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Friday
May152009

CakeSpy Undercover: Yellow Leaf Cupcake Company, Seattle

Tomato Soup Cupcake, The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co., Seattle
After having conversed and emailed with Yellow Leaf Cupcake Company's co-owner Mike Hein for the DailyCandy article I wrote, I naturally had to hit them up on their opening day. I arrived at a little after 8 a.m., and was informed that I was their sixth customer--ever. Sweet!

Yellow Leaf has a sweet story--owners Mike Hein and Tony Portugal both quit their office jobs and set to visiting cupcake shops all across America before opening their own shop in Belltown. The shop itself is sweet, with warm yellow walls. Their menu is homey but still eclectic-- standout flavors include their signature, the Tomato Soup Cupcake with cocoa Italian buttercream.

I picked up three flavors: the Tomato Soup (natch), the Black Forest and (upon Mike's suggestion) the coconut. The cupcakes are a little spendy--$9.69 including tax for three--and are not overwhelmingly large, but have a satisfying weight. They package them in clear plastic containers, which may not be as pretty as a pink box, but they do keep the cupcakes safe.

So how were they? Here are my comments:
The Tomato Soup Cupcake (shown top) was a pleasant spice cake-y confection--if you didn't know it was made with tomato soup, you probably wouldn't know the source of its je ne sais quoi. The cake was pleasingly moist. I have to admit I think I would have preferred more of a flavor contrast with perhaps a cream cheese frosting (and I will note that Mike did mention on our first conversation that it may be served this way in the future).

Coconut, The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co., Seattle
The Coconut was actually surprisingly light for what can sometimes be a very rich and heavy flavor--and the slightly crunch coconut gave a satisfying texture against the soft cake and buttercream. This was my favorite.

Black Forest Cupcake, The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co., Seattle
The Black Forest The cake itself was gorgeous, exceedingly decadent and almost truffle-like. I did wish that the toppings had a little bit more muscle though--they were on the lighter side, and the flavor and textures weren't completely harmonious with the dense chocolate cake.
Now, I've only tried a small sampling of their products, but overall, it seemed to me that their flavors all had merits, and that it was a pretty impressive first-day showing. I think that Yellow Leaf shows potential, and I'm eager to see (and taste) more. 
Read more about them on my DailyCandy writeup!
Yellow Leaf Cupcake Company, online at theyellowleafcupcake.com.

 

Thursday
May142009

Sweet Fancy: Pinkies-Out Desserts at the Four Seasons

Totally sweet!
Truth: I don't often eat fancy food. It's true--perhaps it comes from a lack of culture (I am from New Jersey, after all), but usually I'd rather have a really good brownie or chocolate chip cookie instead of an ile flottante or a dessert served with a reduction of anything.

But I must say that after a recent visit to the Four Seasons in Seattle for a special event, I was most impressed by the fancy--but delicious--desserts by pastry chef Ryan Witcher. He's worked at some pretty fancy places and his skill is apparent, but he is completely friendly and accessible. His personality shows through in the desserts, which are pinkies-out fancy but with tongue in cheek touches like a Parisian-style macaron flavored like a snickers bar, or truffle "pops" fancied up with strawberry and basil. But enough talk--let's get to the sweetness:

Yum

Here are the Strawberry Basil Truffle Pops and homemade Rocher;

 

Desserts at Four Seasons
In the foreground here, you see the "Snickers" macarons, then Apple Almond Tarts, then 
Strawberry-Rhubarb Bubble Tea with Basil Tapioca (kind of a take on bubble tea);

Sweet!
Strawberry-Fennel Panna Cotta (which, like, levitated! OMG!);

Macaroons and mini tarts

Coconut macaroons and Passion Fruit-Raspberry Tarts;

Yum
and finally, Florentines with Eastern Washington Sage Honey. 
Moreover, mos' def the stuff of sweet dreams.


Though these items were made for a special event and might not be on the menu daily, you can sample pastry chef Ryan Witcher's creations at ART Restaurant, 99 Union Street, Seattle; online at artrestaurantseattle.com.

