Home Home Home Home Home Home Home
CakeSpy

Featured Post:
Of Eating Disorders and Food Blogs

 

 Buy my brilliant books!

Buy my new book!

Buy my first book, too! 

CakeSpy Online Retail!

 

Gallery

Fantastic appliance for cake making on DHgate.com

everyrecipe.co.nz

Craftsy Writer

Thursday
Sep242009

Batter Chatter: Interview with Rita Halkias of Simply Rita (Athens, Greece)

Cupcakes from Greece
Everyone's buzzing about cupcakes and globalization this week--what better way to feed your interest than an interview with Rita Halkias, proprietress of Simply Rita, an Athens, Greece-based cupcake business? If you're curious about cupcake culture in Greece, search no further! Here goes:

CakeSpy: Can you tell a bit more about what made you decide to start a cupcake business?
Rita Halkias: When I moved to Greece around 2 years ago there were so many things that I missed from back home, my family and friends, Dunkin Donuts coffee, diner food (yes, although all Greeks in American own diners there is not one diner in the city of Athens) and cupcakes of course. I started experimenting in the kitchen to try and create the perfect cupcake. I then began to bring these cupcakes to various events and people would go crazy! Everyone started raving about these American cupcakes, one thing lead to another and things have really been great ever since.
Cupcakes in Athens, Greece

CS: Are you formally trained as a baker?
RH: I am self taught. I received my bachelor’s degree in Special Education and my master’s degree in Assistive Technology. When I lived in America I taught in a maximum security prison as a State School Teacher for several years. My father however, coincidently owned a restaurant that was located a few miles away from the prison. After my teaching job I would go help out at the family restaurant. I was in charge of the dessert menu; this is when my love/obsession for baking began!

 

 

CS: I feel as if I haven't ever heard of a cupcake business in Greece before! Are cupcakes very popular there, or are you starting the trend?
RH: No, cupcakes are not popular here in Athens. I guess you can say I am the first to start the trend!

 

CS: What sets apart your cupcakes from others?
RH: My cupcakes are baked to order; always ensuring that they’re fresh. Being a compulsive perfectionist can be a bit exhausting at times, but it seems to work in my favor, since my cupcakes end up being one of a kind. When customers contact me for an order, my primary objective is to accommodate their ideas and needs. The cake itself is always super moist and fluffy.. My frosting is sweet, but not toothache sweet like some other cupcakes I’ve tried in the past. Also, most of the cupcakes on my menu are musically inspired, with “Hollaback Girl” and “Sweet Thang” being some of them. It’s amazing how the sweet sound of a melody can inspire me to create something that satisfies my palette!

CS: How is your blog going to play a role in your business?
RH: My blog will definitely help my business because it’ll help my customers to get to know me at a more personal level. Forming lasting relationships with my customers is essential to running a successful business. Like my dad used to say in his heavy Greek accent, “here our customers have names; they are not just another number”!
Writing a blog is more interactive than a website, which makes it great for networking. Following other peoples’ blogs helps me keep up to date on the latest cupcake trends.

CS: What are your most popular flavors?
RH: Apple pie cupcake with cinnamon buttercream frosting; Nutella stuffed chocolate chip with hazelnut frosting; Peanut butter stuffed banana cupcake with chocolate frosting (my favorite).


Brownie bites from Greece
CS: Are you selling only cupcakes, or other baked goods as well?
RH: Mostly cupcakes but I also do cheesecakes, chocolate dipped cheesecake lollipops, and custom made cookie lollipops.

