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Monday
Jan042010

Sweet Art: Custom Holiday Artwork Roundup

SF treats custom piece

Dude, this holiday season was totally sweet! And I am happy to say that I contributed to many a Christmas miracle this year, through a variety of custom artwork commissions which were given as sweet holiday gifts! Here are just some of the highlights:

A custom scene of sweets in San Francisco (shown above);

A scene in which Kermit generously offers kitties a cupcake:
Custom order

A sweet piece commissioned to include the recipient as a cupcake, surrounded by her favorite things:
Custom holiday order

Cupcakes having a sweet moment in Florence (commissioned by a really cool dudette):
Custom Request

A sweet little baker-caker:
Custom Request

A holiday scene at Trophy Cupcakes in Seattle:
Holidays at Trophy Cupcakes

And of course, who could forget the cupcake-bacon family in front of their favorite bakery:
Custom order, cupcake-bacon family

Thanks again everyone for making it a totally sweet holiday season!

Monday
Jan042010

Vive le Roi: Baby Galettes des Rois for Serious Eats

Galettes des rois

The 12 days of Christmas may be drawing to a close, but there's still one sweet treat to enjoy this season: the Galette des Rois.

In case you missed Dorie Greenspan's Serious Eats piece last year, the Galette des Rois is a rich almond cream and puff pastry confection which commemorates the arrival of the three kings on the Epiphany. Within each galette is a hidden treasure—a feve (originally a bean, but often a trinket now), the finder of which is declared king.

So why make them mini? It all comes down to the fate of the feve. Faced with the prospect of a possible revolt by the power-hungry masses who all want to be crowned king, I decided to take control of destiny by making mini galettes wherein everyone could have a trinket. Happily, this seemed to ensure peace in kingdom cake.

For the full post and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Saturday
Jan022010

Slow and Steady: Tortoise Vs. Hare Cupcakes Recipe from Cake Gumshoe Melanie

Tortoise Vs. Hare Cupcakes, from Cake Gumshoe Melanie

They say that slow and steady wins the race, but these cupcakes seem to inspire a race to see how quickly you can get them in your belly. CakeSpy reader Melanie recently sent on this recipe for Tortoise Vs. Hare cupcakes which combine carrot cake with turtle confections--and all I can say is that they are making me want to run, not walk, to the grocery store to buy the ingredients. Based on Melanie's lovely pictures though, it looks like both tortoise and hare win this one!

Tortoise vs. Hare Cupcakes

- Recipe c/o Melanie H. -

 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter-room temp.
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chunks (of your liking!)

 

Thick Caramel Icing (from Chokylit)

 

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 6 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Directions for cake

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line 18 muffin cups.
  3. Whisk together flour, soda, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.
  4. In another bowl, beat eggs, sugar, brown sugar, butter, and milk.
  5. With mixer on low, add flour mixture a little at a time until just blended. Stir in vanilla, carrots, pecans, and chocolate chunks.
  6. Bake 20-22 minutes.

 

Directions for icing

 

  1. Bring the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk to a boil over medium-high heat stirring to combine.
  2. With a wooden spoon, stir all ingredients together and then slowly add the heavy cream.
  3. Continue to stir for about 20 minutes until the caramel reached 248 degrees. It is important to continuously stir the mixture and to allow it to reach temperature.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Transfer to a bowl and continue to stir for 2-3 minutes allowing the caramel to cool slightly.

 

Saturday
Jan022010

The Splendid Tableau: A Cookie Tableau Adventure from Cake Gumshoe Megan

Cookie Tableau

CakeSpy Note: This is a post from Cake Gumshoe Megan, who gets in over her head every Christmas...

Despite the fact cake is actually my drug of choice, every year at Christmas I become a cookie dervish. I tell myself it's because I'm developing the repertoire I will be known for later in life, but I think it's really just because I finally have an excuse to bake and bake and bake and no one will ask me what I'm going to do with all of those cookies.

Seventeen or so dozen cookies later (gingerbread, sugar, springerle, candy cane cookies, brownies, chocolate raspberry drizzle, chocolate peanut butter chunk, stained glass, macaroons and chocolate butter snowflakes, if anyone was interested), I turned my attention to a cookie tableau. Reading a Theresa Layman book on gingerbread gave me the idea for a tableau, but I decided to make mine out of sugar cookies and have an undersea theme. I have a very good friend who has been so supportive in pretty much every area of my life, and I knew he'd appreciate something edible for the holidays.

