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Saturday
May292010

Word on the Sweet: Street Treats, a new Mobile Bakery in Seattle

So. I've never jumped into a cab and said "follow that vehicle!".

But the moment may be coming, now that Street Treats, the newest addition to Seattle's mobile food cart network, is just about to launch (as soon as next week, pending inspections!). Because wherever they are, I want to be. (OK, maybe it won't be necessary: they'll have a set schedule, so stalking them will be far easier, if less dramatic).

You see, Diane, the self-taught baker behind the sweets--er, scenes--happened to drop by my store the other day with a platter full of awesome.

And after enlisting some brave friends--including a cast of writers and foodies including writers from Mango Power Girl, Absinthe & Oranges, and the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog to aid in the sampling of said treats, I can say with certainty that the reactions are just as sweet as the treats.

Two of the unanimous favorites featured lime:

The bar cookies with a brown sugary crust, a healthy dollop of lime curd, and a fat topping of coconut and crumb;

and the lime-poppyseed cookies, which were bright and dazzlingly buttery, and a welcome respite from the more expected lemon-poppyseed combo;

and not far behind was this weighty, oh-please-don't-let-it-end cookie, which featured white chocolate chunks and a white chocolate-orange infused filling;

and this carmelita, which satisfies sweet, salty, chocolatey, and buttery cravings...all at once. (pictured top)

The standouts were ably backed by an assortment of the usual suspects, including blondies, chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter, and molasses cookies, as well as a moist, dense carrot cake cookie sandwich with a sweet, equally dense cream cheese filling.

Oh, and they'll also be featuring treats made by other local heroes like High 5 Pie and Half Pint Ice Cream!

Find out more at streettreatswa.com; keep updated on the daily goings-on by following them on Twitter!

Saturday
May292010

Cake Byte: Sweet Red Velvet Cupcake Tasting and Newlywed Kitchen Book Signing at CakeSpy Shop!

Lorna Yee says her Red Velvet is more delicious than this one. See for yourself!Red Velvet Cake is delicious--this is a fact. But who makes the most delicious variety of this sweet Southern treat?

As a devotee of the big-as-your-head variety served at Seattle's Kingfish Cafe, I was intrigued when pint-sized foodie Lorna Yee made the bold claim that her recipe (featured in her and Ali Basye's new book, The Newlywed Kitchen: Delicious Meals for Couples Cooking Together ) was even better.

Why not see for yourself? Lorna is going to be making a batch of Red Velvet Cupcakes which will be served at CakeSpy Shop next Sunday--and she'll be around to sell and sign her great new book . And there will be a professional photographer on site--Jackie Baisa, who will have the title of Official Red Velvet Paparazzi for the day.

As for the book? Yes, it's designed for newlyweds, full of recipes and stories to share with your plus-one. But you know what? Even if you're not a newlywed, you'll probably like the way that they eat--the book includes recipes for the Red Velvet cake you'll be tasting, as well as other delicious savories and sweets such as these Chocolate Mudslide Cookies.

Why not join us and eat some cake?

Here are the details:

Red Velvet Cupcakes and Newlywed Kitchen Cookbook signing, featuring Lorna Yee and Jackie Baisa

  • Date and time: Sunday, June 6, 12 p.m. til the cupcakes are gone and you've spent all your money on cookbooks and other cool CakeSpy stuff
  • Location: CakeSpy Shop, 415 E. Pine Street (near Summit), Capitol Hill, Seattle
  • Open to the public! 
Saturday
May292010

CakeSpy Undercover: Love At First Bite, Berkeley CA

Love at first site? Pshaw. It's all about Love at First Bite, and you'll find it in Berkeley, CA, where there is a bakery which bears said name. Don't you kind of love it already?

Well, Cake Gumshoe Katie recently went and bravely sampled several mini cupcakes, in flavors such as matcha, strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, lemon and red velvet. Of course, this is just a small sampling of the delicious flavors available; find the full assortment here.

So what tasted best? According to Katie, "I gave highest props to matcha, lemon and red velvet--the matcha was divine. The lemon frosting was unreal. The red velvet was moist and perfect."