 

CS: Stepping away from cupcakes for a moment, I'm curious about baked goods in Athens. What other types of sweets or desserts are popular where you live?
RH: Where do I start? I guess the easiest way would be to make a list:

  • Loukoumades: Fried dough in the shape of a ball traditionally topped with honey, walnuts and cinnamon, but recently a shop has started filling them with Nutella!! YUM!
  • Baklava: Walnuts, cinnamon, and sugar layered in between phyllo dough then drenched with gooey sugar syrup.
  • Galaktobouriko: Custard filling layered in between phyllo dough and topped with simple syrup.
  • Ekmek Kataifi: Layered kataifi, custard, whipped topping and walnuts topped with simply syrup.
  • Kourabiedes: butter cookie dipped in confectioners sugar
  • Poungi: Pastry dough stuffed with ricotta, cinnamon. and sugar that is deep fried then topped with honey and walnuts.

There are so many others but those have to be my favorite!
Simply Rita Interview
CS: What are your goals for the future?
RH: I have so many personal goals set for myself, but as far as my business goes my goals would be to continue to run a successful business where my customers are truly valued, and to possibly expand in the future!
Want more? Stay updated with what's going on in Rita's sweet world via her blog, cupcakesathens.blogspot.com.

 

Thursday
Sep242009

Drunken Cookies: The Hot Cookie Presents the Jagerdoodle

Jägerdoodles
CakeSpy Note: This is a guest blog post from Sarah of The Hot Cookie. Looking for a creative new cookie idea? Look no further:

What in the devil is a Jägerdoodle?

Well dear, when a Snickerdoodle and a shot of Jagermeister fall in love...umm...uh, I'll tell you when you're older.

Now, this is not necessarily an easy sell of a cookie. When I told my mom that I made a Jäger-y cookie, she asked me twice if I really put Jäger in the cookies. The answer was yes both times. Hence the name, ma. (Don't hate me for teasing you. Remember, you love me very much.)

Here the doodles are all dressed up in sugar and anise. Yes, anise. It enhances the Jageriness. Brace yourselves...bold flavor straight ahead. These spicy morsels can trick the eye, but definitely not the nose. You can smell that licorice-y goodness a mile away. It was torture for cookie-taster Karli, who is no fan of black licorice. What Jägermeister blasphemy!

Want to make your own Drunken Snickerdoodles or Jägerdoodles? Here is a basic field guide:

  • Prepare your favorite Snickerdoodle dough, using Jägermeister in place of the vanilla extract and anise in place of cinnamon. 
  • Eat them heartily with a tall glass of Jager...I mean milk...with a chaser of Jager...or...nevermind. 
  • You can also experiment with your favorite liquors and make an assortment of Drunken Snickerdoodles! Sounds like a party to me!

Sarah Richcreek and Karli Kujawa are the co-owners of The Hot Cookie. The two bake tiny, all-natural artisan cookies by hand for the good of humanity in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can keep updated on their goings-on via their blog, or (better yet!) buy their cookies online here.

 

Thursday
Sep242009

Cakespy Undercover: A Cake Gumshoe's Thoughts on Retro Bakery, Las Vegas NV

Java Cupcake Guest Post on Retro Bakery, LV
CakeSpy Note: This is a guest blog post from Betsy of Java Cupcake. To get the scoop on what sweet stuff she's been sampling, be sure to visit her site, and keep updated with her twitter feed!

When I spent last week in Las Vegas, NV with my husband, I knew that we needed to stop at Retro Bakery. Boy, it did not disappoint!

Just about 20 minutes from The Strip in Vegas, Retro Bakery is located just off the highway in a quaint little shopping center. I was greeted by a super cute, super friendly bundle of joy named Kari, whom I had messaged via twitter earlier that day to let her know I was coming.

Most importantly though: on to the cupcakes. There were so many delicious cupcakes to choose from--it was very hard to pick. My husband and I decided we'd each pick two.

I chose the Peanut Butter Cup (chocolate cake topped with peanut butter buttercream and dark chocolate shavings) and the Cinnamon Toast (vanilla cake topped with cinnamon buttercream dusted with cinnamon and sugar) while my husband chose the Cotton Candy (vanilla cake topped with pink cotton candy buttercream and blue glitter sugar) and the Creamsicle (vanilla cake topped with a vanilla/orange swirl buttercream).

