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Tuesday
May122009

CakeSpy Undercover: Little T American Baker in Portland, OR

Little T American Baker
If there's anything we love, it's getting reader suggestions for bakeries we should visit.

So when CakeSpy reader Cynthia dropped by and visited the CakeSpy booth at Crafty Wonderland in Portland last weekend, my friend Danny and I were delighted when she told us about one of her favorites: Little T American Baker. So delighted, in fact, that Danny went right on over to pick up some treats to sample.
Little T boasts an awesome pedigree: it was opened by Tim Healea of Pearl Bakery and Kenny & Zuke’s (both CS favorites!). It's a stylish little space, and while the service wasn't necessarily swift, it was friendly. 
We sampled their peanut cookie, a shortbread cookie shaped like a puzzle piece, and the lemon tart. 
Let's start with the cookies. First was the "peanut cookie"--not a "peanut butter cookie". And it seems that there is a difference--this cookie, which was fat and very buttery, didn't have a strong peanut butter taste throughout, but rather got its nuttiness from a generous smattering of whole peanuts throughout. It was pretty delightful.
The shortbread cookie, which Danny declined to share, was declared "very good". 
But oh, the lemon tart. Lemon tarts and bars can be tricky territory, often falling into the category of too eggy or too sweet. A well-balanced filling is hard to come by, but so wonderful when you find one. And Little T's lemon filling was perfect. Smooth and creamy, rich and yet still tasting of fresh citrus, it was perfectly complemented by a shortbread-y crust. Heaven!
Our most sincere thanks to Cynthia for introducing us to Little T American Baker.
Little T American Baker, 2600 SE Division, Portland OR (503) 238-3458; online at littletbaker.com.

 

Monday
May112009

Mommie Dearest: A Sweet Post-Mother's Day Treat

Mother's Cookies Truffles
Mother's Day is over--and now, with a big sigh of relief, we can go back to blaming her for everything for another year.

But there's no need to invest in a Starlee Kine-esque stint at the Hoffman Institute to work out all those mommy issues--here's a far better (and more delicious) way to take out some of that aggression: by seriously crushing some Mother's Circus Animal Cookies (which we scored through our friends at FoodBuzz!) and making delicious truffles out of them.

This is a variation of the Oreo Truffle recipe made famous by Bakerella; in this version, simply substitute a bag of the (newly re-released!) Carnival Animals by Mother's Cookies.


Mother's Cookies
Crush Your Mother's Cookies Truffles

 

 

  • 1 package Mother's Cookies
  • 1 8oz. package cream cheese (softened)
  • confectioner's dark chocolate, melted


1. Coarsely cut about six or seven cookies into small chunks. They'll be jagged and messy but that's ok, they're for garnish. Reserve for later.
Making Truffles
2. Crush remaining cookies and stir in softened cream cheese. Use the back of a large spoon to help mash the two together.
Mother?
3. Roll the mixture into 1" balls and place on waxed paper covered cookie sheet.
Truffles
4. You're supposed to melt chocolate as directed on the package and then dip balls into chocolate--but I'm lazy so I just poured it on top of each (which ended up giving them an extra chocolate "foot"--yum). Set aside on wax paper covered cookie sheet to dry. 

You can sprinkle the tops with the coarsely chopped cookies for decoration.
Insides
5. Once dry (if you can wait that long), refrigerate. Share with mom, if you dare.

 

Makes about 36 truffles.

 

Monday
May112009

Cake Byte: CakeSpy Cupcakes All Month Long at Trophy Cupcakes!

Cupcake with CakeSpy Artwork, Trophy Cupcakes
Trophy Cupcake Photos c/o Alana

 

What could possibly be more magical than a cupcake?
How about cupcakes with CakeSpy artwork printed on them?

Cupcakes with CakeSpy artwork at Trophy Cupcakes
These sweet little morsels will be available all month long at Trophy Cupcakes in celebration of the CakeSpy art show! Even if you missed the artist reception last week, the artwork (and cupcakes!) will be on show and for sale all month long.
(Note: CakeSpy art is also on show at Schmancy in Seattle too this month!)