What I didn't know was that Mother Nature was conspiring against me.

The blizzard that dumped two feet of snow on the mid-Atlantic forced me to fly home for Christmas two days early and sent my tableau plans sprawling. The Christmas rush forced me to give a non-edible present to my friend, but I still wanted to make a tableau, so I shifted my sights to a gingerbread winter scene.

A trip to Michael's yielded gel paste food coloring and a foray into Wegmans' bulk candy aisle gave me all the decorations I needed (and plenty to snack on). I ended up using Spree, Jelly Belly jelly beans and candy canes.

I would recommend a little planning with this since my lack of design had me dithering in the candy aisle for longer than absolutely necessary, but if you're at all like me, you can totally do this by the seat of your pants too.

First I used a lebkuchen recipe from Festive Baking by Sarah Kelly Iaia. This is my go-to gingerbread recipe. It uses honey instead of molasses, so you can taste the spices rather than the syrup. I used one whole recipe total in making the background and then the buildings and little gingerbread man. I drew templates free-hand and cut them out with a paring knife.



Baking them in an unfamiliar oven yielded slightly crispy edges, but those were neatly covered by royal icing.


From there I just decorated the buildings as my imagination dictated and space on the background allowed. I did make one mistake which couldn't be fixed due to lack of time. I added too much water to my yellow piping icing, so the windows to the church weren't fully flooded. Some of the "icing" soaked into the cookie.


I also wouldn't recommend taking shortcuts with the icing as I did with the sky. Rather than make a whole new batch of royal icing, pipe a border and then flood, I just flooded the whole thing, which led to rather messy edges. I wasn't too worried about thin coverage in the middle since the buildings were going to cover most of it.

I made a few sugarwork decorations and let everything dry for two days. A little Karo syrup glue to attach the buildings to the background, and I was finished. The final size was about 8 1/2 by 11 inches.


I really enjoyed myself despite a total lack of architectural and drawing skills, and I definitely plan to make another one soon. This time I will have a much more detailed plan beforehand!

Saturday
Jan022010

French Connection: Croissant French Toast at Doug Fir Lounge, Portland OR

Croissant French Toast
We're going to talk about a very special sort of French toast from the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, Oregon right now.

Entitled "The French Connection", the menu describes the item thusly: "two croissants, battered with egg, cinnamon and orange zest, served with maple or blueberry syrup".

Now, in case the description didn't get the point across, I made a venn diagram for you:
Pleasuretown
This is possibly the most wonderful way to bring day-old croissants back to life that I have ever seen. These compressed crescents contained rich, buttery flavor in every bite, and the orange zest worked beautifully to add a little tartness to slightly counter the sweetness.

The final word? I used to think that chocolate croissants were the epicenter of croissant awesome, but now I am not so sure.

"The French Connection" is available at the Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E. Burnside, Portland, OR; online at dougfirlounge.com.

Doug Fir on Urbanspoon

Thursday
Dec312009

Sweet Love: A Dessert Crush on The Night Kitchen, Seattle

 

Like, OMG. There are so many reasons to love the very idea of newly-opened The Night Kitchen in Seattle. There's the fact that they are, literally, a night kitchen--their hours are 6 p.m. - 9 a.m. (closed Monday night - Tues. morning). There's the fact that they're serving up creative, gourmet yet homey dishes--at very affordable prices.

 

But most imporantly, there's the dessert menu. Since none of the Cake Gumshoes have yet visited, for now let's just review the dessert list ("served anytime") and dream (copied directly from their site):

Cassis Bombe
Cassis mousse, Fresh berries, Cassis glaze, Chocolate financier sponge, Dark chocolate fan

Butter Pecan Ice Cream
Candied pecan, Maker's Mark Butter Caramel

Key Lime Pie
Buttery graham crust, Key Lime custard, Lime zest chantilly

Apple and Egg Nog Cheesecake
Buttery graham crust, Egg nog and neufchatel custard, Spiced poached braeburn apple (with optional Maker's Mark Butter Caramel)

Matcha Cream Puff
Pate a choux, Matcha mousseline, Matcha and powder sugar sprinkle

Dark Chocolate Truffle Flight
Valrhona 72% Guanaja, Shredded Coconut, Hazelnut Brittle, Demarara Sugar, White and Black Sesame, Cocoa Powder

Decadent Chocolate Layer Cake
Chocolate sponge, Smooth chocolate ganache, Chocolate chantilly, Dark chocolate curls

Miniature Torte Noisette
Printed Joconde sponge, Italian meringue swirl, Hazelnut Mousse, Hazelnut Brittle

What are you waiting for? Get yourself to The Night Kitchen after dark!

