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Wednesday
Aug052009

Cake Byte: CakeSpy for All-Mighty!

CakeSpy for All-Mighty collaboration
Do you love cupcakes? Do you love dogs? Do you love cute?

Well then, my friends, prepare for the triple threat of awesome that is the new CakeSpy / All-Mighty.net collaboration!

All-Mighty is an online shop run by CakeSpy buddies Erica and Jen and their adorable Boston Terriers, Mighty and Stinky! Their shop features all sorts of adorable clothing for humans and their furry friends, and I have collaborated with them on several sets of pins which are now available for purchase in their shop.

First, there's the pack of "Paris Pins", which includes three adorable pins with scenes of Parisian puppies and pastries. They come on a nice thick postcard made of 100% recycled matte paper--and each set comes with a frame-able print on the back.

There's also a pack of "Big Apple Badges" which includes three pins portraying some sweet street scenes from the Big Apple; like the other sets, they come on a nice thick postcard made of 100% recycled matte paper--and each set comes with a frame-able print on the back.

They can be purchased (along with a lot of other cool stuff!) at all-mighty.net!

Tuesday
Aug042009

Babka Kebabs: Glorious Kebabka!

Kebabka
There is a deeply rooted belief here at CakeSpy that just about any food tastes better on a stick. I dare you to think of one that doesn't.

But as Rachel of Coconut & Lime recently lamented via twitter, while many desserts-on-a-stick are adorable and delicious, they can all too often be "too small to be satisfying". 

Happily, there is a food on a stick that will stick with you: delicious chunks of chocolate babka speared kebab style on a skewer--or, as I like to call it, kebabka.

Kebabka!
Now, kebabka is not necessarily a cute food. It's not delicate, and it's not dainty. But it is rich, chocolatey, carbohydratey, and delicious--and when enjoyed several chunks at a time eaten directly off of a stick, it will not leave you hungry.

Here's how you do it.

 

Kebabka (based loosely on this recipe)

  • For the babka
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 (.25-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour


For the topping (I kind of cheated here)

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 big bar of chocolate (the jumbo sized ones at the grocery store--I used Hershey's Special dark chocolate)
  • Small amount of whipping cream, just for texture

 

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until creamy (I saved the egg whites for an egg wash later)
  3. Mix the yeast in warm water with the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. When this mixture thickens, add it to the egg yolks along with the, milk, vanilla and salt.
  4. Add the yeast mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and mix well. Slowly add the flour until a soft dough is formed. 
  5. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until dough is no longer sticky.
  6. Cover the dough and allow it to rise in a warm place until it doubles.
  7. When it's looking pretty big, you might want to prepare the filling. To do so, you could put your butter and chocolate (broken up) in a double boiler to melt it, or you could do as I did and microwave it at 10 second intervals until it is melted. Add a touch of heavy cream (if you feel like it; I did) and mix until fully incorporated.
  8. At this point, I put the dough on a floured silicone pastry mat and rolled it flat and long. I cut it into about 15 separate little chunks.
  9. Then I rolled out each little chunk of dough and poured some chocolate filling in each one, then made it into a little roll and put each one into a cupcake cup.
    Mini BabkasRising to the occasion
  10. Allow these little loaves to rise again for about 2 hours.
  11. At this point you can either pour some of the leftover topping on top of the risen dough mounds or just, you know, eat it with a spoon (oh so rich!). 
  12. I used some of the leftover egg whites to lightly brush on top of each little loaf to ensure a pleasing golden tone.
    Mini Chocolate Babka
  13. Place in a preheated 350*F (150*C) oven for 30 minutes or until done. Let cool completely.
    Big plate of kebabkas
  14. Once cool, cut into either halves, or fourths; spear as many chunks as you'd like on kebab skewers, and eat yourself some food on a stick. If desired, serve with whipped cream for dipping (it's good!)

 

Tuesday
Aug042009

Refreshing and Sweet: Cupcake Royale Debuts the Raspberry-Lemonade Cupcake for August

Photo c/o Cupcake Royale, new August flavor!
Cupcake Royale has had a lot going on lately, what with the opening of their beautifully outfitted new location and owner Jody Hall speaking out about Health Care on NPR. But of course we can't forget the cupcakes, and this August they've got a refreshing new flavor: Raspberry Lemonade.

