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Sunday
Aug162009

Taste the Rainbow: A Homemade Funfetti Recipe from iheartcuppycakes

Sprinkles have been spilled.
Continuing our monthlong celebration of birthdays and all things sweet, CB from the inimitable iheartcuppycakes.com has kindly donated not only some sweet birthday memories, but also her super sweet recipe for homemade Funfetti Cupcakes. All the fun of a classic childhood treat--but grown up for more adult palates. Here goes:

My birthday is in July. I'm an Independence baby. Tom Cruise eat your heart out! When I was very little my mom would make me a Funfetti birthday cake from cake mix while I "helped" by licking the beaters. It was my favorite part! Even to this day. Don't judge me! It's Funfetti. HA! I think that's why I am not as anti-cake mix like some other bakers because of those great birthday memories with my mom.
Guest post from iheartcuppycakes

Here is my recipe for homemade Funfetti Cupcakes:

Funfetti Cupcakes


Recipe adapted from Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski

 

Makes about 12 cupcakes

For the cupcakes

  • 1-1/4 cups AP flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg white, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used half-and-half instead)
  • 2 tbsp rainbow sprinkles

For vanilla buttercream
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 7 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Guest post from iheartcuppycakes
Instructions

 

To make cupcakes—

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
  3. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a stand mixer, fitted with flat beater, beat the sugar and butter until well combined, about 2-3 minutes. Add egg and egg white, one at a time, beating on low.
  4. Then add vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions, ending with the flour mixture. Fold in rainbow sprinkles.
  5. Fill cupcake liners about 1/2-2/3 full. Bake for about 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.

To make buttercream—
In a stand mixer, fitted with flat beater, beat butter until creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add 5 cups of sifted powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla, beat until combined. Add more powdered sugar until you get to the consistency you want.

 

[NOTES: I think I added about 6-1/2 cups, give or take a few tbsp, to get the consistency I wanted. If its too stiff, you can add a little more milk.]

Frost with vanilla buttercream and garnish with more rainbow sprinkles.

ENJOY!


Keep up with CB at iheartcuppycakes.com or via her twitter feed!

 

Thursday
Aug132009

Guest Blog Post: Lemon Berry Cupcakes by Pâtisserie Natalie

Lemon Berry Cupcakes by Pâtisserie Natalie
When you visit Pâtisserie Natalie, you'll undoubtedly be impressed. The pictures are simply gorgeous; the recipes are creative and sophisticated, yet unfussy.

But you'll be even more impressed knowing that the baker/writer/photographer behind it all is still in high school. No, really.

With a professional-looking portfolio of photographs and recipes already under her belt, Natalie's future sure does look sweet; happily, she has prepared a guest post exclusively for CakeSpy.com! Here goes:

Hi, my name is Natalie, from Pâtisserie Natalie. I'm so excited to get to do a guest post for CakeSpy; I've been a fan for a long time. I'm a high school student from Seattle who loves photography, food styling, and baking. I've been interested in the arts since I was really little, and found my real calling through blogging. I didn't discover the food blogging world until recently. I also didn't realize how much I would love it. My blog gives me a way to share my design and creative flow with other people, as well as see other artist's work.

Lemon Berry Cupcakes by Pâtisserie Natalie
I started baking more seriously about 2 years ago, but it is now an addiction. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I am more frequently in the kitchen then not. I absolutely cannot stay away from my kitchen aid mixer and my camera. I am self-taught in html/css coding, and do all my own graphics and layout work for my blog (CS Note: she's interested in pursuing a career in web/graphic design and photography).


I decided to make these Lemon Berry Cupcakes because as many people know, Seattle doesn't have that many sunny days during the year. Summer flavors for me are lemon and berries. Seeing as the sunny days are limited, I felt that I needed to make something that used those flavors. While I don't mind the rain at all (I love it, actually), many people are a little bummed that our summer days here are ending. With that in mind, I made these cupcakes as a sort of "summer revival." I've been working on the recipe for this lemon pound cake for a while, but I think I've finally got it. I'm often disappointed by lemon cake, as it doesn't actually taste lemony. That is not a problem for this cake at all. It's very moist and soft, which is not usually the case with pound cake. The frostings are made from raspberries and blackberries, which is why those frostings are so pink.

