Easter may be over, but even if you've already devoured the last Cadbury Creme Egg, there’s no need to stomp on daffodils or snatch at flavorless jellybeans in a fit. Instead, hop along to the next sweet fix with our Carrot Cake Tour of Seattle, provided by our newest Cake Gumshoe, Seattle-based Kitty Cake. She bravely sampled, reported on, and (very skillfully!) photographed some of the best spots for Carrot Cake in the city. Here are her findings and thoughts:
CUPCAKE ROYALE Carrot Cupcake – This retro-cool cupcake clearly likes to party--and it’s easy to get the party started when wearing sweet cream cheese frosting, sugary sprinkles, and a hint of cinnamon.
DECADENCE CUSTOM CAKES Classic Carrot Cake – Owner/Pastry Chef, Dan Mikosz doesn’t diss the common man. Sure, Dan’s love of quality ingredients and all things pretty has him in high demand by boutique hotels, lavish weddings, and special events; but he does not ignore the call of the wild cake child. Plan ahead at least 48 hours, and a moist-moist, poached-pear party, carrot abundant cake, topped with just-sweet-enough, creamy-creamy frosting and the most charming marzipan carrots you will ever meet, can be yours.
Ingredient notes: No raisins. Yes walnuts. Pear.
HIROKI Carrot Cake with Coconut & Pineapple – We called to verify some of the ingredients in this treat, but the only thing the guy on the other end would reveal was that the raisins are specialty raisins and not available to the average consumer. Gee, thanks. Discover for yourself what’s in this super-secret recipe, which includes not-too-sweet, smooth coconut-covered cream cheese frosting, specialty raisins, fat shreds of carrot, chopped walnuts, and a subtle touch of pineapple – a super moist mystery.
Ingredient notes: Yes raisins. Yes walnuts. Pineapple and coconut.
MACRINA BAKERY Old Fashioned Carrot Cake – Not afraid of confrontation, this venerable cake looks you straight in the eye and demands that you eat your vegetables (well, at least one). Toasted walnuts, tangy citrus cream cheese butter cream, and plenty of fresh carrots make us want to ask for more.
Ingredient notes: No raisins. Yes walnuts.
Availability / where to buy: Available frequently; call ahead to confirm. Various locations; online at macrinabakery.com.
METROPOLITAN MARKET 4-inch Orange Almond Carrot Cake – You must be a fan of orange extract to enjoy this little treasure, as the sweet and creamy frosting is fragrant with orange, which is sold at Metropolitan Market but is baked by Montlake Mousse. The toasted almonds help cut the sweetness, making for a cake that we’re not certain we want to share.
Ingredient notes: No raisins. Yes almonds.
Ingredient Specifics: “Carrots, sugar, canola oil, cake flour, eggs, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, pure vanilla extract. Frosting: powdered sugar, cream cheese, unsalted butter, orange extract, almond extract, shaved almonds.”
THE ESSENTIAL BAKING COMPANY Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwich – The sandwich may look ladylike, but our dear Spy was anything but dainty trying to keep this happily-spiced and well-carroted cookie sandwich intact (thanks to the firmness of the not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting center) as it was gobbled up in the driver’s seat of the car (looked too good to wait).
Ingredient notes: No raisins. No nuts.
Ingredient Specifics: Wheat four, carrots, butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract, baking soda, cream cheese frosting (cream cheese, powdered sugar, sour cream, vanilla extract).
TROPHY CUPCAKES Old Fashioned Carrot Walnut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting – A parade of deliciousness that rivals any Easter candy leftovers. Cinnamon, nutmeg, golden raisins, and slightly tangy cream cheese frosting get this carrot cupcake a standing ovation.
Ingredient Notes: Yes raisins. Yes walnuts.
Availability / where to buy: Available Tues., Thurs., and Sat. at Trophy Cupcakes, 1815 N. 45th Street, Suite 209; online at trophycupcakes.com (new location coming soon too!).
- As for the important question of whether or not buying in bulk can be a beautiful thing, Kat votes YES when it comes to Costco's (4401 4th Ave. South) surprisingly delicious carrot cake, which serves 48 and is satisfyingly moist, filled with apricot mousse and topped generously with rich cream cheese frosting.