The tag line on the bakery's business card is "It's All About the Buttercream" and they aren't kidding! The buttercream on these cupcakes was absolutely to die for. Creamy, flavorful, smooth... it just rolled across my tongue with each bite. Each buttercream flavor was distinctly the flavor it said it was going to be--so, for instance, when I bit into the peanut butter, it actually tasted like peanut butter, and surprisingly, the cotton candy buttercream tasted exactly like cotton candy!

As I look back, I wish I had tried one more cupcake with a different base flavor. We had three with vanilla and one chocolate. The chocolate was so delicious... moist and chocolatey; however, I have got to give it to the vanilla because it was by far the best vanilla cupcake I have ever tasted! It was dense, but not mushy, springy and moist, full of flavor and baked to perfection. I could have eaten those vanilla cupcakes alone if the buttercream had not been so heavenly!

So thank you to Kari for being so sweet when we came to visit! And thank you to Retro Bakery for making such delicious cupcakes! I can't wait to get back to Las Vegas to try four more flavors.

Retro Bakery, 7785 N. Durango Dr. #130, Las Vegas (702)586-3740; online at retrobakerylv.com. You can also follow them on Twitter, and if you want more of the inside scoop be sure to read the CakeSpy interview with owner Kari!

Thursday
Sep242009

Sweet Harvest: Cupcake Royale Debuts their Fall 2009 Flavors

Cupcake Royale's Autumn Flavors
There's some serious autumn sweetness coming to Seattle for the next few months, as I learned from my sweet friends at Cupcake Royale. Here's what they've got to say:

Fresh from the Northwest fields, Cupcake Royale has connected to its local farming friends to bring bounteous regional flavors, cupcake style. All cupcakes use Shepherd’s Grain flour and local dairy products for a cupcake that’s no less than 66 percent local! Come get some Harvest Cupcake love throughout October and November.

October Harvest featured cupcakes: Pumpkin, Carrot, and Caramel-Apple cupcakes

November Harvest featured cupcakes: Pumpkin, Carrot, and Cranberry-Orange cupcakes

Delicious details:

Pumpkin is pumpkin spice cake featuring organic pumpkin from Stahlbush Farms in Corvalis, Ore., crowned with maple-cream cheese frosting.
Carrot features walnut cake and organic local carrots from Ralph’s Organics, topped with a swirl of cream cheese frosting.
Caramel Apple highlights apple cake containing apple butter made especially for us by Woodburn Farms and features local Honey Crisp apples from Tiny’s Organic Farm, topped with caramel frosting and served with a small stick.
Cranberry Orange is a cranberry-orange cake, topped with cranberry-cream cheese frosting, both featuring Pacific Northwest cranberries.

Of course, if you get thirsty, they will also be offering Hot Apple Cider and Caramel Apple Cider.

Available all autumn long at the four Cupcake Royale locations; for directions and contact info, visit www.cupcakeroyale.com. Of course, you can keep up to date with their goings-on at legalizefrostitution.blogspot.com.

Thursday
Sep242009

Cake Byte: Brand New CakeSpy Felt Ornaments, and a Giveaway!

Giveaway!
I'm so excited about these new Cuppie ornaments that I can't even come up with a dessert-related pun!

This is a sweet ornament version of Cuppie the Cupcake! This felt puffy ornament is made of layered pink, grey and red felt, finished with embroidery for the eyes and cupcake cup detailing, and of course the pink frosting has some shimmery glittery finish! It measures 3.5" tall. This ornament isn't just for Christmas--it will add sweetness when hung from a window or keep you inspired if hung in your cubicle!

And, happily, they were made in collaboration with local company Party Partners! To purchase, visit cakespyshop.com.

 

Sweet Giveaway!

Now, this awesome is too good to be contained, so here's a little cake poll to enter to win one of five giveaway Cuppie ornaments! Just answer the following question:

 

What was the last baked good or dessert you ate?

