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Thursday
Nov262009

Just a Speck: The Birnen Speck Cake

Pear and Bacon Cake
This photo is credited to Einwanger, Klaus-Maria on Kuechengoetter.com.

As a dessert detective agency, it is the official duty of CakeSpy to report on the birnen speck cake.

What's a birnen speck cake? Well, birnen means pear; speck roughly translates as bacon; and cake...well, you know that one.
Birnen Speck Cake
Yup: Pear Bacon Cake. I was tipped off about this cake by Criminal Crafts, and finally hunted down a recipe and tutorial online on the site kuechengoetter.de. Basically this cake is made by laying bacon in a loaf pan, nestling pared pears on top, and then smothering it all in cake batter before baking it. The result? A confection which yields a strangely pretty slice, with pear shards surrounded by buttery cake, all surrounded by pink-red-and-white bacon. Ready to give it a try? While an effort to directly translate may not be easy, the recipe can be found here.

Thursday
Nov262009

Sweet Art: Acupuncture is Totally Sweet!

Acupuncture is totally sweet!
How does Cuppie bliss out? By getting acupuncture, duh. And as a side effect, the holey experience has really given him a lot of empathy for his buddy Doughnut. This piece was inspired by Seattle's best (bar none!) community acupuncture clinic, CommuniChi--it was featured in their latest newsletter!

Wednesday
Nov252009

Cake Byte: CakeSpy Artwork at Trophy Cupcakes Starting December 5!

Cupcake and Bacon in Seattle
Breaking Cake News! CakeSpy is having another art show at Trophy Cupcakes! The first one this summer was such a success that they have asked for more cupcake art to get them through the holiday season!

Please note that if you read the update about the show a week or so ago, the artist reception has changed. It will now take place at the following time:

Saturday, December 5, from 6-8 p.m.
at Trophy Cupcakes in Wallingford, 1815 N. 45th Street in the Wallingford Center
There will be plenty of awesome artwork and of course a limited supply of free cupcakes!

There will be over 80 new paintings featuring cupcakes (and even some other foods!) in all sorts of sweet (and sometimes bittersweet) situations, and many illustrations including Seattle landmarks.

Of course if you can't make the reception, the artwork will be up all month long in Wallingford, through January 2, so you can pick up sweet gifts for your friends, neighbors, family and maybe even your sweet self all December long!

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday
Nov242009

Roll With It: Pumpkin Roulade Cake Recipe from Cake Gumshoe Julia

Guest Post from Cake Gumshoe Julia - roulade cake with sugar
CakeSpy Note: What the world needs now is love, sweet love--all rolled up in a pumpkin roulade cake. Cake Gumshoe Julia is at it again, and has contributed a totally sweet recipe! You can follow her everyday adventures on her site, Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body.

I have been wanting to make a roll cake for years. But I have been so intimidated by them--they always look so perfect, and I always feared there was no room for error in the texture of the cake or consistency of the frosting. It had to be perfect or else it wouldn't roll correctly. But Saturday morning I was feeling lucky.

I had a pumpkin I had just roasted which I wanted to use for some baked goods. I also realized I hadn't made any pumpkin baked goods yet and Thanksgiving is only 5 days away. So right then I knew I had to make Ina Garten's Pumpkin Roulade. Her recipes have always turned out well for me, which gave me the confidence to move forward. Of course I modified her recipe slightly (I just have a habit of always adding some of my own 'flair' you can call it).

Pumpkin Roulade Cake

For the cake:
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus extra for dusting

For the filling:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (I used low fat)
Note: I have been using Philadelphia cream cheese. I used the generic cheap stuff forever, but recently discovered that Philly has such a better consistency.
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • Pinch kosher salt

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 18 by 1-inch sheet pan. Line the pan with parchment paper and grease and flour the paper.
  2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt and stir to combine. Place the eggs and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light yellow and thickened. With the mixer on low, add the pumpkin, then slowly add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Finish mixing the batter by hand with a rubber spatula. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake the cake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the top springs back when gently touched.Guest Post from Cake Gumshoe Julia - roulade cake on towel
  3. While the cake is baking, lay out a clean, thin cotton dish towel (I used a cheese cloth) on a flat surface and sift the entire 1/4 cup of confectioners' sugar evenly over it. (This will prevent the cake from sticking to the towel.) As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, loosen it around the edges and invert it squarely onto the prepared towel. Peel away the parchment paper. With a light touch, roll the warm cake and the towel together (don't press!) starting at the short end of the cake. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Note: I just dumped the cake onto the powdered sugar towel, and I watched a huge cloud of powdered sugar spread everywhere. So the term 'with a light tough' is key to making a little less mess.
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, and cream together for about a minute, until light and fluffy. Stir in the pumpkin, banana, and salt.Guest Post from Cake Gumshoe Julia - roulade cake with frosting
  5. To assemble, carefully unroll the cake onto a board with the towel underneath. 
  6. Spread the cake evenly with the filling. 
  7. Reroll the cake in a spiral using the towel as a guide. Remove the towel and trim the ends to make a neat edge. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Serve sliced.


