Unfortunately, even when I arrived at 12.30 it looked like the cases hadn't yet been filled--kind of a bummer in such a small place (I like a well-stocked bakery case--part of the fun is looking before you buy, no?). However, the cookies that they did have out looked tempting, so I chose a Linzer tart. It was an adorable fruit-filled cookie sandwich with a sweet heart cutout, and a dusting of powdered sugar on top.
The cookie was buttery and sweet--subtle, but very good. If I had to make one change, I might have put slightly less powdered sugar on top, but this is likely because I'm a messy eater. The jam in the middle was the perfect complement to the rich, buttery cookie. And at $1.25, it was a steal!
I've been told that the cupcakes, scones and tarts are also worth a try--based on what I've tasted, I am definitely interested enough for a return trip!
Pauline's, 2315 NW Market St., Ballard; (206) 588-8098.
Deathcake Royale: It's back and better than ever at Seattle's Cupcake Royale, now cupcake-ier than ever! But this kind of awesome can't last--it's only available through Feb. 14! Cake Balls: The new frontier?
Forget Silicon Valley--take us to Macaron Alley!
If this doesn't inspire you, nothing will: the Amy Atlas Lavender Snowflake Dessert Buffet.
We'd never even heard of Semla, but now we desperately want to get our hands on some.
Effie's Oatcakes are a simple, but exceedingly delicious little treat.
It's true: cupcake businesses keep on opening...and we keep loving them. Especially when they have awesome names, as in the case of the Bay Area based custom-order cupcakery Kingdom Cake. Of course, a creative menu doesn't hurt--in addition to the usual chocolate and vanilla suspects, theirs also has more adventurous choices like Thai Tea, Pancakes and Bacon and Orange Nutella, plus vegan options--and, curiously enough, a few savories too. We recently caught up with proprietress Chelsea Mead--read on to learn her thoughts on the dark and light sides of cake:
Chelsea Mead: The short answer is: everyone loves cupcakes. They sell themselves. I love watching how happy people get when cupcakes arrive to their occasion, or when they take their first bite. I am in the business of making people happy, and that makes me smile. It never gets old. The realization that I could start a business with cupcakes came after several requests for special orders from friends and coworkers. I started thinking of one fun flavor after another and it slowly became an addiction to perfect more and more recipes. I truly look at it as an art form. Designing new cupcakes makes my heart beat faster. I'd always rather be in the kitchen.
CS: Be honest. If we order from Kingdom Cake, will our order be delivered by a knight in shining armor?
CM: Hilarious! I would just love that...I think my customers would adore the dedication to the "Kingdom" theme! Until I can round up all my Knights and purchase a charming carriage with horses, I will be doing most deliveries myself (how boring after all that!).
CS: What makes cupcakes so special to you?
CM: How much time do you have? You see, I am into all things art. I am a woman with way too many hobbies. I love to paint and mosaic mostly. I have an art room overflowing with all sorts of unfinished projects. I am so busy moving on to the next thing it's hard to stop and finish a piece of work (especially when I'm juggling the cupcakes). When I started baking, I approached each flavor and each cupcake as an art form. What can I do to make this cupcake look the most fabulous? Making a cupcake look "cute" doesnt always do it for me, the design and placement of toppers really makes it right. Next comes the photo shoot. After the cupcakes are looking divine, then I get to use my fun Sony Cybershot and take really cool photos (my new favorite is a concept is cupcake shadows/silhouettes). Then to top it all off, I get to watch people completely indulge and go into their happy place when it's time to eat. It's the ultimate creative outlet.
CS: We see that you have a flavor called "pancakes and bacon". Can you elaborate a bit about what makes up this cupcake?
CM: The pancakes and bacon theme seems to be pretty popular nowadays so I am looking to redirect the concept of this cupcake. Currently the cupcake is a simple pancake base, with maple frosting, bacon toppers, and a salty maple filling. This is a great cupcake for breakfast (although all cupcakes are suitable for breakfast if you ask me). I am working on a french toast cupcake that I might combine with this, to make more of a "breakfast" theme.
CS: We notice some savory options on your menu. Do you see savory cupcakes as a new and thriving branch of the cupcake phenomenon?
CM: Absolutely. In this cupcake-obsessed world we live in, we are constantly being challenged to do the next coolest thing. The natural progression has lead us to savory cupcakes. People in the business are aware of all of this, then I talk to some of my friends and they aren't even aware that cupcakes are taking over the world! I try mentioning ingredients to them like: bacon, basil, or chili and they say WTF? Keeping up with the trends is part of any business. I am lucky I'm in a business where this just makes it all more fun.
CS: What is your favorite type of cake?
CM: Currently it's a tie between Thai Tea and Basil Lemon Blueberry. Thai Tea frosting is like crack.
CS: Imagine this: you walk in on a loved eating a mass-produced prepackaged cupcake. What do you say to them?
CM: "(SIGH) I am so disappointed."
CS: What is next for Kingdom Cake?
CM: My next business venture is vending at the local Bay Area Farmers Markets. Right now I am in the approval process, you should see me popping up slowly in the next month or so. The ultimate goal for Kingdom Cake this year is to open a storefront in the Bay Area. I am also looking into the Seattle Farmers Markets, however this will take a bit more time to work out. I lived in Seattle for 5 years and I look forward to branching out there.
Over the past month or so, we’ve heard from a few reliable sources that they expect a movement toward small-scale desserts: an amuse-bouche at the end of the meal, just a few bites of sweetness. This appeals to us in many ways, but mostly because of the serious cuteness quotient. It’s impossible not to fall in love with little dishes bearing the little treats like petits fours, macarons, mini cupcakes or lilliputian cheesecakes.