FLYING APRON BAKERY Carrot Muffin – Sitting smart in the Fremont Public Library, this carrot muffin knows what’s good for you. Like bunnies, these giant juicy raisins seem to multiply with each bite. Nuts and coconut add a great crunch/chew factor to a very moist muffin. Who knew being this good could feel so… well, good?
Ingredient notes: It’s the Big O! Organic, that is. Yes raisins. Yes walnuts. Coconut.
Ingredient Specifics: “fruit juice sweetened, organic brown rice flour, organic garbanzo bean flour, certified gluten free oats, organic coconut, organic walnuts, organic raisins, filtered water, concentrated pear, peach and pineapple juice, organic canola oil, pure vanilla extract, baking soda and sea salt”
Availability / where to buy: Available daily at Flying Apron Bakery, 3510 Fremont Ave N; online at flyingapron.net.
LOUISA’S BAKERY AND CAFÉ Morning Glory Muffin - Good morning, Morning Glory! Louisa’s Bakery helps out Caffe Vita on occasion, so look for these delicious muffins when picking up your coffee.
Ingredient Notes: No raisins. Yes walnuts. Currants and pineapple.
Availability / where to buy: Available daily at Louisa's Bakery + Cafe, 2379 Eastlake Ave. E.; 206-325-0081.
MACRINA BAKERY Morning Glory Muffin - Crazy moist and good for you.
Ingredient notes: Yes raisins. Yes walnuts. Apple, pineapple, coconut.
Availability / where to buy: Available daily. Various locations; online at macrinabakery.com.
(Final Disclaimer: Secure your carrot cake by calling ahead to ensure that it exists [not in the existential kind of way, as this will leave you hungry, though perhaps philosophically satisfied.] Bakers sometimes enjoy playing with our emotions and don’t necessarily keep set daily menu selections.)
Of course, this is just a few of the fine establishments in the Emerald City offering our favorite orange-hued treat-- you have a favorite that is not listed above, please submit it and--please--share the details of its goodness.
the best thing about cake is that anyone can make one. You can be a super baker and do it all from scratch, or just grab a boxed mix at the store. Cake is universal, it usually means a celebrating is going on, but the best part is there doesn't need to be a good reason to have cake. You want it... get it and enjoy it!
Sounds like a good idea to us! Til the next cake poll--stay sweet!
This week's theme for Illustration Friday is Fleeting, and this painting of Cuppies strolling alongside a sweet sunset against a city skyline seemed like an apt interpretation--a perfect reminder that while some things can be fleeting--say, a lovely sunset or the taste of cake--the sweet memories will remain.
The poll will be closed on Monday at 12 p.m. PST, and the winner will be announced shortly thereafter. If you're interested in purchasing the book, click here. Oh, and in case you were interested, the cupcake shown is a Chai Cardamom cupcake from Seattle's Trophy Cupcakes!
The idea of a baker's life has always been quietly romantic to me: waking up before dawn, firing up the ovens, and living some sort of secret life that goes on while most of us are still sleeping. As an avid sweet-seeker it's always a strange yet compelling thought to me that by the time I go in to a bakery in the morning, there have already been hours invested in stocking the case from which I am choosing between scones, biscuits and cakes.
3:47 a.m. The alarm goes off. I had set it for 3.47 because it seemed slightly less cruel than 3.45. I turn it off and promptly fall back asleep.
3:49 a.m. The backup alarm I'd set, in case I went back to sleep, goes off. I get up and shower, pin back my hair and put on my apron.
4.15 a.m. I drive over to Grand Central's Eastlake location. It's raining, and there are few other cars on the road. Along the way, I see a couple walking into an apartment building, wearing last night's clothes. It's strange to witness this unique pocket of time where late and early overlap.
4:30 a.m. I arrive right on time, and Dan's already there. He rode his bike, bless his soul. He makes me a latte (double bless his soul!) and shows me around. I ask if it is nerdy that I brought my own apron; he casually pulls out his chef hat. Clearly, I am in good company.
