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Tuesday
Apr142009

Cakewalk Special: A Carrot Cake Caper in Seattle

Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot Cake from Macrina
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:

Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot Cake Cupcake from Cupcake Royale
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. 

Ingredient notes: No raisins. Yes walnuts.
Availability / where to buy: Available daily. Multiple locations; online at cupcakeroyale.com. (New location coming soon!)
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Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot cake from Decadence Custom Cakes, Seattle
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.

Availability / where to buy: Available by advance order only; Decadence Custom Cakes is located in a commercial kitchen at 501 2nd Avenue West in Queen Anne; online at decadencecustomcakes.com.
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Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot Cake from Hiroki
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.

 

Availability / where to buy: Available frequently, call ahead to confirm. HIROKI, 2224 N 56th St; online at hiroki.us.
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Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot Cake from Macrina
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.
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Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot Cake from Metropolitan Market, Seattle
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.”
Availability / where to buy: Available daily; call your local Metropolitan Market to confirm. Various locations; online at metropolitan-market.com. For other Montlake Mousse retailers, visit montlakemousse.com.
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Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot Cake Cookie sandwich from Essential Baking
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).
Availability / where to buy: Available frequently; call ahead to confirm. Various locations; online at essentialbaking.com.
CakeSpy Note: We recently spied another carrot cake cookie sandwich at local coffee shop Cafe Javasti; for information and locations, visit javasti.com.
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Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot Cupcakes from Trophy Cupcakes
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.
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Footloose and frosting-free: Of course, oh so generously, Kitty also wanted to offer up some suggestions for those of you who want the carrot adventure, minus the frosting (ie, those who like to suffer); and so, for your consideration, a few carrot muffins:

Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot Muffin from Flying Apron, Seattle
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.
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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.

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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.
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(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.

 

Monday
Apr132009

Cake Poll: The Winner!

Let's go fly a kite
It's true: cake is totally sweet. But what is the sweetest part about it?

According to Laurel, winner of Leslie F. Miller's new book Let Me Eat Cake from our most recent cake poll, it's a question of accessibility:
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!

 

Monday
Apr132009

Sweet Art: Fleeting for Illustration Friday

Cupcakes in love at Kerry Park
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.

This painting will also be available for sale at the upcoming CakeSpy art show at Trophy Cupcakes in Seattle--the opening date will be May 6! Mark your calendar!

 

Thursday
Apr092009

Cake Poll: Let Me Eat Cake!

Giveaway: Let Me Eat Cake!
Do you love cake?

Do you really love cake?
Do you love cake so much that whenever you're in the same room, you find yourself unable to resist its siren call?
Then certainly Leslie F. Miller's new book, Let Me Eat Cake, is for you. Now, let's get it straight--though the book has a few recipes, that's not what it's about--it's more about the culture of cake, its lure and the lore behind it, baked up full of personal anecdotes and cake stories galore. And--as we were surprised and delighted to discover--there's even a mention of CakeSpy.com!

I found myself in Leslie's book!
And you, dear friend, could be the winner of a signed copy of the book. Oh, you want this!
To put your name in the running, simply answer this question in the comments. You can be as literal or as figurative as you like, just be sure to leave your thoughts on this important subject:
What is the best thing about cake? 


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!

 

Tuesday
Apr072009

The Night Kitchen: The Secret Lives of Early Morning Bakers

The Secret Lives of Bakers
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.

So when Dan, the lead baker at the Eastlake Grand Central Bakery, invited me to bake alongside him one Sunday morning, I jumped enthusiastically at the chance.  A few days before our planned baking rendez-vous he sent me a list of what we'd be baking that day, along with a note that he would see me at 4.30 a.m.  Was he joking? No, he was not joking. And so I went to bed early with sweet dreams of the baking adventures ahead.
So, are you curious about the life of a baker? Here's a peek of the experience, with apologies if my times are slightly off in some cases--it was, after all, very early.


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 am
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.

Coffee
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.

Croissant TimeIrish Soda Bread
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. 

Big mixerBaking area
Now, if it were me alone, baking all of these things would take me far longer than one morning. Luckily Baker Dan knows what he is doing, and set to alternately mixing, turning trays in the oven, applying egg washes, letting fruit soak, and a bevy of other tasks. I get to choose the scone flavor of the day. I choose cherry-almond. Boring? Maybe. But boring in a delicious way.

Thumbprints in JammersJammers
At one point I am allowed to indent and fill with jam my favorite Grand Central baked good, the lovely biscuit which they call a Jammer. I wonder idly when bakers pause to eat breakfast.