Per their site, the new flavor consists of "fresh, local, organic raspberries from Willie Green's organic farm in the cake, topped with tart and tangy, oh-so-summery lemon cream cheese frosting". I love that the flavor has the raspberries mixed into the cake rather than just as part of the frosting--it sounds so refreshing for the summer heat, but with a welcome bit of richness from the cream cheese frosting.

The new flavor will be available at all four Cupcake Royale locations through August 31st; for more information, visit cupcakeroyale.com; for instant updates, follow them on Twitter!

Monday
Aug032009

Edi-Mology: Cake

Closeup of Cake
Edi-mology is a new featurette on CakeSpy, designed to explore the etymology and meanings of the terminology behind the baked goods we all love so much. One thing is for sure: this hunger for knowledge can sure give you an appetite for baked goods!

Today's lesson: CAKE

Definition:

Cake: [keyk] noun a sweet, baked, breadlike food, made with or without shortening, and usually containing flour, sugar, baking powder or soda, eggs, and liquid flavoring. (source: dictionary.com)
Baby Cakes at Black Hound
Etymology
This sweet term came to us circa the year 1230 from Old Norse kaka "cake," from the West Germanic "kokon-", from the Proto-Indo-European base "gag-" or "gog-", which meant "something round, lump of something." 
Surprise, surprise: Cake is not related to the Latin coquere ("to cook") as formerly supposed. Replaced its Olde English cognate (cognate = two words that have a common origin), coecel
Originally (until c.1420) it meant "a flat, round loaf of bread." (source: etymoline.com)
Of course, if you're wondering how it made the leap from referring to a flat, round loaf of bread to the delicious confection that we call cake today, here's a little excerpt from Foodtimeline.org:

 

According to the food historians, the precursors of modern cakes (round ones with icing) were first baked in Europe sometime in the mid-17th century. This is due to primarily to advances in technology (more reliable ovens, manufacture/availability of food molds) and ingredient availability (refined sugar)....The first icing were usually a boiled composition of the finest available sugar, egg whites and [sometimes] flavorings...It was not until the middle of the 19th century that cake as we know it today (made with extra refined white flour and baking powder instead of yeast) arrived on the scene...Butter-cream frostings (using butter, cream, confectioners [powdered] sugar and flavorings) began replacing traditional boiled icings in first few decades 20th century. In France, Antonin Careme [1784-1833] is considered THE premier historic chef of the modern pastry/cake world. You will find references to him in French culinary history books.


(Note: if you're interested in more Cake Lore, you might also want to check out Leslie F. Miller's book Let Me Eat Cake) 

First known publication: 
"What man, I trow ye raue, Wolde ye bothe eate your cake and haue your cake?" ["The Proverbs & Epigrams of John Heywood," 1562] (source: etymonline.com)
"What does Cake have that I don't?"
Idioms: 
A piece of cake: something easily done: She thought her first solo flight was a piece of cake.
Take the cake: a. to surpass all others, esp. in some undesirable quality; be extraordinary or unusual: His arrogance takes the cake.
b. to win first prize.
Let them eat cake: this is from Rousseau's "Confessions," in reference to an incident c.1740, when it was already proverbial, long before Marie Antoinette. The "cake" in question was not a confection, but a poor man's food. (source for these idioms: etymonline.com)
(CakeSpy Tip: If you're into idioms, bet you'll love Chocolate & Zucchini's "Edible Idiom" series!)

 

Monday
Aug032009

Taking the Cake: Trophy Cupcakes Announces New Bellevue Location!

Cupcakes at Trophy Cupcakes
It's official, friends: Trophy Cupcakes is expanding! They just announced the upcoming opening of their third location which will be in Bellevue. Here are the details from their Facebook page:

we had not planned on expanding this quickly but when the Bravern in Bellevue invited us to be a part of their amazing collection of shops, it was an offer we couldn’t refuse! With so many die-hard, commuting for Trophy Cupcakes, Eastside customers, how could we say no?!

The new Trophy Cupcakes location will be part of The Shops at the Bravern, an upscale shopping center which is scheduled to open in September. The new Trophy location is tentatively scheduled to open on September 12. Read more on the Trophy Cupcakes Facebook page!

Monday
Aug032009

Tweet All About It: CakeSpy Featured in Seattle Magazine!


