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Sunday
Oct112009

Bake it Pretty: A Super Sweet Giveaway!

Bake it Pretty Giveaway
Probably you already know about Bake it Pretty, the cutest online source for baking decorations, packaging supplies, and other notions. And if you don't already know it, you will love it. But whether this shop is a new discovery or an old friend, one thing will hold true: you want what they are selling. One of everything, please.

And now, you can get a great head start with this super-sweet giveaway: a $50 gift certificate to BakeitPretty.com!

You probably don't need to be told that this is an awesome giveaway.

To put yourself in the running, simply leave a comment below with your answer to the following question:

Which part of making a cake (or any baked good) is the most fun: baking or decorating?

The cake poll is open all week--but be sure to enter before 12 p.m. PST on Friday, October 16! In the meantime, please feel free to click over to bakeitpretty.com to choose what you'd buy with the prize--you might want to check out their blog as well! 


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UPDATE: The Cake Poll is closed! Congratulations to the winner, Olivia from Ann Arbor, MI!

 

Sunday
Oct112009

Cake Quandary: What Kind of Cupcakes Do Celebrities Eat?

Photo c/o The Cupcakery, Las Vegas: Quentin Tarantino and Fergie Love Cupcakes!
As a loyal reader of In Touch and US Weekly, I have come to depend on their thoughtful writing and vivid photographs. But as thorough and thought-provoking as the articles are, there is one facet of celebrity culture which I have found lacking in these fine publications: what kind of cake do celebrities like to eat?

Happily, The Cupcakery in Las Vegas has got this important subject covered, and recently sent me on some of the inside scoop on what flavors celebrities have enjoyed. Curious? Here is just a sampling of documented celebrity cupcake flavor picks (some with pictures!):

Avril Lavigne chose Tickle Me Pink.
Photo c/o Cupcakery, Las Vegas: Lance Bass Cupcakes
Lance Bass had red velvet with special birthday decorations;
Photo c/o Cupcakery, Las Vegas: Fergie Cupcakes
Fergie had a specialty assortment;
Quentin Tarantino loved the chocolate passion;
Joey Fatone is a red velvet fan;
Boys II Men (so circa 1992!) love red velvet;
Jermaine O’Neil (NBA) digs red velvet;
Pete Wentz (AKA Mr. Ashlee Simpson) is also a fan of the red velvet.

So what does this tell us all? As one associate of The Cupcakery aptly put it, "I guess red velvet is the most popular!". And why wouldn't it be--their version of the classic treat, the Southern Belle, is a red velvet cupcake that's been in the owner's family for decades. Of course, other flavors on the menu, like Orange Julius, Pink Lemonade, Oh My Gosh Ganache and (coming soon) the Elvis sound pretty good too.

Of course, it still doesn't answer the bigger question of why we never actually see celebrities eating cake. But still, it does make for some fun gossip, and the cupcakes do look wonderful.

 

Want more? Check them out online at thecupcakery.com.

 

Friday
Oct092009

Paradise Found: The Pain Perdu Parfait

Pain Perdu Parfait
Hypothetically speaking, wouldn't it be glorious if French Toast, bread pudding and an ice cream sundae had a baby? Le sigh: one can dream.

Dream no more: I have non-hypothetical proof! Say hello to the Pain Perdu (a fancy way of saying French Toast) Parfait, a little something I dreamed up thanks to Foodbuzz's challenge to think of new and creative ways to use Nature's Pride bread products. Constructed of Honey Wheat bread soaked in a rich, sweet French Toast-y batter and then baked in cupcake cups until they have molded to the shape with a crispy, brown sugary crust, each little dish is filled with a healthy scoop of ice cream while still warm; the result is a creamy, dreamy treat which lies in a wonderful nether region between decadent brunch and rich dessert.

It may be Pain Perdu, but it tastes like Paradise Found.

Pain Perdu Parfaits

AKA French Toast Ice Cream Cups

-serves 4 -
  • 4 slices slightly stale bread, sliced lengthwise (I used honey wheat)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup light cream or half and half
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
  • about 1 teaspoon brown sugar per cup
  • 1 scoop of ice cream per cup

     

    Directions

     