Just leave your answer in the comment section below before the cutoff of 12 p.m. PST on Friday, 9.25.09; the winners will be chosen at random and announced shortly thereafter. Sorry, US entrants only this time!

 

UPDATE: THE WINNERS! Five winners have been chosen at random, and have been contacted for the correct addresses to send their prize. Congratulations winners, and til the next giveaway, stay sweet!

Winners:

1. Allie from
2. Sara from Berkeley
3. Julie
4. Cake For Breakfast
5. Kristine from Chicago!

If you are listed here and have not claimed your prize, please email me at jessieoleson@gmail.com.

Wednesday
Sep232009

Pastry Road Trip: Serious Sweetness at The Cookie Jar, Sioux Falls SD

Cookie Jar, Sioux Falls SD
CakeSpy Note: This month I drove to and from Chicago on a Pastry Road Trip: here's the beginning of several installments detailing the deliciousness I discovered!

I am officially in love with The Cookie Jar in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Why?

It starts, of course, with the decor, which is a strange sort of retro 50's diner look--but I got the distinct impression that this was not executed ironically. It makes the space seem as if it's been there for a very long time--though according to their site, they've only been open since 2002.
Cookie Jar, Sioux Falls SDCookie Jar, Sioux Falls SD
But the rest of this love story is all about the sweetness. You can tell right away when you approach the bakery case that this place means business. They have row after row of fat, dense cookies in a variety of flavors, some sandwiched with a generous dollop of frosting; their case also dedicates a notable amount of space to decadent bars, including Seven Layer bars, pumpkin bars, enormous brownies, and Special K bars.

The CakeSpy selections included a chocolate creme sandwich cookie, a Special K bar and an apple-raisin sour cream bar.

The cookie sandwich was rich, with pillowy cookies studded with chocolate chips and a frosting which tasted vaguely like Oreo filling; it was clear immediately that while this was not a refined or sophisticated dessert, it was nonetheless a deeply satisfying, extremely nostalgic treat.
Cookie Jar, Sioux Falls SD
The Special K Bar (which, as I learned, is quite common in Midwestern bakeries) was bar none (get it?) the best one sampled on this trip, rich and chewy and peanut buttery--it even inspired me to try out my own version at home, which I wrote about on Serious Eats!
Cookie Jar, Sioux Falls SD
The sour cream bar, which Mr. CakeSpy tried, was decadent, with the sweet fruit nicely complemented by the tangy sour cream in the filling, with a nice added texture and flavor contrast from a crispy oaty topping.

Now, I hope I'm not coming off as overly dramatic, but I feel as if it is my public duty to tell you that if you happen to find yourself in Sioux Falls, you must visit The Cookie Jar. But don't just take my word for it: Roadfood loves it too!

The Cookie Jar, 125 West 10th St., Sioux Falls, (605) 978-0991; online at cookiejarsd.com.


Cookie Jar on Urbanspoon

 

Wednesday
Sep232009

Sweet Art: Infinite for Illustration Friday

Cupcakes and Narwhal
This week's Illustration Friday theme is "Infinite", and it got me thinking about how variations on a theme can really be quite infinite. Case in point: Cuppie the Cupcake. How many places has this little cupcake been? Why not continue these amazing adventures by hanging out with an unlikely new buddy, what I hear is the beast of the moment in hipster circles: the narwhal?

It's true: there are really infinite variations.

Wednesday
Sep232009

Cake Byte: NY Times Article Makes Sweet Cupcake Commentary

New buttons!

What can I say? After multiple readers sent me this article about cupcakes all over the world, I simply had to share it. As one reader aptly put it, "Maybe all those U.N. and other diplomatic meetings would accomplish more towards world peace if cupcakes were on the table.... Cupcakes conquer the world!"

Read the full article here!