Guest Post from Cake Gumshoe Julia - roulade cake fork cutting

 

Tuesday
Nov242009

Sweet Art: Music for Illustration Friday

Music
Can cupcakes rock out? You bet your bottom dollar they can. Here they are making some sweet music, in celebration of this week's Illustration Friday theme of Music!

Monday
Nov232009

This is How We Roll: Buche de Thanksgiving for Serious Eats!

Buche de Thanksgiving
Pie is great and all...but seriously, doesn't cake deserve a little more love around Thanksgiving? I sure thought so, and in an effort to bring cake back to the forefront of America's biggest eating day, I concocted a little something I call the Bûche de Thanksgiving--a November version of the more-famous Bûche de Noël.

This Thanksgiving version starts with a rich pumpkin roll cake filled with cream cheese frosting--and then gets even better when swathed in chocolate cream cheese frosting and decorated with marzipan turkey detailing.

Ready for this awesome? Check out the full post and recipe at Serious Eats.

P.S. Oh, the post also includes how to make...Marzipan Turkeys!
Marzipan Turkeys!

Sunday
Nov222009

Sweet Bread: The Gingerbread Financier from Fonte Coffee, Seattle

Gingerbread Financier from Fonte, downtown Seattle
I want to tell you about the Gingerbread Financier from Fonte Coffee in downtown Seattle, but first, let's get a few things out of the way.

First, what is a financier? It's a French term which as two meanings. The first is--as you might expect--a term for someone who works in finance. The second definition is far sweeter, and I like what Joy of Baking has to say about it:

Financiers are Frenchtea cakes (pronounced fee-nahng-syehr), also known as Friands (meaning "dainty" or "tasty"). They are made from a sponge-like batter of brown butter (beurre noisette), egg whites, flour, toasted ground almonds, and powdered sugar. Financiers are similar to Madeleines in that they both use a sponge-like mixture that is baked in special molds. When baked Financiers are soft and springy with a slightly domed top and a lovely golden brown crust.


The adorable versions at Fonte Wine and Coffee Bar look like mini loaf cakes or quick breads, and have a crumb which is slightly more delicate than a cookie but not quite a cake. And at the downtown location, where they not only have great coffee (and, I hear, a great happy hour) but also make all of their sweets in-house, they have a sweet seasonal variation: the Gingerbread Financier. They burst with a rich, buttery flavor, blossoming into a spicy, aromatic taste, and finish with yet more lingering butteriness.

Though these treats may not be available every day, there's bound to be something equally delicious: on recent visits, some specials included chocolate bread pudding, bacon brownies, and some tres jolie-looking cookies.
Fonté Wine and Coffee Bar on Urbanspoon
1321 1st Ave, Ste A30, Seattle, WA; (206) 777-6193; online at fontecoffee.com.

Friday
Nov202009

Minty Sweet: Peppermint Whoopie Pies by Kitchen Witch

Peppermint whoopie pie
When I unexpectedly found myself with a $25 gift certificate for RegionalBest.com (thanks Keren!), I immediately set myself to the task of buying the most delicious-looking thing that cost closest to $25 including shipping. The result? A half-dozen peppermint Whoopie Pies from Kitchen Witch, a holiday take on the Amish / New England classic. And at $27.50 including shipping, they fit the bill.
Kitchen WitchPeppermint Whoopie Pie
Proud of my prowess for bargain-hunting, I promptly forgot about the purchase, but was delighted to receive a package marked "Perishable" a few days later. Opening up the box, the pies were safely nestled below packing material in an airtight baggie, in which they were individually wrapped in the traditional plastic wrap. Happily, half of the cakey cookie part did not come off with the plastic wrap when opened (a whoopie pie pet peeve!).
Peppermint Whoopie Pie from Kitchen Witch
So how does a peppermint whoopie pie taste? Pretty good, I must say. The cakey part was extremely moist and chocolatey, and the peppermint filling was the of the traditional creamy, slightly slick texture which usually inhabits the inner section of a whoopie pie, but with a light peppermint flavor. Kind of like a very big, cakey peppermint patty. It was very easy to eat--the only problem was how quickly and easily it disappeared. Luckily the portions are fairly modest as whoopie pies go--i.e., not the size of a saucer--so you feel pretty good about having a bite (or three) of a second pie. At least I did.