Preview of the show at Trophy!
Totally sweet!

 

Thursday
May072009

Sugar Mama: An Ode to the Sweetest Mom Ever

Illustration by my amazing mom
People frequently ask me what inspired me to start CakeSpy.com. What in the world could have contributed to such a deep interest (bordering on obsession) in cake that someone would devote their life to eating, researching, writing about, and illustrating it?

Well, as they say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree--or in this case, the crumb doesn't fall far from the cake.
That is to say--blame it on my mom. 
My mother, Margie Moore, is just about the coolest person there is. Growing up, for every birthday we had an amazing cake. None of this store-bought sheet cake business, no sir--we always had some sort of multi-tiered pink confection that put even wedding cakes to shame--like this one:

Cake from Above
Of course, making cakes like this was a time consuming ordeal, and very trying on the rest of the family as we were unable to indulge right away. So to stave off our sticky fingers, she'd always make a little something extra with the leftover cake batter: a batch of festively frosted cupcakes:

 

Cupcakes in a Row

...now, don't these look familiar? After all, they're the inspiration for a little cupcake character you've come to know and love.


Cup-bunny meets Cuppie

 

But wait--there's more. My mom is not merely a sugar enabler--she's also a renowned children's book illustrator. And yes--cake and sweets often play a role in her illustrative work, in books such as Ruby Bakes a Cake, A Horse's Tale: A Colonial Williamsburg Adventure, Bear of My Heart and many more.
Illustration by my amazing mom

Happy Mother's Day to the sweetest mom, like, ever.

To check out Margie Moore's illustration work, visit margiemooreillustration.com. 
For Margie Moore's birthday cake recipe, click here.

 

Wednesday
May062009

Sweet Mystery: CakeSpy Needs Your Help!

Pastry from Hess Bakery, Tacoma
There's no delicate way to put it: this pastry, purchased at Hess Bakery in Tacoma, kind of looks like a mound of poop. A delicately swirled mound of poop, mind you.

But it's got a secret inside:
Pastry from Hess Bakery, Tacoma

What makes up this mountain of yum? Well, what you've got is a bottom layer of yellow cake, topped with a mound of cake crumbs mixed with buttercream, which is then topped by a cascade of rich chocolate which is firm but yielding (not crunchy) when you bite into it. 

It is completely decadent and delicious--and officially the newest CakeSpy obsession.

 

However, what is unclear is the confection's story and name. It being that it was purchased from a German bakery, it likely has Teutonic roots; the bakery employee I spoke to called it a "granachebitter" -- but I am spelling this phonetically as she was not sure how it was spelled and the baker was not around to field questions. It's possible that I mis-heard and the first part was "ganache" (which seems like it would make sense), but I am not sure!

And so I appeal to you, dear readers: does anyone know what this baked good is, or where a recipe might be found? 

UPDATE! Per a tip from German CakeSpy reader Iris, I've learned that the pastry in question is actually called Granatsplitter, which translates to "Shrapnel" or "Shell Splinters". Well, it certainly is an explosively delicious treat! This recipe suggests Granatsplitter as a good way to use leftover cake.

Also, we've gotten a recipe! Savvy CakeSpy reader Teresa enlisted the help of a German acquaintance to translate this recipe for the Granatsplitter! 

Granatsplitter Recipe

Dough:
  • 150 gm flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 50 gm sugar
  • 2 teaspoons "vanilla sugar"
  • 1 tablespoon Rum
  • 2 tablespoons millk or water
  • 50 gm butter