 

Lemon Pound Cake

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter; softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 5 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk together in a large bowl thoroughly, and set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together yogurt, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
  5. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar one at a time, beating in between each addition.
  6. With the mixer on a low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the yogurt mixture in 2 parts. Start and end with the flour mixture.
  7. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and scoop even amounts of the batter into the cups, filling almost to the top.
  8. Bake for 16 minutes, rotating the pan after 8 minutes. Once golden brown around the edges, remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for at least 2 hours before icing.

 

Lemon Berry Cupcakes by Pâtisserie Natalie
Blackberry & Raspberry Buttercreams

  • 2-1/2 sticks unsalted butter; softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar; sifted
  • 1/4 cup blackberry sauce
  • 1/4 cup raspberry sauce
  1. Beat butter and 1 cup of powdered sugar until smooth. Divide into two parts, removing half from the mixer bowl. Add the blackberry sauce to the mixer bowl, along with 3/4 cup of powdered sugar. Place buttercream in a piping bag and pipe a circle around the outer edge of the cupcake top, spiraling in towards the center.
  2. In the same mixer bowl, add the remaining half of the butter and powdered sugar that was set aside. Add the raspberry sauce and 3/4 cup powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Place in a piping bag and pipe an extra dollop on top of the blackberry buttercream.

Blackberry Sauce
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
Combine ingredients in a sauce pan and place over medium heat. Stir frequently until juices from berries boil. Using a wooden spoon, crush the berries in the pan. Let boil for 2 minutes to make sauce more dense. Strain the mixture if you prefer to have smoother frostings. Cool in refrigerator.

Raspberry Sauce
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
Combine ingredients in a sauce pan and place over medium heat. Stir frequently until juices from berries boil. Let boil for 2 minutes to make sauce more dense. Cool in refrigerator.

 

Thursday
Aug132009

Love and Crumbs: A Peach Crisp Recipe from Moonrat

Happy Birthday to Moonrat
August is totally the sweetest month: it's the month during which CakeSpy was created, and it's also the month of your humble Head Spy's birthday! And so, in celebration of all of this sweetness, there's going to be a month-long celebration of birthday treats, featuring memories (and recipes) from a collection of CakeSpy pals. It kicks off with the lovely and amazing Moonrat, writer of the Editorial Ass blog, which gives a behind-the-scenes look at the publishing industry (and plenty of other fun social commentary). And--bonus--it happens to be her *actual* birthday! As for her laissez-faire birthday treat? Here goes:

Dadrat's Birthday Peach Crisp

When you're a kid, having a summer birthday seems like the short end of the stick. Not only are all your friends away on vacation when you want to have a party, but you can't even bring cupcakes into school for your class!

But I got over my righteous anger pretty quick, because I was a really, really lucky kid whose dad had a penchant for fruit trees. The white peach tree in our back yard would drop peaches at the exact right time each year for Dad to make me some of his peach crisp. Here's his recipe, Dadrat-approved.

Here's how Dadrat did it:

First, he'd make me collect all the peaches and check them for worms (pesky buggers; the antithesis of delicious!). But in case you don't have a white peach tree in your yard, or live in a cement box in the city (like yours truly), you can also buy peaches at the store. If you can find white peaches, they're really, really nice--softer, fibrous, tangy. You'll need about 4 cups. Unless you're doubling or tripling the recipe, which we usually do.


Then he'd preheat the oven to 425. Or around there; Dad dislikes numbers and favors cooking impressionistically. But let 425 be a guidepost for normal people.

Now while the oven is preheating, prep your peaches. You don't want any fuzzy skin in the crisp, so you're going to have to peel them. Luckily, there's a trick. If the peaches are fresh, put them in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Apparently this is called "blanching"--which is particularly humorous if you're using white peaches already. But anyway. Take them out and let them cool, and the skins will come right off. Definitely wait until they cool, though, so you don't burn your mitts. Peel, and slice.

Now stick your peach slices in a large bowl. Mix with:
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon of flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (if you like nutmeg, which I really really do)

Butter the bottom of a casserole and pour the peaches in. Squeeze some lemon (or lemon juice) over the peaches if you feel like it.

 

In a separate bowl, combine

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick of cold butter, chopped up into little squares
If you want, you can throw in walnuts, too, which we never did when I was a kid, but which suddenly strikes me as an awesome idea, unless you are allergic to nuts, in whcih case I don't recommend it. But for everyone else, walnuts are both delicious and an excellent source of iron.

 

Sprinkle this dry mixture over the top of the peach mixture in the casserole. If you like--and I do--sprinkle an additional teaspoon of brown sugar over the top. It gets sweet and crusty.

