Home Home Home Home Home Home Home
CakeSpy

Featured Post:
Of Eating Disorders and Food Blogs

 

 Buy my brilliant books!

Buy my new book!

Buy my first book, too! 

CakeSpy Online Retail!

 

Gallery

Fantastic appliance for cake making on DHgate.com

This area does not yet contain any content.
Craftsy Writer
Tuesday
Dec222009

Babka's Your Uncle: A Carbohydratey Christmas Breakfast Idea from Rainy Day Gal

IMGP1310

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Rainy Day Gal (a.k.a. Jenny Miller), a fellow Seattle blogger with a major sweet tooth. Her current endeavor is "The 12 Days of Bakemas"--12 days, 12 recipes, and 12 million dirty dishes."

Bab-what? Bab-who?

The word is Babka, my friends, and you should really get to know each other.

What is babka, you ask? It's an eastern European bread twisted and rolled up with chocolate and cinnamony goodness, topped off with a sprinkling of streusel.

Why is it called babka? Because it's darn fun to say. Or, as my other good friend Wikipedia informed me, it stems from the Polish noun "baba," meaning grandmother--so-named because of its resemblance to a grandmother.

Huh. I don't know about your grandmother, but mine is definitely twisted, stuffed with chocolate and perpetually covered in streusel. Quite a fitting name, I'd say.

Before we get going, I must say: of what I have made so far in this 12 days of Bakemas adventure, chocolate babka has been by far my favorite. And here are the reasons why:

1) The dough is soft and chewy like the inside of a cinnamon roll.

2) Said dough is covered in melted chocolate.

3) The streusel on top gives it a buttery, sugary crunch.

4) It's pretty and swirly and twisty.

5) It's fun to say. Babka. Baaaabka. You try.

Alright. Enough talkie talkie. Ready to do this thing?

Let's go.

(Click here for the full recipe and directions!)

You need flour. Bread flour and all-purpose, please.

Also snag some cocoa powder, salt, powdered sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon from your pantry.

You'll also need vanilla extract, 1 packet of dry active yeast, cooking spray, butter, one egg (yolk only), and 3/4 cup of 1% milk.

And finally, the star of the show: Chocolate. Semi-sweet, and 4 ounces of it.

Now, put on that apron (or as I like to call it, an "old college sweatshirt") and let's begin.

IMGP1241

Warm up the milk and pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer.

Add 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (make sure your camera is not in focus during this step: very important)...

IMGP1244

...and that packet-o-yeast. Turn on the mixer and blend until the yeast has dissolved. Let stand 5 minutes.

IMGP1245

Meanwhile, measure out 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Turns out it's about 1/3 cup. Throw in 1/4 teaspoon salt while you're at it.

IMGP1247

Add the sugar/salt mixture...

IMGP1248

...1 teaspoon vanilla extract...

IMGP1249

...and egg yolk. Give it a stir.

IMGP1250

Measure out 1/3 cup all-purpose flour and add 1 1/4 cups bread flour.

IMGP1251

Switch attachments to your dough hook, but not before pretending to be Captain Hook for 4 minutes.

IMGP1253

Slowly add the flours while the mixer is running. Mix until a purdy dough begins to form.

IMGP1254

Now, soften 5 tablespoons of butter...

IMGP1255

...and add it to the dough. Mix until all of the buttah is incorporated.

IMGP1257

Turn the whole mess out onto a floured surface. Warning: it's a gonna be sticky. And greasy.

Keep 1/3 cup all-purpose flour right next to ya...

IMGP1258

...and knead for about 10 minutes, adding the flour a tablespoon at a time until it no longer sticks to your hands. The dough should be smooove and elastic.

IMGP1259

Spray a bowl (non-metal, please) with cooking spray, plop in that mound-o-dough, give it a flip to coat the whole durn thing with cooking spray, cover, and let rest in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours (or until it's doubled in size).

IMGP1260

Meanwhile, grab that bee-youtiful chocolate.

IMGP1261

Give it a good chop...

IMGP1262

...and throw it in a bowl.

IMGP1263

Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder.

IMGP1264

Give it a good stir.

