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Sunday
Jan172010

CakeSpy Undercover: Mount Bakery, Bellingham, WA

In Washington, there is a mountain of keen interest to outdoorsy types called Mount Baker.

But to cake gumshoe-ing types, Bellingham's Mount Bakery is a much more palatable proposition.

This place isn't strictly a bakery--it is also a cafe serving breakfast (including a gorgeous Eggs Benedict, if you're into that savory stuff) and lunch items. But we're here to talk about the sweet stuff right now.

On our recent visit, after the requisite period of analyzing the choices, we settled on some solid choices: the black bottom muffin and the Linzer Cookie.

Now, for those who have not been initiated into the black bottom muffin club, they are basically one of the best muffins out there (with a possible rival in the doughnut muffin), in that they don't even pretend to be healthy: they're largely comprised of cream cheese and chocolate. Dense and moist, taster Nicole commented that she was impressed how the cream cheese taste permeated the entire muffin--definitely a decadent treat.

And as for the Linzer Cookie (the cookie version of the famous tart by the same name)--oh, what a cookie.

For one thing, it already wins points because it's a sandwich cookie--and everyone knows that sandwich cookies are basically the best excuse to eat two cookies at once and not be judged.

But it's even better when the cookies are excellent, like these: they're lightly crumbly (not quite as much as a pecan sandy, say, but slightly more than a sugar cookie), extremely buttery, and nicely complemented with a layer of slightly tart preserves and a sweet layer of confectioners' sugar on top.

(Oh, and as a P.S. -- right next door is a cupcake shop which says "coming soon" called Icing on the Cake!)

Mount Bakery, 308 W Champion St, Bellingham, WA 98225; online at mountbakery.com.

Mount Bakery on Urbanspoon

Sunday
Jan172010

Sweet Art: Custom Save the Date Cards

What's sweeter than somebody getting married?

The wedding cake, duh!

And what better (and sweeter) way to ramp up for the big day than with CakeSpy Save The Date Cards?

This was a custom commission done by request--the customer submitted a file including the type layout, and I did the rest by adding the cupcake illustration and the decorative border, and getting them printed up on nice, heavy 4x6 cardstock.

Do you have a sweet occasion for which you'd like custom invites or save the dates? Just drop a line! I'm happy to take on custom orders; just let me know what you have in mind and I can look into it for you!

To inquire, contact me here.

Saturday
Jan162010

Feed Me: Please Update Your Readers for CakeSpy Updates!

Cupcakes checking their Facebook

Hey there sweeties!

It recently came to my attention that CakeSpy readers who have been subscribing via RSS have not received updates since the site transitioned from Blogger to Squarespace.

If you have not been receiving your regular updates, please update your reader by entering this address (either click the highlighted, or copy and paste the below):

feed://www.cakespy.com/blog/rss.xml

Or, if you simply remove cakespy.com from your RSS subscriptions and re-enter the URL, that should work too (It did for me when I entered it in Google Reader!). 

Sorry for the inconvenience--I don't want you to miss one sweet little thing!

Saturday
Jan162010

Show Your Pie-triotism: Upcoming Events for National Pie Day in Seattle

Put on your fat pants: starting next Friday, you're in for one sweet weekend of eating! There are several events coming up in celebration of National Pie Day on January 23rd--here are just a few of the things going on around Seattle, one of the most enthusiastic pie-eating cities in the nation:

Friday, January 22

Pie Party 2010 in Ballard, Seattle: This annual pie eating event and fundraiser is in its 10th year in Seattle! Here's the blurb from their Facebook invitation:

Come enjoy the 7th Annual National Pie Day Pie Party! Bring a pie to add to the pie buffet for admission or donate $10 at the door to The Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research. Sweet or savory; it's dinner and dessert. Enjoy a set by pie song cover band The Fillings, shop for pie-pharnalia at the silent auction and snap up a limited edition t-shirt custom created for PP10 by the lovely Cakespy (tee design pictured at top)! Children are welcome. Full bar available at the Eagles. Let's roll out some dough!

The details: Friday, January 22, 2010, 7:00pm - 11:00pm. Location: Salmon Bay Eagles, 5216 20th Ave NW, Seattle, Wa, 98107

Saturday, January 23

High 5 Pie Debuts New Flavors: Per an email from Dani Cone, the baker and coffee genius behind High 5 Pie:

National Pie Day is coming right up on January 23rd and we've got some great specials, discounts, and new flavors coming, too! We'll be introducing our new Chocolate/Oatmeal/Craisin and Broccoli/Mushroom/Cheddar flavors plus a one-day-only Pie Day special flavor: Apple/Cheddar/Rosemary....it's pretty off the hook!

