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Thursday
Apr012010

CakeSpy Shop: The Artists on Show at CakeSpy Shop!

So, I have this little place on Capitol Hill, Seattle, called CakeSpy Shop. It's a retail gallery where I sell no actual cake, but totally sweet artwork featuring it--and occasionally, pie, doughnuts, and other sweet stuff. But it's not just my artwork on show--the store features over 70 artists, many of them local to the Pacific Northwest. It's a wonderful place to discover great new art, and be inspired and amazed by what artists are capable of--and maybe even pick up a sweet gift for a loved one (or your sweet little self!). Much of it is available online here.

Here's a sampling of the artists whose work you can find at CakeSpy Shop:

AbbeyChristine: Pop culture-inspired handmade felt finger puppets.

Adorn Jewelry

Art Star Philly

The Beautiful Project

Berkley Illustration: Anthropomorphic portraits of stately animals.

Bored, Inc.

CakeSpy

Charmingwall

Cyn City Pendants

Dutch Door Press

Fernworks: Lovely resin jewelry

Francesca Berrini: Prints and cards featuring irreverent retro imagery.

Gold Teeth Brooklyn

Heather Gill

Idle Hands Design:

Julie West

JULZ by Julie Briggs

justJenn Designs

Kiku

Kris Garland

Libby Chenault

Matthew Porter

Mike Egan

Mike Geno: Painterly food portraits

Mucho Design

Paper Parasol Press

Partybots

PenguinBot

Pirouette

Rampage Toys

Rachel Pfeffer:

Rubina Design

Bethany Schlegel

This Charming Candy

Toni Yuly

Yellowcake Crafts

Wednesday
Mar312010

Cake Byte: CakeSpy the Gallery Owner!

So, friends, it's official: as of tomorrow, April 1, we're gallery owners: we purchased Bluebottle Art Gallery in Capitol Hill, Seattle. Booyea!

So what happens now?

OK. So the shop will remain open as Bluebottle Art Gallery for the next month or so as I move in CakeSpy art, make some improvements and renovations to the space, and even host an awesome Capitol Hill artwalk show with the amazing paintings of Ryan Berkley on April 8 from 5-8 p.m (if you're in the area stop by!).

Since the shop will remain open, please do stop by during April! The shop may seem like a bit of a work in progress, but there will be a lot of awesome local (and some not so local!) art, jewelry and generally cool stuff on show.

And then, on May 8, I've got a totally sweet Grand Opening party planned as Bluebottle Art Gallery officially merges with CakeSpy Shop! It's going to feature many cupcakes, an art opening featuring my artwork, and assorted other awesomeness.

CakeSpy Shop = sweet, wonderful times ahead.

Come visit--I'll be at 415 East Pine Street, Seattle WA 98122; email me at cakespyshop@gmail.com!

Wednesday
Mar312010

Out Like a Lamington: A Sweet Recipe from Joy of Baking

You know what they say about March: in like a Lion, out like a Lamington. At least, that's what I say. OK, technically I've never said that before today.

Nonetheless, I couldn't imagine a sweeter way to say "smell ya later" to March than with these traditional Australian treats, named after Lord Lamington (Governor of Queensland from 1896 - 1901) comprised of dense cake absolutely coated in rich fudge coating and feathered with sweet coconut on top of everything.

My suggestion? Make some today. No fooling, it's a sweet way to end one month and go into another--and nobody would call an April that began with a leftover Lamington breakfast "the cruelest month".

This recipe is lightly adapted from the one on Joy of Baking.

Lamingtons

For the cakes

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk (I used cream) 

For the chocolate Frosting:

  • 4 cups (1 pound) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk

For the coating: 