Alrighty. We've done the dough and the filling. Now let's prep the streusel.

IMGP1266

In a bowl, combine 1 tablespoon butter, one tablespoon flour, and one tablespoon powdered sugar.

IMGP1267

Mash it all up with a fork, and then stick it in the fridge until we're ready to use it.

IMGP1284

Finally, let's get our bread pan ready. Line the bottom with parchment paper, and then spray the whole dang thing with cooking spray.

Now would also be a good time to preheat your oven to 350°.

IMGP1285

Is your dough ready? If you're not sure, press two fingers into it. If the indentations stay put, it's good to go. If not, let it rise longer.

If it's ready, punch it down, re-cover, and let rest five minutes.

IMGP1287

Now then. Flip it out onto a floured surface and roll into a 15"x15" square.

IMGP1288

Spread out the filling on top of the dough, leaving a little room at the edges.

IMGP1289

Roll it up nice and tight, pinching the edges closed....

IMGP1290

...and give it a few good twists. That is what's going to make it all swirly and purdy.

IMGP1291

Squeeze it into your bread pan. If it looks like a snake, that's cool. It won't taste like one. I promise.

IMGP1293

Crumble the streusel on top, and stick this bad boy in the oven for 40 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when you tap the top.

IMGP1305

Or until it looks like this.

IMGP1307

Oh my.

IMGP1306

This is going to be gooood.

IMGP1313

Let it cool in the pan for a few minutes, then flip it out onto a wire rack to let cool completely. And by "completely," I mean as long as you can prevent yourself from ripping that sucker in half and inhaling the whole dang thing.

I think I lasted all of 7.5 minutes. I then cut out the middle piece (above) and scarfed it.

IMGP1315

Then I let the rest of the loaf cool like a good little gal.

IMGP1319

I must say, this stuff was delicious warm and cold. When it was warm, the chocolate was melty and gooey. But when it was cold, the chocolate had hardened and gave it delicious little rungs of texture.

IMGP1318

I'd love this bread warm on Christmas morning. Coffee, a warm, gooey slice of this chocolatey delight, and hanging out with my favorite peeps.

IMGP1312

Heavenly.

Happy 12 Days of Bakemas!

-RDG

Chocolate Babka Recipe

from Cooking Light


  •  Ingredients for dough

1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
3/4 cup warm 1% low-fat milk (105° to 110°)
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
7.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 2/3 cups), divided
5.85 ounces bread flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
5 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces and softened
Cooking spray


  • Ingredients for Filling
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • Ingredients for streusel
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened

  • Procedure

 

  1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and yeast in warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and egg yolk. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 6 ounces (about 1 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour and bread flour to milk mixture; beat with dough hook attachment at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add 5 tablespoons butter, beating until well blended. Scrape dough out onto a floured surface (dough will be very sticky). Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add 1.5 ounces (about 1/3 cup) all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will be very soft).
  2. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let dough rest 5 minutes.
  3. Line the bottom of a 9 x 5?inch loaf pan with parchment paper; coat sides of pan with cooking spray.
  4. To prepare filling, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside.
  5. Place dough on a generously floured surface; roll dough out into a 16-inch square. Sprinkle filling over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border around edges. Roll up dough tightly, jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam and ends to seal. Holding dough by ends, twist dough 4 times as if wringing out a towel. Fit dough into prepared pan. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°.
  7. To prepare streusel, combine powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, and 1 tablespoon softened butter, stirring with a fork until mixture is crumbly; sprinkle streusel evenly over dough. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until loaf is browned on bottom and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool bread completely on wire rack before slicing.

 

Sunday
Dec202009

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: A Sweet Snowball Cookie Celebration

Let it Snow Confectioners' Sugar
Snowballs. Russian Tea Cakes. Greek Kourambiedes. Bullets. Mexican Wedding Cakes. Viennese Crescents. Moldy Mice. Armenian Sugar Cookies. What does this international sampler of cookies have in common? Quite a bit, it seems--they are just a few (I've counted over 20!) of the countless riffs on the same basic cookie, comprised of butter and (usually) ground nuts, a melt-in-your mouth treat which is liberally coated in confectioners' sugar and seems to be a mainstay in so many special occasions.
Cookie!
So what gives? I took it upon myself to learn more about this cookie, ultimately applying the knowledge in the sweetest way possible for the December Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 project: by taste-testing seven different batches of these international treats with a group of friends and reporting not only on the intellectual findings, but dishing on the goods as well.