 

Experience all that awesome at Fuel Coffee locations (and keep updated on any further developments via Twitter!).

Mini Empire Makes its Grand Debut at Porchlight Coffee, Capitol Hill, Seattle: Aren't you dying to try Mini Empire's lilliputian baked goods (which were recently announced via Capitol Hill Seattle and Seattle Weekly)? Happily, this special order bakery is making its retail debut on January 23rd, when they start selling their sweets at Porchlight Coffee in Capitol Hill. The Mini Empire crew will be giving out free cup-pie samples from 12-5, and some lucky souls will win their pies in mason jars!

Of course, if this isn't enough pie related goodness for you (or if geography is going to keep you from attending any of these awesome events), check out upcoming pie events on the American Pie Council (yes, it exists) website, or check out some ideas for other ways to celebrate.

Saturday
Jan162010

Sweet Art: Wilderness for Illustration Friday

What happens when a cupcake ventures out into the wilderness?

While I can't tell you the rest of this story (it's so much more fun to have you choose your own adventure), one thing is for sure: this is certainly where the wild and sweet things are!

A perfectly sweet contribution to Illustration Friday's theme of wilderness!

Friday
Jan152010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet and Cute Things!

Hungry for something sweet? Well, there's only one solution for that: eat a delicious baked good! And then, to tide you over til you're hungry again, enjoy these sweet (but not sugary) treats:

To have and hold:

Baker Ninja by Shawnimals: This adorable plush toy (pictured left) is the perfect collector's item for the stealthy sweet tooth. As cute as it is, even more fun is the backstory: "Working deep in the maze of caverns under Mt. Feroshi, the Baker Ninjas not only have the unique skill to craft the secret Ninja Star Cookies, they can also withstand the deadly heat and toxic fumes. They wear special quilted, anti-lava Ninja robes, an inch-thick visor, and a fancy apron, too." (thanks to Bethany of Boofy Cakes for the tip!)

Speak Sweetly Stationery: Speaking of the multi-talented Bethany of Boofy Cakes, check out the new line of sweet stationery she's selling on Etsy--it's all handmade and largely cake and baked good-themed.

Miss Cupcake Mini Series by Kid Robot: Sweet but not delicious, these cupcakes are a delight to have and hold (pictured left).

Donut Plushies by Heidi Kenney for Kid Robot: Who doesn't love Heidi Kenney's adorable work? These donut plushies remain sweet long after the breakfast donuts have gone stale.

Crochet Black and White Cookie from Bluebottle Art: Even if you're not in NYC, you can enjoy the iconic treat whenever you like with this handmade crochet back and white cookie by artist Alicia Kachmar. (pictured top, top center)

CakeSpy ornaments: Not just for Christmas, these plush sweeties would look great hung from a rear view window, or in your cubicle! Make every day sweeter! (pictured top, bottom left)

To wear:

Aaron Meshon Zipper Pulls: You'll want to zip it good with these coo-worthy zipper pulls designed by artist Aaron Meshon.

Let's Mix it Up Tee by Loyal Army: Love to bake? Let the world know with this tee, featuring anthropomorphic ingredients. (pictured top, top left)

Girl Scouts Cookie Time Pin: This embroidered pin (pictured left) is better than any watch, because it always has the right time: Cookie Time!

To hang or decorate:

Girl Scout Cookies Magnets: Of course you love Girl Scout Cookies, but what about the sad times of the year when they're not available? You can comfort yourself by hanging up recipes or notes on the fridge with these Girl Scout Cookie-inspired magnets. (pictured top, bottom right)

Lemon Meringue Pie Print by Christine Larsen: Seattle-based illustrator Christine Larsen is a CakeSpy soul mate, frequently painting robots and delicious sweets. A favorite pick? How 'bout this double decker dose of deliciousness to hang in your house: a print featuring a sweet slice of lemon meringue pie! (pictured top, top right)

Steve Morris Gnome and Cake Print: Everyone loves cake...but throw a gnome and ladybug into the mix, and you've got some sweet art on the table (or on the wall, as it were). These limited edition prints would look great in a kitchen. (pictured left)

Justin Richel Prints: While we're talking about cake art, it would be remiss not to remind you of how awesome Justin Richel's delicate cake and confectionery paintings are (an absolute CakeSpy favorite! pictured top, bottom center).


Friday
Jan152010

In the Club: Chinatown Cake Club, NYC

The first rule of cake club?

You do not talk about cake club.

But why not? Because your mouth is full of cake, that's why.

