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Monday
Nov302009

Sweet Seconds: Thanksgiving Leftover Cranberry Nut Bars for Serious Eats

Thanksgiving Leftover Cranberry nut Squares for Serious Eats

The year's biggest eating weekend is over (sigh). But there's definitely some sweet eating to be had from the little leftovers left, as proven by these cranberry nut squares. This is a revamped version of a pecan bar but composed instead with leftover cranberry sauce and the mixed nuts that played a supporting role in so many Thanksgiving recipes. The result is surprisingly addictive: sweet, salty, tart, and buttery, all at once.

Not only will you enjoy eating them, but you'll also feel a sense of accomplishment at finishing some of the slower-moving Thanksgiving leftovers.
Thanksgiving Leftover Cranberry nut Squares for Serious Eats
You can find the full recipe at Serious Eats!

Sunday
Nov292009

Cake Byte: Cyber Monday Sale at CakeSpyShop.com!

Le Shopping
Do you need some sweet treats for the holidays? How about some holiday cards, or perhaps a sweet cupcake ornament? It's all available--plus so much more--on CakeSpyShop.com! And through Monday, November 30, you can get some sweet savings! Use code CSHOL when checking out and you'll get 20% off everything!

Now that's a totally sweet deal! Season's Sweetings!

Friday
Nov272009

Winter Wonderland: A Sweet Dispatch from the National Gingerbread House Competition

Gingerbread Houses
Have you ever been curious about the nation's gingerbread elite? Even if you weren't, bet you are now. Here, Cake Gumshoe Shannon reports on the scene at the National Gingerbread Competition:

A peppermint forest, a sprinkle laden path, sugary turrets and beams of brown baked gingerbread. This is the stuff that children’s dreams are made of, as are the incredible and edible works of art entered in this year’s famous National Gingerbread House Competition put on by The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina.
Gingerbread Windmill
After months of baking and building, gingerbread architects and purveyors of icing of all ages from across the country have witnessed the judging of their mouth-watering creations. Winning entries are now on display throughout the historic hotel until January 3.

While the name of the contest may conjure pictures of a child’s dilapidated yet endearing four-sided gingerbread home made from a store-bought kit, you’ll find much more among this spicy and sweet collection of entirely edible concoctions.
A marshmallow-laden igloo. A zoo of tasty lions and tigers with caramel cages. A Dutch windwill with spokes of pretzels and chocolate. A cuckoo clock with almond pinecone weights. A castle with a gingerbread princess. Next to a mandate of gingerbread as a building block, imagination is the most important rule of this contest.

Some of my most favorite entries are the most out-of-box inventions such as a festive Egyptian pyramid draped with frosted boughs and holly atop a sugary sweet desert neighbored by a crystal blue sea with a magical sailboat. The base of the boat is made of ice cream cones and is topped by a mast of ruby red licorice and a sail of yellow fruit roll-up.

Then there is the gingerbread house that models a posh Mediterranean villa with a terracotta roof, manicured gardens, a tiled patio and glistening blue fountains that mimic running water, or the gingerbread woven picnic basket filled with fruit and a parade of ants atop an iced picnic blanket.

The grand prize winner of this year’s contest perhaps bends all notions of gingerbread houses with a stunning copper and gold gilded bird cage with two brilliant snow white turtle doves. The base of the bird cage is encircled with perfectly shaped pears and leaves that seem to glow with reflected light (pictured top).
Gingerbread Picnic Basket
Certainly too beautiful to eat, it’s not hard to see on first glance, why this entry brought home the contest’s ultimate prize, which includes a $3,000 prize check, a two-night club floor stay at The Grove Park Inn, dinner for two, daily breakfast for two and a prize package from Chef Nicholas Lodge including a two-day class at the Nicholas Lodge School in Atlanta, Georgia, not to mention major bragging rights at the next neighborhood cookout or potluck.

While the top winners are interesting to see as a collection, each individual gingerbread creation has a story to tell that’s reflected in the incredible attention to detail and hours of work invested. To hear the stories behind the gingerbread, visit The Grove Park Inn and take part in the “Stories of Gingerbread” guided tours.