But first, a little background. What's up with this cookie? Foodtimeline.org offers up the 411:

According to several food history sources and cookbooks...these are a universal holiday cookie-type treat. This means this recipe is not necessarily connected to any one specific country. It is connected with the tradition of saving rich and expensive food (the richest butter, finest sugar, choicest nuts) for special occasions.
Of course, that having been said, the cookies do perhaps take their root from the Middle East:
Food historians trace the history of these cookies and cakes to Medieval Arab cuisine, which was rich in sugar. Small sugar cakes with nuts (most often almonds) and spices were known to these cooks and quickly adopted by the Europeans. This sweet culinary tradition was imported by the Moors to Spain, diffused and assimilated throughout Europe, then introduced to the New World by 16th century explorers. Sugar cookies, as we know them today, made their appearance in th 17th century. About sugar. Recipes called Mexican wedding cakes descend from this tradition. They first appear in American cookbooks in the 1950s.

See? I bet you're feeling smarter already. And now, Let it snow confectioners' sugar:


Snowballs

About the cookie: This is probably the most famous American version of the cookie--its name seems to stem from their appearance after being rolled in confectioners' sugar. The first mention I could find was a 1939 article in the Chicago Tribune, where it says "don't wait for signs of snow to make these frosty-looking snowball cookies, for they're good in any season". Regional variations will call for filberts, almonds, walnuts, or pecans.
Tasting notes: I made the standard-issue version not unlike the ones I grew up with. These ones, made with walnuts, tasted nostalgic, but didn't necessarily separate themselves from the crowd. But still--they were a delight to eat.

Snowball Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1-lb. confectioners sugar to roll cookies in
Directions
  1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix butter with sugar until very light and fluffy. Mix in flour mixture. Stir in walnuts. Refrigerate until easy to handle.
  2. Make balls in the palm of your hand by tablespoons. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet, and bake in a 350 degree F. oven until golden brown, being careful bottoms do not burn.
  3. Place confectioners sugar in a large bowl. Take cookies from oven and gently put into bowl. Carefully, they are hot, toss cookies in sugar until they are coated.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Bullets of Sweetness

Bullets

About the cookie: These cookies are closely related to the snowball--in fact, I might even surmise that they are a regional version of them, based on the fact that some snowball recipes list a possible variation as using macadamia nuts. However, these ones intrigued me: in the leadup to the recipe, the writer notes that "when we were growing up, my sister Tammie rated these her favorite cookie".
Tasting Notes: Clearly sister Tammie knew what she was talking about. These cookies are the absolute lap of luxury. Flavorwise, they couldn't be more rich: the already buttery-tasting macadamia nuts pair perfectly with this buttery cookie, and they really do just crumble in your mouth. Yes, macadamias are expensive--but this one is worth the splurge. These were one of the top two cookies tasted.

Bullets Recipe

Adapted from Cookies by Natalie Hartanov Haughton

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • confectioners' sugar
Directions
Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, beat together butter, granulated sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add flour, beating until well blended. If necessary, work with fingers until dough holds together. Blend in nuts. Shape into one-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 15-17 minutes, or until bottoms are golden. Remove cookie sheets; cool on racks. After they have cooled for about 30 minutes, roll in confectioners' sugar, coating completely. Makes 30.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Danny Takes a BiteKourambiedes (top right and bottom center)
Greek Kourambiedes (or Kourabiethes)

About the cookie: On Whipped, the site where I found this recipe, it says "in the bakeries of Greece, the Kourabiethes are piled up high and deep and look like a mound of little snowballs. My trusty, old-school Greek cookbook reads, 'Kourabiethes are the national cookies of the Greeks for Christmas and New Year’s Day.'
Tasting Notes: True to Whipped's word, these are truly "Greek little balls of heaven". The rosewater adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the cookies, giving them a unique flavor. I shaped some of these into crescents as well.