Tuesday
Sep222009

Puff Daddy: Reese's Puffs Bars with Buttercream Frosting

Reese's Puffs bars
So, I recently received a very large parcel of boxes of cereal from General Mills with which to try out some recipes for consideration for the Betty Crocker Halloween recipes section of their site. Naturally, I immediately set out to find as many delicious recipes as I could for baked goods which include cereal. One recipe for "Chewy Cereal Bars", which called for Grape-Nuts, intrigued me, but I suspected the recipe could be improved upon: first and foremost, by using Reese's Puffs instead. After making some other alterations to make the recipe uniquely my own, I can say that it's a pretty delicious end result, like chewy blondies with little crispy explosions of peanut butter and chocolate. Top 'em off with some buttercream frosting (and maybe even double deck 'em and decorate them for Halloween or the occasion of your choosing) and you've got yourself a cereal winner.
Layered Reese's puffs bars with frosting

Reese's Puffs Bars

Ingredients (bars):

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup Reese's Puffs Cereal
  • 3/4 firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Optional Halloween garnish: candy corn and mellowcreme pumpkins


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. In a medium saucepan, melt butter; once melted, add cereal and incorporate for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Remove from heat; stir in brown sugar until incorporated. Add egg and vanilla, and stir until completely blended.
  3. Add flour and baking powder; stir until completely blended.
  4. Spread into greased pan, and bake about 20 minutes or until golden around the edges. Let cool completely, and then frost. If desired, cut the batch in half and create double decker treats and slice them into thin fingers; if desired, garnish with candy corn and/or mellowcreme pumpkins.


Ingredients (frosting)

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions:
Cream the butter and about 4 cups of the confectioners' sugar until smooth and creamy; add the vanilla and the rest of the sugar bit by bit until the frosting reaches your desired consistency (you may not need all of it). For orange frosting, add about 1 drop of red and 4 drops of yellow food coloring and mix until the color is even; frost the cooled bars. Do not freeze or chill this frosting.

 

Tuesday
Sep222009

Pastry Road Trip: Deliciously Dense Donuts at Wall Drug, South Dakota

Vanilla Frosted Donut, Wall Drug, SD
CakeSpy Note: This month I drove to and from Chicago on a Pastry Road Trip: here's the beginning of several installments detailing the deliciousness I discovered!

Wall Drug is a tourist trap of epic proportions: you've barely entered South Dakota when you start to see billboards proclaiming "Wall Drug--Only 500 Miles!". From that point on, every few miles you'll see another Wall Drug sign or billboard, some advertising products or services, some simply updating you on how much closer you are.
Welcome to Wall Drug (South Dakota)
By the time you've actually reached Wall, South Dakota, you'll be so curious that you've basically got to stop.

Of course, I had a reason beyond mere curiosity: I had heard the donuts were fantastic.
Donut Factory
I pulled into Wall at about 5 p.m. and unfortunately the "Donut Factory" section of Wall Drug had already closed for the day, but there were still fresh donuts (and ice cream and cookies too) available in their cafe. I picked up two cake donuts: maple frosted and vanilla frosted.
Donut in the Hall of Heads, Wall Drug, SD
I offered to share with some of the little critters nearby, but it seemed they had no stomach for donuts.

How to describe these donuts? They were extremely dense--none of that light-as-air business here. The cake was very moist and pleasingly greasy, but tastefully so--it didn't leave an oily slick in your mouth. The frosting was rich and flavorful--the maple had a deep, earthy-sweet flavor and the vanilla was surprisingly thick and rich--and it was soft and held together beautifully (nothing is worse, to me, than donut frostings that are hard and flake off!). To put it in a nutshell, these donuts tasted very old school. In a good way.

Wall Drug, 510 Main Street, Wall, SD; 605-279-2175. Online at walldrug.com.

Bonus! Though I couldn't find their donut recipe, the Food Network does have a pie recipe donated by Wall Drug; check it out here!

© Cakespy, all rights reserved. Powered by Squarespace.