  • Ice cream toppings of your choice
  1. If you're going to bake these in the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Or, you can use the toaster oven, in which case no action is needed till later.
  2. In a bowl, beat eggs, cream, vanilla, and spices together.
  3. Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture, allowing bread to soak up some of the mixture.
  4. After dipping each piece, arrange in a cupcake cup or in an oven-safe greased dish or ramekin (depending on what size you'd like), until the strips have lined up to approximate the bowl-like shape. If needed, press down in the center so that they mimic the bowl shape.
    French Toast Bowl
  5. Drizzle about a teaspoon of brown sugar over each little "bowl" making sure to hit the sides of your little bread bowl. This will caramelize and taste delectable later.
  6. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until browned and crispy on the sides and firm in the center--or put in toaster oven for about 15 minutes on medium-high.
    Pain Perdu Parfait
  7. Remove from heat and let set for at least 20 minutes. Once firm, place a scoop of ice cream in the center of each "bowl" and garnish with hot fudge sauce, nuts, butterscotch, or any topping of your choice. Serve immediately.Pain Perdu Parfait

 

Friday
Oct092009

Sweet Art: Flying for Illustration Friday

Flying for Illustration Friday
This week's Illustration Friday theme is "Flying", which made me think about the sometimes trying experience that is air travel. Looks like Cuppie isn't so much bothered by a fear of flying as much as he is irritated by the flight delay!

Friday
Oct092009

Fall-ing In Love: Trophy Cupcakes Debuts Chocolate Stout Oktoberfest Cupcakes

Photo c/o Trophy Cupcakes, October Chocolate Stout Cupcakes
Beer? Chocolate? Cupcakes?

Yes, yes, and yes: say hello to Trophy Cupcakes' limited-edition flavor of the month for October: the Chocolate Stout Cupcake with Caramel Stout Buttercream! Here's the 411, per the owner Jennifer Shea:

Made this season with Hale’s Cream Stout, our Chocolate Stout cupcake is topped with Caramel Stout Buttercream and a stout caramel drizzle. A cupcake made with beer? Absolutely! The flavors from the roasted and chocolate malts in this stout match so well with our Valrhona Chocolate cupcake…and the caramel made from this beer makes an unbelievably delicious buttercream. Even burly guys (who would usually not be caught dead eating a cupcake) have become die-hard fans of Trophy Cupcakes over this flavor! It was such a huge hit this past Fathers Day that we just couldn’t wait another year!

Every Wednesday and Saturday in the month of October, we will feature our Chocolate Stout Cupcake at all three locations!


Beer not your thing? Well, happily there are some other seasonal flavors on the horizon as well:

Candied Yam returns in November--a sweet yam and roasted pecan cupcake topped with our hand torched marshmallow meringue. December is a cupcake wonderland with Gingerbread, a blackstrap molasses and fresh ginger cupcake topped with the lightest, tangiest orange cream cheese buttercream; Chocolate Candy Cane, our Valrhona chocolate cupcake and pure peppermint buttercream rolled in crushed candy cane; Bourbon Eggnog, a nutmeg spice cupcake topped with bourbon buttercream.


For hours and locations, visit trophycupcakes.com.

 

Friday
Oct092009

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Tangerina Cakes
Cupcake cars! Thank you Neiman Marcus for the visual candy. (via Cake Gumshoes Dan and Catherine)

A loving look at dulce de leche, with stunning photos, on Not Without Salt.

You like me, you really like me! CakeSpy is nominated for the Foodbuzz blog awards: vote for me here! (please)

NYC Cupcake ban: So sad!

Yet another reason to love Mark Bittman: The Minimalist makes cake, easily, on a stovetop.

Care for some liquid nitrogen in your ice cream? (via Cake Gumshoe Eric)

A few days late, but it still makes me titter: brownie bandit still at large in Seattle!

Why do I have such a dessert crush on Dana Cree? Because she can make blue cheese ice cream...and make it delicious.

A sweet glimpse at the dessert scene in Buenos Aires: Tangerina Cakes! (pictured top)


English. Toffee. Bars.

 

Doughnuts that are gluten free, and delicious? Gluten Free Taste of Home will make you a believer.

My kind of breakfast: the fluffernutter sandwich from Bouchon Bakery in NYC, as reported by Serious Eats.

Speaking of Bouchon, how about Tartelette's rendition of the SF location's lemon tarts?

 

Thursday
Oct082009

Cake Byte: Sweet New Holiday Stamps by Taylored Expressions!

New Stamps for the Holidays -- Taylored Expressions
Still in a cuteness frenzy over the 2009 CakeSpy holiday card collection which made its debut the other day? Well, brace yourselves, because here comes yet more holiday sweetness: the new CakeSpy Holiday Rubber Stamps for Taylored Expressions!

Perfect for making your own holiday cards (the card shown at the top of the post was made using these stamps!) or a wonderful gift for your favorite crafty cupcake, this Holiday Wonder set retails for $21.95 and comes nicely packaged with a beautiful color index sheet. You can also find great project ideas on the Taylored Expressions blog.


This set, along with many other sweet stamps and accessories, can be purchased at tayloredexpressions.com.