But while you're stuffing your cake-hole, I'll tell you more about the coolest new club for cake lovers, NYC's Chinatown Cake Club. Here's the sweet scoop:

What is it? A private club which meets about once a month in an apartment in Chinatown (NYC) featuring a deluxe rotation of homemade desserts, coffee, and teas.

What might you eat? Well, the last cake party featured such goodies as Vietnamese Tres Leches Cake, Green Tea Mont Blanc, Chocolate Peanut Butter Macarons, and Taro Meringue Tarts, to name a few key items. Each event also features an artist series cake.

Who puts it on? Victoria Howe, who in addition to throwing renegade cake events is also the pastry chef at the Macao Trading Company.

Why attend? Do I really have to give you more reasons?

How do you get invited? Because of limited space, you have to reserve a spot--but don't worry, these aren't velvet rope affairs, they're quite inclusive. Add yourself to the mailing list here to get the inside scoop on upcoming events. But don't delay--with early press from the likes of The Village Voice, this cake club isn't going to be secret for long.

Hungry for more? Get yourself to chinatowncakeclub.com.

Friday
Jan152010

Cake Byte: Whoopie Pies in Harrods Department Store

Now, I know I declared that no way were whoopie pies going to be the next big thing. But according to CakeSpy readers Ellie and Shamila, who both reported on the fact that the trendsetting Harrods department store in London, is now stocking the cream-filled sweet burgers in their food halls, could that be changing?

Here's the scoop from the Harrods site:

Originally a New England phenomenon, the craze for these cookie-textured treats has already swept America where they are flying off the shelves at speciality shops and boutique bakeries up and down the country. Harrods pastry chefs have expertly crafted four of these delectable delicacies, creating luxurious Whoopies based on the time-honoured recipe of the pies. Each comprises two delicious cake pillows filled with homemade buttercream and topped with cute edible couture.

Shoppers will be tempted by:

 

  • The Classic, a heady mix of dark chocolate cakes, vanilla cream and sparkly couture
  • A seasonal Gingerbread, slightly spicy and adorned with chocolate and mini polka dots
  • A Pistachio extravaganza featuring green fondant icing and finished with edible glitter and silver balls
  • The retro Red Velvet, made with chocolate cakes, peanut butter cream, burgundy fondant and topped with sugar hearts.

 

I still don't know about them being the next big thing, but I sure do know I'd like to take a big bite of any (or all) of the varieties on offer in Harrods!

Thursday
Jan142010

Dark, Bitter and Handsome: Chocolate Stout Cupcakes from Rainy Day Gal


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.

Once in a blue moon, I love a good dark beer.

But every day that ends in y do I love chocolate stout cake.

It's rich, moist, and tastes like an indescribably dark chocolatey-chocolate cake without being overly sweet. Plus, you get to pour beer into the batter. Which is fun. For those of you wary about adding beer to chocolate cake, fear not--they don't taste like beer, the stout just keeps them moist, rich, and prevents them from being overly sweet. I came across an intriguing recipe that was begging, nay, pleading to be turned into cupcakes. Because, c'mon. Who bakes whole cakes anymore? We are living in a cupcake world and I am a cupcake gal. So without further ado, here they are. Fair warning: this recipe makes an ungodly amount of cupcakes. Make a half-batch if you don't know 48 people who would like to eat a chocolate stout cupcake in the next two days. Oh, and fair warning #2: You should probably also be drinking a stout while you're making these. Just sayin.

First, let's make the ganache because it'll need a few hours to chill. You need one pound of bittersweet chocolate (chopped or in chip form) and one pint (or 2 cups) of whipping cream. Again, halve this if you don't want to make a billion cupcakes.

Place the chocolate in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wisk attachment. You could also use a hand mixer if you're more in the mood.

Bring the cream just to a simmer on the stove and then remove from heat. Immediately pour the whipping cream over the chocolate. Mix on medium-low until totally combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

You should probably lick this. It's okay. No one is watching. I'll wait. All done? Wasn't it delicious? Good. Let's move on to the cupcakes.

You need at absolutely sinful amount of butter. 4 sticks or 2 cups unsalted. Paula Deen would be so proud. Also find some sour cream (1 1/2 cups) and four eggies.

For the dry stuff, grab some baking soda (1 tbsp), all-purpose flour (4 cups), salt (1 1/2 tsp), and granulated sugar (4 cups. Yes. I'm serious.). Oh, and you'll also need 1 1/2 cups of cocoa powder. Sorry--forgot to snap a photo.

