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Wednesday
Jul012009

Cake Byte: Layer Cake Shop Opens!

Update: Based on reader responses to this post I have followed up here--please weigh in!

It's a funny thing about baking supply shops. They always feel so cramped and dark to me--rarely do they seem as bright and happy as the cakes the supplies are used to make.

So it was a delightful surprise to receive an email announcing a new online retailer, Layer Cake Shop, which specializes in all manner of supplies for making sweets, from specialty cupcake cups to cookie cutters; a dazzling spectrum of food colorings and sprinkles and other decorations; they even have a respectable selection of packaging supplies, and even cute little DIY kits which make great gifts. Everything is beautifully and brightly displayed in this online boutique; it's definitely one to bookmark.

Yup: the internet just got even sweeter!

Layer Cake Shop, online at layercakeshop.com.

Update: Based on reader responses to this post I have followed up here--please weigh in!

Tuesday
Jun302009

Cinema and Sugar: Movies To Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Adapt for Illustration Friday
Sometimes, simply eating baked goods isn't enough. You just want to live, breathe and exist in a warm shell of pastry or cake. But not, you know, in a creepy way.

How better to feed your obsession than by enjoying movies which prominently feature sweet treats? Grab your milk duds, dim the lights and dig in:

(Note: This list is not necessarily comprehensive; feel free to leave a comment with any movies that you think should be added!)

 

American Pie: Of course, this one features what is probably the most infamous pie scene in cinema.

 Animal House: As one CakeSpy reader put it, "I love the food fight scene. Watching Bluto load his tray up with donuts and jello..."
 Babette's Feast: Who cares what else they eat, "the grand finale dessert is 'Savarin au Rhum avec des Figues et Fruit Glacée' (rum sponge cake with figs and glacéed fruits). Numerous rare wines, including Clos de Vougeot, along with various champagnes and spirits, complete the menu."
The Bakery Girl of Monceau: A film in which the hero engages in "pastries and flirting with the salesgirl, a law student (Barbet Schroeder) surrenders to his appetites as he hangs out at a bakery."
Because I Said So: Featuring Mandy Moore as a baker who is secure in the kitchen but unsure about love.
Big Night: This movie mainly features savory foods, but the timpano is carbohydratey enought to warrant a mention.
Blood & Donuts: In which a vampire falls for a woman working in a donut shop. 
Buffalo 66: A heart-shaped cookie figures into the plot in this movie.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: In oh, so many ways.
Chocolat: If chocolate is your dessert weapon of choice, you simply must see this movie. In fact, I can't believe you haven't already.
Dear Lemon Lima: A brand-new film which just made its debut at the LA Film Festival, which prominently features cupcake artwork...by CakeSpy!
The Devil Wears Prada: No, food isn't in the foreground of this film, but Anne Hathaway's character does try to make nice with that dreamy Adrian Grenier by bringing him a cupcake.
Down To You: Not sure how dessert figures into this one, but I heard a rumor that it does.
Fried Green Tomatoes: What is your favorite book, movie and food? Fried Green Tomatoes may be the answer to all three, but I'll take some chocolate or a southern layer cake (but please, keep the saran wrap away) any day. But as a side note, can you believe this recipe for caramel fried green tomatoes and ice cream?
The Gingerbread Man: As buddy Megan says, "It's a terrible, terrible movie. But entertaining!"
The Great New Wonderful: According to one sweet CakeSpy reader, this one "had Edie Falco and Maggie Gylenhaal as cake designers but they weren't very happy..."
The Godfather: "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli". Beautiful!
Hoodwinked: This one was suggested by Mary--that Goody Bandit must be captured!
The Ice Cream Man: OK, so the ice cream man in question is a serial killer. He does drive the right truck! And he's Ron Howard's brother!
Just Desserts: In which a cake (and its baker) are completely enchanting to the protagonist.
Like Water For Chocolate: The wedding cake made with character Tita's tears was delicious, but made people cry over loves long lost.
Manhattan: This one is worth watching for so many reasons, but as one CakeSpy reader pointed out, dessert (milkshakes, to be exact) is a big reason!
Marie Antoinette: Cake porn, featuring sweets by French legend Laduree. Enough said.
Matilda: Basically the cake-eating scene is the sweet equivalent to the egg-eating scene in Cool Hand Luke.
Mermaids: This one got an Oscar, and I'm pretty sure it was for the marshmallow kebabs prominently featured during the movie.
Million Dollar Baby: The real money shot was at the end, when Clint Eastwood's character eats pie in the final scene.
Mostly Martha: Although you'll have to wait til the credits for the sweet stuff, says Viv, it's worth the wait.
No Reservations: According to a CakeSpy reader, the US version of Mostly Martha definitely has some good looking tiramisu featured on-screen.
The Perfect Man: According to one CakeSpy reader, this film with Heather Locklear is "awful, but she decorates cakes."
Run Fatboy Run: In this one, according to Carrie, the "love interest is a bakery sweet shoppe owner".
Serendipity: A sweet romantic comedy which has scenes in the NY Sweets-shop from which the film takes its name.
Simply Irresistible: In which a witchy Sarah Michelle Gellar enchants the dessert (and the rest of the food too).
Simpsons Movie: Of course, Homer is never far from his beloved pink frosted and festively sprinkled donuts.
Stand By Me: This one features a pie-eating contest.
Steel Magnolias: That armadillo cake did more for Red Velvet than it could ever know!
Stranger Than Fiction: If Will Ferrell's character presenting Maggie Gyllenhaal's renegade baker with a bouquet of "flours" doesn't make you melt like buttercream in sunshine, then you're probably dead.
Sweeney Todd: They make pies, but you probably don't want to eat them. Way too savory.
True Grit: In which "corn something or other Rooster Cogburn was eating on the trail"
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me: The prelude to Dale Cooper and all that damn fine pie.
Varsity Blues: The cheerleader tries to be all sexy by dressing up like an ice cream sundae! That's priceless!
Waitress: Pie, pie, and more pie!
Wayne's World: I wish I could hang out with Wayne and Garth at Stan Mikita Donuts.
When Harry Met Sally: The most famous food scene is at Katz's in this movie, but there are many other sweet cinematic nuggets including conversations about (and over) pie.