Thursday
Oct082009

Batter Chatter: Interview with Bethany Papciak of Boofy Cakes

Photo c/o Boofy Cakes
Curious about the secret lives of the movers and shakers in the world of cake bakers? Well, look no further: here's a sweet peek into the inner workings of Boofy Cakes, a wonderful custom cake company based in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. What inspires and motivates proprietress Bethany Papciak? Read on:

CakeSpy: What kickstarted your love of cakes and cake decorating?
Bethany Papciak: My earliest memories of cake decorating were when I was a kid. My mom never ordered a cake from the grocery store or bakery. She always let me and my brothers go through the Wilton Yearbooks and choose what cakes we wanted for our birthdays. My mom threw the best themed birthday parties! When I was too old for birthday parties, she let me help her decorate the birthday cakes for my cousins' birthday parties! I then took a job at a local family owned bakery when I was 15, and I worked there for 7 years. I still go back and visit; it's been my home away from home!

Photo c/o Boofy Cakes
CS: Since taking on cake making professionally, has it changed the way you look at baking in general--ie, has it made you more or less critical of other professional baking?
BP: I am critical of professional bakeries because many bakeries charge a small fortune for their items. In the area where I live no one can afford or justify $3-4 for a basic cupcake! The bakery where I worked growing up produced high quality old fashioned baked goods at a reasonable price. The prices were higher than the local grocery store bakeries, but the freshness and quality makes them well worth it. This is something that I apply to my own business. I want to make fun treats that not only look good, but taste good too! And I try to keep it at a reasonable cost. I want my customers to feel that they can afford festive treats for all their occasions, big or small.

Photo c/o Boofy Cakes
CS: You're also an artist and a scrapbooker. Do you feel as if that brings something to your cake making?
BP: When I was in high school I was very involved in the art department. I took all the classes: drawing, painting, sculpting and so on. When I enrolled in a Culinary and Pastry Arts program that my high school offered, I discovered that some of the same techniques I learned in my art classes applied to cake decorating. Then I could apply my love for art to my love for food! I think the art class that benefitted me the most was my ceramics class. Many of the sculpting skills and tools that I used for clay are the same for fondant and gum paste! Making decorative pieces out of fondant is one of my favorite parts of decorating; it reminds me of playing with Play-Doh!

I don't know that scrapbooking brings anything to my cake decorating, but I do know that it means that I spend way too much money on cute cupcake papers and embellishments!

CS: You have a blog--how do you think that plays a role in your business?
BP: The blog is something that I started to work on in my free time. It hasn't reached the point that I'd like it to, but I'm going to be working on developing it more in the near future. The purpose of it is to tell the stories behind my cakes. In my portfolio there are a number of odd cake designs like the PEZ cake and the Google cake. The blog is a great opportunity for me to share my adventures and experiences behind these silly cakes with my customers. My regular customers tell me all the time how they check up on my website to see what new cakes I've been working on and how their children love to sit and look at the pictures!

The blog is also a way for me to share information about events going on in the community. Like fundraisers for our firefighters, and organizations like Easter Seals, Relay for Life, and Care Net.

CS: Tell me a baking tool you couldn't live without.
BP: Most definitely my turntable! It makes icing cakes a breeze!

Photo c/o Boofy Cakes
CS: Tell me about an especially fun cake you've worked on.
BP: I find that cakes I enjoy making the most are actually the ones that aren't for customers! I love having complete freedom in the design! So the most fun I have making cakes are typically the ones for my family. Although there was one cake that I donated to a CareNet baby shower at a local church that falls in to the favorite category. It was a Noah's Ark themed cake and I handmade all of the little animals out of fondant. I had so much fun making it! It has since become one of my most popular cakes.

Photo c/o Boofy Cakes
CS: I feel as if there is a rising trend in "dessert buffets" or cupcakes at weddings or special events...do you think these trends will make the large, centerpiece type of cake go extinct?
BP: I've actually had more cupcake orders for birthdays than for wedding cakes. But I have done both. I can understand why cupcakes and dessert buffets appeal to so many people. In the current economy I think more people are considering having more parties at their homes as opposed to large reception halls. Having small desserts are more convenient when you don't have a service to take care of cutting a wedding cake. Have you ever tried to disassemble a 4 tiered cake and cut it into the proper number of servings? If you've never done it, it can be pretty intimidating! Individual desserts allow the guests to serve themselves. Another great point to individual desserts is that unlike a slice of cake, they still look as attractive once served onto your plate.