Greek Kourabiethes Recipe


Only slightly adapted from the recipe on Whipped


Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • about 2 cups of confectioners' sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 T brandy
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • rose water
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter and 1 cup sugar until very light and fluffy. Stir in egg yolk and brandy. Mix sifted flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Mix in the flour and baking powder a little at a time until dough no longer sticks to your fingers. Mix  in almonds while mixing in flour, accomodating for the extra ingredient and not letting the cookies get too dry. Knead well until dough is smooth and can easily be rolled; shape into balls or crescents--follow your bliss. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until very light brown. While still warm, brush very lightly with orange flower or rose water. Roll in confectioner’s sugar and set on a tray or plate. Use the remaining sugar to sift over top until well covered.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Jasen Takes a Bite

Mexican Wedding Cakes


About the cookie: Per Foodtimeline.org,

The cookie is old, the name is new. Food historians place the first recipes named "Mexican wedding cakes" in the 1950s. Why the name? Our books and databases offer no explanations. Perhaps timing is everything? Culinary evidence confirms Mexican wedding cakes are almost identical to Russian Tea Cakes. During the 1950s and 1960s relations between Russia and the United States were strained. It is possible the Cold War provided the impetus for renaming this popular cookie. Coincidentally...this period saw the mainstreaming of TexMex cuisine into American culture.
Tasting Notes: What set these cookies apart was the addition of cinnamon--they added a spicy holiday flair to the cookies and really set them apart from the rest. As you can see by the photo, even pugs couldn't avoid the holiday charm of these cookies.

Mexican Wedding Cakes Recipe

Adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions
  1. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. Beat in flour, then pecans. Divide dough in half; form each half into ball. Wrap separately in plastic; chill until cold, about 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and cinnamon in pie dish to blend. Set cinnamon sugar aside.
  3. Working with half of chilled dough, roll dough by 2 teaspoonfuls between palms into balls. Arrange balls on heavy large baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet. Gently toss warm cookies in cinnamon sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely. Repeat procedure with remaining half of dough. (Cookies can be prepared 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature; reserve remaining cinnamon sugar.)
  4. Sift remaining cinnamon sugar over cookies and serve.

- - - - - - - - - -
Moldy Mice Cookies

Moldy Mice

About the cookie: This is a rich, buttery pecan cookie smothered in confectioners' sugar, which to the best of my knowledge first cropped up under this name in a 1950 Junior League cookbook entitled Charleston Receipts. What of the name? As you can read on Serious Eats (where you can also find the recipe) I have two theories: first, if you squint really hard at the cookies, they sort of resemble tiny mice covered with mold. Second--my favored theory--is that it is a clever deterrent technique dreamed up by a baker frustrated by their delectable morsels disappearing too quickly.
Tasting Notes: These rich, tender cookies were a big hit: toasting the pecans before baking really added something.

Moldy Mice Recipe 

You can find it on Serious Eats!

- - - - - - - - - -
Russian Teacakes

About the cookie: Per foodtimeline.org,

Noble Russian cuisine (along with every other facet of noble life) was influenced by prevailing French customs during the 18th century. Tea was first introduced to Russia in 1618, but the Russian tea ceremony of samovars and sweet cakes was a legacy of Francophile Catherine the Great in the 18th century. It is interesting to note that A Gift to Young Housewives, Elena Molokhovet [1870s popular Russian cookbook] contains plenty of recipes for a variety of small baked goods, none specifically entitled Russian tea cakes. There are, however, several recipes which use similar ingredients.
Tasting notes: What can be said? This recipe is a classic.

Russian Teacakes Recipe

Adapted from Betty Crocker

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Powdered sugar
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 400ºF
  2. Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.
  5. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.

