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Thursday
Dec102009

Lovin in the Oven: Almond Tea Cake Recipe

Almond Tea Cake
So, a few weeks ago I received this package in the mail with a bunch of recipes from Love N Bake, a company which makes fancy pastry fillings (almond paste, praline filling, chocolate filling, etc). "Whatever" I thought.

And then two days later, a big ol' box of said fillings arrived in the mail. Sweet! I was excited not only because they were free (cheapskate!), but because each flavor had recipes on the label (don't you just love back of the box recipes?). So I set to trying out the recipe on their almond paste package, for Almond Tea Cake. Don't let its unassuming appearance deceive you--this cake is heavenly. Simultaneously light and buttery all at once, it's got an amazingly luxuriant feeling in the mouth, and is equally as delicious as a breakfast treat, teatime companion or (with whipped cream) a respectable dinner dessert.

Almond Tea Cake

  • 1/2 cup almond paste (I used Love N Bake's...but you probably guessed that)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Optional: 1/2 cup white chocolate, cut into coarse pieces (I scattered them on top just before baking--yum)
Procedure

Beat the almond paste with the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add ther butter and beat until fluffy. eat in the eggs. Stir well and then fold in the baking powder, flour and vanilla.
Spread the batter into a greased 8-inch cake pan. If you'd like to add the white chocolate, add it now, scattering it evenly over the surface of the cake (it's ok if some sinks). Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack, and unmold. If desired, dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Thursday
Dec102009

Holiday Beer Cheer: Beer Honey Torte With Banana and Rum Flambe Recipe

Honey torte w/ banana and rum flambe
In case you didn't know it, there's a website out there called BitterSweet Partnership--and it is dedicated to "unleashing women's love for beer". I know, who knew, right?
But I was instantly intrigued when they emailed me a rather delicious-looking dessert recipe (developed with UK chef Allegra McEvedy) which includes, of all things, an unlikely pairing of beer, bananas, honey and rum: a recipe for a Honey Torte with Banana and Rum Flambe. Now that sounded good enough to share! While I haven't tried the recipe yet, I thought it was fascinating enough to post. Feeling brave? Here's how you can make it:

Beewyched Christmas Honey Torte With Banana & Rum Flambé
Part of the Bittersweet Christmas Beery Menu

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle beewyched beer
  • 400g stoned dates – the stickier the better
  • 1 tsp bicarb
  • 50g sultanas
  • 150g butter, unsalted and at room temp
  • 2 eggs
  • 180g ground almonds
  • 100g plain flour
  • 30g soft dark brown sugar
  • half a tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp honey
Topping ingredients
  • 2 to 3 bananas
  • a handful of flaked almonds
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tablespoons soft dark brown sugar
  • 80ml rum
  • 1 tub vanilla ice cream
Procedure
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160ºC. Simmer the dates and sultanas in the beer, stirring occasionally for 15 mins until like a very thick compote.
  2. Either vigorously by hand or with an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter, then add the eggs one by one.
  3. Sift the flour with the bicarb and then fold into the mix, along with the honey, ground almonds and vanilla extract.
  4. Once the compote has reached a suitably dolloping consistency, spread it out thinly on a large plate/baking tray to cool down.
  5. Use a knob of butter to grease the inside of a springform cake tin about 20cm across by 6cm deep. Then toss in a small handful of plain flour and coat the inside lightly in it, knocking out the excess into the mix.
  6. When the date compote has stopped steaming, fold it into the mix and then tip everything into the cake tin.
  7. Cook for 1hr 10mins, then leave to sit for 10mins before lifting out onto a serving plate (ideally your torte will still be warm-ish when you are ready to serve)
  8. When it comes to the bananas, get a heavy-based frying pan onto a medium/high heat and melt the butter in it so that it starts to fizzle. Cut the bananas into oblique 2cm thick chunks and fry them and the flaked almonds for just a couple of minutes until the ’nanas begin to soften and get a slight colour.
  9. Sprinkle on the soft brown sugar and swirl and toss until all the sugar has melted in the butter and the bananas are coated. Spoon these on top of the torte then take the cake to the table and turn off the lights!
  10. In your smallest saucepan gently heat the rum until it’s steaming and just about to start simmering, then quickly pour the hot rum all over your cake and spark it up with a match. Voila!

Thursday
Dec102009

Magic in the Middle: The Sandwich Cookie Pan by Williams-Sonoma

I want this cake pan!
O.M.G. alert. Really, this awesomeness doesn't really need more than an introduction. Say hello to the Sandwich Cookie Cake Pan by Williams-Sonoma.

Here's what they have to say about it:

Sandwich cookies are a childhood favorite one never outgrows. Our pair of baking pans captures this nostalgic treat as a luscious cake. Enjoy the classic pairing of chocolate and vanilla cream or try a more sophisticated combination such as espresso-fudge cake with cappuccino cream filling. The set includes two nonstick baking pans that turn out cakes embossed with "cookie." The cast aluminum pans spread heat evenly for uniform baking. Our exclusive ceramic-reinforced Goldtouch™ coating ensures easy release and cleanup. Hand wash. 9" diam. Set of two pans. A Williams-Sonoma exclusive.