  • 2 cups shredded coconut

Procedure

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place oven rack to middle position. Grease an 8x8-inch baking pan and set to the side.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set to the side.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy--2 or 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and milk in alternating increments, beginning and ending with flour.
  5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake in your preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of cake and invert, lifting off pan. Once the cake is cool, cut it into 16 2-inch squares. Wrap the cake (as one unit is fine) in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or even overnight--this makes it much easier to coat with chocolate later on.
  7. Make the chocolate frosting. Place the confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, butter and milk in a double boiler. Heat on low, stirring the mixture until it becomes smooth and of pouring consistency.
  8. Assemble your Lamingtons. Make a production line; put the 16 squares of cakes on a wire rack that is placed over a baking sheet (to catch the dripping chocolate).  Have the coconut ready on a large plate and the chocolate frosting. Ladle the chocolate frosting over each square of cake, making sure you cover all sides. (It is best to do a few squares at a time.)  With a small offset spatula or knife transfer the chocolate covered cake to the plate of coconut and roll the cake in the coconut, covering all sides.  Gently transfer the lamington to a clean wire rack to set.  Repeat with the rest of the cake squares.  Once the Lamingtons have set, store in an airtight container for several days.

 

Note: Also, Joy of Baking has a helpful tip: When you ladle the frosting over the cake, some of the frosting will drip onto the pan. Pour this frosting back in your bowl and reuse (strain if necessary).  If the icing becomes too thick to pour, simply place the frosting back over the saucepan of simmering water and reheat until it is of pouring consistency. (You may have to do this a few times as the frosting has a tendency to thicken over time.  Add a little more milk to frosting if necessary to get pouring consistency.)

 

Wednesday
Mar312010

Sweet April: Cupcake Royale Debuts Lemon Mascarpone Cupcakes this month!

Is April the cruelest month?

Not at all if you are in Seattle, where you can escape the April showers at Cupcake Royale (which recently got some very high praise from foodie superheroes Jane and Michael Stern) and pick up a couple or seven of their new flavor: Lemon Mascarpone! Here's the 411 from their newsletter:

With deliciously creamy Italian mascarpone, this fluffy, velvety lemon cake has tangy lemon zest in the batter. We top it off with a light and creamy cloud of lemony Italian mascarpone buttercream, made with the finest, fresh, natural mascarpone from Mozzarella Fresca. This sunny spring treat is true lemon BLISS.

Totally sweet!

Available all month long at the four Cupcake Royale locations; for directions and contact info, visit www.cupcakeroyale.com. Of course, you can keep up to date with their goings-on at legalizefrostitution.blogspot.com.

Tuesday
Mar302010

Cookie Question: What's the Difference Between Macarons and Macaroons?

It's a true cookie mystery: what's the deal with macarons and macaroons? After all, their names are very similar, but the cookies are seemingly very different: one is a refined, Frenchie sweetburger, and the other a frumpy lump of coconut flakes.

But you know what? They are in fact related. While they may not be part of the same immediate family, they definitely come from the same family tree. Here's an excerpt from a CakeSpy post on macaroons which was originally posted in April 2008.

The Macaron: While there is evidence of meringue-type cookies going as far back as the 1500s, as I learned from Wikipedia, the macaron in its current form is generally accepted as taking shape in the late 1700s when two Benedictine nuns, Sister Marguerite and Sister Marie-Elisabeth were seeking asylum in the town of Nancy during the French Revolution, and paid for their housing by baking and selling the macaron cookies. However, these original macarons were simply cookie rounds--it wasn't until the 1930s that fancy tea room Ladurée began serving the cookies in a new way, with a sweet ganache filling between two of the traditional rounds. Naturally, the sweet filling and flavor and texture contrast caught on, and the l'il Luxembourgers began to take the world by storm (read more about the Frenchie ones in this fantastic writeup by one of my favorite foodies, Robyn Lee).

The Macaroon: However, veering on a different path than Ladurée, as I learned from The Nibble, the cookie also gained popularity with the Italian Jewish population because it requires no flour or leavening (the agent that raises and lightens a baked good, like yeast, baking powder and baking soda—instead, macaroons are leavened by egg whites) and can be enjoyed during Passover. Naturally, due to a high level of deliciousness, it gained popularity all over Europe as a year-round sweet, and regional variations popped up. The coconut macaroon seems to have gained popularity first in Glasgow, Scotland; it is most likely from here that it hopped over the pond and captured the hearts of Americans.

So, there you have it--the story of one humble cookie which has taken two very different paths--with countless other small variations on both styles. Of course, as with so many things, this knowledge is best applied with real-life experience, and so I suggest you eat one of each, macaroon and macaron, as soon as possible.