4:50 a.m. We get to work. Now, here's where things get tricky. You see, Grand Central offers a variety of different types of baked goods, which require various attentions and prepping. Some things, like the biscuits and scones, are mixed and made directly before baking; some items have been handmade in advance and come from the freezer to be baked; yet other items, like the cinnamon rolls, will have been left in the "proofer" so that the dough can develop to a perfect, ready-to-bake consistency. Is your brain full yet? Mine was.
A most sincere thanks to Dan and the rest of the lovely staff at Grand Central Baking Company for letting me have a peek of what goes on behind the scenes at their bakery! For locations and more, please visit grandcentralbakery.com.
Like, totally sweet! It's time for a new batch of rubber stamps created by our own Head Spy Jessie in collaboration with Taylored Expressions! The newest set has a shopping theme, with all sorts of cute Cuppie around town images!
- Unlikely Words has compiled a comprehensive and fascinating study on Marshmallow Peeps and their place in culture. Read it now!
- Here today, Goo Tomorrow: Even Cadbury is in on the action, hosting contests and providing bulletin boards for users to enter Creme Egg murders and discuss the lure of the most incredible edible egg.
- If baking with Easter candy is your bag (or basket, as it were), be sure to check out Baking Bites (there is a side bar with easter ideas on the right hand side of the site) for plenty of creative and delicious-sounding recipes.
- Last year, we messed with Easter candy in a variety of fun ways: check out our ideas for how to use your leftover easter candy, and our interview with a Cadbury Creme Egg.
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 3 cups sifted cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- cupcake liners
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixer with a whip attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to cream. Gradually add the vanilla and eggs and mix in well. Sift together the dry ingredients; then mix into the butter mixture alternating with the milk. Pour batter into cupcake paper-lined muffin tins filling them 3/4 full. Bake until puffed and firm in the center and light golden brown on top, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool. (Freeze at this point, if necessary.)
Cotton Candy Buttercream Frosting (adapted from this recipe)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 6 to 8 cups Confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 cup Milk
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
- 1 handful cotton candy (we used this prepackaged kind), broken into small pieces, plus another handful for garnish
- Place the butter in a large mixing bowl.
- Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla.
- On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar.
- Add a few drops of red food coloring and mix thoroughly til it's a desired shade of pink.
- Stir in the small pieces of cotton candy, stirring until incorporated. It may melt a little bit into the frosting; this is ok.
- Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.
- Optional topping: tear off chunks of cotton candy and use as garnish; do this last step immediately before serving, because it will wilt if left out.
In recent years, cupcakes have gone from being simply small cakes to flat-out cultural phenomenon. It seems that a new cupcake shop is opening just about every hour on the hour, and the obsession has spawned not only bakeries but a number of businesses which cater to the cupcake lover (including, um, this website). One natural progression is cupcake accessories--such as the sweet, textile-inspired cupcake wrappers made by local startup Bella Cupcake Couture. We recently got a chance to talk cake with proprietress Carrie Middlemiss--let's learn a bit more about her business and thoughts on the compelling little cakes and their place in culture, shall we?
CakeSpy: Let's start with the basics. Who are you and what is your company / product?
Carrie Middlemiss: I am the owner of Bella Cupcake Couture. We make textile-inspired cupcake wrappers printed with soy inks on recycled paper. Our theme is “Have your cupcake and adore it too.™” Each wrapper has boutique-style design to add a touch of sophistication and elegance to your cupcake for any special occasion; weddings, bridal and baby showers, birthdays, holidays and just because.
CS: What initially attracted you to the cupcake community?
CM: Originally I didn’t realize what an enormous community there was for cupcakes. I had just always loved baking and hadn’t done a lot of internet surfing about it. However, in 2008 when I was inspired at a small business seminar (CRAVEbusiness) I knew online research was important. I became seriously addicted to reading about cupcakes day and night. I came across tons of websites and blogs all dedicated to cupcakes. I read about cupcake tastings, cupcake meet ups, cupcake shops and thought “what a neat group of people!”.