Croissants
I lose track of time for a while. There is a lot going on, but it seems a controlled chaos. We talk comfortably about a variety of subjects while doing the morning bake, ranging from bakeries to East vs. West coast culture (we're both from the East Coast originally) to architecture (Dan is a designer) to music (I boast about Mr. Spy's band)--but it seems like more than anything, the conversation comes back to all facets of baking, from our favorite bakeries and baked goods to methods and thoughts on all manner of sweet stuff. 

I am Small, Mixer is Big
5:45 a.m. Every now and again, I hear a timer go off, but I cannot keep track of what's what. Baker Dan admits that sometimes he doesn't know what timer goes to which project either, but that when they go off they serve as reminders that something must be done. 

Sticky Buns
6:00 a.m. Baked goods are starting to come out of the oven. They smell very, very good. As nothing is burnt, the timer trick must work!

Hand Pies!
6:30 a.m. More trays are being put in the oven and yet others are coming out, bearing steaming, golden, delicious-looking pastries. I wonder, not as idly this time, what time bakers take a break for breakfast. 


Sexy bread pudding
7:00 a.m. Birds are singing and the morning bake seems to be winding down. The trays of baked goods are making their way to the cooling racks, and the cinnamon rolls have been put out front, the first item in an otherwise still-bare pastry case. As the final few items are being put in the oven, we glaze and put finishing touches on the pastries; I especially love applying powdered sugar to the individual bread puddings (made with leftover cinnamon rolls, yum), which Dan says should look "snowy". Delicious snow.
Hazelnut danish
The talk turns to the baked goods we've been working on. Dan is excited about one of Grand Central's newest pastries, the hazelnut danish, which has an orange-infused glaze which tastes vaguely of creamsicle (shown above).

Coffee Cake being slicedCoffee cake

 

Stocked bakery racksBaked goods ready to go out on the shelves

7:30 a.m. By now, some of the other employees have started to arrive, and there is a flurry of activity as the cases are loaded, coffee is made, and the first customers are starting to walk by (I think one even tried the door--eager to join the party I guess). 

Dan the baker, and me, his little elf helperThe bakery
8:00 a.m. We take a break (so this is when bakers eat breakfast). Even having seen it all made, I am not as much tempted to try a new baked good as I am to try my old favorite, the Jammer--after all, while I've had them before, I've never had a jammer I made (or helped make) myself. We talk over baked goods for a while, and get Sam to take a picture of us. It is at this point that I realize that had an outside viewer been looking in, they might have thought I was a little baker elf assistant to the real baker--such is our height difference.
Jammer!

 

 

8:30 a.m. Baker Dan is back to work, starting to make cookies for the later customers and prep work for tomorrow's bake. I have a full day so am not able to stay on, but thank them all for having indulged me this time baking. Before I leave, they load me up with a box roughly the size of Rhode Island full of baked goods. 

The case is full now!
8:35 a.m. I part ways with Grand Central, entering into the sunshine and feeling like I've lived an entire secret life before the rest of the world was even awake. Having done so, do I feel like it might be the life for me? Well, as much as I love baking, I can honestly say no. Is it the hours? I suppose that is a factor, but if I am to be completely candid, I am aware that when you actually work at something professionally, it does change how you look at it--and though I adored the experience of playing the role for a day, I don't think I'd ever want to give up that magical feeling--as consumer--of walking into a bakery and seeing all of the choices, the result of someone's hard work starting long before I was even awake, just waiting for me.

Grand Central is open for business
8:36 a.m. I call Mr. Spy, who answers sleepily after about five rings. "Have you eaten breakfast?" I inquire. "No" he says. Have I woken the dear boy up? "Don't!" I say, and eagerly rush home with my box of sweetness.


The booty!

 

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.

Tuesday
Apr072009

Cake Byte: Sweet New Stamps by Taylored Expressions!

"Downtown Diva" Rubber stamps by Taylored Expressions
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! 
New Stamps by Taylored Expressions!

You can get ideas for projects like the card shown above, here; to buy the stamps, which retail for $21.95, visit tayloredexpressions.com!

 

Monday
Apr062009

Master-Peeps Theatre: The Art of Messing With Easter Candy

Master-peeps Theatre: Starry night in Peeps

In terms of candy, is Easter the new Halloween? This may be arguable, but there's no doubt that messing with Easter Candy--especially Peeps and Cadbury Creme Eggs, it seems--is au courant. We, of course, are not immune to the lure of this trend: case in point, a CakeSpy fine art take on it can be seen above in our master-peeps recreation of Starry Night.
But what is it about messing with our Easter candy that captivates us so? Just a few theories:
We love it, but we don't actually want to eat it: We love Easter candy. We love the bright, sometimes garish, pastel colors; we love the cartoonlike egg, chick and rabbit imagery. We love the idea of it all--but we don't necessarily want to eat it. Because the fact is, sadly, that most Easter candy is not actually delicious. So perhaps the movement in food installations and art involving easter candy is just another way to celebrate it. All we can say is, Andy Warhol would have loved it.

