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Saturday
Nov152008

Sweet Spot: Dessert Links!

Lamb and Lion Cuppies

Who can wait til March for lions and lambs when they're this cute? Similarly cute are our favorite links this week:
Help the economy: go to the Urban Craft Uprising, Seattle's awesome holiday craft show! Cakespy and many other arbiters of cute will be in attendance!
In Maine and love to bake? Sign up for Iron Cupcake in Maine, which is headed up by Carrie from Fields of Cake!

 

Testing recipes? Follow pastry chef Shuna Fish Lydon's wise guide.

 

Bakery owners (or hopeful bakery owners) listen up: The Ten Commandments of Cupcakes. Thanks Lydia for the tip!

Chocolate ravioli: need we say more? (thanks Leslie for the tip)
Sweet accessories we want: the cutest cake and ice-cream air fresheners we've ever seen, at peachypan.com; cupcake pajamas by PJ Salvage (thanks for the tip MPG!); bakery-themed bath products by sassypinkboutique.com!
A marriage made in heaven: Cakespy artwork now available at acupcakery.com!
Still have all your teeth? You won't for long: say hello to Wick's Sugar Pies.
In Seattle? Interested in food culture? Sign up for the Wednesday University evening course, "Food for Thought: The Ethics, Culture and Politics of Eating". We did!
We tried it at the Baked: New Frontiers in Baking book party, and we liked it--Rogue Brewery's chocolate stout.

 

 

Friday
Nov142008

Lost and Found: The Chocolate Topped Princess Cake

Princess Cake
What makes a dessert go extinct? Times changing? Palates and preferences shifting? Dessert chefs retiring? All of the above? 

Whatever the reason, and wherever they may go, there are nonetheless certain desserts that stay alive in people's memories. And during our recent bout of research (read: obsession) with the Princess Cake, we came across one such dessert. The Princess Cake at famed Los Angeles eatery Scandia was not green, and in fact, it even varied a bit from the classic recipe, getting an added crunch from two layers of macaroons in addition to the layers of cake, jam and cream--and an added layer of richness with a layer of chocolate frosting atop the classic marzipan. However, one thing is for certain--this cake was certainly loved. 
While Scandia is no longer around, luckily Cake Gumshoe (and go-to pastry Chef of the Cakespy crew) Chris Jarchow sleuthed out the recipe for Scandia's Princess cake in the gorgeous book Lost Desserts: Delicious Indulgences of the Past Recipes from Legendary and Famous Chefs by Gail Monahan. Together, we took on the massive (and very time-consuming) cake-making project. Here's how we did it:


Princess Cake

Princess Cake (It says it serves 8-10, but we found that a little went a long way and it was more like 15 servings...no, really)
For the Yellow Cakes: 
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Vanilla Buttercream: 
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Marzipan Icing:
  • 1 cup almond paste
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 large egg plus one egg yolk (or more if needed to make a spreading consistency)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the chocolate icing:
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature and lightly beanten
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Macaroons
To assemble the cake: 
  • 24 almond macaroons--somewhat hard and chewy, not hard and crisp (recipe suggests store-bought but Chris made ours)
  • about 5 tablespoons dark rum (or more, if you're feeling frisky)
  • About 2 cups best-quality raspberry jam
To make the yellow cakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 6 or 8 inch round or square cake pans at least 1 1/2 inches deep. Line the bottoms with parchment paper; butter the paper and dust the paper and pans with flour.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of the milk and the vanilla.
  3. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix for 30 seconds until combined. Add the butter and remaining 6 tablespoons milk. Mix on low speed until uniformly moist. Switch to high speed and mix for 1.5 minutes. Add the egg mixture in three batches, beating 15 seconds after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the surfaces with a spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center, 20 to 25 minutes. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after they are removed from the oven.
  5. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes, then loosen the cakes from the sides of the pan with a small knife and invert the cakes onto the racks. Re-invert and cool completely. Split each cake horizontally into two layers.
To make the vanilla buttercream:
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile combine the sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until the syrup comes to a rolling boil and the sugar dissolves, and the entire surface is covered with large bubbles. Immediately pour the syrup into another cool saucepan or metal bowl to stop the cooking. 
  3. Beating constantly, add the syrup to the egg yolks in a slow, steady stream. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the last of the syrup into the yolks and to scrape down the bowl occasionally. Continue to beat until the mixture is completely cool.
  4. Gradually beat in the butter and then the vanilla. Store the buttercream in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature and beat again before using.
To Make the Marzipan Icing:
  1. Cut the almond paste into small pieces and place in the bowl of an electric mixer with the sugar, the whole egg, and the egg yolk. Beat on medium speed until combined, adding more egg if necessary to make the icing a spreading consistency. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
Frosting
To Make the Chocolate Icing:

 

 

  1. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. When melted, remove from heat and add the confectioners' sugar and hot water. Stir thoroughly; add egg and beat well. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time and beat until thoroughly combined, smooth, and glossy (this took several minutes).