Finally, the goods: Guinness. Or a similarly dark stout. You'll need two cups, which turns out to be about 1 1/4 bottles. Ready? Let's go. Preheat your oven to 350°. If you want to. Or wait 'till later. Measure out your beer. It won't hurt it it's a few sips less than 2 cups. I promise.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the stout. Bring just to a simmer and then remove from heat. I never thought I would have a pan of butter and Guinness heating on my stove.

Grab your cocoa powder...

...and immediately whisk it into the butter/beer mixture until smooth. Set aside to let cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, mix your dry ingredients together in a big ol' bowl...

...and put the sour cream and eggies into another bowl. I love cracking eggs. It's my favorite part of baking. But I'm also completely terrified of finding a little baby chicken fetus inside. I would cry for days. Too much information? Alright. Moving on.

Cream together the sour cream and eggs using an electric hand mixer on low speed.

Ummm....don't lick these blades. Even I don't love sour cream that much. For the next step, grab a big bowl....

...and dump the sour cream/egg mixture into it. Pour the beer/cocoa/butter mixture on top. Mix on low with the electric hand mixer to combine.

Next, dump in the flour/sugar mixture. Beat a little with the electric mixer just to get it started...

...and finish it off with a spatula. Shiny.

Pour into greased (or lined) muffin pans. I usually use liners, but all I had were the ugly ones left from a Christmas variety pack. I couldn't handle dancing reindeer today. Where's Bella when I need 'em? Bake, one pan at a time, for 16-18 minutes or until...you know the drill. Clean toothpick. Or not. Sometimes I think when the whole toothpick comes out clean that I've already over-baked them. You're the judge of your own cupcake world---you decide.

I filled them up almost to the brim because I like big cupcakes.

Let cool on wire racks.

See what I mean? Ungodly amount of cupcakes.

Once the cupcakes have cooled and the ganache has hardened, let's frost those suckers. Give the ganache a good stir before we start.

Spread it around. Spread it around good. I used about a tablespoon and a half per cupcake and still had a little leftover. You frost 'em however you like 'em.

Oh my. A moment of silence, please.

I wasn't drinking that Guinness while eating a cupcake. You must be thinking of someone else.

Nope. Not me (*licks chocolate ganache from lips*).

The verdict on chocolate stout cupcakes? They were divine. Moist. Rich. Chocolatey with a hint of stout. The bittersweet ganache made them ultra-decadent.

When I make them again, however, I'll try a few variations:

1) Use a more flavorful stout. Maybe a local brew, or something with a little more body. Maybe I'll even boil a larger quantity down to make it more concentrated. I wanted more Guinness-y flavor and less sweet.

2) Halve the recipe. Too. Many. Cupcakes.

3) Try not to eat so dang many. There goes one full week of salads. Happy monday!  

The original recipe for chocolate stout cake can be found right here. Just follow the directions above to make them cupcakes. Enjoy!

Thursday
Jan142010

Do or Donut: The German Chocolate Cake Donut from Rocket Donuts, Bellingham WA

Every so often, a donut comes along that can only be described as a holey experience.

And this baby is worth a pilgrimage to Rocket Donuts in Bellingham, Washington: The German Chocolate Cake Donut. 

Now, the whole theory behind Rocket Donuts, which boasts a cool, sci-fi inspired interior, is that "donuts just ain't serious business"--the idea being that donuts are an indulgence, something fun, and something to be enjoyed. No, they're not healthy, but they do you good. 

But while they claim not to take themselves seriously, the donuts are indeed serious business. With a gorgeous display filled with varieties including a perfect Homer Simpson pink frosted cake donut with sprinkes, pretty crullers, several vegan options, and even a devilish maple bacon bar (not one of the vegan options), deciding on just a couple of flavors was difficult. 

Ultimately, we (myself and CakeSpy buddy Nicole) chose several cake varieties, including the chocolate frosted cake with coconut on top, the Homer Simpson (my term, not theirs), and the donut of the month, the German Chocolate Cake.

While all flavors had a dense and flavorful crumb, the flavor of the month really took the cake. The donut itself had an understated chocolate flavor which wasn't overpowering, but rather perfectly balanced by a thick slathering of traditional coconut-rich German chocolate cake frosting, which added moisture and richness to every bite. The sweet little cherry on top not only added an extra dose of sweetness, but it sure was cute too (and cuteness cannot be underrated in baked goods).

To sum it all up? When classic cake flavor meets cake donut, each bite is like a little jaunt to Bliss City. Of course, if you don't like coconut, bet you wouldn't turn away one of these:

Rocket Donuts, 306 W. Holly St. (Corner of Holly and Bay, Downtown Bellingham), 360.671.6111; online at rocketdonuts.com.

Rocket Donuts on Urbanspoon

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