Peeps S'mores
We're deeply cruel: We're a nation of misguided youth. Growing up with violent video games and movies, our senses have been dulled and we've become callous and violent ourselves. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. And apparently, people also kill peeps.
We've never grown up: As children, we were admonished to "not play with our food". But now that we're grown up (sort of), we can mess with it all we want! We don't have to eat our food, we can draw faces on it, destroy it, make art with it--and the internet is all over it. Booyea!
We're bored at work: Well, doesn't that say it all? In the war between, say, answering customer service emails and watching a peep being killed in over a hundred ways, we think the winner is totally obvious. Which leads into our last theory...

Creme Egg Closeup
It's totally fun and awesome to mess with Easter candy. This is a statement, not a theory. No follow up questions.
If you're totally fascinated with messing with your Easter candy, run, don't walk, over to these web pages for more:
  • 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.

 

Thursday
Apr022009

Sweet Nostalgia: Cotton Candy Cupcakes

Carnie Cotton Candy Cupcakes
When a CakeSpy reader recently wrote asking if we had a cotton candy cupcake recipe, the response was immediate: no, but did we ever want to have one. 

Cotton candy is one of those foods that is loaded with nostalgia: the billowy clouds of spun sugar conjure visions of idyllic childhood summers, county fairs and carnivals. Now, we don't want to confuse the experience with the product, (after all, there are more realistic pitfalls to cotton candy, like its saccharine sweetness and the sticky, pastel-colored hands it leaves you with) there's no denying that cotton candy is just a happy sort of food.
So when a recipe wasn't immediately available, we decided to improvise; here's what we came up with--a buttery vanilla cupcake topped with cotton candy-infused pink buttercream frosting, topped with even more cotton candy. Not as if they need to be any sweeter, but the Bella Cupcake Couture wrappers and Carnie Cuppie toppers sure did make them cute. 
The overall result? Tastes like childhood to us.

Cotton Candy Cupcakes
Cotton Candy Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes
Yellow Cupcakes (cake recipe only via foodnetwork.com):
  • 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!Cotton Candy Frosting
Cotton Candy Buttercream Frosting (adapted from this recipe)

Makes enough frosting for 24 cupcakes
  • 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
  1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla.
  3. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. 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.
  5. Add a few drops of red food coloring and mix thoroughly til it's a desired shade of pink.
  6. Stir in the small pieces of cotton candy, stirring until incorporated. It may melt a little bit into the frosting; this is ok.
  7. Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled. 
  8. 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.

 

Thursday
Apr022009

Batter Chatter: Interview with Carrie of Bella Cupcake Couture

Bella Cupcake Couture Interview
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.

Up-sides:
• 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.

Down-sides:
• 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 wholesale@bellacupcakecouture.com for special pricing.

CS: What's next?
CM: I definitely have to thank everyone who provided support, feedback and inspiration to me while beginning this new venture. Including you! ;)

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.

Wednesday
Apr012009

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Giant Cuppie
(Cuppie-inspired cake photo c/o Cakes by Destini)


Pamplemousse Preserves has pioneered a wonderful program: the CSP&B. It stands for Community Supported Preserves and Bakery--like a CSA, but with sweets!

Candy will save us all: The New York Times Says so! (Thanks Megan for the tip!)

EpiCute: We. Are. In. Love. Visit the site now!

A lot of you think Bacon in Baked goods is so over, but for those of you who still want it--in cupcakes--here's a field guide.

Planning a Canadian Getaway? We recently spied this comprehensive list of all of the bakeries in Manitoba!

Say hello to the hottest new way to induce heart failure: the sandwich cake.

Homemade Choco Tacos? How did we miss this?
You already know and love Bakerella--duh. But have you seen her newest bunny and sheep pops?

On Twig and Thistle, a totally sweet tutorial on making (and packaging) homemade hand pies.
What's the difference between a Betty, a Buckle, a Slump, Pandowdy and more? Find out here.

Sugar Cookie Bars: Like a sugar cookie, but a bar. Amazing!
Let Me Eat Cake, the newest (and in our opinion, greatest) book by CakeSpy pal Leslie F. Miller is now in stores! buy it here.

 

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