To be put on the dough:
  • 125 gm coconut-fat
  • 65g powdered sugar
  • 1,5 teaspoons vanilla-sugar
  • 25 g cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 75gm chopped almonds (have to be chopped as a pencil, long shaped)

topping:
  • 75g powdered sugar
  • 25g cocoa
  • 2,5 tablespoons hot water
  • 25g melted butter
  1. Mix flour and baking powder and put through a sief on a baking board.
  2. Make a hole in the middle and put sugar, spices and liquids in and part of the flour.
  3. Put the cold fat, cut in pieces, on top of it, cover with flour and form dough.
  4. If it is sticky, refrigerate for a while. Then make a thin dough from a round mold (like for round cookies) and bake 10 minutes at 175-195 degree C.
  5. Let the coconut fat melt and refrigerate. Put powdered sugar through a sief, add vanilla sugar, cocoa (sief) and rum in a bowl and stir bit by bit with egg and handwarm coco-fat. Break half of the cookies in pieces and mix with the almonds in the cocoa-dough. Put this dough hill-shaped on the rest of the cookies.
  6. Topping: put cocoa and powdered sugar through a sief and add water and liquid butter until like liqued chocolate. Put on top of the cookies and refrigerate.

If you're in the Tacoma area, you can get one for yourself (and don't forget to pick up a Pretzel Roll too!) at Hess Bakery, Hess Bakery & Deli • 6108 Mt. Tacoma Drive SW • Lakewood, WA (253)577-5888; online at hessbakery.com.

 

Wednesday
May062009

Cake Byte: Upcoming Art Shows!

Come visit me at the Brooklyn Renegade Craft Fair!!
This is going to be the sweetest spring and summer...ever! Please come hang out with us at these upcoming events:

Art Show at Trophy Cupcakes: Featuring over 50 paintings of Cuppie the cupcake all around Seattle! Artist reception Wednesday, May 6, 6-8 p.m.; show up all month! For more information visit trophycupcakes.com.

Cuppie loves Schmancy

Art Show at Schmancy: Featuring about 30 new CakeSpy painting featuring cupcakes in the cutest situations imaginable! Artist reception Friday, May 8, 6-9 p.m.; show up all month! For more information visit schmancytoys.com.
Crafty Wonderland: CakeSpy Takes Portland on Mother's Day at Portland's premier craft fair! Come buy last minute artwork for mom on May 10, from 11 a.m - 4 p.m. at the Doug Fir Lounge; for more information, visit craftywonderland.com.

Renegade Craft Fair, Brooklyn: CakeSpy is going to be sweeting it up in the Big Apple at the legendary Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn's McCarren Park! It will be going on June 6+7; for more information, visit renegadecraft.com.

 

Sunday
May032009

Cakewalk: Sweet Excursions East of Seattle

Chocolate Peanut butter bar, Hoffman's Fine Pastries, Kirkland
We must cop to a bit of urban snobbery--a common saying aroun CakeSpy headquarters is "bad things happen when you leave the city". However, we humbly admit that we were proven wrong when a couple of us recently took a trek outside of the city to try some of the bakeries on the Eastside of Seattle--that series of towns and cities known for their malls and tech companies. Here's a batch of sweets worth leaving the city for:


Belle Pastry: Upon walking in, the first thing we noticed was the case of baked goods: gorgeous trays of croissants, pastries, cookies and cakes, all bathed in flattering light. The second thing we noticed was the clientele--there were actually French people in the bakery--at least three separate groups that we noticed were parlez-ing francais, and we're pretty sure they weren't just language groups. This is a good sign. The croissant was pretty standout; next time though, we're going for one of the decadent-looking cakes. You know we don't like to play favorites, but we've got to admit we liked this location far better than their newer second location in Ballard. Mon.-Fri. 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.; Sat. and Sun., 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. 10246 Main Street, Bellevue (425) 289-0015; online at bellepastry.com.

 

Napoleon from The French Bakery, Kirkland
The French Bakery: This place gets a bit of a mixed review. One taster's pain au chocolat was overdone; however, the rich, flaky Napoleon was extremely satisfying and simply oozed cream when bitten into--heaven. So we're willing to admit maybe the croissant thing was a fluke; online reviews, too, seem to be consistently positive. 219 Kirkland Ave., Kirkland (425) 898-4510; online at thefrenchbakery.net.