Kitchen Witch cookies can be found on RegionalBest.com or on Etsy.

Friday
Nov202009

CakeSpy Undercover: The Upper Crust at Pryde's Old Westport, Kansas City MO

Pryde's, Kansas City
Pop Quiz: you're in Kansas City, MO and hankering for a sweet treat. Where to go?

Pryde's Old Westport, of course. This was Cake Gumshoe MJ's latest discovery on a recent trip to Kansas City (which has the unusual tagline of "Make It a Good Place to Live In"). The bakery had looked intriguing during online research before the trip, and happily it was just as good in person. Based in the Westport section of town, this is not merely a bake shop: it is a three-story emporium of kitchen and garden goods, with an in-house bakery called The Upper Crust, which is open Friday and Saturday 10am-6pm.
Pies at Pryde's, Kansas City
So what's on show at The Upper Crust? Pies of all sorts, including fruit (apple, French apple, blueberry, blackberry, bumbleberry, cherry, crimson appleberry, gooseberry, peach, rhubarb, strawberry rhubarb), cream (banana cream/meringue, chocolate cream/meringue, coconut cream/meringue, lemon meringue, key lime, pumpkin, sour cream raisin, peanut butter) and nutty (cranberry pecan, chocolate pecan, mince, pecan, pumpkin pecan, german chocolate) varieties, including small "cutie pies" in the $7-8 price range and full size pies from $19-$22.

Our Cake Gumshoe sampled the bumbleberry and gooseberry pies, and reported that both were pretty perfect.

And though the pies are certainly the star of the show, they also carry cookies which range from $1.95 - $2.25, including Breakfast cookies, chewy oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, decandent chocolate, frosted banana, shorbread, molasses crinkle, lemon sugar, peanut butter, coconut macaroon.
Pryde's, Kansas City
MJ bravely sampled the cookies in addition to the pie (anything for the sake of research!); her favorites were the chewy oatmeal raising and frosted banana.

In fact, the only regret that MJ had was that on the last day of her trip she went back, but alas The Upper Crust was closed. Which just goes to show--while there's noplace like home, Pryde's will certainly make you feel welcome in Kansas City.

The Upper Crust at Pryde's Old Westport is located at 115 Westport Rd, Kansas City, MO; phone: 816.531.5588; online at prydeskitchen.com.
Upper Crust on Urbanspoon

Wednesday
Nov182009

Gobble Gobble: A Turkey Cupcake Tutorial From Meringue Bake Shop

Turkey Cupcake Tutorial c/o Meringue Bake Shop
Thanksgiving. The holiday of food, er giving thanks for life’s bounty. A few days to indulge in excess of food, family, travel and shopping--that is to say, a great holiday. No worrying about giving and getting presents: just a day to enjoy stuffing ourselves, making more room and saying thanks for that delicious turkey.
Back when I first started exploring baking creatively, I came across this idea for making Thanksgiving turkey cupcakes. At first I was a little skeptical because it looked like a lot of work and up to the point my decorating skills consisted of a butter knife and a slab of frosting from a can. But I couldn’t resist, and I found that these were really easy to make and so irresistibly cute. This is also a great thing to give kids something to do later in the day. They can assemble their turkeys and throw a turkey parade to rejoice for those birds that survived another year. Or the kids can make them ahead of time and you can use them as your table centerpiece. Just arrange on a platter and stick some flowers in between the cupcakes.

Turkey Cupcakes
-makes 24 -

Note: For these cupcakes, the base and frosting can be pretty much whatever you want. I used a yellow cake recipe and tinted it with some orange food coloring. And I used a chocolate buttercream because, it’s brown like turkeys, and I really like yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Peanut butter frosting would be good too. Yum!

