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Wednesday
Apr142010

Cake Byte: Discover the Vancouver Baker's Market

Photo credits, clockwise from top left: Yaletown Brownies, WhoopieDeeDoo, Sweet Thea Cake Company, Sweet Naturally BakeryForget the Farmer's Market, and get yourself to Canada, where they have something even better: the Vancouver Baker's Market.

Per the website,

Inspired by traditional farmers markets in Vancouver, this market is even better since it is indoors with lots of free parking too. 

You’ll find talented budding, professional or home bakers selling fresh artisanal breads, soft German pretzels, butter croissants, chocolate croissants, cupcakes, yummy cookies, hand made chocolates, brownies, Belgian Liege waffles,  vegan cupcakes, mini bundt cakes, muffins, gluten-free baked goods and much more!         

And by the looks of it, they've got a great collection of bakers who show regularly, including Sweet Thea Cake CompanyWhoopieDeeDoo Sweet ShopSweets ETC, Baked Bennys, Yaletown Brownies, Sweet Naturally Bakery, and so many more.

This all has your Seattle-based CakeSpy team thinking...road trip, anyone?

The Baker's Market takes place at 408 E. Kent Ave. South, Vancouver BC, on Saturdays 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. through May 8. For more information, visit bakersmarket.com!

Monday
Apr122010

Mixing it Up: Inside Out Peanut Butter Cups for Serious Eats

Chocolate peanut butter cups are undoubtedly one of the finer things in life.

But I have my reservations about the construction: the chocolate gets your hands messy and there never seems to be enough peanut butter.

So what would happen if you turned a peanut butter cup inside-out? To find out, I started by using a peanut butter bar cookie crust recipe for the outer shell, then filled them with a peanut butter fudge mixture, thus increasing the peanut butter-to-chocolate ratio dramatically.

While the crumbly nature of the crust doesn't make them much neater to eat, taste-wise, it's a whole new ballgame. It's like the fudgy center is getting a big peanut butter bear hug from the cookie coating. And it's delicious.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Monday
Apr122010

Cake Byte: CakeSpy Art at Crafty Wonderland in Portland!

Brace yourself, Portland--you're about to get a lot sweeter.

That's right: CakeSpy is coming to Portland, OR, to sell art at the incredibly awesome Crafty Wonderland Super Colossal Spring Sale!

Come on by and enjoy all manner of DIY delights and pick up some sweet artwork! Here are the details:

Crafty Wonderland Super Colossal Spring Sale
Saturday + Sunday, May 1st + 2nd, 2010
11am - 5pm at the Oregon Convention Center Exhibit Hall D 777 NE MLK Jr. Blvd. Portland, OR 97232
Free Admission! All Ages!

More info online at craftywonderland.com.

Monday
Apr122010

Sublime: The Lime Cornmeal Cookie from Amy's Bread, NYC

Today I'd like to tell you about the subtle but sublime pleasure that is the Lime Cornmeal Cookie from Amy's Bread in NYC.

This cookie isn't flashy in appearance--it's actually rather unassuming. It would be easy to pass it up for something more classic like chocolate chip or oatmeal, or for something sexier like the double chocolate pecan.

But if you do opt for it, you're in for a sweet reward.

The crumb is lightly coarse and gritty-textured from the cornmeal, but a healthy amount of butter somehow keeps it tender and cohesive (happily, it doesn't crumble apart like its cousin cornbread likes to), and the sugar and lime add sweet and tart hints that perhaps don't sing, but definitely hum, in a very pleasing way. 

A lightly sweet cookie like this is refreshing and hearty all at once--and the cornbread almost makes it feel healthy. At least healthy enough that I'd consider it a completely appropriate breakfast cookie.

Amy's Bread has three NYC locations; visit their website, amysbread.com, to find out more. If you're not in NYC, the recipe for this cookie can be found in the book The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread: Cakes, Cookies, Bars, Pastries and More from New York City's Favorite Bakery.

Sunday
Apr112010

Batter Chatter: Interview with Stefanie Gaxiola of Red Velvet Stefanie

Red Velvet has certainly enjoyed a surge in popularity in the past few years--as well it should, due to its high deliciousness factor. But when it comes to red velvet lovers, Stefanie Gaxiola, aka "Red Velvet Stefanie", may just take the cake. Not only is she the award-winning mastermind behind The Cheesecake Factory's bestselling Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake™, but she also develops and sells specialty cake mixes--red velvet being the keystone of the line, natch--online at her Red Velvet Stefanie website. Care to get a closer look at this international (red) velvet superstar? Well, you're in luck: here's an interview.

CakeSpy: First off: what is the last baked good you ate?

Stefanie Gaxiola: One of my Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese frosting. It was amazing!

CS: OK, down to business. Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you start this company/what is your background / etc?