 

Thursday
May142009

Holey Cake: When Doughnuts and Cupcakes Collide

Doughnut Cupcakes c/o JustJenn
Photo c/o Justjennrants.blogspot.com

It seems that after the recent list of doughnut links, some additional commentary is necessary on the subject of the doughnut-cupcake combination.

When doughnut muffins reached the mainstream, it was only a matter of time before a slightly more awesome counterpart, the doughnut cupcake, entered the scene.

 

And they've entered in a big way, with all sorts of delicious variations. Here are just a few:

 

I do think pastry on pastry is a bit over the top - I feel like I've just made the turducken of desserts.
Of course, there is no mention of anyone declining a bite of these sweet treats.
  • On the lovely and amazing Bake & Destroy, Natalie made probably the best use ever of the new Starbucks VIA instant coffee by mixing it into the cupcakes and buttercream, and then topping it all off with a powdered sugar doughnut for a dizzying rush of sugar and a satisfying mixture of textures and tastes.
  • Of course, if you like the doughnut muffin style, on Elle's New England Kitchen, the doughnut muffin gets a sweet makeover with the addition of frosting and sprinkles--um, Elle, we think that means it's a doughnut cupcake now. And oh, so deliciously so.
  • In that vein, at Retro Bakery in Las Vegas, they they have not one, not two...but three doughnut cupcake varieties on their menu: the "Glazed Donut" (Vanilla cake drenched in donut glaze), the "Sprinkled Donut" (Vanilla cake dipped in chocolate fudge ganache and rainbow jimmies) and "Coffee and Donuts" (Vanilla cake covered in donut glaze and topped with a dollop of coffee buttercream). Oh yes.

 

Thursday
May142009

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Top Pot Doughnuts
This week's links are brought to you by the letter D, as in Donut. Or Doughnut, whichever you prefer.

Looking for a vegan donut fix in Baltimore? Discover Emily's Desserts (they ship too!).

Coolest catering company ever? In Florida, Donut Divas specializes in donuts, fair food and carnival games.
Glazed Donuts is a Chicago-based special-order donut maker which will "satisfy your sustainable sweet tooth".
Don't eat plain cookies like some kind of jerk--make these super awesome Homer Simpson-inspired Doughnut Cookies.
The Donut Database was created by Natalie of Bake & Destroy, and is a resource that every donut lover should bookmark. Now.
At ART Restaurant at The Four Seasons in Seattle, pastry chef Ryan Witcher's vanilla sugar-dusted doughnuts served with  fromageblanc and seasonal fruit compote are completely enthralling.
Upscale doughnuts, demystified: here's an interesting essay on the subject.
Let's all swoon one more time over the donut-inspired soft-serve ice cream at Momofuku.
Bee Sting Donuts? Yes please: My Baking Adventures tries out the recipe from the Sweet Melissa Patisserie cookbook.
What exactly does "Time to make the doughnuts" mean? Find out the story here.
Donut vs. doughnut: which is correct? Just in case you needed a refresher.

 

Tuesday
May122009

Cake Poll: How Do You Eat A Cupcake?

Win them!
Musing over methods of snack-eating is practically an American pastime. There have been ad campaigns centered on how people eat Reese's Peanut Butter Cups; there have been studies on the characteristics associated with various methods of Oreo-eating.

But now, it's time to attack the sweetest treat of all: the cupcake. Tell us how you eat yours in the comment section, and you'll be entered to win a completely awesome prize pack, which will include:

-------------------------------

How do you eat yours?
How do you eat yours?
Do you eat it with a knife and fork, pinkies out?
Do you tear it in half and discard the bottom so as to increase the frosting-to-cake ratio?
Do you invert it, sandwich-style, to keep your fingers free of frosting?
Do you eat yours with a spoon, served in a dish of milk?
...Or do you just dig in?
Can't wait to read your responses! A winner will be chosen at random shortly after the cake poll closes at noon (12 p.m. PST) on Friday, May 15.

 

Tuesday
May122009

Cake Byte: Sweet New Additions to the Seattle Bakery Scene

Seattle Sure is Magical!
Sweetless in Seattle? Not on your life, jerk. Here's just a brief roundup of all of the sugary magic on the horizon:

Cupcake Royale: Seattle's first cupcake shop is opening their fourth retail location in Capitol Hill. Combined with the added deliciousness of Oddfellows' bakery case and the newly opened Molly Moon Ice Cream a block away, Cupcake Royale's entrance on the scene is really establishing Capitol Hill as a sweet mecca. Coming this summer; online at cupcakeroyale.com (you can also keep updated via their blog).