The Night Kitchen, 216 Stewart St., Seattle, WA; online at nightkitchenseattle.com

Wednesday
Dec302009

To the Nines: CakeSpy's Sweetest Moments of 2009

Goodbye, 2009!

Dear 2009,

You've been, like, the sweetest year ever! We've had some sugar-filled fun times together, ranging from Renegade Cake Parties to delicious trompe l'oeil treats. But before we trade you in for a cake-filled 2010, let's take a sugary stroll down memory lane to recall some of the most delicious CakeSpy experiences of the past year. Truly, 2009, you are 2 GOOD + 2 B  = 4 GOTTEN!

Love,
CakeSpy

Click here to to see the full list!

Taking it to the Sweet
The streets of Seattle got a lot sweeter with this feel-good cupcake art installation;

Petites Bouchees
Petites Bouchées Macarons induced a serious mac attack;

Croissants
We delved into the secret lives of bakers...

Cookie Sandwich
A car crashed into CakeSpy headquarters, but we got cookies out of the deal;

Rolling Scones
Sweets rocked with a collection of rock n roll-inspired cakes and pastries;

Cake from Freeds in Las Vegas, C/O Not Martha
We learned how to successfully elope to Las Vegas and have our wedding cake too;

Red Velvet Cake from Kingfish Cafe, Seattle
The Red Velvet Cake from Kingfish Cafe was indeed legendary (and so was the Hummingbird Cake!)

S'moreos!
We created something so beautiful, the world let out a collective sigh of awe and longing: the S'moreo;

"Rocky Rose" ice cream
Poppy pastry chef Dana Cree's desserts continued to amaze;

Houdini Bars
We escaped from cake mix mediocrity with the Cake Mix Doctor's Houdini Bar recipe;

Grilled Cheesecake Sandwich
Grilled cheesecake sandwich. Need I say more?

Huckleberry bar
A blissful huckleberry bar cookie was discovered at a Montana rest stop;

Little Debbie Death Match
We, like, totally killed some Little Debbie Cakes;

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bar, Ciao for Now, NYC
Ciao For Now offered up an absolutely tantalizing peanut butter and jelly bar;

Halloween Treats!
Some said these babies were too sweet, but I said "more for me" and finished the entire pan...

Colossal Crumb Cake
The only regret about the colossal crumb cake from Ocean Grove Bake Shop is that it had to end;

Cranberry walnut bar, Alliance Bakery, Chicago
At the Alliance Bakery in Chicago, the Cranberry Walnut Bar offered sweet, tart, and totally rich flavor;

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart with homemade brandy whipped cream
Combining Ina Garten and Tom Douglas recipes resulted in awesomeness (oh, and pie) squared;

Piggie loves Apple Pie Bars
Caramel apple pie bars for those who don't like fruit to invade on their streusel-and-crust experience;

Cookie Cake Pie
And of course, who could forget the #1 most popular CakeSpy post of 2009--we all got a little fatter (but happier too) with the advent of the Age of the Cookie Cake Pie.

Monday
Dec282009

Heaven is a Place on Earth: Heaven On Earth Restaurant and Bakery, OR



We all feel regret sometimes, and for this Cake Gumshoe, it hit bigtime when we failed to stop at Heaven on Earth Restaurant and Bakery in Oregon.

Traveling along I-5 in Oregon, we only noticed the sign after we flew by: "Home of the world famous cinnamon rolls".

In retrospect, it was probably a big mistake to not have turned around. Why?


For one, the cinnamon rolls. Available in traditional iced as well as caramel pecan variations, these look like a totally sweet way to carb-o-load for your next sporting event (or, you know, your next...workday). Yes.

But they also have other sweetness on the menu, which includes oh, let's see...turnovers, whole pies (in apple, marionberry, pumpkin, pecan, and cherry), carrot cake, chocolate cake, chocolate mint cake, German chocolate cake, pineapple upside down cake, coffee cake, cookies, macaroons, peanut brittle, and Western toffee. Not to sound obsessed or anything.