Bake for about a half an hour. If you do it right, it doesn't turn to mush. My dad quothe, "The only reason to cook it is to heat it up."

Now you can eat it.


Keep up with Moonrat's rad adventures (and the occasional fuzzy animal picture) at editorialass.blogspot.com.

 

Monday
Aug102009

Sweet Surrender: A Little Debbie Death Match

Little Debbie Death Match
Oh, Little Debbie. You loyal lunchtime companion, you siren of saccharine sweetness. With you, we've unwrapped so many smiles--and you've never asked for anything in return.

Which is all to say, Little Debbie, that you never did anything to deserve what follows...but in the dark reality of the real world, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Yup--it's time for a...

Little Debbie Death Match

 

 

But first, to get some important information out of the way:

What have you done? A side by side comparison of several Little Debbie treats to see which one will rise victorious through various challenges. Winners were determined simply: at the end of each challenge, which seemed the most edible? (Though, as a disclaimer, we did not eat them afterward)
Little Debbie Display
Which Treats Were Used? Since the Little Debbie line boasts over 50 varieties of snack cakes, it was elected (for the sake of brevity, and to conserve cash) to choose just four treats that would be representative of some of the major textures and flavors; ultimately, it was narrowed down to the following contenders from their list of bestselling treats: Cosmic Brownies, Oatmeal Creme Pies, Swiss Rolls, and Zebra Cakes.

Why Did You Do This? To see which snack cake is truly superior. And also, you know, for fun.

 

Let the games begin:

Challenge One: Death by Boiling

Objective: To see which treat would last the longest when dropped into a pot of boiling water.
See you in hell, cosmic brownie!Still alive!
Brownie: Dude. This brownie was a survivor--while the icing melted fairly quickly, even after six minutes the cake part was holding strong and still retaining much of its original form. It wasn't until minute seven that it began to fall apart.
See you in Hell, Oatmeal Creme Pie!Oatmeal Creme Pie Boiling
Oatmeal Creme Pie: This little guy never stood a chance. Almost instantly the snack cake began to fall apart when it hit the boiling water; in under thirty seconds, it had completely liquefied, with not even crumbs remaining.
See you in Hell, Swiss Rolls!Swiss Rolls--After
Swiss Roll: These dudes were probably the luckiest of the bunch: since they come in pairs, at least they didn't have to die alone. When the rolls hit the boiling water, the chocolate glaze melted almost immediately, with the cream filling following in short order--however, the cake held on for dear life, slowly unraveling and remaining solid (albeit bloated and soft) for a good four and a half minutes before the spongy pieces began to fall apart. 
Boiling a Zebra cakeDeath to Zebra Cake!
Zebra Cake: The first thing that happened was that this cake seemed to dissect itself: the top icing and middle creme layer began to melt, thus separating the cake layers, which then began to expand in the water. The pieces held steady for nearly five minutes until they began to disintegrate.
Winner: Cosmic Brownie, which not only lasted longest but also retained the best form.

 

Challenge Two: Death by Car
Objective: To see which treat would fare best when run over by a car.
Cosmic brownie about to be run overSweet Roadkill
Brownie: Held its form surprisingly well, considering that it was a frosted brownie--no frosting stuck to the car wheel. Perhaps because it was so oily? This one was definitely the most interesting to look at, too.
Oatmeal Creme Pie about to be run overRoadkill
Oatmeal Creme Pie: Like the brownie, this little sandwich cookie fared pretty well, retaining its general makeup and not even losing much filling. 
Swiss Roll about to be run overSweet Roadkill
Swiss Roll: Total Goners. They stuck everywhere: the tire, between the treads, the ground. It was grisly.
Zebra cake about to be run overSweet Roadkill
Zebra Cake: Not much better than the Swiss Rolls--it seemed as if this snack cake exploded under the weight of the car. 
Winner: Oatmeal Creme Pie. While it was a hard decision between this and the brownie, ultimately the fact that the filling was intact made it slightly more appetizing.