And of course, it doesn't hurt that they also showcase another Berkeley superstar, Peet's Coffee. (CakeSpy Note: Peet's is like, my favorite coffee in the world!)

But to seal the deal of this sweet review? "I wish I could have tried some of the others like pumpkin bliss or bunny love."

Final word? When a bakery keeps you wanting more, it's a good thing!

Total sweetness is yours at Love At First Bite, 1510 Walnut Street, Berkeley, CA 94709
(510) 848-5727; online at
loveatfirstbitebakery.com.

Friday
May282010

(CLOSED) Cake Poll: Totally Sweet Snubbr Cookbook Giveaway!

Who's ready to win something sweet?

(pause for deafening applause)

(realization that on the internet, you can't hear anyone cheer)

OK, so here's the deal. It's a totally sweet giveaway sponsored by Snubbr.com!

What cookbook have you always wanted to try?

We're giving away a 1 free cookbook, any cookbook you want - it could be a baking cookbook, vegan cookbook, whatever (as long as it's under $30) to 1 lucky reader.

How do you enter? Just leave a comment below with the title of the cookbook you covet, and why you want to win it, and next Friday, June 4, at 12 p.m. PST, we'll pick one winner at random and send you the cookbook. US residents only this time, please.

Of course, if you need recommendations for cookbooks, head on over to Snubbr.com (the ones sponsoring this sweet giveaway). It's a new site that is like Yahoo Answers for shopping advice. You just ask them a question like "What's the best cookbook?" and their experts will dish out recommendations for you.

Friday
May282010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

Clockwise from left: Pop-Tarts; food fails; cute cupcake toppers from Confessions of a Cookbook QueenIn case you needed suggestions: six new ways to eat chocolate, from ChefShop.com.

Sugar circus: a whimsical circus-themed dessert table feature from the Amy Atlas blog.

What kind of desserts does Clothilde of Chocolate & Zucchini eat? I must confess a minor obsession with her "moblog" documenting basically every delicious French thing she eats, especially the desserts.

The scoop on ice cream scoops, via Al Dente Blog.

What exactly do baking soda and baking powder do in baking? Find out here.

Something's fishy...Sushi-shaped donuts. Yup, you heard me. (via Bon Appetit)

Why chocolate fries never took off, and other food fails, via Mental Floss.

Cupcakes...topped with mini cupcakes! (pictured above; via Confessions of a Cookbook Queen)

Writing (and baking brownies) as therapy: the NY Times on Cakewalk: A Memoir by Kate Moses

Toasted Coconut Rice Krispie Treats: kind of like macaroon meets cereal treat. (via Craving Chronicles)

Chocolate chip cookie dough Pop-Tarts: I'm sorry...but how did I not know these existed?

Supernatural, and super delicious: Nick Malgieri shares a brownie recipe in Saveur.

Cinema and Sugar: revisit this old CakeSpy post (with supporting comments!) featuring desserts from the silver screen.

 
Thursday
May272010

Cake Byte: Bakerella's Cake Pops Book Coming this Fall!

Photo c/o Cupcakes Take the CakeGear up your credit cards sweeties, because here's a book you will need to buy: Cake Pops by Bakerella! Released by the always-fantastic Chronicle Books.

Here's the scoop via Cupcakes Take The Cake:

Rachel and I went to Book Expo today, so we haven't been able to post. While at the Chronicle Books area, I spotted a mock-up of Bakerella's Cake Pops book which will come out September 2010. Congrats to Bakerella and we can't wait to get a copy!

CakeSpy and Bakerella have a very special relationship, having bonded over art and then engaged in a sort of back-to-back sweets combat -- and as a result, I can't wait to be the first on line to buy her book at my favorite book store and--natch--get it signed when she comes to town!

Read more on Bakerella's site!

Wednesday
May262010

Great Pear-ing: Brown Sugar Ginger Cream Cake with Five Spice Pecans and Caramelized Pears

With my first attempt at baking from the new book Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison, I managed to do something rather unlikely: I made a dessert which contained absolutely no fruit, seasonal or otherwise.