SG: I am a 25 year-old baking enthusiast, baking since the age of 5. With 20 years of experience under my belt, I felt it was about time to break into the baking industry with a bang! I have the highest dreams and aspirations of anyone I know; I literally, eat, breathe and sleep baking. All of my experience has been self taught or, I learned through my mother. I have not attended culinary school but, I am currently making plans to do so in the very near future. Baking as much as I do, I try to find short cuts for myself. So, my boyfriend and I decided, why not pre-package all of my dry ingredients so that when I bake everything is ready to go, minus the wet ingredients. So, we created our very first cupcake mix! What better way to go to the top of the baking world than with a Red Velvet Cupcake mix? I have googled, shopped and searched for Red Velvet Cupcake mixes and, to my disappointment, there is a very small selection to choose from. As my boyfriend, Jason Heard researched all of the guidelines on business and selling of baking goods, I spent extra time in the kitchen perfecting my mix. One empty box and bag of sugar at a time, Stefanie's Gourmet Red Velvet Cupcake Kit was complete and ready for sale. Within the first hour my website was up and running, we had sold several kits. When I saw that, I knew we really had something good on our hands. Stefanie's Gourmet Red Velvet Cupcake Kit is currently only for sale from my website, www.redvelvetstefanie.com. I am also happy to announce that we have recently introduced cupcake catering to Red Velvet Stefanie, one of our first big events will be catering Coachella Music Festival next weekend. Also new to our website, cupcake apparel, Cupcake mix of the Month Club, downloadable recipe guides  and custom cupcake stands! We are so excited!

CS: What is included in the cupcake kit?

SG: Stefanie's Gourmet Red Velvet Cupcake Kit includes: All dry ingredients for the cupcakes and frosting and 20 baking liners.

CS: What is it about Red Velvet cake that makes it so special to you?

SG: Red Velvet cake is truly my all time favorite dessert. The combination of light chocolate, extra moist cake and sweet and creamy Cream Cheese frosting makes me smile. Every time I take a bite, it makes me feel like a kid again; I get excited, bubbly and light up.

CS: It says on your site that you are the creator of the Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake....please, tell us more!

SG: I am the concept creator of the top selling cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory® named Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake™. I entered The Cheesecake Factory's "What's your Flavor?" contest. The idea was to find a new recipe concept for their menu. As soon as I heard about the contest, I knew Red Velvet was  going to be my entry and, that I was going to win with it! Moist layers of Red Velvet Cake and The Cheesecake Factory’s ® Original Cheesecake covered with cream cheese frosting. On April 1, 2009, America had voted and The Cheesecake Factory named Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake the winner! The moment I saw my name on The Cheesecake Factory's website, I knew this was going to change my life.

CS: Some people have an idea that cake mixes are "bad" -- what is your response to this?

SG: Definitely not true! Before I went pro in the baking world, The Cake Mix Doctor's collection of cook books were my baking Bibles. Anne Byrn, the amazing author behind these books has done an amazing job at bring cake mixes to the next level. As for my cupcake mix, they are all made to order.. The ingredients are the finest and freshest I can find so, each and every confection you will get out of my kit will be 100%, fresh, light, fluffy and sinfully delicious!

Photo from the Red Velvet Stefanie Facebook pageCS: What is the most important aspect in making a great cake (or cupcake)?

SG: Oh my goodness, so much goes into baking a perfect cake! Here is a list of the most important that I utilize in my baking:

-Preheat the oven to the correct temperature and, let the oven heat up for at least 20 minutes so it can reach the temperature.  

-Let ingredients such as eggs, butter, milk, cream cheese, sour cream, etc. reach room temperature before you use them in your baking.

-Sift all dry ingredients, except for cocoa powder. Sifting really makes all the difference in the world, it's a pain but you have to do it!

-Make sure not to overmix the cake batter, it will turn out dry.

-It is important to rotate the cake pans at least once, halfway through the baking time to make sure, they are evenly cooked.

-Make sure to time your baking. If the package recommends a 20 to 22 minute baking time, check after 20 minutes. you do not want to over-bake your cake. Also, if you can smell the cake throughout your house early, check on the cake. If you can smell it, it is probably done!

-Always let your cakes cool on a baking rack.

-Wait until the cakes are completely cool to frost if you don't, the frosting will run right off.

CS: What is next for Red Velvet Stefanie?

SG: After seeing the quick success of my Gourmet Red Velvet Cupcake Kits, I started working on more. Red Velvet Cookie Mix and Red Velvet Brownie Mix are among the next to come out. Red Velvet is so hot right now, I figured I would stick with that. Other than that, I am looking to apply to Culinary School and continue with my cupcake catering so I can eventually open a store front. Red Velvet Wedding Cake is the most requested catering menu item from my friends, family and fans. So, stay tuned for my unique version of Stefanie's Red Velvet Wedding cake, you will truly be amazed!

For more information, or to get your hands on some of that delicious red velvet mix, visit redvelvetstefanie.com.

Sunday
Apr112010

Sweet Video: Tina Fey's Brownie Husband Skit on SNL

Fact: this video made me want to die laughing. As seen on Saturday Night Live on April 10th, 2010.