 

Got one to add? Leave a comment!

 

Tuesday
Jun302009

Rosemary's Babka: Devilishly Delicious Mini Chocolate Babka in Seattle

Mini Chocolate Babka
The other day while wandering around Ballard, I happened to walk into Great Harvest Bread and in doing so, unwittingly submitted to my destiny: The Mini Chocolate Babka.

Baked in a muffin tin, this two-pronged treat is a mini monstrosity, so ugly it's sort of cute. Because of its small size, the chocolate-to-pastry ratio is upped dramatically, making it amazingly buttery and rich; in spite of said richness, it's amazingly how quickly and easily it manages to get in your belly.
Mini Chocolate Babka
As the sign in the shop said, this mini version of a classic holiday bread is "too good to save for once a year"--and I tend to agree. Even if it is the devil in disguise.

Mini Chocolate Babka (call for availability!) from Great Harvest Bread Company, 2218 NW Market Street, Seattle, (206) 706-3434; online at greatharvestsea.com.

Not in Seattle? No need to panic. This recipe for chocolate babka sounds like just about the most delicious thing ever, and I bet it could be divided into muffin cups for mini portions.

Monday
Jun292009

Waffle House: Delicious French Waffles at Scandinavian Bakery, Seattle

French Waffles
Upon walking into the Scandinavian Bakery in Ballard, Seattle, you'll notice a few things.

Certainly you'll notice how it looks--sweetly retro--but not in a contrived way, more in a "it's been this way since the day it opened, years ago" sort of way.
Scandinavian Bakery, Ballard
And you'll probably notice how it smells: of sugar, yeast, warm bread and various other wonderful things.

But once you've gotten beyond these surface charms, you may notice a small anomaly in their bakery case: the French Waffle. On the one hand, this seems strange--what business do French Waffles have with the cardamom buns and marzipan cakes? But once you taste them, all is forgiven. Crispy with brown sugar and spices on the outside, they're ever-so-slightly soft on the inside, and filled with a sweet dab of frosting that perfectly offsets the texture of the cookies.
French Waffles
It seems that these filled waferlike sandwich cookies truly are a sort of lovely mixture of cultures: where they vaguely resemble these French Waffle cookies, the sugar-and-spice coating ultimately does have a Nordic feel. 