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

Armenian Sugar Cookies (Shakarishee)

About the cookie: This is a traditional cookie, called shakarishee, which I am told is a commonly served item at weddings or other special occasions.
Tasting Notes: Sweeter than some others, this recipe yielded a cookie that looked more like a drop cookie when baked rather than holding a snowball shape; the nuts were only an accent in this version, but what held true to all of the other recipes was the texture, which was crumbly and dense and delicious. Taster Jasen, who is himself Armenian, commented that "these make me feel like I should be at an Armenian wedding".

Armenian Sugar Cookies Recipe

Adapted from this Shakarishee Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup softened butter [unsalted]
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, egg yolk and the sugar until smooth and almost white in color. Add flour and blend well. If you are using the nuts, this is the time to add them in. Shape into small rectangles about 3/4" by 1 1/2".
  2. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. Note: The recipe notes that a blanched almond or walnut half can be placed on top of the cookie before baking, but for uniformity I did not add this.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Viennese Crescents

About the cookie: Well, it seems that Vienna has a bit of a history with delicious crescents--could the shape of this cookie be connected to the other famous crescent from that fair city, the croissant? Read on for Wikipedia's roundup:

Fanciful stories of how the kipfel - and so, ultimately, the croissant - was created are culinary legends, at least one going back to the 19th century. These include tales that it was invented in Europe to celebrate the defeat of a Muslim invasion at the decisive Battle of Tours by the Franks in 732, with the shape representing the Islamic crescent;that it was invented in Vienna, Austria in 1683 to celebrate the defeat of the Turks to Polish forces in the Turkish siege of the city, as a reference to the crescents on the Turkish flags, when bakers staying up all night heard the tunneling operation and gave the alarm; tales linking croissants with the kifli and the siege of Buda in 1686; and those detailing Marie Antoinette's hankering after a Polish specialty.

Tasting Notes: This is a winner. The almonds paired with almond extract was an idea I got from Cook's Illustrated, and it really did give the cookies a full, almond-y flavor and helped balance out the fact that almonds are a drier nut than some of the more smooth, buttery varieties I had tried in other recipes. These were simply lovely.

Viennese Crescents Recipe

Makes about 36

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, butter, nuts, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, salt, almond extract, and vanilla. Hand mix until thoroughly blended. Shape dough into a ball; cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
  3. Remove dough from refrigerator and form into 1 inch balls. Roll each ball into a small roll, 3 inches long. Place rolls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet, and bend each one to make a crescent shape.
  4. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until set but not brown.
  5. Let stand 1 minute, then remove from cookie sheets and place on racks to cool. After about 30 minutes, dip cookies in the confectioners' sugar to coat them. If not served right away, dip them again directly before serving to ensure a snowy coating.

- - - - - - - - - -

So, to sum it all up? It was particularly sweet to see how this cookie transcends so many borders: even though our cultures may be very different, we all have some sort of variation of this cookie in common. Regardless of the language you speak or the culture you come from, a cookie made of butter, ground nuts, and coated in confectioners' sugar is a type of equality that is within reach for everyone: easy to make, and completely delicious.

Saturday
Dec192009

Cake Byte: Cake Central Magazine to Launch in March 2010


I don't know about you, but I get totally excited when I hear about something new in the cake community. And a sweet bit of news recently came my way via Leanne, whose delicious cakes I have sampled and who has purchased my artwork--she's part of a new cake publication, Cake Central, which will be publishing their first issue in March of 2010!

Here's the blurb from the Cake Central website:

Cake Makers, Foodies, and Cake Enthusiasts alike have been waiting for a first-class cake decorating magazine and that wait is over. Cake Central’s Glossy Printed Magazine is coming in March and currently taking subscription orders.

The cost of the (monthly) magazine is only $60/year with FREE shipping within the USA.

The pages of Cake Central the Magazine will feature:

  • high quality cake pictures
  • up-and-coming and celebrity cake decorators
  • recipes
  • tutorials
  • product reviews
  • and more for the novice
  • and the professional cake decorator.
  • This premium publication is ideal for anyone who bakes, makes cakes, aspires to make cakes, watches cake decorating shows, or has an interest in beautiful food!


I can't wait too see what they come up with! For more information or to subscribe, visit the Cake Central website.