Challenge Three: Death by Flight
Objective: To see which snack cake would fare best after being dropped from a second-story window.
Fallen brownie
Brownie: After landing on its side, Brownie almost looked normal...but upon closer inspection, had a strange and unnatural twist in its side. Sure, it survived...but it would never be the same.
Oatmeal Creme Pie after falling
Oatmeal Creme Pie: The cookies acted as a protective buffer, and quite honestly, this one probably just could have been dusted off and given to a friend, and nobody would have been the wiser.
Fallen Swiss Cake Roll
Swiss Roll: The roll cracked open at the seam, allowing the sweet cream to ooze out--the equivalent of a confectionery head wound?
Massacre! Creme FillingFallen Zebra Cake
Zebra Cake: Poor, poor Zebra Cake. This one fared the worst, hitting a step on the way down and leaving a sad trail of creme filling as it went. Zebra Cake was so not okay.
Winner: Oatmeal Creme Pie. It didn't seem to have suffered very much at all, other than collecting some dead leaves and dust.

Challenge Four: Death by Mr. CakeSpy
Objective: To see which treat will fare best when jumped on by the mighty Mr. CakeSpy.
JumperDanny jumps on it
See? He meant business. 
Brownie after being jumped-on
Brownie: Not so bad at all. It definitely suffered, but didn't lose its form under the weight of the mighty jump.
Oatmeal Creme Pie, Smashed
Oatmeal Creme Pie: Sure, it's only a small bit of creme filling poking out of the top cookie...but who's to say it's not a cookie concussion, bound to claim the cookie's life at any moment?
Smashed Swiss Cake Roll
Swiss Roll: Oh, poor swirly treats: the creme that makes them so delicious was also their downfall, popping out at the ends and rendering them limp and a shadow of their former selves.
Ouch!
Zebra Cake: Though the form was somewhat intact, the moment the cellophane was lifted, half of the frosting and cake came with it. Another one bites the dust.
Winner: Brownie. It was close, but ultimately the Oatmeal Creme Pie looked like it might not survive.

 

Which Snack Takes the Cake? Looks like it's a tie between the Oatmeal Creme Pie and the Brownie--but if you want a sweet survivor, stay away from the the iced snack cakes--they're total softies.

Conclusion: Overall, these Little Debbie treats are hardier than you might think: they're willing and able to withstand all sorts of hardship and will generally remain surprisingly edible. Of course, whether this information is comforting or horrifying is up to you. Naysayers may express horror at the health implications of ingesting foods that won't die. But isn't it much nicer to think that if you grew up eating them, you might have absorbed some of these sweet super powers?
Little Debbie Death Match

 

Monday
Aug102009

Sweet Discovery: Little Debbie Cake Still Life Paintings by Mollie Armstrong

What a happy side effect to all of the Little Debbie torture I've been engaging in lately: a new cake-art discovery. While conducting various research on the sweet snacks, I stumbled upon Mollie Moore Armstrong's amazing artwork (which, though mostly done in the late 90's, was new to me!), in particular her lovingly rendered still life paintings of Little Debbie Snack Cakes.

Through Armstrong's eyes the cakes seem so lovely and poignant, like portraits of society matrons.

But one cannot help but wonder...what lies beneath that sweet icing veneer?

Oh yes...creme filling.

CakeSpy Note: Though I didn't see any work that was more recent than 2002 on the site, if anyone knows of any upcoming shows or another site on which to see her work, please leave a comment!

 

Discover Mollie Armstrong's artwork on her site, molliearmstrong.com.

 

Sunday
Aug092009

To-Thali Awesome: The Dessert Thali at Poppy, Seattle

Dessert Thali at Poppy, Seattle
The informal definition of "crush" is "one who is the object of an infatuation." But it's so much more than that--it's that feeling you get in the presence of your crush. It consumes you. It gives you an impulse to ride your bike by their house...just in case they happen to be around.

And I'm crushing really hard on the Dessert Thali at Seattle restaurant Poppy; it's the creation of Dana Cree, whom I suspect is some sort of pastry and confectionery genius.

What is a Dessert Thali, you may be wondering? Well, in case you missed its recent shout-out as the Best Dessert Date in Seattle, here's the article's well-put overview:

A large tray arrives at your table loaded up with one of Cree's main desserts (say, her warm orange-rhubarb shortcake or the, haha, hot date cake), plus a scoop of ice cream (mango lassi, sassafras, neapolitan) and a host of bite-sized things, including candied nuts, fruit gelées, chocolate truffles, and an exquisite nutter-butter square with a crackly caramel topping.


Oh, it's a sexy dessert tray all right.

 

On the day we went, we personalized ours with the following:
"Rocky Rose" ice cream
First, the "Rocky Rose" ice cream, which was kind of a fancy take on Rocky Road, with a thick fudge topping and homemade marshmallows;

Cherry crumble
Then, a crumble consisting of roasted cherries topped with almond streusel and honey-lavender ice cream. This was an absolute standout: assembling it just moments before being served, apparently, is one of the secrets--each ingredient maintains its own flavor and texture "identity"--coming together beautifully without becoming soupy.