Tuesday
Mar302010

Sticky Business: Sandra Lee Pillsbury Sticky Buns Recipe

Some people may rankle at the idea of using pre-packaged cinnamon rolls, but not me. I have some fond memories of them from growing up, and choose to take the "just don't read the ingredients or nutritional info" point of view.

But if you do need a way to justify them, fancying them up a bit can't work.

So I have to admit I was intrigued when I heard of the recipes for Pillsbury that Sandra Lee had created starting with their sweet rolls (you know, the ones in the tube that pop open) and adding a few simple ingredients to make them unique--it kind of seemed like Pillsbury's answer to The Cake Mix Doctor. And when they sent me a coupon for some free Pillsbury products so I could test 'em out, I figured: why not?

So I tested out the Apple Walnut Sticky Buns recipe...only, because I had neither apples nor walnuts, mine substituted blueberries and almonds. It worked out fine in terms of quantities and very nicely in terms of flavor, too.

And you know what? Even that small bit of baking really did make the store-bought rolls better and a bit more grandiose than simply poppin' and baking. Not a bad option for a quick brunch side or impromptu sweet breakfast.
Adapted from Sandra Lee's Apple Walnut Sticky Buns from Pillsbury.com

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2-1 cup blueberries (or, per the original recipe, 1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
  • 3/4 cup chopped almonds (or, per the original recipe, walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 can (12.4 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Generously butter 8 regular muffin cups with softened butter.
  2. In bowl, mix blueberries and almonds (or apples/walnuts) and brown sugar; divide evenly among muffin cups. Separate cinnamon rolls; reserve icing.
  3. Place 1 cinnamon roll in each cup. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
  4. Cool 5 minutes. Place cookie sheet upside down over muffin pan; turn over. Remove pan.
  5. Remove lid from icing; microwave on Medium (50%) 5 to 10 seconds or until thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over warm buns. Serve warm.

Tuesday
Mar302010

Fail, Saved: Making Good of a Bad Recipe

Last week I bought this adorable Springtime Linzer Cookie Cutter Set from Cookies in Seattle, for my weekly Serious Eats post (which you can check out here).

However, before I found recipe success, I had to deal with recipe failure.

Being infinitely curious about back-of-the-box recipes, I decided to first try the recipe printed on the back of the kit.

Here's what they looked like before they went in the oven:

and here's what they looked like when they came out.

Noooo! Where could I have gone wrong? The original recipe suggested letting the dough rest for 2 hours; I let it rest overnight. Too long?

Regardless of appearance, the cookies still did taste good: almost like sugar cookie crackers.

And when sandwiched with a thick dollop of lemon curd in the middle, these crunchy cookie sandwiches would almost have you believe they'd been made this way on purpose.

Here's the recipe (which, by the way, I would not suggest if you want perfectly formed cutout cookies--rather, try this one instead). I am writing it as it appeared on the package, but with steps 4 and 5 the perfect cutouts might not work the way you'd like, if my experience was any indication:

Failed Linzer Cookies (AKA Sugar Cookie Crackers)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour

to fill:

  • 1 jar lemon curd (or whatever preserves you'd like, or frosting, etc)

 Procedure

  1. Mix butter, orange extract and sugar.
  2. Stir in one cup of flour at a time, mixing well.
  3. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours.
  4. Roll out 1/2 of dough on a cookie sheet to 1/4 inch thick and chill 30 more minutes. Cut with the Linzer cutter without an insert. Remove excess dough and bake at 350 for 12 minutes.
  5. Roll out the other half of the dough on a second cookie sheet, once again chilling for 30 minutes. Cut with the Linzer Cutter fitted with the insert or inserts of your choice. Remove excess dough and bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Cool completely.
  6. If your cookies came out Linzer-iffic, then good for you (jerk). If not, sandwich them with lemon curd or your choice of filling and enjoy.
Monday
Mar292010

Sweet Sandwich: Peeps Fluffernutter for Serious Eats

Oh, don't act surprised. It was really only a matter of time before Peeps, those pillowy pastel harbingers of spring, met the classic marshmallowy sandwich called Fluffernutter.