Saturday
Dec192009

Sweet Art: Sweet Tooth of the Tiger Bake Sale Residency Program

Cupcake artist

Sweet Tooth of the Tiger is at it again, with a feisty new art-meets-sweets idea: The Bake Sale Residency Program! If you are in NYC and want to learn more, there is an upcoming info session; read on for some details about the project and the place and time can be found at the bottom of this posting!

As you may know, the Residency Program is a way for people who like to bake to raise money for a creative project. Need costumes for a performance? Travel funds to attend a conference? Mini DV tapes for a video project? A bake sale held at a highly trafficked art event can help.

Sweet Tooth of the Tiger will be hosting an information session at 303 Grand gallery in Brooklyn on Wednesday, January 13th from 7-9pm. As an interest to participate in the Residency Program grows, this required information session (for all prospective Residents) will be a space for learning about the process of the Residency, asking any questions you may have, as well as mingling with other prospective Residents. Please come out and join us in January! Cookies will be served! RSVP's are requested but not required. Email me to RSVP.

We also can't overlook the need for venues and organizations to sign up to host a bake sale. Without you, the Residency Program would be incomplete! Please consider hosting a bake sale at your next upcoming event. The Residency Program is a great way to support creatives in their effort to sustain their practice, as well as feed your guests if you have little to no budget for refreshments. Please send me an email if you would like to host a bake sale. We'd love to see you at the information session as well!


Info session details:
Bake Sale Residency Information Session
Wednesday, January 13th, 7-9pm, 303 Grand, Brooklyn (map)

For more information, visit the Sweet Tooth of the Tiger website.

Friday
Dec182009

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Holiday Recipes!

Holidays at Trophy Cupcakes
Christmas is just a week away--which begs the question, why don't you have something sweet in your mouth, right now? Here's a batch of sweet ideas to get you baking!

Doughnut stop believing: these doughnut snowmen are an adorable way to justify eating four doughnuts at once!

These s'mores cookies by Lovin in the Oven look ooey, gooey, and pretty perfect (pictured below).

Utziger Haselnuss Leckerli via Petit Atelier Cuisine. Try and say that three times fast. Better yet, don't--just eat them up.

RecipeGirl's chocolate mint filled cookies are a rich (yet refreshing) delight.

Iced Eggnog Cookies by Cookie Madness: yes, yes, yes!

Maple bacon chocolate chip cookies by Food Blogga: she's pretty much covered all the bases here.

Because tiny things are cute: mini gingerbread houses by Not Martha.

Gingerbread Cupcakes on Martha Stewart: you know you want some.

Dulce de leche cashew thumbprints by Peabody. Doesn't the thought just make you shiver with happiness?

Bring on the figgy pudding with this recipe from Dorie Greenspan.

If you're feeling ambitious, why not give this cassata recipe a go?

Gingerbread Mad Men by yours truly: possibly a new classic.

Decidedly NOT gingerbread: a house made of chocolate and bacon to keep Santa fat and happy.
Holiday Baking Ideas!

Friday
Dec182009

Sweet Love: A Bakery Crush on Crumb


Sweet infatuation has hit again: CakeSpy has a bakery crush.

And that crush is called Crumb {a bakery}, and it is (regrettably for this Seattleite) all the way in Atlanta.

I came across this special order bakery via the site You Are What You Eat...or Reheat, in which the writer opens her ode by saying "Crumb {a bakery} may just be the new love of my life". I'm with you, buddy.

The experience starts with their beautifully designed and printed letterpress labels...

...and gets even better once you get to the goods, which consist primarily of gorgeous macarons and cupcakes.

The hardest part is imagining what I'd want to taste first: perhaps the Liz's Lemon cupcake (lemon cake topped with honey-lemon cream cheese frosting)? Or maybe the pistachio macaron with rich, creamy pistachio filling?

Check out Crumb {a bakery} online on their website, their blog, and get instant pleasure with their Twitter updates!