Cream PuffsCumin Cashews
Pate De FruitNutter Butter
Various other little bites were served alongside the main attractions: little lemon cream puffs; cumin cashews; apricot pâtes de fruits (translation: fancy fruit jellies); and some absolutely tantalizing Nutter butter squares, which were crispy and sweet and salty all at once, andwith a crowning glory of thick caramel, completely addictive.
Bread Pudding
..and, we were treated to a sneak preview of something Dana is working on for an upcoming event. Not going to give away too much, but it was good.


Honestly, I couldn't imagine a more delightful way to serve dessert. With a sampler like this, you still have some choice in the matter--but it also gives you an opportunity to try some tiny bites of unexpected desserts; there's also a certain drama that comes with having this platter full of sweets glistening like little jewels being delivered to your table. It's one of those dishes that all the other diners tend to turn to see as it goes by.

 

Want a piece of this sweet action? Poppy is located at 622 Broadway East, Seattle (206) 324-1108; you can check them out online at poppyseattle.com. For more on the lovely and amazing Dana Cree, check out this article and stay tuned for other new developments!


Poppy on Urbanspoon

 

Sunday
Aug092009

More is More: Decadent Poundcake Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Peanut butter cupcakes
There are those people who say that pound cake is a dessert that needs no garnish, rich and decadent as it is on its own. 

I am not one of those people, however, so when I recently prepared the pound cake recipe featured on the absolutely amazing Smitten Kitchen site, while the cakes (which I baked in cupcake-cups) were absolutely delicious, I couldn't help but feel that it was a beginning, not an end: they needed something serious--no delicate fruit toppings here, please--to balance out that lightness.

And what could be more decadent than topping an already-buttery cake with peanut butter buttercream frosting?

Peanut Butter Frosting
Happily, I had just received a sweet sample pack from Superior Nut which included a decadent peanut butter dessert topping (think peanut butter, but sweeter and with the consistency of a thick hot fudge), which was easily incorporated into a batch of buttercream which was then used to frost the baby-poundcakes; it was all topped off with some sea salt and roasted peanut chunks. The result? Astoundingly sweet, rich, and satisfyingly salty cupcakes which prove that while sometimes less is more, sometimes more is best.  

Want a piece of this awesome? Here's how I did it:

Peanut butter cupcakes
Poundcake Cupcakes With Peanut Butter Frosting

 

For the Cake: For a light and versatile poundcake, check out this recipe on Smitten Kitchen; I made my batch with two major changes: first, vanilla extract was used in place of cognac; second, they were baked them as cupcakes instead of one large cake (this reduced the baking time by about 5-7 minutes). It made about 15 cupcakes. Some of them were a little bit short, but extra frosting compensated quite nicely.

For the Frosting: I doctored up a batch of Magnolia Bakery's famous buttercream:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 to 6 cups confectioners’ sugar (less than in the original recipe, since the Peanut butter topping was sweetened)
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of Superior Nut's Peanut Butter topping (or, I'm sure you could make due with a similar amount of lightly melted peanut butter or other nut butter, but you might want to add a little more confectioners' sugar)
  • Optional: Sea salt and Roasted Peanut Chunks for garnish

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 2 cups of the sugar and then the cream and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes). After incorporated, add the peanut butter topping to the mix and put back on low speed until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency; you might need to add a little extra sugar but probably not. Do not refrigerate this frosting, or it will become a brick; it can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Finally, enjoy. These cakes were brought to CakeSpy buddy Dave's birthday party, and apparently had the birthday crowd in a sugar coma even the next day.

 

Friday
Aug072009

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Life Lessons
Though this article is geared toward caterers, the "How to Plan a Dessert Menu" section is interesting!

Peter Pan Donuts (a CakeSpy favorite!) in Brooklyn, NY has debuted the donut ice cream sandwich. (thanks Lauren!)

Over at BUST Magazine, Ice cream flavors + book titles = a plethora of puns

Rice Krispie Treats filled with ice cream: Pure genius!

Blondie & Brownie's adorable entry to the Threadcakes contest will make you want to coo over the cuteness.

CakeSpy reported on how awesome the new Cupcake Royale location is, and the New York Times agrees!

Learn a life skill: How to carve a watermelon baby carriage.