Saturday
Apr102010

Sweet Video: Cupcake Eating Contest at CupcakeCamp Seattle

So, as many of you know, I had the great honor of being a judge at the totally awesome CupcakeCamp Seattle (coordinated by CakeSpy sponsor Bella Cupcake Couture) today. Now, there will be more coverage of these monumentally delicious experience, but to whet your appetite, I'll start by posting this video of the cupcake-eating contest which capped the sweetest day ever. My apologies for the poor video quality, but I still think that you get an idea of the fascination and fervor which came along with this sugar-frenzied contest.

Saturday
Apr102010

Cutting Edge: The Cricut Cake Debuts

Like, OMG! The Cricut Cake is now available! 

...ok, I'll admit it, when I first heard about it, I wasn't exactly sure why I should be excited--but then again, I wasn't sure exactly what a Cricut was. However, thanks to the power of the internet, I found out that the Cricut actually started out as a scrapbooking tool--it is a kind of printer on which you can create customized die cuts and designs on command. Actually it's kind of cool--check out a video of how it works here.

So now you have an idea of why it's such a big deal that they've made a food-safe version of the machine: what an excellent tool for cake decorating!

Here's the 411 from the HSN press release:

The Cricut Cake is an easy-to-use personal electronic cutter designed to cut gum paste, fondant and other edible materials, while providing precise, professional-looking results every time.  Accompanied by the Cricut Cake Basics cartridge, featuring hundreds of images for cake decorating, the Cricut Cake is designed to work with pre-existing Cricut cartridges as well as Provo Craft's Gypsy and Cricut Design Studio software. The wide array of shapes, fonts and designs found on compatible cartridges makes the Cricut Cake perfect for all culinary decorating occasions, including birthdays, graduations, weddings and holidays.

The machine is similar in design to the existing Cricut cutting machine; however, specific modifications have been made; stainless steel dials, trim, cutting blade and roller, to make it safe for use with food. Additionally, the keypad features a full silicone cover to protect the screen and allow for easy clean-up.

Of course, this awesome doesn't come cheap--the Cricut cake (which comes with bundle including a 12x12 food safe mat, cartridge skirt, cleaning brush, blade cleaning basket, Cake Basics cartridge, the Elegant Cake cartridge as well as icing sheets) retails for a hefty $429.95. But can a price really be put on a beautiful cake? Well, apparently yes--but you know what I mean. If you're interested, you can be updated on the initial offering at HSN.

Saturday
Apr102010

Simple Pleasures: Simply Desserts in Fremont, Seattle

Something I always love is hearing what other people's favorite bakeries are--it gives me a unique perspective on a place, including sometimes steering me toward trying particular flavors or pastries I might not have tried otherwise. According to CakeSpy reader Anne, who you can follow on twitter, Fremont's Simply Desserts is her go-to source:

Tucked in Fremont by the Fremont Bridge and Adobe, this tiny shop cooks up an amazing variety of delicious cakes with high quality ingredients. What sets them apart in my opinion is that they don’t ruin their cakes with refrigeration and it makes a big difference. Rich frosting stays soft. Cake stays moist. My personal favorites are Bittersweet Hazelnut and White Chocolate Strawberry. I usually buy it to go because the place seats around 14 and it is always jam-packed, even at 10 PM on a Friday night. The bakers/cutters are sweet girls and it must be a pretty good job because a couple of them have worked there as long as I’ve been patronizing the shop, around 5 years. 

Simply Desserts, 3421 Fremont Ave North Seattle, WA 98103 206.633.2671; online at simplydessertsseattle.com.

Friday
Apr092010

Slice of Heaven: A Tip for Delicious Vanilla Slice in Melbourne, Australia

Vanilla slice photo c/o Flickr user StickyPix, used with Creative Commons Permission

What is David Jones?

No, it's not a former Monkee trying to be all mature.

It's a shop in Australia, per Wikipedia, "colloquially known as DJs, is an Australian retailer. Its primary business is an Australia-wide chain of premium department stores."

And as I learned from some uber-cute Australian customers who happened into my burgeoning gallery (at 415 E. Pine Street, Capitol Hill, Seattle, since you asked) the other day, their Foodhall is also the source for some of Melbourne's best Vanilla Slice.

Vanilla slice, for those of you who may not familiar, is not dissimilar to our stateside Napoleon or the French "Mille Feuille"--per Wikipedia, it is "filled with vanilla custard. It usually has only a top and bottom pastry layer. The sweet is often dusted with icing sugar, or topped with a plain or passionfruit flavoured icing."

Of course, for those of you who (like me) aren't free to run over to David Jones at the earliest convenience, there is a pretty good-looking recipe on Nigella Lawson's website.

Vive la Vanilla Slice!

For more information on David Jones, visit their site; for more information on the various incarnations of the Vanilla Slice, Mille Feuille, and Napoleon, visit Wikipedia!

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