On my next vacation to our friends in Austin I read on Cupcakes Take the Cake blog that a new cupcake shop was opening, so I started to plan my own cupcake tasting tour there. It was soooo much fun! As I went around I also asked each owner what innovation would they like to see invented for the cupcake community. It was all very enlightening.
CS: When we first crossed paths last year, you were thinking about starting a business that had to do with cupcakes, and now here you are with a product and webstore! Can you tell us a bit about how you went from "what should I do" to "I'm gonna do it"?
CM: Yes, back in August I was trying to determine what the product should be. I had a couple strong ideas and the importance to me was it needed to be unique, innovative and a stylish decoration for cupcakes. I wanted it to be something a home baker, cupcake shop owner, bride or mother-to-be or an event planner would find easy and chic enough to use for extra special events.
A month later, my company (a large bank in Washington state) I worked for since high school was bought by another bank. It was a very difficult time for so many of us. Many of us were unsure if we would have jobs and what would come next.
For me, I saw this as the ultimate motivation to get my business started. So I quickly put together strategies for next steps, continued researching day and night and reached out to several in the cupcake community and other women-owned business leaders for advice. I moved as fast as I could on my ideas. Now I have my business up and running as well and I’m loving it!
CS: You're transitioning to the role of small business owner from a role as an employee in a large corporation. What are some of the up and down-sides to this transition?
CM: Since I’m still working for the bank, I know some of my answers may be different in a few months.
• Creative free-reign
• Ability to incorporate all my passions and strengths into one role.
• Although I work for a large corporation, I work out a relatively small office. So I don’t feel that change will be much of a shift for me; except a darling dog (Baxter, our 4 yr old Yorkie-Maltese) will be allowed in the office.
• The not knowing of how successful the product will be.
• The long hours which come with running your own business. However when you love doing something you are passionate about, how can you call that work?
CS: What made you decide to settle on cupcake wrappers as your first product?
CM: Many who know me, know I LOVE to think outside the box and come up with new ideas. When tossing around cupcake product ideas, I kept coming back to developing something for that would provide more of a chic look than the cupcake liners they were baked in. Every time I would look at photos of cupcakes, I always envisioned beautiful boutique-style designs around them.
CS: How do people typically use the cupcake wrappers? As a decorative touch for party cupcakes? For presenting them at bakeries? Etc?
CM: A decorative touch for all occasions and to accentuate the décor theme of celebrations. They create a great presentation for a dessert table, cupcake stand or simply as a delicate little favor in a box tied up with a pretty bow. It’s also a great hostess gift for a housewarming; include a favorite cupcake recipe, sanding sugars, sprinkles and these special cupcake wrappers. They are fun, easy and fashionable.
CS: Do you have plans to add other cupcake or baked good accessories to your offerings?
CM: I will be selling 3” x 3” clear boxes to provide a nice presentation of the wrapped cupcakes, new colored cupcake liners for baking in and always keeping ideas open to continue to grow the product line.
CS: In the Seattle area, we've got a wealth of awesome cupcake shops. Which one--and what flavor--do you favor?
CM: Oh this is a very tough one. There are a few shops I haven’t tried yet that I still need to get to. There are three I frequent the most and here is my favorite from each:
• New York Cupcakes in Crossroads: Tie between Back in the Day Butterscotch and Candy Store Salted Caramel
• Trophy Cupcakes: Red Velvet with cream cheese frosting
• Cupcake Royale: Salted Caramel
CS: Where can we buy your products retail? How about wholesale?
CM: Bella Cupcake Couture wrappers can be purchased retail from our website at bellacupcakecouture.com and also now sold at a fabulous boutique near University Village called Curtsy Bella as well as at New York Cupcakes in Bellevue.
For those interested in wholesale, they can visit our website for details or email email@example.com for special pricing.
Also I have a few new cupcake wrappers designs I’m really interested in launching later this year. Right now though, I’m focused on fulfilling orders, providing great customer service and collecting feedback on what designs people would like to see.
Ready to suit up your cupcakes with the cutest wrappers around? Visit bellacupcakecouture.com.