The Grove Park Inn, 290 Macon Ave., Asheville, NC 1-800-438-5800; Gingerbread Hotline 1-800-413-5778; online at groveparkinn.com.

For more of Shannon Connell’s work, check out her website.

Thursday
Nov262009

Just a Speck: The Birnen Speck Cake

Pear and Bacon Cake
This photo is credited to Einwanger, Klaus-Maria on Kuechengoetter.com.

As a dessert detective agency, it is the official duty of CakeSpy to report on the birnen speck cake.

What's a birnen speck cake? Well, birnen means pear; speck roughly translates as bacon; and cake...well, you know that one.
Birnen Speck Cake
Yup: Pear Bacon Cake. I was tipped off about this cake by Criminal Crafts, and finally hunted down a recipe and tutorial online on the site kuechengoetter.de. Basically this cake is made by laying bacon in a loaf pan, nestling pared pears on top, and then smothering it all in cake batter before baking it. The result? A confection which yields a strangely pretty slice, with pear shards surrounded by buttery cake, all surrounded by pink-red-and-white bacon. Ready to give it a try? While an effort to directly translate may not be easy, the recipe can be found here.

Thursday
Nov262009

Sweet Art: Acupuncture is Totally Sweet!

Acupuncture is totally sweet!
How does Cuppie bliss out? By getting acupuncture, duh. And as a side effect, the holey experience has really given him a lot of empathy for his buddy Doughnut. This piece was inspired by Seattle's best (bar none!) community acupuncture clinic, CommuniChi--it was featured in their latest newsletter!

Wednesday
Nov252009

Cake Byte: CakeSpy Artwork at Trophy Cupcakes Starting December 5!

Cupcake and Bacon in Seattle
Breaking Cake News! CakeSpy is having another art show at Trophy Cupcakes! The first one this summer was such a success that they have asked for more cupcake art to get them through the holiday season!

Please note that if you read the update about the show a week or so ago, the artist reception has changed. It will now take place at the following time:

Saturday, December 5, from 6-8 p.m.
at Trophy Cupcakes in Wallingford, 1815 N. 45th Street in the Wallingford Center
There will be plenty of awesome artwork and of course a limited supply of free cupcakes!

There will be over 80 new paintings featuring cupcakes (and even some other foods!) in all sorts of sweet (and sometimes bittersweet) situations, and many illustrations including Seattle landmarks.

Of course if you can't make the reception, the artwork will be up all month long in Wallingford, through January 2, so you can pick up sweet gifts for your friends, neighbors, family and maybe even your sweet self all December long!

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday
Nov242009

Roll With It: Pumpkin Roulade Cake Recipe from Cake Gumshoe Julia

Guest Post from Cake Gumshoe Julia - roulade cake with sugar
CakeSpy Note: What the world needs now is love, sweet love--all rolled up in a pumpkin roulade cake. Cake Gumshoe Julia is at it again, and has contributed a totally sweet recipe! You can follow her everyday adventures on her site, Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body.

I have been wanting to make a roll cake for years. But I have been so intimidated by them--they always look so perfect, and I always feared there was no room for error in the texture of the cake or consistency of the frosting. It had to be perfect or else it wouldn't roll correctly. But Saturday morning I was feeling lucky.

I had a pumpkin I had just roasted which I wanted to use for some baked goods. I also realized I hadn't made any pumpkin baked goods yet and Thanksgiving is only 5 days away. So right then I knew I had to make Ina Garten's Pumpkin Roulade. Her recipes have always turned out well for me, which gave me the confidence to move forward. Of course I modified her recipe slightly (I just have a habit of always adding some of my own 'flair' you can call it).