So when we were recently asked by Veronica at Petites Bouchées, a Richmond, VA-based custom and mail order bakery specializing in adorable macarons, financiers, sables (and even the odd cupcake!), if we’d like to try a sample of some of her shippable macarons, we bravely accepted. After all, small and delicate desserts are the trend and we’re nothing if not cutting edge.
So how awesome is Petites Bouchées? Well, pretty awesome. The macarons arrived via express mail a few days later, with amazingly not a single cracked cookie shell. These cookies are almost—almost—too pretty to eat, comprised perfectly formed cookie-burgers (some with delicate gold coloring on top--very sophisticated), lined up in dainty little rows. But to not eat these macarons would be a travesty. Veronica, who has studied with Pierre ("Picasso of Pastry") Herme, knows what she’s doing: the cookie part of each macaron is slightly crisp on the outside, but soft inside, giving way to luxurious, decadent fillings.
We’re still tasting our way through the box, but we’ve had enough to know that if desserts like these are the next big wave, we’re happy to go along for the ride.
Did you know that January 23rd was National Pie Day?
Now, some may argue that the day to celebrate pie ought to be March 14th.
Unfortunately, these math nerds missed out on the cool-kid party we attended last Friday: a no-holds barred, absolute pie love-in, the likes of which we'd never seen.
It was held at the Salmon Bay Eagles Hall in Ballard, Seattle; while the sign said FOE, the sandwich board definitely let on that PIE meant FRIEND.
Inside, a veritable pie nirvana awaited, including music ("American Pie", anyone?) by our new favorite band the Fillings; EAT PIE t-shirts (designed by Christine Larsen); ginormous glowing pie sculptures; a projector screening various pie imagery, and of course, a delightful table of raffle prizes (including Cakespy artwork!).
The organizer, Mary, and her team (the À la mode girls) all wore the cutest pie-themed headpieces and dresses. (pictured: Head Spy Jessie with Mary)
But of course, truly, the Pièce de résistance was the pie buffet: a series of tables set together in a line, it must have been over 30-ish feet long, with every type of pie you could ever dream of, both sweet and savory. We ogled over and sampled sweet varieties such as coconut cream, lemon chess, blueberry, marionberry, bourbon pecan, and more; even though we don't usually foray into savories, the Veggie Frito pie does deserve at least a mention. In a stroke of what can only be described as sheer brilliance, a large tub of vanilla ice cream (donated by Molly Moon) was positioned at the end of the line, a sweet gesture for those who preferred their pie à la mode; nearby, a station with milk and coffee offered accompaniments, but of course the cool and over 21 crowd could go to the adjoining bar area.
Of course, even sweeter than the pie was the mission: proceeds from raffle ticket sales went toward The Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research.Seriously, words cannot really convey the true awesomeness of this Pie Day event.
In honor of the day, here is the offering that Head Spy Jessie made to the Pie Buffet: Cup-pies so dense and delicious, they'll knock your socks off (or rot your teeth out, either/or). Though the white chocolate version is shown, we brought the dark chocolate variety to the party.
- 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup shortening
- 4 to 5 tablespoons cold water
- 8 ounces dark chocolate chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 8 ounces white chocolate couverture, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 heaping tablespoons peanut butter (I used Peanut Butter and Co.'s White Chocolate Wonderful)
Today I made a new discovery: Hot Cakes at the Ballard Farmer's Market. It's a small operation run by Autumn Martin, of Canlis and Theo Chocolate fame; the limited menu consists of just three types of cakes: the "Ari Cole", a ready-to-bake molten chocolate cake which can be baked at home or at the market for you; the "Josephine", an almond-rum financier; and one savory option, the "Dean Martin", a savory consisting of dates, bleu cheese and bacon.
I tried a sample of the "Josephine", which I thought made a very pleasant morsel--buttery, lightly nutty and with a taste of rum which didn't hit me right away, but was rather a pleasant lingering aftertaste. Apparently it's a hot seller at the market, and with good reason--this would be an ideal breakfast or teatime cake, à mon avis.
Hot Cakes are available Sundays at the Ballard Farmer's Market; according to the website, they are now available at the Theo Chocolate retail store as well. For more information, visit autumnmartin.com.
When it comes to cream puffs, I like mine a little bit more dense--that is to say, full of cream filling and generously iced. The delicate ones that have a mere dollop of filling have never been my cup of tea.
I was thrilled to find that Gelatiamo does cream puffs just the way I like them: a delicate pastry filled with luxuriously thick cream, and topped with sweet icing. The pistachio cream puff was subtle and didn't overwhelm; however, I liked the fact that it didn't have the typical chocolate icing ; also, the slight crunch from pistachio bits on top didn't hurt. And in keeping with the "small bite" trend, these cream puffs aren't huge, so are a perfect portion for after lunch or dinner.
Pistachio cream puff, Gelatiamo downtown.
And finally, an ATM got a whimsical upgrade with a cupcake bearing the saying "The economy will be OK".
But on to the big question: Why?
Does a blog help your baking business? Read one business owner's thoughts here.
Are you an artist who loves to bake in NYC? You've got to apply for the Sweet Tooth of the Tiger's awesome Bakesale Residency program!
These Teddy Bear Cupcakes are so cute, you'll wish it was your first birthday again.
Looking for a mail-order layer cake? Multiple flavors are available to ship at Midway Country Corner.
Build your own customized cakes using this modular alphabet-number cake pan. (via Serious Eats)
Our friend Judi Hendricks' new book is coming out February 10th--her novels always prominently feature delicious food!