Oh well. There's always next time, right?

Heaven On Earth Restaurant and Bakery, 703 Quines Creek, Azalea, Oregon 97410; online at heavenonearthrestaurant.com.

Monday
Dec282009

Stick It: Chocolate Covered Brownie on a Stick from Hot Cookie, San Francisco

Brownie on a Stick, Hot Cookie, SF

What food isn't enhanced by being served on a stick?

While you mull over that question for the ages, let me present the most delicious thing consumed by a Cake Gumshoe recently: the chocolate covered brownie on a stick from Hot Cookie in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco.
Brownie on a Stick, Hot Cookie, SF
When you enter Hot Cookie, you'll notice a few things. First, the attractive and well-groomed fellas that man the store do not look like they eat many cookies. However, they are awfully friendly and cute, and serve them up with a sweet sense of humor--in addition to the expected chocolate chip, oatmeal, and peanut butter varieties, they also have a variety of bar cookies, including erotic varieties (which prompted one CitySearch reviewer to aptly dub it "sort of a younger, borderline lewd Mrs. Field's"), and--the star of this writeup--the chocolate covered brownie on a stick.

Undoubtedly you'll take on the task of eating this sweet treat already liking it (it is on a stick, after all), but happily, you'll continue to enjoy it as the chocolatey taste hits. The chocolate coating is simply ingenious--not only does it ensure that the brownie stays planted on the popsicle stick, but it also keeps the brownie moist and offers an added hit of decadence. The brownie itself is fudgy and very chocolatey, not necessarily subtle, but around bite three or four you might just find yourself not caring about that very much.

(CakeSpy Note: Oh, and if you happen to have a four-legged friend with you, we found that the nearby Best in Show had a great variety of pup-cakes and treats).

Hot Cookie, 407 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA; (415) 621-2350‎.

Hot Cookie on Urbanspoon

Friday
Dec252009

Pork Roll: Bacon Cinnamon Rolls By Rainy Day Gal

IMGP1188

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. Her current endeavor is "The 12 Days of Bakemas"--12 days, 12 recipes, and 12 million dirty dishes."

Yeah, you heard me.

You're not going to believe these. And you're really not going to
believe how ridiculously easy they are to make. My nine-month old could
bake em.

You need two ingredients:

IMGP1179

1. Bacon.

IMGP1180

2. Cinnamon rolls. I swear by these "Grands" Cinnabon doodleybobs.

Of course, if you're feeling ambitious, you could always make your
own
. But if you're exhausted, have been picking up Cheerios off the
floor for two months, and have no energy to shower let alone make your own
dang cinnamon rolls, stick with me.

Click here for more!

IMGP1183

First, fry up that bacon. Not all the way--give it sort of a half-fry. You
don't want to make it too crunchy because it'll snap when you try to roll
it up into those cinnamonny buns. Plus, it'll cook more in le oven.

IMGP1184

Let it drain on paper towels. For big cinnamon rolls, you'll need two
slices of bacon per roll. For the tiny guys, you just need one.

IMGP1185

Pop that can. How I looove that sound. Separate the rolls.

IMGP1186

Unroll them on a piece of parchment paper or a big ol' cutting board.

IMGP1187

Lay the bacon strips across the dough....

IMGP1188

...roll 'em up...

IMGP1189

...lay them in a greased pan and bake according to package directions.

Sit by the oven and twiddle your thumbs.

IMGP1196

Ding! They're done!

IMGP1197

Frost 'em.

IMGP1198

Smell 'em.

IMGP1199

Ready?

IMGP1201

Set?

IMGP1203

SWOON.

IMGP1204

I think these things have to qualify as a religious experience. Someone
call the Vatican.

IMGP1202

And it's a crime how easy they are to make. Something this good you should
have to work for, right?

IMGP1200

Wrong.

Make these Christmas morning. Thank me later.

Happy 6th Day of Bakemas!

-RDG

Bacon Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Buy bacon.
  2. Buy cinnamon rolls.
  3. Cook bacon.
  4. Roll bacon into cinnamon rolls.
  5. Bake cinnamon rolls.
  6. Frost cinnamon rolls.
  7. Eat cinnamon rolls.
  8. Repeat.

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