Sweet treats and sweet tweets collide in this month's issue of Seattle Magazine, where CakeSpy gets a mention in Rebekah Denn's article about Seattle's food scene and Twitter!

Rebekah, who also writes the incredibly informative (and witty) site Eat All About It, has put together a very interesting article which ponders the phenomenon that is twitter, and how it is being used by foodies in Seattle (and beyond, really). 

And so what is twitter? A place to talk about the newest restaurant dishes? A place to dish about restaurants? Or is the appeal that "Unlike other forms of social media—or, ahem, real life—Twitter offers a six-degrees-of-separation equality between amateurs, professionals and celebrities"?
While the dust may have yet to settle, one thing is pretty clear: it's prompted many readers to tweet all about it! There's even a handy list of some of the coolest Seattle foodies to follow--CakeSpy is on the list (!) along with a seriously talented and entertaining crew including Shauna Ahern, Brian Canlis, Dana Cree, Maggie Dutton, Whitney Ricketts (who just became acquisitions editor at Sasquatch Books!), Traca Savadogo, Seattle Bon Vivant, Becky Selengut, Surly GourmandLorna Yee, and of course, the grande dame of foodery everywhere, Ruth Reichl.
Check out the article here; or, to go right to the list of Seattle foodies that you should mos' def be following, click here! Of course, you should most definitely be following Rebekah via twitter and her site too.

 

 

 

Sunday
Aug022009

What a Turon-On: A Delicious Find at Delite Bakery

Turon from Delite Bakery, Seattle
Nope: this is not an eggroll. It's even better, because it's dessert.

Say hello to the turon, my most recent discovery at Delite Bakery in Seattle's Beacon Hill. What is a turon (or turrón, as I've seen it elsewhere), exactly? Well, according to Wikipedia,

Though many varieties exist, a typical turrón is plantain and jackfruit wrapped in a springroll wrapper, dipped in brown sugar, then fried. This somewhat resembles banana spring rolls. These are also known as banana fritters.


Oh, and these little confections (which cost only $1.45 each! a steal!) are also exceedingly delicious. Delite's version was made with banana, and had the most delicious slightly crackly, carmelly-sticky crust which gave way to the sweet taste of banana. The banana's texture was perfect: yielding, but not too mushy. A satisfying treat, and surprisingly for something fried, not too heavy--all in all, perfect for a hot day and definitely worth seeking out if you find yourself in the Beacon Hill area (especially easy now, thanks to the light rail).

 

Delite Bakery, 2701 15th Ave S., Seattle. Read more online here!


Of course, if you're not in the Seattle area, you might want to investigate making your own turon--this recipe looks pretty delicious! If you've got another to share, please leave a comment!


Despi Delite Bakery on Urbanspoon

 

Thursday
Jul302009

Making Whoopie: Pies, That Is

Homemade Whoopie Pies
While I stand by my claim that Whoopie Pies are not the next big thing, I am completely willing to admit that they are delicious. While several more exciting recipes have been developed, this one from marshmallowfluff.com is a good starting point--because after all, they say that you should learn the rules before you break them, right? So why not do as CakeSpy buddy Chris and I did and learn the ropes with this fairly traditional recipe, which includes Marshmallow Fluff (a substance which has been connected with the Whoopie Pie since the 1930s, when a cookbook called Yummy Book included a recipe calling for the fluffy stuff), then let your creativity go wild as you discover delicious new variations: pumpkin? Peanut butter chocolate? Strawberry? Or perhaps you could just ogle at all of the flavors available at Wicked Whoopie Pies. It's not just (whoopie) pie in the sky!

Whoopie Pies (recipe adapted from marshmallowfluff.com)

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 c. unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Filling (recipe follows)


Homemade whoopie pies
Heat oven to 350 F. Grease two large cookie sheets and set aside. In a large bowl with mixer at medium speed beat egg and vegetable oil. Gradually beat in sugar and continue beating until pale yellow in color. In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a measuring cup combine milk and vanilla. Add flour and milk mixtures alternately to eggs and sugar, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

 

Homemade whoopie piesHomemade whoopie pies
Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheet. These will spread a lot, so make 6 cakes per sheet at a time. Bake about 5 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched with finger. Remove to wire racks to cool. When cool, use filling and two cakes to make sandwiches. Makes 15 (or 20-something mini ones).