So though they may waffle between cultural identities, but regardless of their origins, these little waffles are definitely delicious.

Do you know more about these sweet treats and their origins? If so, please comment!

 

French Waffles can be found (call first for availability) at Scandinavian Bakery, 8537 15th Ave. NW, Seattle (206)784-6616. 
Scandinavian Bakery on Urbanspoon

 

Monday
Jun292009

CakeSpy Undercover: A Sampling of Sweets from Budapest

Retes, from Hungary, c/o Diane
A few months ago, CakeSpy buddy (and very talented textiles designer) Diane Kappa made a big move: from Seattle to Budapest. Now that's she's had some time to settle and get to know her surroundings, it's time to dig into the bakery scene in Hungary. What has she been enjoying? Here are some of her favorite sweet treats so far:

The first thing I think of is called a csoko csiga (chocolate snail) It is not really a snail. It is in the shape of a snail and is absolutely delicious! And the funny thing is you can buy them in the subway station. They are about $1 and taste so delightful! Not too sweet but heavy on the cocoa taste.

And you can not forget Retes! It is so tasty!!! You can buy them savory or sweet. Sour cherry, turo (like cottage cheese but drier), apple are my favorite. You can also buy them with cabbage. I attached a photo of an apple retes (top picture)! The photo was taken at a “cukrászda” (sweet shop) called “Lukas” Here are some photos from Lukas:


Lukas, Budapest
Cakes from Hungary
All I can say is, like whoa. Wouldn't you love to be in Budapest right now?


Want more? You can stay updated on Diane's sweet adventures via her blog; while you're spending time on the internet (you junkie!), why not also check out her shop and portfolio?

 

Sunday
Jun282009

Sweet Art: Worn for Illustration Friday

Illustration Friday: Worn
This week's Illustration Friday theme is Worn, which got me wondering: when Cuppie gets worn out, what inhabits his sweet little dreams?

Now, you can analyze this dream however you like, but you can't deny the sweetness: Cuppie dreams of cake!

Thursday
Jun252009

Campfire Meets Cookie: Let's Make S'moreos!

S'moreos!
Have you ever found yourself, mid-s'more, feeling like maybe, just maybe...something is missing?

You're not alone, buddy. But the matter has been given much thought, and a conclusion has been reached: that missing thing is cream filling, and the solution can be found with a certain famous sandwich cookie.

It's time to make S'moreos!
S'moreos!

When s'mores meet Oreos, magic--in the form of an oozy, creamy, unapologetically sweet treat--ensues. Basically, you won't be able to believe you've lived this long without them.

CakeSpy Note: I made mine in the microwave, as I am not an outdoorsy type; however, if there is a campfire handy, feel free to make yours using toasted marshmallows.

S'moreos
Hershey's Chocolate BarOreos
You'll need:

  • Either one, or two (depending on how decadent you feel) Oreos--Double Stuf optional
  • half a jumbo marshmallow per s'moreo (a whole one was just too big)
  • 2 rectangles from a regular sized Hershey bar

With One Oreo: If you've elected to use just one Oreo, twist it apart so that the top and bottom are separate. Face the filled side up, and put the chocolate squares on top, then layer the marshmallow half, then top it off with the remaining Oreo half. Put in the microwave at high for approximately 15-20 seconds. The marshmallow may rise and cause the top half of the Oreo to fall off; this is ok. Simply place it back on top upon removing from the microwave, and enjoy immediately.

 

With Two Oreos: If you're going for the double Oreo version (good decision), repeat the same steps as above, simply using a whole Oreo for the top and bottom. It may take a few more seconds in the microwave, but it's oh so worth it.
S'moreos!

 

 

Thursday
Jun252009

Cake Byte: Another Sweet Art Show at Trophy Cupcakes!

About To Be Eaten
Dude. You know how Trophy Cupcakes always has, like, the awesomest art shows? CakeSpy, Jessixa Bagley...and now, Matthew Porter!

Matthew Porter is a Scotland-bred artist who now makes his home in Seattle, where he not only illustrates awesome children's books but also co-owns Bluebottle Art Gallery with his über-talented and cute wife, Andrea Porter.

And through the month of July, you can purchase his artwork--and cupcakes with his artwork on them--at Trophy Cupcakes! The reception (you know you don't want to miss that) will be taking place this Wednesday, July 1 from 6 - 8 p.m.; for more details, visit the Bluebottle blog or trophycupcakes.com!