Nope: still don't think that Whoopie Pies are the next big thing. But Gourmet's Zucchini Whoopie pies sure do look delicious.

Butterfingers, all grown up and in a gorgeous cake.

They're raw. They're balls. They look delicious.

Aran of Cannelle et Vanille has set up an online food styling and photography portfolio. It's delightful.

CakeSpy buddy Nurit tries out Tom Douglas's famous Triple Coconut Cream Pie, with yummy results.

In case you missed it, I'll tell you again: CakeSpy has collaborated with All-Mighty, with adorable results.

Friday
Aug072009

CakeSpy Undercover: Chuck's Donuts in Renton, WA

Bear Claw (webbed foot!?) from Chuck's Donuts, Renton
I often say that bad things happen when you leave the city, but when a CakeSpy reader emailed extolling the virtues of Chuck's Donuts in Renton:

While you won't find espresso, cupcakes, or frozen yogurt on the menu, you will find the best maple bars in five counties and a lot of extremely tasty cake donuts with simple fillings. I could eat their chocolate-covered custard-filled donuts until they came out my ears! I grew up on these sugar bombs and many people in my massive family consider them prime bribe material.

...well, let's just say I knew it was time to hit the road.

Chuck's Donuts is a deeply and delightfully unpretentious place. It's perched at the corner of a strip mall off of the highway; the signage and decor are fairly nondescript. But that's OK, because we're here to talk about the donuts.

Bear Claw from Chuck's Donuts, Renton
We tested three to get a full variety: a bear claw, and old fashioned, and a frosted cake donut. The bear claw had a thin sheen of glaze that shattered oh so delicately when bitten into, giving way to a yeasty, sweet dough filled with a buttery cinnamon-sugar mix--the filling was a nice complement to the lightness of the donut.

Chocolate Frosted w/coconut, from Chuck's Donuts, Renton
The cake donut was lightly crispy on the outside, dense, soft and cakey on the inside; the frosting was almost too sweet, but we powered through it--and it should be noted that the coconut added a nice texture too.

Donut from Chuck's Donuts, Renton
But the real start of the show was an old fashioned cake donut which vaguely resembled a potato in size and texure (though as to the technical name, not quite sure), which was filled with jam and lightly glazed; overall, very pleasingly dense and just greasy enough to be satisfying without being gross.

Overall, a great find and definitely worth a stop if you find yourself in Renton; and though we do have a number of great donut shops in the city, I'd even deem it a worthy destination for Seattle donut lovers.

Chuck's Donuts, 5335 N. 4th Street, Renton; click here for more info.
Chuck's Donut Shop on Urbanspoon

Wednesday
Aug052009

A Sweet Love Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken: Store-Bought Cakes

Photo c/o Flickr User gearys
No matter how many gorgeous homemade cakes I try, no matter how many fancy pastries I sample, I will always have a lingering love for grocery store-bought birthday cake. 
Cannonball!
I'm not talking about a fancy cake that you might buy at the bakery of an upscale store like Whole Foods. No. I am talking about the garishly frosted, probably not trans fat-free, gonna-leave-a-greasy-slick-on-your-tongue, packed in a plastic cake cover type of store bought cake that you'd see at national grocery store chains.
Grocery Store cakes: I love them.
Now, I realize that on so many levels, they are an inferior product. They are not made with the care that goes into the cakes at most retail bakeries, nor are they made with the same caliber of ingredients. They don't look or taste as good.
Burger Cake

And yet--in spite of these powerful arguments against them--sometimes nothing else will do. So what gives? 

Is it Nostalgia? Perhaps it can be blamed on growing up in the suburbs, where for every birthday party with a homemade cake, there were probably four with store-bought cakes? Perhaps somewhere in that combination of bright frosting in colors never found in nature, that inch-and-a-half slick of waxy-sweet frosting, and soft and spongy cake, it's all about trying to conjure up a simpler and sweeter time in life?


Cupcake Cake at QFC
Or is it Simply Bad Taste? Or are these cakes like the relationship that you know is toxic but you just can't give up, because even while it's so bad, it's also so good? Is confessing a love of store-bought cake simply admitting that deep down, you've got bad (not to mention unrefined) taste?


Or perhaps it's a bit of both: sweet nostalgia and trashy taste? While I can't answer it definitively, I can say one thing for sure: grocery store-bought cake, I just can't quit you (and I don't want to, either).

What about you? Do you have a soft spot in your heart for store-bought cakes, or is CakeSpy simply guilty of bad taste?

 

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