Pumpkin Roulade Cake

For the cake:
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus extra for dusting

For the filling:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (I used low fat)
Note: I have been using Philadelphia cream cheese. I used the generic cheap stuff forever, but recently discovered that Philly has such a better consistency.
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • Pinch kosher salt

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 18 by 1-inch sheet pan. Line the pan with parchment paper and grease and flour the paper.
  2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt and stir to combine. Place the eggs and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light yellow and thickened. With the mixer on low, add the pumpkin, then slowly add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Finish mixing the batter by hand with a rubber spatula. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake the cake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the top springs back when gently touched.Guest Post from Cake Gumshoe Julia - roulade cake on towel
  3. While the cake is baking, lay out a clean, thin cotton dish towel (I used a cheese cloth) on a flat surface and sift the entire 1/4 cup of confectioners' sugar evenly over it. (This will prevent the cake from sticking to the towel.) As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, loosen it around the edges and invert it squarely onto the prepared towel. Peel away the parchment paper. With a light touch, roll the warm cake and the towel together (don't press!) starting at the short end of the cake. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Note: I just dumped the cake onto the powdered sugar towel, and I watched a huge cloud of powdered sugar spread everywhere. So the term 'with a light tough' is key to making a little less mess.
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, and cream together for about a minute, until light and fluffy. Stir in the pumpkin, banana, and salt.Guest Post from Cake Gumshoe Julia - roulade cake with frosting
  5. To assemble, carefully unroll the cake onto a board with the towel underneath. 
  6. Spread the cake evenly with the filling. 
  7. Reroll the cake in a spiral using the towel as a guide. Remove the towel and trim the ends to make a neat edge. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Serve sliced.


Guest Post from Cake Gumshoe Julia - roulade cake fork cutting

 

Tuesday
Nov242009

Sweet Art: Music for Illustration Friday

Music
Can cupcakes rock out? You bet your bottom dollar they can. Here they are making some sweet music, in celebration of this week's Illustration Friday theme of Music!

Monday
Nov232009

This is How We Roll: Buche de Thanksgiving for Serious Eats!

Buche de Thanksgiving
Pie is great and all...but seriously, doesn't cake deserve a little more love around Thanksgiving? I sure thought so, and in an effort to bring cake back to the forefront of America's biggest eating day, I concocted a little something I call the Bûche de Thanksgiving--a November version of the more-famous Bûche de Noël.

This Thanksgiving version starts with a rich pumpkin roll cake filled with cream cheese frosting--and then gets even better when swathed in chocolate cream cheese frosting and decorated with marzipan turkey detailing.

Ready for this awesome? Check out the full post and recipe at Serious Eats.

P.S. Oh, the post also includes how to make...Marzipan Turkeys!
Marzipan Turkeys!

Sunday
Nov222009

Sweet Bread: The Gingerbread Financier from Fonte Coffee, Seattle

Gingerbread Financier from Fonte, downtown Seattle
I want to tell you about the Gingerbread Financier from Fonte Coffee in downtown Seattle, but first, let's get a few things out of the way.

First, what is a financier? It's a French term which as two meanings. The first is--as you might expect--a term for someone who works in finance. The second definition is far sweeter, and I like what Joy of Baking has to say about it:

Financiers are Frenchtea cakes (pronounced fee-nahng-syehr), also known as Friands (meaning "dainty" or "tasty"). They are made from a sponge-like batter of brown butter (beurre noisette), egg whites, flour, toasted ground almonds, and powdered sugar. Financiers are similar to Madeleines in that they both use a sponge-like mixture that is baked in special molds. When baked Financiers are soft and springy with a slightly domed top and a lovely golden brown crust.


The adorable versions at Fonte Wine and Coffee Bar look like mini loaf cakes or quick breads, and have a crumb which is slightly more delicate than a cookie but not quite a cake. And at the downtown location, where they not only have great coffee (and, I hear, a great happy hour) but also make all of their sweets in-house, they have a sweet seasonal variation: the Gingerbread Financier. They burst with a rich, buttery flavor, blossoming into a spicy, aromatic taste, and finish with yet more lingering butteriness.

Though these treats may not be available every day, there's bound to be something equally delicious: on recent visits, some specials included chocolate bread pudding, bacon brownies, and some tres jolie-looking cookies.
Fonté Wine and Coffee Bar on Urbanspoon
1321 1st Ave, Ste A30, Seattle, WA; (206) 777-6193; online at fontecoffee.com.

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