Filling

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 c. confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup Marshmallow Fluff
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
In a medium bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and remaining ingredients until light and fluffy. Of course, if you're just lazy, you could just put a big smear of Marshmallow fluff between the cakey layers and enjoy your treat slightly faster. Not that we did this, of course.
Homemade whoopie pies

 

Tuesday
Jul282009

War Whoop: Why Whoopie Pies Are Not the Next Big Thing

Whoopie Cushion
Whoopie pies.

There are so many reasons to love them. They're delicious. They're rich in history. They're filled with frosting.

What they are not, however, is the successor to King Cupcake's place in the popular dessert kingdom--regardless of what the New York Times says. Now, I realize that this is a powerful claim--but it's not just talk. To really become the next big thing, Whoopie Pies have some work to do. Let's lay it down:
Whoopie Pie from The Scone Pony, NJ
Problem one: The Stupid Name. There's no delicate way to say it: Whoopie Pie is a stupid-sounding name. For me, "whoopie" conjures up goofy images of sexual reference on the Newlywed Show and cushions that make farting sounds. I don't know about you, but even adding "pie" after it doesn't serve to cancel out these associations or change them to "irresistible dessert".

It's true--there are alternate names by which the treat is sometimes known: gob, and sometimes bob. You know what? These are not an improvement.
Is there a solution? Well, changing the name. Easier said than done, as anyone who has tried to upgrade to a full name from a diminutive knows; however, may I humbly suggest a few new names, just to try on for size? Frosting sandwich? Sweetburger? Cakewich? They may not be perfect, but no worse than whoopie pie.
Whoopie Pie from Sweet on You
Problem two: the cute factor. Don't get me wrong--whoopie pies do have a certain visual charm. But they're kind of cute in the same way my pug is cute--a sort of ugly-cute. They are a little lopsided, and the ungarnished cakey bits aren't much to look at on their own, and the look is generally very homey. Not to say homey is a bad thing, but if they want to graduate to a dessert worthy of cult following and mentions in US Weekly, they're going to need a little work on their styling.
Is there a solution? Luckily, there are remedies. I thought it was very cute to add sprinkles, nuts or chocolate chips to the side, chipwich-style, as I saw at Seattle bakery Sweet on You; the delicate frosting piping shown in the New York Times article index photo (whoopie pies from Trois Pommes Patisserie in Park Slope) adds a pretty touch too. Also, playing with flavor (as Joy the Baker, Crumblycookie.net and Seattle coffee shop Javasti have done) can also be a very effective way to not only add to the deliciousness of the treats but also to add some stunning color contrasts which lend an air of sophistication.

 

Pumpkin whoopie pies
Problem three: the size. They are, to put it delicately, huge. As much as it pains me to say it, the classic whoopie pie is often too huge for a single serving, which poses the eater with all sorts of awkwardness. Do you share with a friend? Do you save it for later? Either way there are obstacles--if you're sharing, you've got to first face the issue of whether or not you really want to share, in addition to the more practical matter of how to divide it, especially if you've taken it to go. If you've decided to save it for later, you're left carrying a somewhat delicate confection which can easily crush or ooze so that you lose precious frosting. This is a serious bummer.
Is there a solution? Mini whoopie pies. I first encountered these at the Baked: New Frontiers in Baking book party in Seattle,  when they served mini versions of their insanely delicious pumpkin whoopie pies. At about 2.5 inches in diameter they were the perfect single-serving size, with a great frosting-to-cake ratio and no awkward "want to share?" moments. 


Vegan Whoopie Pie, Sweetpea Baking, Portland, OR

OK, as you might have surmised, this post is not meant to be a rage against the Whoopie Pie machine--just some constructive criticism. Now, off to go eat one. Or two. And I'm definitely not sharing.

Want more Whoopie? You can buy them online here and here; you can attend the Whoopie Pie festival in Lancaster, PA in September; you can read more about their history here.

 

Tuesday
Jul282009

Sweet Art: Just Donut

Just Donut.
No doubt about it, life can be hard. But when the going gets tough, here's to hoping you can rise above any obstacle like a yeast-based dough in the oven--that is to say, Just Donut.

This slightly tongue in cheek inspirational message has been brought to you by CakeSpy.

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