Buy it--now!--at williams-sonoma.com. P.S. If you already knew about this pan, why didn't you tell me about it?

Wednesday
Dec092009

Batter Chatter: Interview with Brittany Blanchard of Brintinis, Portland OR

Delicious Pairing C/O Brintinis
Have you ever wondered about how dentists (and their employees) feel about cupcakes? Well, they love them--and there's proof, as proven by Brittany Blanchard, who works for a dentist by day and is the proprietress of Portland-based custom cupcake business Brintini's by night. Want to find out more? Here's the interview:

CakeSpy: Tell me more. What made you decide to start a custom cupcake business?
Brittany Blanchard: I decided to start a custom cupcake business because I have always really loved cooking but I especially love baking and I have the most ridiculous sweet tooth of anyone I know. Really it's just an excuse to eat delicious dessert every single day.
Snickerdoodle C/O Brintinis
CS: Are you interested in opening a retail shop at some point, or do you intend on focusing on the custom orders?
BB: I would eventually like to open a shop in Portland but for now I will focus on custom orders. I will also be slinging cupcakes in local farmers markets after the new year.

CS: Rumor has it you work in the dental industry as well as making cupcakes. Would you consider your cupcake-self your Peter Parker/Spiderman style alter ego?
BB: I do work in the dental industry! You know, I get similar questions all the time.I was recently asked if I had a contract with the dentist I work for to bring in my clients with cavities. It does seem funny that someone promoting good oral care would be promoting sugary treats as well but what can I say, it's job security. Just Kidding! I think its okay to enjoy a treat from time to time(or in my case all the time), if you take good care of your mouth.
Peppermint C/O Brintinis

CS: ...you mention that dentists buy your cupcakes. What flavor do dentists go for when they go to the dark (sugary) side?
BB: The dentist I work for has ordered the Snickerdoodle and Red Velvet. He actually bribed me for the Snickerdoodle and Buttercream recipes because his son loved them. He is so cute, he can't say cupcake so he calls them Pupcakes. His son I mean. He calls me the Pupcake girl! I also recently made an order of Gingerbread Cupcakes for a local dentist. Apparently dentists can have a sweet tooth too.

Landslide of delicious, C/O Brintinis
CS: While you offer the typical flavors, you also have some seasonal/specialty ones (Plum spice, etc!). How do you decide on new flavors?
BB: I get inspired to create new flavors by other desserts that are delicious, for example: I have cupcakes inspired by Rocky Road Ice Cream and Snickerdoodle Cookies. I also like to get ideas from family and friends on what flavors to experiment with, so I have a huge list of different flavors to try out!

CS: If you had to replace one meal with a cupcake every day for the rest of your life, which flavor would it be?
BB: If I had to replace a meal with a cupcake for the rest of my life it would be the Vanilla Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting. Believe it or not, my favorite flavor is vanilla! Other flavors I love to have in moderation but if I had to eat the same flavor daily it would definitely be vanilla.

CS: What are some of your favorites from your current menu?
BB: My favorite flavor to eat off my current menu is the vanilla velvet, but I have some new experiments involving vanilla that may soon be on the menu so we shall see how long that lasts. My favorite flavor to make though is the Red Velvet. I think Red Velvet cake is so pretty that I am always excited to bake it!
Gingerbread Cupcake C/O Brintinis
CS: What's next for Brintini's?
BB: What's next? Hmmm...I guess Farmers Market will be Brintini's next destination and hopefully maybe a cute little cupcake shop following that.

For more sweetness, visit brintinis.com.

Wednesday
Dec092009

Gingerbread Mad Men: A Recipe for Serious Eats

Gingerbread Mad Men - Don Draper
They say you have to learn the rules before you break them. But is it ever possible to break them just a little bit while you learn them? Case in point: gingerbread men.
Gingerbread Mad Men - Joan
I haven't made enough of them to feel comfortable messing with the classic recipe but wanted to have a little fun with this batch nonetheless. The solution? Using a classic recipe—in this case, from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book—but decorating them as Gingerbread Mad Men, inspired by the characters in the AMC series.
Gingerbread Mad Men - Betty Draper
Note: I am pretty much obsessed with Mad Men (I blame my friend Julie). I only discovered it about a month ago and actually am not caught up to the end of Season 3 yet, so please, no spoilers!
Cuppie Loves Mad Men!
You can check out the full entry -- plus the recipe I used -- on Serious Eats!

Wednesday
Dec092009

Cake Byte: CakeSpy at Crafty Wonderland in Portland December 13

Cuppie Loves Voodoo Donut, Portland OR
Oh, hi Portland. Now, I know you already love sweet stuff: after all, you are the home of such amazing bakeries as Saint Cupcake, Ken's Artisan Bakery, Crema, Voodoo Donuts, Honore, and Pearl Bakery--just to name a few.

But this weekend, a veritable storm of sweetness is going to descend on your fair city from up north--yup, CakeSpy is coming to town!

Mr. Spy and myself will be showing at Crafty Wonderland's Super Colossal Holiday Sale this Sunday, December 13!