Curio Confections: When a Trophy Cupcakes alum branches out and opens a baking business, you know it's going to be good. No conflict of interest here--there are no cupcakes on the menu at this University District sweetshop, but plenty of pies both sweet and savory, fancy marshmallows, and even goats' milk caramels. Scheduled to open May 23; online at curioconfections.com.
 
Manderin Cookie Co.: A custom-order cookie bakery specializing in decadent cookies and bars. Bacon may have jumped the shark, but just try telling that to devotees of the Bean's Bacon Bar (a heart-attack inducing bar of deliciousness comprised of layers of chocolate, peanut butter, cayenne pepper, caramel, and bacon). They're working on placing the product in retail locations; in the meantime, they can be ordered online at manderincookieco.com.
 
Molly Moon Ice Cream: How did such a cold treat get so hot? Molly Moon is featured in Bon Appetit and all over on the interweb--and now, there's more sweetness to go around. Their second location is now open in Capitol Hill! Online at mollymoonicecream.com.

Old School Frozen Custard: Can you stand it? Yet another place to get a sweet fix on Capitol Hill! This is actually their second location (the first is in Bonney Lake, wherever that may be); they specialize in frozen custard (different than other ice creams you may have tasted--read about it here), and we're so happy that they're coming. Opening this summer; online at oldschoolfrozencustard.com.

Trophy Cupcakes: Martha Stewart's favorite cupcake shop in Seattle has multiplied: their second location will open in the University Village early this summer. Now, all they have to do is open a third location next door to the CakeSpy headquarters and the holy trinityof sweetness will be complete. Scheduled to open either late May or early June; online at trophycupcakes.com.

The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co.: Seattle's newest cupcake shop, located in Belltown, will feature mostly cupcakes but a small array of morning pastries as well; though they will have coffee, fancy tea will be their beverage focus; they'll also have suggested "pairings" for tea and cupcakes. Wonder which tea would go with their much-anticipated signature Tomato Soup cupcake (AnTea Warhol perhaps)? Scheduled for a soft opening on May 15; online at theyellowleafcupcake.com.

Ready for some sweet gossip? In the Central District, a Japanese sweet shop is coming; also, we hear that there's a new gourmet ice cream truck coming later this summer to a neighborhood near you. More info as we receive it!

 

Tuesday
May122009

CakeSpy Undercover: Little T American Baker in Portland, OR

Little T American Baker
If there's anything we love, it's getting reader suggestions for bakeries we should visit.

So when CakeSpy reader Cynthia dropped by and visited the CakeSpy booth at Crafty Wonderland in Portland last weekend, my friend Danny and I were delighted when she told us about one of her favorites: Little T American Baker. So delighted, in fact, that Danny went right on over to pick up some treats to sample.
Little T boasts an awesome pedigree: it was opened by Tim Healea of Pearl Bakery and Kenny & Zuke’s (both CS favorites!). It's a stylish little space, and while the service wasn't necessarily swift, it was friendly. 
We sampled their peanut cookie, a shortbread cookie shaped like a puzzle piece, and the lemon tart. 
Let's start with the cookies. First was the "peanut cookie"--not a "peanut butter cookie". And it seems that there is a difference--this cookie, which was fat and very buttery, didn't have a strong peanut butter taste throughout, but rather got its nuttiness from a generous smattering of whole peanuts throughout. It was pretty delightful.
The shortbread cookie, which Danny declined to share, was declared "very good". 
But oh, the lemon tart. Lemon tarts and bars can be tricky territory, often falling into the category of too eggy or too sweet. A well-balanced filling is hard to come by, but so wonderful when you find one. And Little T's lemon filling was perfect. Smooth and creamy, rich and yet still tasting of fresh citrus, it was perfectly complemented by a shortbread-y crust. Heaven!
Our most sincere thanks to Cynthia for introducing us to Little T American Baker.
Little T American Baker, 2600 SE Division, Portland OR (503) 238-3458; online at littletbaker.com.