What I did, of course, was I flipped right to the back of the book where there is a section entitled "cakes to go with fruit"--and I chose the most rich and delicious-sounding one, the Brown Sugar-Ginger Cream Cake, which was described as having a "poundcake-like personality". Sold! I baked it up, using part almond flour for fun (it made the texture slightly more coarse, I think, but not in such a bad way), and it came out beautifully.

But how to top it? Flipping to another section of the book, I came across a recipe for Candied Five-Spice Pecans, suggested as a great accompaniment to ripe pears; they sounded good, so I made a batch and put them on top of the cake, completely ignoring that pesky and vaguely healthy-sounding pear part. And oh, are they divine on top of the buttery, rich cake.

But ultimately I realized it wouldn't necessarily be honoring the book's, ah, entire mission, to not include fruit, so I sliced up a ripe Washington pear in a skillet with 2 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, stirring frequently over medium heat until the liquid had reduced and the pear had been battered into sweet, buttery submission.

And you know what? The fruit made it even better, and made me feel a whole lot better about eating it for breakfast (It has fruit! And nuts! It's practically health food!)

Here's how you do it at home. 

Brown Sugar Ginger Cream Cake with Five Spice Pecans and Caramelized Pears

For the cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour (you could use cake or all purpose flour here instead, the original recipe called for 3/4 cup each AP and cake flour, respectively)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the five spice pecans

  • 1 cup pecan halves or pieces
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspon five-spice powder

For the caramelized pears 

  • 1 large ripe pear, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Procedure 

  1. Butter and flour a loaf pan. Line the bottom and ends with parchment paper (it will make your life so much easier). Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine the flours, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; whisk together. Make a well in the middle.
  3. Using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, beat the eggs till foamy, then add the cream, sugar, and flavorings. Beat until you have what resembles a soft whipped cream. Pour the mixture into the center of the flour mixture and whisk together just until well combined and lump-free. Scrape batter into the pan and even it out.
  4. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 40-50 minutes (original recipe called for 50-60 minutes, but I think using the almond flour might have altered the baking time).
  5. Let cool for about half an hour in the pan before loosening the sides with a knife and turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
  6. Prepare the candied five-spice pecans. Adjust the oven to 300 F. Toast pecans until they are fragrant, about 15-20 minutes. Turn them at about 10 minutes to ensure that they brown evenly.
  7. Heat your butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add your pecans, and sprinkle the sugar on top. Stir and cook until the sugar melts and covers the nuts. Remove them to a bowl and toss with the five-spice powder. Gently put them on top of the cake (it's ok if the cake is still warm); they will crisp up a bit as they cool.
  8. Go ahead and use the same skillet and melt some more butter over medium heat; add your slivered pear pieces, and once you've turned the slices once or twice and they're a bit wilty around the edges, add the sugar. Continue to heat until the juices have begun to reduce and the mixture is thick and caramel-y. Serve on top of cake slices.
Wednesday
May262010

Cake Byte: Suspect and Fugitive Art Show and Presale!

Dudes. Dudettes. Are you ready for some serious awesome?

Well, I want to tell you about the artist of the month for June at CakeSpy Shop: Kris Garland! Where pop culture meets punny food art, you'll find Kris's work, culminated in this show entitled "Suspect & Fugitive".

Here's the 411:

"Suspect and Fugitive" is a companion show to the 365 blog (suspectandfugitive.com) of the same name. All pieces in the series are composed of suspect (questionable) and fugitive (nonarchival) materials. Kris Garland, the artist behind the blog, has been making nonarchival pieces since 1996 when she learned that she enjoyed silk screening with nail polish. She has since moved on to working with food items as that is what she typically keeps in the fridge.

Happily, though the works in this collection are made in part with food, they're made to last, on archival paper and framed!

Now, there will be an artist reception in the store on Thursday, June 10, from 5-8 p.m.--but if you want a preview of the awesome, check it out--here is a preview (and pre-sale) for several of the items that will be on show!

The show will be up all month at CakeSpy Shop's retail location at 415 East Pine Street, Seattle WA 98122; open Tue-Sun, 12-7 pm.