While the popularity of cupcakes is rising, I don't believe that they will replace centerpiece cakes. I've noticed that at weddings they still want to hold onto the tradition of cutting the cake. So they just order a smaller tiered cake for cutting and for saving for their anniversary. I've done several cupcakes for birthday parties, but they're still just a small percentage of my orders. I think that the popularity of shows like Ace of Cakes, Cake Boss, and the different cake challenge shows will keep centerpiece cakes from dying out.

Photo c/o Boofy Cakes
CS: As a cake maker, what are your feelings on pie?
BP: I don't typically bake pies outside of the holidays. But that doesn't mean I don't like them! My favorite flavor is blueberry. The best slice of pie I've ever had was from a small vegetarian restaurant on the University of Illinois campus called the The Red Herring. It was blueberry mango pie that was absolutely to die for! I'd eat the whole pie if given the opportunity. It's well worth the stomachache!

Photo c/o Boofy CakesPhoto c/o Boofy Cakes
CS: What is your favorite type of frosting?
BP: My favorite frosting to eat or decorate with? My favorite kind of frosting to decorate with is a basic crusting buttercream. A crusting buttercream gets a real thin layer of crust after being exposed to the air for a few minutes. This is ideal for making certain decorations. It ices smooth on cakes and holds its shape nicely for decorations like roses.

My favorite frosting to eat is a fluff buttercream that I make. Believe it or not, I don't like super sweet desserts. Thats why I love my fluff buttercream! It isn't too sweet and it is light fluffy like clouds! And it doesn't need to be refrigerated like whipped cream. The only downside is that it doesn't ice as smooth and it is too soft to make certain decorations and designs.

Photo c/o Boofy Cakes
CS: If you were to be choosing the dessert for your last meal on earth, what would it be?
BP: I know I said that blueberry was my favorite pie flavor, but I think I would have to choose pecan pie! It's warmth and richness makes it a great comfort food! It brings back wonderful memories of with my family and all the fun I had during the holidays at the bakery where I grew up working.

Photo c/o Boofy Cakes
CS: Do you have any advice or lessons learned that you can pass on to others who might be interested in starting up their own cake businesses?
BP: If you haven't already, work in a bakery. No matter how much you already know, there is always more to be learned. Seeing how another businesses does business is a great way to get started. Pay attention to their lifestyles and the hours they work, make sure it's the lifestyle you thought it would be. The long hours and working weekends and holidays aren’t meant for everyone. Last but not least, love what you do and stand behind your work! It makes waking up in the morning much easier!

If you're in the Chicago area, consider Boofy Cakes for your next special occasion! Even if you're not though, you'll get sweet satisfaction from browsing the cake photos and blog--all online at boofycakes.com.

Tuesday
Oct062009

Cake Byte: The 2009 CakeSpy Holiday Card Collection!

Holiday Card preview!
Oh, hello. Meet the 2009 CakeSpy holiday card collection!

Whether you've been naughty or nice, there's some sugar and spice for everyone in this sweet suite of stationery, which is ready to ship starting October 10.

Here are the new designs:

Season's Sweetings: New Holiday Card!
Inner Greeting: "Season's Sweetings"

New Holiday Card: Cuppie with Santa's cookies!
Inner Greeting: "Sweet holiday wishes"

New Holiday Card!
Inner Greeting: "Sweet holiday wishes"

Zombie Santa Holiday Card
Inner Greeting: "Hope your holidays are an absolute scream"

Plus the cupcake and robot card pictured top.

The cards are available in boxes of 10 assorted cards and envelopes, or you can buy 10-packs full of just one style (if you'd like all one style, simply purchase the assorted pack and specify which style you'd like ten of in your payment "notes").
They can be purchased at cakespyshop.com.

 

Monday
Oct052009

Underdog Desserts: A Savory Meets Sweet Giveaway from BK!

Giveaway!
Next time you feel compelled to glove-slap somebody, why not do it in sweet style? Well, you can: CakeSpy is giving away a pair of sweet gloves with cupcake pattern trim--a sweet donation from friends at Bitchin' Lifestyle (you may remember the interview with BK's Nadia G. from a while back?).

What do you have to do to enter?

To Enter, click over to the video about Underdog Vegetables on the Bitchin' Kitchen website--a hilarious roundup and appreciative ode to veggies like brussels sprouts and parsnips--and leave a comment on the site. Love veggies? Go ahead and sing their praises. Still not convinced? Then leave a comment talking up your favorite--wait for it--underdog dessert.

Of course, I'd love to see your comments here about what your favorite underdog desserts too. Perhaps you think coconut macaroons need more love? Or maybe oatmeal cookies have stood in chocolate chip's shadow for too long? Sing the praises of your favorite!

This giveaway will close for entries on Friday, October 9 at 12:00 p.m. PST!

 

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