Here are the details:

Super Colossal Holiday Sale!
December 13th from 11am-7pm
at the Oregon Convention Center
777 NE MLK Jr. Blvd, Exhibit Hall D
All Ages * Free Admission * Goodie Bags for the first 200 people!

For more information and directions, visit craftywonderland.com !

Hope to see you there! Oh, and any Portland bakery suggestions are welcome, too!

Wednesday
Dec092009

Sweet December: The Holiday Cupcake Roster at Trophy Cupcakes

Bourbon. Eggnog.
Not that you need a reason to go to Trophy Cupcakes this month, but you know what? Here are four reasons. You know what that means? No excuses.

#1: CakeSpy Art Show. Buy original artwork all December long at the Wallingford location of Trophy Cupcakes! The paintings are selling like hotcakes so be sure to go soon for a sweet holiday gift for your sweetie!

#2: Bourbon Eggnog Cupcakes: One of the December flavors which seems to sell out every day. This bodes well.

#3: Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes: Another of the December flavors, comprised of rich chocolate cake and a gorgeously buttery-pepperminty buttercream, all topped with crushed candy canes for the perfect balance of decadent, sweet, and crunchy.

#4: Gingerbread Cupcakes: The final of the three December flavors, this spicy gingerbread cupcake is perfectly balanced by a slightly tangy, bright orange zest buttercream.

Bonus reason: The Candied Yam Cupcake! This Thanksgiving has proven so popular that Trophy is offering it Wednesdays and Fridays all December long.

You know what this all means: get yourself to Trophy Cupcakes! For locations and more information, visit trophycupcakes.com.

Tuesday
Dec082009

Rocky Romance: Rocky Ledge Bars Recipe

Delicious Rocky Ledge Bars

@mseling (yes, I just referred to her by Twitter name) is a person I admire on many levels. She's an amazing writer; she's a fixture in the Seattle music scene; and--most importantly--she bakes a mean cookie. And at my recent cookie exchange party, she brought it--literally--with two amazing batches of delicious treats. Here's the first recipe of the two, which is a bar cookie, adapted from Martha Stewart's "Rocky Ledge Bar" recipe. Let me tell you, these bars--which are weighty little morsels, chock full of marshmallows, rich, buttery and caramel-y topping, and of course, chocolate--are serious business, but seriously delicious. Some might say they're too much, but I say they're just enough.

Rocky Ledge Bars
-makes 16 bars -
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Note: if you are in a crunch, you could make these using a brownie or blondie box mix--simply use the mix as specified on the box, omit the ingredients used for the cake base, and skip to step 3.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark-brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 18 soft caramel-candy cubes, coarsely chopped

    Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line with parchment paper, allowing a 2-inch overhang on the longer sides. Brush parchment with butter (not overhang).
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; mix until well combined. Mix in flour mixture until combined. Fold in half of each of the marshmallows, chocolates, butterscotch chips, and caramels.
  3. Spread batter in prepared pan. Scatter remaining marshmallows, chocolates, butterscotch chips, and caramels on top. Bake until top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Lift out of pan, and transfer to a baking sheet. Refrigerate until set, at least 30 minutes.
  4. Remove parchment, and cut into about 16 triangles. Bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

Tuesday
Dec082009

Cake Byte: Jane and Michael Stern in Seattle in January!

Milk and Cookie in Seattle
Jane and Michael Stern talk a lot about foods like hot dogs, mac and cheese, burgers, and savory things.

But from time to time, they also break out an exquisite gem of a sweet find--which are reported on their site, roadfood.com. And generally the sweets they love are of the intensely decadent, no holds barred variety (yesss!).

And now they're coming to Seattle!

They will be speaking on January 12, 7:30 pm at Benaroya Hall, Seattle; Tickets are $25-50, $10 for students/under 25; available at lectures.org or at 206.621.2230. There will also be a community dinner the evening before (it's pricey, but hey, if you're a super fan, why not?); for more info, click here.

Monday
Dec072009

Cake Poll: Sweets In Movies, and a Sweet Giveaway!

Sweet Giveaway
Are you ready for some Christmas magic? Heck yes! With that in mind, how 'bout another giveaway?

This time, it's a totally sweet prize pack brought to you by the movie It's Complicated, featuring Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, which was directed by Nancy Meyers and will be in theatres on December 25. Why this movie? Well, because as you know I am fascinated with dessert in movies, and this one features the inimitable Meryl as a baker!

Here's what you can win:

Prize 1: “Uncomplicate Your Holidays with a Visa Cash Card!” -- one winner will receive a $50 Visa Gift Card, and an It’s Complicated tote bag filled with an apron, t-shirt, blanket and the official soundtrack!

Prize 2: Five additional *daily* winners will receive an It’s Complicated Tote Bag filled with an Apron & T-shirt!

These sound like some sweet prizes for movie enthusiasts!

How do you enter?

It's easy: just leave a comment below saying what your favorite food-in-movie scene is! And since I'm feeling generous, feel free to post your favorite sweet or savory food moment in movies!

The giveaway will run for two weeks! In the meantime, check out the trailer below--you can also find out more about the movie on the official website or on Facebook!

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