John Hail (Jan Hagel) from Hillcrest Bakery
Hillcrest Bakery: This bakery is a treasure and well worth the trip to Bothell. It has a nordic bent--look no further for Rosettes, Jan Hagel cookies, and speculaas; however, they've also got a bunch of other goodies, ranging from cupcakes, cookies and scones to even, unexpectedly but deliciously, cannoli. Mon. - Fri., 6 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Sat. 6 a.m. - 5 p.m.; closed Sundays. 10010 Main Street, Mothell (425) 486-5292; online at hillcrestbakery.com.

Orange shortbread, Hoffman's Fine Pastries, Kirkland
Hoffman's Fine Pastries: Amidst the chains in this suburban shopping center, this place is a little oasis of sweetness. The shelves are alluringly stacked with all sorts of baked goods, from confections to cookies to serious cakes; everything we tried (peanut butter bar--pictured top, orange shortbread cookie, princess cake, fudge brownie) was excellent. 226 Park Plaza Center, Kirkland (425) 828-0926; online at hoffmansfinepastries.com.

Chocolate oat bar, Honey Bear Bakery
Honey Bear Bakery: We'd been curious about this place since Brooks Coulson Nguyen had told us it was one of her old favorites, and finally we got a chance to test it out. This is a homey bakery, with plenty of hearty baked goods which seem perfectly suited for rainy days--rich cakes, dense cookies and bars. The chocolate oat bar was a perfect breakfast treat. Located in Third Place Books; online at honeybearbakery.com.

Cake from Starry Nights Catering, Kirkland
Starry Nights Catering: Though they're not a retail storefront, their cakes are good enough to mention again. Online at starrynightscatering.com.

Cupcakes from Sweet Cakes, Kirkland
Sweet Cakes: This sweet little shop has been open for under six months, but it already seems to have a following--during our visit, it we encountered what seemed like a line of regulars. The shop is cupcake heavy, but doesn't subsist solely on the mini cakes; they also have a respectable selection of bars, cookies and whole cakes. We picked up a selection of mini cupcakes; the cake was perfectly respectable, but it was the frosting--rich, buttery, creamy--that really stood out. Tues. - Sat. 9:30 - 8 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.; closed Monday. 128 Park Lane, Kirkland (425) 821-6565; online at sweetcakeskirkland.com.

As a side note, we haven't had time to hit up New York Cupcakes (warning--website has music) since it has gone under new ownership, but have heard good things about their new recipes. Thoughts?

 

Wednesday
Apr292009

CakeSpy Undercover: How To Elope to Las Vegas and Still Have Wedding Cake

Cake from Freeds in Las Vegas, C/O Not Martha
When our friend Megan (who you may know from her ultra-awesome website, Not Martha) recently decided to run away and get married to her boyfriend of 10+ years, we applauded the decision, but with one major reservation: What about the cake? Well, luckily Megan was on the case, and found out some of the secrets of how to have your cake and eat it too while eloping--because no matter how small the wedding, there should always be cake. Here's the report:

Freeds in Las Vegas, C/O Not MarthaCakes from Freeds in Las Vegas, C/O Not Martha
We ran off to get married in Vegas and I was afraid we were going to miss out on the cake part of the day until somebody tipped me off to the existence of Freed's Bakery. They made wedding cakes, cupcakes, cookies, Italian pastries and, much to my delight, sell individual slices of wedding-y cake. There are two locations and I was so distracted by our crazy taxi driver that I cannot remember which one we ended up at. We got our slices of cake to go while our taxi driver was nice enough to wait for us and the bakery included plates, forks and napkins for us. I can highly recommend getting the cake to go and finding a romantic spot to eat it. We had dinner plans later so we ate our cake at the Bellagio at a comfy little table in a hallway which overlooked the pool.
Cake from Freeds in Las Vegas, C/O Not Martha
There were a few flavors of cake slices to choose from including carrot cake and a chocolate cake but we ended up two slices of vanilla cake with strawberries, one with buttercream frosting and the other with whipped cream frosting. Both were delicious, and I think this is the best buttercream I have tasted so far. I'm not usually a fan of buttercream as I find it alternately too sweet or gritty or slimy, but this was fantastic. It was whipped light and had a nice balance of butter and sweetness.
Eclair from Jean Phillipe in Las Vegas, C/O Not Martha
We ate our cake near the Jean-Philippe pastry shop in the Bellagio which is amazing. There is a floor to ceiling chocolate fountain that has dark, milk and white chocolate cascading down from pool to pool. (Sadly, it's behind some clear plastic walls so you cannot sneak a taste.) We returned later in the week to try something from Jean-Philippe and split an incredible vanilla and hazelnut eclaire. The plastic utensils at Jean-Philippe had a reflective silver finish which was a lovely touch.