Ingredients

  • 1 package of Nutter Butters
  • 1 package of fruit roll ups, fruit leather or airheads. (starburst could even work here but would require more effort)
  • Jumbo heart sprinkles (can be found at your local craft store or online)
  • Bag of mini chocolate chips or mini M&Ms (you could use leftover Halloween candy, but who are we kidding? There is no such thing by now, right? Especially if you made this pie)
  • Maple leaf cookie cutter (I used this set)
  • Candy corn
  • Cornstarch (for dusting)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Cocoa
  • Meringue Powder
  • 24 cupcakes, baked but unfrosted
  • Frosting (homemade or from a can – if you use a can, buy two)
  • Piping bag or gallon plastic zipper bag
  • Tip (I used a 1G Wilton tip) 
Guest blog post from Meringue Bake Shop
  • Optional: 100 Calorie packs (you may be wondering what the 100 calorie packs are for, you’ll see later on in the post!) 

Got your ingredients? Good. Let's get started:

Guest blog post from Meringue Bake Shop
1. Make the feathers. Grab a cutting board and lightly dust with cornstarch. Unroll the fruit roll ups, separate the colors and lay them on the board. Dust a little more cornstarch on top. I also dust some on a concentrated area that I can use to dip in my cookie cutter. Note: I tried Fruit by the Foot and only realized after I’d opened it that they print images on the fruit strips so I couldn’t use that. Also if you are going to use Airheads or starbursts, you might need to microwave them, out of their packages, for a couple seconds to get them more pliable. Then you’ll need a rolling pin or glass with some cornstarch on it to thin them out. Your hands can work too.
2. Next, make some royal icing. I halve this recipe but I add a little bit more water, like an extra teaspoon.
3. Put the icing in a piping bag or zipper bag and cut a tiny bit off the tip so you have about a 1/8 of an inch size hole. I also slightly snip the seams on my pastry bags so that I get a circle when I squeeze instead of a line.

Guest Post from Meringue Bake Shop

4. Grab a nutter butter. Pipe on two dots for the eyes and a dot with the line heading down the length of the cookie.
Guest post from Meringue Bake ShopGuest post from Meringue Bake Shop
5. Stick the jumbo red heart with the pointy part up on the line of royal icing. Then place one mini chocolate chip on each dot you placed for the eyes.

6. Snap off the end of a piece of candy corn, leaving the white tip and little bit of the orange. Eat the remaining piece. (Shhh, I won’t tell). You might need to add some royal icing to the candy corn piece and then glue the bits together...but now you're finished!
Guest post from Meringue Bake Shop
7. Now make 23 more. (Patiently waiting)

Guest post from Meringue Bake Shop
8. Ok! On to frosting. Fit a piping bag or zipper bag with a tip. Or you can cut the tip of the bag in a + shape to get a similar shape in your frosting. Fill bag with frosting of your choice.
Swirl on the icing and then add a little edge of frosting. This is where the feathers will rest.

9. Pick up a turkey and stick him towards the front of the cupcake, into the cupcake. You can press a little hard here. Make sure he is in the cupcake and not just in the frosting.
Guest Post from Meringue Bake Shop
10. Then start placing your feathers--I did 3 but you can do more if you like. Overlapping would look cool.

Guest Post from Meringue Bake Shop
And a turkey is born! Isn’t he cute! You almost don’t wanna eat him… almost.

Extra Credit: So you may still be wondering about those 100 calorie snack bags in my early photo. I made baby turkeys! This is a great option if you want to utilize mini cupcakes as well.
Guest Post from Meringue Bake ShopGuest Post from Meringue Bake Shop
1. Using the same method for the large nutterbutters, place two dots of royal icing on the cookie and add mini chocolate chips. Add another dot and either add another jumbo heart or for this one I used some leftover heart-shaped cinnamon red hots also purchased at my local craft store.
Guest Post from Meringue Bake Shop
2. Frost a swirl of buttercream on top of the mini cupcake. Insert one of the baby turkeys, then add your feathers. I used a tear drop cutter for the baby turkey feathers. So cute!!
Now, your turkeys are ready to party!
Come back!

...wait, come back, Turkey!

About the Cake Gumshoe: Kristin Ausk owns Meringue Bake Shop, a custom cupcakery located in Orange County, California. She uses high quality ingredients, pop culture, and nostalgia to come up with unique and flavorful cupcakes. All of her cupcakes are made-to-order, so every cupcake you order was made just for you. Kristin’s love of baking began when she was 7 yrs old and entered a baking contest held by her local paper and won! (an honorable mention). But that only encouraged her more. And two years ago, at the request of her coworkers, friends, and family, she decided to turn her love into a side business. You’ll find her trying out new recipes in her kitchen with her husband, Lyle, and her two dogs, Klondike & Miles. Keep updated daily with her Twitter updates!

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