Friday
Dec182009

Batter Chatter: Interview with of Bredenbeck's Bakery, Philadelphia PA

Interview with Karen of Bredenbeck's Bakery, Philadelphia
Karen H. Rohde is the owner of Bredenbeck’s Bakery, a Philadelphia tradition since 1889. Initially opened by a Bavarian immigrant baker, Bredenbeck’s was later turned over to the bakery’s longtime employees, Otto and Walter Haug, Rohde’s grandfather and father. The two owned and operated the bakery until Rohde opened the bakery’s current location almost 27 years ago. So what is life like for someone who so clearly has deep roots in baking? Let's see:


CakeSpy: You spent your childhood living above Bredenbeck’s bread and sweet bakery. When you opened the current Bredenbeck’s, what made you decide to stop baking bread?
Karen Rohde: My dad and grandfather’s bakery was a full line bakery, so they baked both bread and sweets. When I opened in Chestnut Hill, I initially had breads and sweets, but the public taste changed to crustier breads and my ovens couldn’t make that, so I stopped making bread all together.

CS: What was it like working for your grandfather and father?
KR: My father was my mentor. He treated people fairly. He appreciated all the hard work they did for Bredenbeck’s. I continue in the same mind set.


CS: What were Bredenbeck’s Bakery customers like when you were a child? Have they changed over the years? If so, how?
KR: When I was a child, there was a bakery on every block. Sadly, that’s not the case anymore. Customers today thank us for being in business. They see so many small businesses that close because they can’t compete with large chain stores. So, they don’t take us for granted.

CS: What inspired you to continue your grandfather’s and father’s legacy by opening a Bredenbeck’s of your own?
KR: I always wanted to have my own business, whether it was a child day care or something to do with food. I really wanted to open a restaurant. My father suggested I open my own bakery since I spent so much of my life working at his bakery.


CS: You’ve owned this business for almost 27 years. How have the products changed?
KR: Diets have changed. People don’t necessarily indulge they way they used to. Instead of half or whole cakes, I now have individual slices or pieces to cater to those folks.

CS: Do you prefer sweet or salty food?
KR: Salty!

CS: If you were trapped in the bakery and needed to eat baked goods to sustain, what would you dig into first?
KR: Oh, that’s a tough one. I’ll say our custard éclairs.

CS: What’s your favorite time of year for the bakery? Why?
KR: Summer – May, June. That’s when the Ice Cream Parlor half of Bredenbeck’s is open. So, the whole building--Ice Cream and Bakery--are producing delicious teats.


CS: What’s the absolute favorite treat of Philadelphians who come into your shop?
KR: Strawberry shortcake. We’ve made it the same way for 70 years.

CS: What’s the most popular cake flavor among brides/grooms?
KR: Raspberry swirl pound cake. It’s decadent, and a crowd pleaser!

CS: What’s the most unique/crazy cake you’ve ever created?
KR: We created a gigantic cowboy hat cake for a convention at the Spectrum in Center City. It was so huge that it had to be assembled on-site, and on a flatbed---because they had two horses pull it around the main floor!


CS: What makes Bredenbeck’s unique?
KR: We are one of the few bakeries who still invest the time and love to create authentic German cookies each holiday season. Our whole staff is so creative, and you can tell by the way we go all-out to decorate the store and change our product lines for each season. We are so proud of our top-notch customer service. We always, always, always do our best to accommodate our customers. And we refuse to compromise our quality just because prices go up—we use the best ingredients and always bake from scratch.

CS: Baked good trends come and go...are there any desserts of yester-year that you'd love to see re-emerge? Or any that you were happy to see go?
KR: I'd like to bring back our Butterscotch Loaf. The basic recipe is a cinnamon bun roll with nuts that serves 8-10 slices. It was baked in a loaf pan that was coated with cinnamon bun smear. While it was still hot after baking, it was turned out and the loaf was covered with the caramelized smear. Our customers would send these to the solders in Vietnam. I have recently thought about bringing it back, but we are already selling so much comfort food that I'm trying to keep our selection diverse.

Fruit cake is recipe that I put away back in 2000 and will not bring back! I wanted to go into to the new millenium without fruit cake. I never liked it! It costs a lot to make, and it's so notorious for being the "unwanted holiday treat," that it really did not sell very well. Johnny Carson joked that there is only one fruit cake in existence, and that it gets passed around the country!