Wednesday
Jun242009

Malasada Madness: The Portuguese Doughnut That Took Over Hawaii

Malasadas!
Recently, a new espresso stand opened up very close to the CakeSpy headquarters in Seattle, a little outpost of North Shore Hawaiian BBQ. Now, this is one of those places that looks like it might be awful or awesome, but probably not in-between.


North Shore BBQ Espresso StandMalasadas on the menu!
Admittedly, most of their bakery offerings--prepackaged muffins, biscotti and cookies--didn't appeal too much. But upon noticing that they fry up malasadas (little rounds of sweet, yeasty fried dough topped with granulated sugar) to order, a visit was definitely necessary.


While waiting for the malasadas to fry up, however, I noticed something unusual: they were listed on the menu as Portuguese Doughnuts. Now, this seemed a big incongruous on a Hawaiian menu. Naturally, I ran home to Wikipedia the *&^% out of this.

 

As Wikipedia tells me, it was a development borne of immigration patterns: "In 1878, Portuguese laborers from the Azores came to Hawaii to work in the plantations. These immigrants brought their traditional foods with them, including a fried dough pastry called the 'malasada.' Today there are numerous bakeries in the Hawaiian islands specializing in malasadas."


The article references one of the most famous malasada vendors in Hawaii, Leonard's Bakery, which may not have been the first place to sell them, but it certainly sounds like it's the place that made them popular; their story further illuminates the phenomenon of the Portuguese doughnut in Hawaii:

 

In June 1882 the British sailing ship 'Monarch' brought Arecnion & Amelia DoRego from San Miguel Island, Portugal to Maui under contract to work the sugar cane fields.

Some 33 years later, their grandson Leonard was born. In 1946 Leonard and his wife Margaret moved to Honolulu with their daughter Diane, age 8. Leonard worked at Snowflake Bakery until he founded Leonard's Bakery in 1952

Leonard and Margaret were no strangers to hard work, both coming from very large families. The bakery prospered. Not long after opening, Leonard's mother suggested making malasadas for Shrove Tuesday - a Portuguese tradition.

Although thinking it may be too ethnic, Leonard's bakers complied. Malasadas were a huge hit. And, the appetite for malasadas in Hawaii was born.

Due to Leonard's popularity Leonard required a larger, more modern facility, moving into their present location at 933 Kapahulu Avenue in 1957.


These days, malasadas are closely associated with Hawaii. They're seen dressed up at fancy restaurants, they're sold out of mobile trucks, and they're naturally a delicious breakfast.

 

(CakeSpy Note: Strangely enough, according to Wikipedia, Hawaii is not the only place where malasadas are readily available: "Malasadas are also very popular in the New Bedford and Fall River, Massachusetts region, which has a large Portuguese population. Malasadas are also popular in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where they are called 'flippers'." So perhaps there is a hidden malasada belt in New England?)
Inside of the Malasada
Which brings us back to Seattle and North Shore Hawaiian BBQ. Remember how I said that this place was going to be either awesome or awful? Well, I can't speak to the savory fare there, but these malasadas were pretty awesome. They charmingly misshapen rounds, served unpretentiously in a plastic container and they were still hot and slightly dripping with the oil in which they had just been fried. The first irresistible bite, taken while they were still way too hot, was yeasty, sweet, pleasingly greasy, and, well, pretty perfect.

Of course if you're not in Hawaii or Seattle or Portugal, no need to panic. Here's a recipe (discovered via TastyIsland) for malasadas which are said to taste similar to the legendary ones at Leonard's!
Places mentioned:
North Shore Hawaiian Barbecue, 101 Boren Ave. S, Seattle (206)621-1121; online at northshoreseattle.com.

Leonard's Hawaii, multiple locations; online at leonardshawaii.com.

 

Monday
Jun222009

Sweet Art: Drifting for Illustration Friday

Illustration Friday: Drifting
This week's Illustration Friday theme is Drifting, and I don't know what it says about me, but the first thing I thought was: Shark Attack! Maybe I've just seen Jaws(as well as Jaws 2, 3 and yes, even 4) too many times.

So, here's a sweet little reminder to let yourself drift away on occasion...but not too far.

 

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