or almond extract, as I did in some batches)
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 cup walnut meats, in pieces

Procedure

Beat eggs lightly and add remaining ingredients. Spread evenly in a
buttered 7-inch pan and bake in a moderate oven twenty minutes (I did
350). Cut in squares.

Tuesday
Jul062010

South of the Border: A Sweet Suite of Treats from Mexico

CakeSpy Note: We just spent a long weekend celebrating the USA; now that it's over, why not celebrate some of the sweet treats from our neighbor to the south, Mexico? Here's a profile on some sweet treats which are popular in Guadalajara, Mexico, which is where Cake Gumshoe Aislinn lives. Here's her report:

So, initially I went scouting for the prettiest pan dulces I could find, but of course I couldn't find "biscocho."  On an interesting note, though, my husband, who is Mexican by origin, says that (at least in our region in Mexico) "biscocho" is also a slang word for a cute girl.

Nonetheless, I found several other kinds of cookies and a pan dulce that are very common here in Mexico.  I wish I could send you many more, because there are many delicious options for baked goods here, but it's a start!

First, we've got a "concha" (shell), named for the pattern of the sugar topping.  Conchas come in white, brown, pink, and yellow.  They are supposed to be different flavors, but the only difference is that the brown topping sometimes tastes a teeny bit like cinnamon (although my husband swears the brown ones taste better than the other colors and therefore will ONLY eat the brown ones).  The bread itself is fluffy and voluminous, but with a different texture than, say, a croissant.  Pan dulce tends to be denser and no where near as sweet as European or American baked goods.  They are meant to last several days and to be eaten with coffee or Mexican hot chocolate so that the bread softens up a little in the mouth.

Note: authentic Mexican hot chocolate does NOT have chili in it, and if you ask for chocolate / chili combination, Mexicans look at you like you're speaking an alien language.

Next up is a "budin" (pudding), which comes in the shape of a pig.  The budin usually comes in the shape of a pig and is sometimes slathered with a thin layer of chocolate on top.  The budhin is very dry and has a taste and texture reminiscent of bread.  I am sure these have several different names in different regions, because when one looks for a "budin" recipe, most of the results are pudding recipes.

The third cookie (pictured top) is actually called a cookie ("galleta").  I happened to pick the colored sprinkle cookie ("galleta con grangea") because it makes me happy, but the cookie cookie also comes in chocolate or vanilla and is sometimes topped with pecans ("nuez").  The cookie taste like a crumbly shortbread cookie, but without the butter flavor.

The last one is a "vidrio" (glass pane).  The vidrio is another cookie I imagine has several different names.  The vidrio also comes in several different forms or shapes: round multicolored, square multicolored, or triangle in chocolate and vanilla.  The cookie itself is much sweeter than the others and has almost a sand-like texture as it falls apart in your mouth.

Note: Upon further reflection, I also retract my earlier statement.  If I had to guess from the taste and texture, I'd say most to all of the cookies that are made with fat are probably made with vegetable shortening.

Want to learn more about Mexican sweets? You'll find some information in this history of Tex Mex / Mexican food, recipe links and info here, and in case you were wondering, yes, there was a Mexican Pastry War.

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