What may surprise and delight you, however, is that in my version, the peanut butter-and-Peeps mixture is sandwiched between two hefty slices of pound cake rather than white bread, to form a delectably decadent dessert sandwich.

The pound cake works beautifully on several levels—the sweetness works harmoniously with the Peeps, and the rich butteriness is perfect with the peanut butter. In fact, I'd like to humbly submit that it just may be the perfect lunchtime followup to a breakfast of Cadbury Creme Eggs Benedict.

Monday
Mar292010

Hot (Cross) Buns at Essential Baking Company, Seattle

Want some hot buns?

Well, if you're in Seattle, you're in luck, because Essential Baking Co. has got hot buns--hot cross buns, that is--aplenty. Per an update from EBC:

Easter is this weekend and Hot Cross Buns are a traditional English Easter food historically enjoyed on Good Friday. The Essential Baking Company's  legendary, slightly sweet version features a rich, velvety crumb, currants and the trademark glaze topping. Hot Cross Buns are perfect warmed and served with breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea.

EBC's legendary Hot Cross Buns will be available at select grocery stores in the greater Seattle area and The Essential Bakery Cafés in Wallingford (1604 North 34th Street - 206-545-0444) and Madison (2719 East Madison -206-328-0078) now through June 15. 

For more information on how you can get your hot (cross!) buns for Easter, visit essentialbaking.com.

Sunday
Mar282010

King Corn: Cornmeal Blueberry Cookie Bars

So, when I first encountered a review copy of the book Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours, I have to confess, I had my doubts. The concept--a book of recipes for baked goods (both sweet and savory) using whole grain flours sounded vaguely...virtuous.

But once assured that they still did include plenty of sugar and butter, I figured it was worth a try.

And after looking through the book (and lovingly, at some of the pictures), I decided to try the cornmeal blueberry cookies. Why? Well, for one thing, I like cookies, and I like corn muffins, and these kind of sounded somewhere in between. Plus, I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand.

Well, I veered a little from the original recipe: for one thing, I used frozen instead of dried blueberries, dehydrating them by baking them at 200 degrees farenheit for a few hours to dry them out; and second, instead of cookies I made my batch as bars, using an 8x8-inch pyrex baking sheet. Because I had dehydrated the berries and they weren't completely dried, I placed them on top of the batter rather than mixing it in; however, even with these changes, the yield was a very dense and pleasing bar, like cornbread meets sugar cookie, with a nice tart edge from the berries.

Here's the recipe.

Cornmeal Blueberry Cookie Bars

Adapted from Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours

Dry mix:

  • 2 cups corn flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup finely ground cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (I used Secret Stash Sea Salt's Pistachio cherry)

Wet Mix:

  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup dried blueberries (I had frozen; I baked them for a couple of hours at 200 degrees to dehydrate them)

Finish:

1/2 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)

Procedure

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 F. Rub your baking pan with butter.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the butter and brown sugar to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to low speed and mix until the butter and sugar are combined, then increase the speed to medium and cream for 2 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is combined. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and blend on low speed until the flour is just barely combined, about 20-30 seconds (it's very pretty to watch). Scrabe down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the milk (and if you're using dried, add the blueberries now). Slowly mix until the dough is evenly combined.
  5. Spoon your batter (it will be thick) into your prepared pan, spreading with a spatula to even out the top. Sprinkle the dehydrated blueberries and finishing sugar on top. (or, if you want to make cookies, pour the sugar into a bowl scoop mounds of dough, each about 3 tablespoons in size, form into balls, and set on a plate; dip each ball into the sugar, coating it lightly; arrange the balls on baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between them--balls that don't fit on the first baking sheet can be dipped in the sugar and chilled til ready to bake).
  6. Bake the bars for somewhere between 20-30 (possibly a few more) minutes depending on your pan size (more minutes for a taller pan, less for a shallower pan); (20-22 for cookies), rotating the sheet at about 10 minutes. The bars will puff up and crack at the top and are ready to come out when the sugar crustis golden brown and the cracks still faintly yellow.
  7. These bars / cookies are best eaten warm from the oven or the same day. But, if you must, they'll keep in an airtight container (at room temperature) for up to 3 days.
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