This week's Illustration Friday theme is Legendary, and what characters could be more memorable than that snarky British duo Eddy and Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous? As cupcakes, their boozy fillings would be nothing short of legendary!
Running CakeSpy.com is certainly a fun job: drawing pictures of (and writing about) cake and baked goods all day--what could be sweeter? But have you ever wondered exactly how a cake and baked good related website can actually make money? Or how on earth such a niche business can survive in such a harsh economy?
Our Head Spy Jessie is going to be weighing in on the art of selling cupcake-themed products and the life of a professional Cake Gumshoe at the upcoming CRAVEbusiness SHOP Symposium on March 23 at the Seattle Design Center, as part of two of the day's events: "Start-Up Stars: Entrepreneurs Who Are Making it Happen" in which several business owners will talk about building a business in a tough economy, followed by a "Live Think Tank" in which we will talk generally about ideas and thoughts on transforming and building businesses.
SHOP Symposium / 09 is dedicated to celebrating, inspiring and educating independent business owners of all stripes. The only conference of its kind, this one-day event teaches practical skills, offers wise encouragement, and builds camaraderie. Whether you sell shoes or facials, travel getaway or graphic design, we invite you to join us. Bring your questions, your frustrations, your fears, and your hopes. Prepare to be inspired.
This is bittersweet news indeed: we learned today that the Seattle P-I will run its last print edition tomorrow. Although the online version will continue (including CakeSpy Seattle, to the best of our knowledge), we will certainly miss the tactile enjoyment of unfolding a paper along with breakfast coffee (and cake, natch).
The P-I has been so supportive of CakeSpy since the start, having featured our artwork and quotes from our Spies on numerous occasions; rest assured, dear paper, you will be missed!
For sweet Seattle musings, visit CakeSpy Seattle.
When it comes to pie's place in pop culture, one reference seems to stand out above any other: Agent Dale Cooper's love of good cherry pie and a "damn fine cup of coffee" in the strange little hamlet called Twin Peaks.
Also mentioned: George's Bakery & Deli, 127 W. North Bend Way, North Bend, WA, (425) 888-0632; online at UrbanSpoon.
Sweet Pickle Pie
Treacle Cornflake Pie
The Cowboy Cookie was such a treat for us--literally.
You see, not so long ago, a car crashed into the house neighboring the CakeSpy Headquarters. No, really. See?
It crashed right into the kitchen, where said neighbor happened to be at the time of the crash--in the middle of mixing up some cookie batter.
Well, needless to say their oven was not OK, so we found ourselves in the unique position of having inherited a batch of cookie dough, all ready to bake. And so preheat the oven we did, and about half an hour later, we had a fresh batch of cookies. What resulted was a mysterious, yet delicious, cookie. They had oats, but couldn't quite be called an oatmeal cookie; they had chocolate chips, and yet we wouldn't quite call them a chocolate chip cookie. And did we detect a pecan or two?
Turns out, they're called Cowboy Cookies--and with their dramatic entrance, they've certainly lassoed our hearts--and with an extra dab of chocolate frosting in between, they're bound to corral the affections of just about any cookie lover.
There are a number of varieties of the Cowboy Cookie to be found online, and they're certainly an easy one to personalize to taste; but in case you're curious, this recipe that we found on Martha Stewart seemed very close to the ones that we had:
- Vegetable oil cooking spray
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup light-brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch chunks (1 cup)
- 3 ounces (3/4 cup) pecan halves
- 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat baking sheets with cooking spray, line with parchment, and spray parchment. Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl.
Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
Reduce speed to low, and slowly add flour mixture, beating until just incorporated. Beat in oats, chocolate, pecans, and coconut until combined. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)
Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a small spoon, drop dough onto baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart.
Bake until edges of cookies begin to brown, 11 to 13 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire rack, and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks. Let cool. (Cookies can be stored up to 3 days.)
It's time to spring ahead--sweetly--with a new batch of rubber stamps created by our own Head Spy Jessie in collaboration with Taylored Expressions! The newest set has Cuppie, that little rascal of a cupcake, getting into all sorts of Easter adventures!
Pomegranates are kind of like the rock star of the antioxidant world. In fact, based on what we read on the POM Wonderful website, there isn't a whole lot they can't do: they improve cardiovascular health, help clear arteries, and might even help you feel more frisky. And happily, pomegranate seeds and juice are pretty delicious, even on their own, so getting all of those benefits need not taste like bitter suffering.
However, when the sweet people at POM (thanks buddies!) offered to send us some of their juice to test out with baking, we wonderered, could there be a way to increase the awesome quotient of this superfood? The answer is yes: by smothering its supreme antioxidancy in butter and sugar.
So was born the POM-mier, a pomegranate infused and topped palmier. Joking aside, the resulting pastry is a lovely, not too-sweet combination of flavors: the buttery, flaky pastry gets a sweet, tart taste contrast from an infusion of pomegranate between its layers and a topping of pomegranate syrup. Here's how we made them:
Pomegranate Palmiers (adapted from a recipe on Epicurious):
- 1 to 2 tablespoons POM Wonderful juice per pastry sheet
- 2 sheets puff pastry (or more, or less, to your preference)
- 1 tablespoon sugar per pastry sheet (approx.)
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Sprinkle some sugar on a work surface and cover it with a puff pastry square sheet. Then sprinkle more sugar evenly over pastry sheet and roll it out into a 10-inch square with a rolling pin. With a pastry brush, gently brush the pomegranate juice across the surface of the puff pastry (this will give the finished pastry the lightest essence of pomegrante).
Fold in two opposite sides of the pastry sheet square so that they the sides meet in the center. Fold in same sides of the pastry again.
Fold one half of the pastry over the other. Cut pastry crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Dip cut sides of each piece in sugar and arrange, cut side down, on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat with three remaining pastry sheets.
Bake palmiers in batches in middle of oven until golden on bottom, about 12 minutes. Turn over and bake until golden on bottom, 5 to 7 minutes more, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. While cooling, top with pomegranate syrup (below).
Pomegranate Syrup (Adapted from the POM Wonderful website):
- 1 cup POM Wonderful Juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
Combine juice and 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes until reduced to about 3/4 cup, stirring frequently.
Remove from heat and cool. (You can store in a tightly closed jar or container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months).
With a spoon, gently pour a small amount on top of each finished pastry.
Have you ever heard of Illustration Friday? Well. If not, the rules are simple:
Illustration Friday is a weekly illustration challenge. A topic is posted every Friday and then participants have all week to come up with their own interpretation.
This week, the theme was "Intricate"--and what could be a sweeter interpretation than a fancy, perhaps ever-so-slightly haughty cupcake in an intricately decorated room?
Have a sweet weekend!
Food historians trace the history of bread pudding to the early 11th and 12th centuries, as frugal cooks looked for ways to use stale, leftover bread instead of letting it go to waste. In 13th century England, bread pudding was known as “poor man’s pudding,” as it was a popular dish with the lower classes.Yup--it was a budget-friendly dish then, and it is now. Sure, it's been gussied up--you'll see fancy versions with all sorts of toppings, and creative versions using everything from doughnuts to cinnamon rolls to brioche, but it really does boil down to the idea of giving new life to baked goods which would otherwise be thrown away.