OK, here's the info on the art!

"Country Time Liz Lemonade", Tina Fey as Liz Lemon made from pink Country Time lemonade and acrylic on paper, 11"x15", $175 (pictured above).

"Beety White", Betty White made from beet juice on paper, 11"x15", $175

"Berry Tyler Moore", Mary Tyler Moore made from raspberries, strawberries and acrylic on paper, 15"x 22", $200

"Blue Ball", Lucille Ball made from blue food dye and acrylic on paper, 15"x 22", $200

"Dill Bert", Bert made from dill and watercolor on paper, 15"x 22", $200

"Coffee Coffy", Pam Grier as Coffy made from coffee on paper, 15"x22", $200

"Tropical Ponch", Eric Estrada as Ponch made from tropical punch Kool Aid and acrylic on paper, 11"x 15", $175

"Frankenwine", Frankenstein made from cabernet sauvignon on paper, 11" x 15", $175

"Soy Boy", Bat Boy made from soy sauce on paper, 11" x 13.5", $175

"Cinnamona Lisa", Mona Lisa made from cinnamon and watercolor on paper, 11" x 15".

Wednesday
May262010

Small But Mighty: Vegan Truffles by The Smallest Bite

In general, I love desserts that incorporate great quality and massive quantity. But in my more refined moments, even I can admit that sometimes, small bites can be exquisite.

Such is the case with truffles by The Smallest Bite, a Rhode Island-based chocolate company run by Season James (perhaps identical cousin to Autumn Martin, who does chocolate in Seattle?) who recently sent me a parcel of pint-sized sweets for me to sample. 

The Smallest Bite specializes in organic, vegan truffles which are made with all natural, free trade ingredients. All of this may sound very granola, but the taste is anything but: these are deep, dark, and incredibly rich. They create said truffles in a collection of flavors which include the original (a bittersweet chocolate), a toasted coconut and pistachio variety, and the one we tried--the blackberry pretzel.

Now, I didn't sample the other flavors, but I am nonetheless pretty sure that blackberry pretzel must be the best. The blackberry provides a tart, subtle undertone, and the pretzel provides a delicious saltiness: both taste profiles are made even better by the extreme chocolatiness of the truffle.

The only catch with my parcel from The Smallest Bite seemed to be the packaging: my parcel arrived with the truffles overturned and the little candy cups overturned; in spite of this dissaray, however, the goods themselves were not damaged, and I was assured that this had not been a problem with shipments.

Want some for yourself? Order online at thesmallestbite.com.

Wednesday
May262010

Get Sconed: A Delightfully Carbohydratey Treat from Heavenly Pastry and Cake, Seattle

Scones are, in general, not to be trusted.

Oh, they look great in the bakery case, in all of their buttery, carbohydratey glory, often prettily glistening with various glazes or topped with fat granules of sugar.

But in general I tend to agree with America's Test Kitchen when it comes to the flavor reality: as they put it, "scones served in a typical coffeehouse are so dry and leaden that they seem like a ploy to get people to buy more coffee to wash them down."

But when I recently encountered the jam-filled variety at the Heavenly Pastry & Cake booth at the Capitol Hill Farmer's Market, I had a glimmer of hope. For one thing, it looked more biscuit-y than many American bakery varieties--it seemed more like a British scone (or at least a cousin to my favorite Grand Central Baking treat, the Jammer).

Happily, these scones tasted just as good as they looked: the texture was somewhere between cakey and biscuity, yielding but not  falling into the crumbly or spongy pitfalls that often plague lesser scones. The raspberry filling offered a nice texture and taste contrast to the butteriness of the main event, and almost (but not quite) made them taste healthy. 

Heavenly Pastry & Cake says on their menu of their scones that "we give these humble pastries the respect, and flavor, you deserve"--and after having tasted, I tend to agree.

P.S. Though they're not sweet, the pretzels ought not be missed, either.

Heavenly Pastry & Cake, retail storefront coming soon in West Seattle; they can also be found at several area Farmer's Markets. For more information, visit heavenlypastry.com.

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