Custom item for a friend
Congratulations again to Megan and Scott!

 

Wednesday
Apr292009

Taking it to the Sweet: A Renegade Cake Party in Seattle

Renegade Cake Party!
At CakeSpy, the only thing that rivals the sweetness of the treats we eat is the awesome people we get to meet--bakers, artists, and sugar enthuiasts of all sorts. And I can say that without a doubt, one of the coolest people I've met in recent memory is Tuey. She contacted us a while back after reading about the Cupcake Street Art project--as it turns out, she's been making the world sweeter slowly but surely with monthly cake parties, mostly in Portland, at which she makes a cake and shares it with friends in the park--new friends and good times always ensued.

So when she asked if we'd be interesting in having a cake party here in Seattle, the answer was swift and decisive: YES.
Cake MakingCake
And so she came up from Portland, and the CakeSpy kitchen was employed to make a plethora of goodies. First on the roster was carrot cake--there were two--in which various goodies were hidden (including a mini Cuppie figurine!), and then we decorated them to look like mountains of sweetness, garnished with little figurines from Archie McPhee.


Hidden in the Cake!Cake!

 

Next came several batches of quite possibly the best brownies known to man, using the recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.
Brownies!

And then they were made even more awesome by the addition of rosemary whipped cream.
Brownies with Rosemary Whipped Cream

With all of this sweetness in tow, we headed over to Cal Anderson Park on a perfectly sunny Sunday.

And we brought Danny's band, Exohxo, with us--because what party would be complete without music?
Cake Party

As the band began to play, people began to drift over--and from then on, we just let the good times flow. Much cake was consumed, many lucky people received free CakeSpy buttons, and we made a lot of sweet new friends.


Cake Party!Cake Party!
At one point a police officer began to walk over as if to stop the band--but as we have been told by many eyewitnesses, as soon as he began to approach it seemed as if he had thought better of it--after all, we weren't hurting anyone.
Cake!Cake

 

At the end of the day, after taking Tuey back to the train for her journey home, we were all exhausted, but happily so: after all, we had all spent the day making the world a much sweeter place.


Renegade Cake Party

 

If you're interested, someone posted videos of the band playing too! Check 'em out here!

Tuesday
Apr282009

Some Like it Hot: Cupcake Royale Debuts the Chocolate Scorcher Cupcake

Chocolate Scorcher (Photo used with permission from Cupcake Royale)
It's not summer yet, but Cupcake Royale is bringing on the heat with their new flavor of the month for May: the Chocolate Scorcher. Direct from the source, here's the lowdown:

Fiery ghost chiles. Theo chocolate. Fragrant spices. Dark chocolate cake. Rich cream cheese.

These tantalizing ingredients combine to form our newest Cupcake of the Month in all it's magnificent, spicy glory. We're thrilled to partner with our local pals Theo Chocolate to bring you a taste of the world's hottest chile, the Ghost chile. Found primarily in the Assam region of India, we're bringing it to you in combination with warm Indian spices, chocolate cream cheese frosting, and our dark chocolate cake Royale.

The Chocolate Scorcher will be available for the entire month of May at all three locations; for more information, visit cupcakeroyale.com.

 

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