Check out the bakery in person at 8126 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118 or online at bredenbecks.com.

Wednesday
Dec162009

Cake Quandary: What To Do With Leftover Almond Paste

Delicious Almond Paste!
How many times has this happened to you: a delicious recipe calls for not quite a full can of almond paste, and now you're left with a strange amount, not quite enough to make a full recipe of something, but enough that you feel like you want to use it for something. Is it fated to wither away in your fridge? Not necessarily. Here are several suggestions (from readers and around the internet) for utilizing a small amount of almond paste:

  • Roll it into little balls, the size of your thumb fingernail, then roll in either cinnamon or cocoa for rich, addictive little morsels.
  • Mix it with equal parts of mascarpone and spread on toast or an english muffin.
  • Spread it onto a piece of foil, lightly toast it in an oven or toaster oven. Crumble and sprinkle over the top of an amaretto cocktail with crushed ice.
  • Soften it and swirl into brownies or cupcakes for a light, nutty flavor.
  • Put it on the bottom of an apple pie, just on top of the lower crust. Or do a free-form galette. Yummy heaven. (via chou_in )
  • Dip it in chocolate and eat it whole. (via loveandoliveoil)
  • Use it like marzipan to form into small creatures! (via scifi_girl21 )
  • Add it to pancakes in the morning, either in the batter with a little almond extract or as a topping with a little chocolate.
  • Mix it with chopped almonds and chunky chocolate and put in puff pastry.
  • Add it to any cookie dough recipe-- it would enhance flavor without changing consistency.  (via jenniferkateab )
  • Use it to turn a plain butter cake into an almond cake. Cream the almond paste with the butter (add in small increments) for 3 minutes and then proceed with the recipe as directed. (via lapastrychef )

Wednesday
Dec162009

Cake Byte: CakeSpy Contributions to Serious Eats Featured in O Magazine!

January O Oprah Magazine, Page 32
Watch out, Gayle--you've got some competition. Oprah and CakeSpy are, like, practically BFF!

OK, this might be a slight stretch. However, I am delighted to report that the January issue of O Magazine has a feature on Serious Eats (a site to which I regularly contribute) in which they feature a photo and shout-out to some of my contributions! It may be tiny, but there my name is, right on page 32. Which means, you guessed it, that now I can officially tell everybody that I have been featured in O Magazine.

Next stop, world cake domination.

O Magazine's January issue is on newsstands now!

Wednesday
Dec162009

Christmas Cookie Collection: Chocolate Cream Cheese Graham Cracker Bars

Holiday Bar Cookies
Ah, Christmas Cookie Season, that decadent and delicious time of year when moderation is thrown out the window. Sweet, sweet Christmas cookie season.

And in that spirit of rich decadence, here's a sweet little confection I recently made for the C+H Sugar Holiday recipe spree (full disclosure--they gave me a $20 gift card for ingredients. I felt fine about this as I often use their products anyway!). Dense, rich, and decidedly not low-fat or low-carb, these little morsels fall into the territory of so bad, but so good--and are completely habit-forming.
Preppy holiday bars
Chocolate Cream Cheese Graham Cracker Bars

- makes about 24 small bars -


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I used C+H's baker's sugar, which is really quite wonderful--it falls somewhere between confectioners' and granulated sugar in texture)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (pecans would also work nicely I think)
  • About 1 cup chocolate cream cheese frosting (it was leftover from a batch I made from this recipe)--or the frosting of your choice.

Procedure

  1. Prepare the base. In a saucepan, heat butter and sugar until the sugar is completely absorbed in the liquid. Add beaten egg and stir to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the graham cracker crumbs and nuts. Press into a greased and parchment-lined 8x8-inch pan. Pat in firmly and evenly. Let this chill for about 2 hours.
  2. Spread the frosting thickly and evenly on top of the graham cracker base. Let chill until it is firm, and if desired, decorate the top with festive christmas icing (I used Wilton's glitter gel in red and green and their opaque writing icing in white).

 

© Cakespy, all rights reserved. Powered by Squarespace.