 

Monday
May112009

Mommie Dearest: A Sweet Post-Mother's Day Treat

Mother's Cookies Truffles
Mother's Day is over--and now, with a big sigh of relief, we can go back to blaming her for everything for another year.

But there's no need to invest in a Starlee Kine-esque stint at the Hoffman Institute to work out all those mommy issues--here's a far better (and more delicious) way to take out some of that aggression: by seriously crushing some Mother's Circus Animal Cookies (which we scored through our friends at FoodBuzz!) and making delicious truffles out of them.

This is a variation of the Oreo Truffle recipe made famous by Bakerella; in this version, simply substitute a bag of the (newly re-released!) Carnival Animals by Mother's Cookies.


Mother's Cookies
Crush Your Mother's Cookies Truffles

 

 

  • 1 package Mother's Cookies
  • 1 8oz. package cream cheese (softened)
  • confectioner's dark chocolate, melted


1. Coarsely cut about six or seven cookies into small chunks. They'll be jagged and messy but that's ok, they're for garnish. Reserve for later.
Making Truffles
2. Crush remaining cookies and stir in softened cream cheese. Use the back of a large spoon to help mash the two together.
Mother?
3. Roll the mixture into 1" balls and place on waxed paper covered cookie sheet.
Truffles
4. You're supposed to melt chocolate as directed on the package and then dip balls into chocolate--but I'm lazy so I just poured it on top of each (which ended up giving them an extra chocolate "foot"--yum). Set aside on wax paper covered cookie sheet to dry. 

You can sprinkle the tops with the coarsely chopped cookies for decoration.
Insides
5. Once dry (if you can wait that long), refrigerate. Share with mom, if you dare.

 

Makes about 36 truffles.

 

Monday
May112009

Cake Byte: CakeSpy Cupcakes All Month Long at Trophy Cupcakes!

Cupcake with CakeSpy Artwork, Trophy Cupcakes
Trophy Cupcake Photos c/o Alana

 

What could possibly be more magical than a cupcake?
How about cupcakes with CakeSpy artwork printed on them?

Cupcakes with CakeSpy artwork at Trophy Cupcakes
These sweet little morsels will be available all month long at Trophy Cupcakes in celebration of the CakeSpy art show! Even if you missed the artist reception last week, the artwork (and cupcakes!) will be on show and for sale all month long.
(Note: CakeSpy art is also on show at Schmancy in Seattle too this month!)

Preview of the show at Trophy!
Totally sweet!

 

Thursday
May072009

Sugar Mama: An Ode to the Sweetest Mom Ever

Illustration by my amazing mom
People frequently ask me what inspired me to start CakeSpy.com. What in the world could have contributed to such a deep interest (bordering on obsession) in cake that someone would devote their life to eating, researching, writing about, and illustrating it?

Well, as they say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree--or in this case, the crumb doesn't fall far from the cake.
That is to say--blame it on my mom. 
My mother, Margie Moore, is just about the coolest person there is. Growing up, for every birthday we had an amazing cake. None of this store-bought sheet cake business, no sir--we always had some sort of multi-tiered pink confection that put even wedding cakes to shame--like this one:

Cake from Above
Of course, making cakes like this was a time consuming ordeal, and very trying on the rest of the family as we were unable to indulge right away. So to stave off our sticky fingers, she'd always make a little something extra with the leftover cake batter: a batch of festively frosted cupcakes:

 

Cupcakes in a Row

...now, don't these look familiar? After all, they're the inspiration for a little cupcake character you've come to know and love.


Cup-bunny meets Cuppie

 

But wait--there's more. My mom is not merely a sugar enabler--she's also a renowned children's book illustrator. And yes--cake and sweets often play a role in her illustrative work, in books such as Ruby Bakes a Cake, A Horse's Tale: A Colonial Williamsburg Adventure, Bear of My Heart and many more.
Illustration by my amazing mom

Happy Mother's Day to the sweetest mom, like, ever.

To check out Margie Moore's illustration work, visit margiemooreillustration.com. 
For Margie Moore's birthday cake recipe, click here.

 

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