Layering the Princess Cake
To Assemble the cake:
  1.  Lay the macaroons out on a piece of wax paper, flatten them a bit with your hand, and spinkle with 2 tablespoons of the rum. Set aside.
  2. Layer a cake layer on a cake plate and dampen the top with 1 tablespoon of rum. Spread generously with jam and then cover evenly with 12 or so macaroons. 
  3. Spread the underside of a second cake layer with buttercream, about 3/8 inch thick. Place this second layer, buttercream side down, on top of the first layer. Dampen the top with 1 tablespoon of rum. 
  4. Spread the top of this second layer generously with jam (be sure to hold the side of the cake so it doesn't slide around).
  5. Spread the underside of a third cake layer with buttercream, again about 3/8 inch thick, and lay it, buttercream side down, on top of the second layer.
  6. Dampen the top of the third layer with the last tablespoon of the rum, spread generously with jam, and evenly cover the jam with the remaining 12 macaroons.
  7. Spread 3/8 inch of buttercream on the underside of the fourth cake layer and lay it, buttercream side down, on top of the third layer.
  8. Use leftover buttercream sparingly to tidy up the cake: fill gaps on the sides between layers, and just generally smooth things over. Put the cake in the fridge or freezer for at least 15 minutes to harden the buttercream. Note: Ours started to pull a "Leaning tower of Pisa" in the fridge, so it might be a good idea to support it on the side somehow. We eventually put a wooden skewer through the cake to keep it solid).
    Making the Princess Cake
  9. When the buttercream is hard, ice the cake with a layer of marzipan icing. Refrigerate or freeze for about fifteen minutes, again to harden the icing, and then ice a final time with the chocolate icing (we didn't think it was attractive during this time, but it's quite pretty once sliced into--see top!).
    Scandia's Princess Cake
  10. The cake should be kept in the refrigerator until one hour before serving. It can be assembled up to 24 hours in advance and kept well covered and refrigerated. It can also be frozen.
Note: The vanilla buttercream, marzipan, and chocolate icing will keep well in the fridge for several days. To store longer, freeze.

 

 

 

 

Friday
Nov142008

November Cake Poll: The Winners!

November Cake Poll Winners
The holiday season may be just beginning, but this month's Cake Poll is now closed. The entries have been logged, and if we do say so ourselves, you've all given us some fantastic ideas for holiday baking--as well has having introduced us to some sweets we'd never heard of before! In fact, we're even toying with printing up a small booklet of our favorites--stay tuned!

But first things first--who won the sweet stuff?

  • The cupcake tote by Penguinbot goes to lucky winner Rachel G from California! Rachel's dessert choices are classic: for Thanksgiving, she likes apple pie; for Christmas, she enjoys cutout cookies--decorated with frosting and sprinkles, but of course! You can find her cutout cookie recipe here!

  • The second copy will go to reader Emileee, who is clearly after our own hearts with her Christmas cookie preference, the bon-bon. She also definitely opened our eyes to a new dessert with her Thanksgiving preference: the PRETZEL JELL-O DESSERT. Never heard of it, you say? Well, here's the recipe:
PRETZEL JELLO DESSERT

  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1 1/2 c. crushed pretzels
  • 1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
  • 1 lg. container Cool Whip
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 (6 oz.) pkg. strawberry Jello
  • 1 lg. pkg. frozen strawberries
  1. Mix melted butter, pretzels, and 1/2 cup sugar together and press into 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake 6 minutes at 350 degrees.
  2. Dissolve Jello in 2 cups boiling water and add frozen strawberries. Let gel.
  3. Combine cream cheese, Cool Whip, and 1/2 cup sugar; put on top of crumbs. When Jello is starting to set, pour over cheese layer and refrigerate until firm. It's heavenly!

But we digress. Back to the prizes--who won the rest of the prizes?

  • The first pack of Cakespy Christmas cards goes to reader Mark from NYC! Mark's favorite Thanksgiving-time treat isn't pumpkin pie...it's cake! His birthday falls late in November, so he prefers to take the cake: in his case, vanilla birthday cake with strawberry icing (perhaps like this recipe)! When it comes to Christmas cookies, keep his classic: he'll take sugar-coated gingerbread, please.
  • And finally, it gives us great pleasure to say that the second pack goes to Veggiegirl! We've been avid fans of her blog for some time--she serves up vegan (and a lot of raw) delights of a deliciously moist and decadent nature that even non-veggie people will enjoy. Ms. Veggie prefers pumpkin pie for her Thanksgiving treat (with a dollop of cranberry sauce for a delightful sweet/sour contrast)...and when it comes to Christmas cookies, she's with her fellow winner Mark: gingerbread, baby! 

Thank you to everyone who entered--and who shared their favorite recipes and holiday sweets preferences! And thank you again to the great prize donors, Penguinbot, Hachette Book Group and Cakespyshop.com. Til next month's Cake Poll...stay sweet!

 

Wednesday
Nov122008

Royal Dilemma: Why is the Princess Cake Green?

Why is the Princess Cake Green?
Princess Cake shown is from Miette in San Francisco; photo credit Frankie Frankeny.

Some of you may trouble yourselves mysteries of the natural universe: What is the meaning of life? If a tree falls in the woods, can anybody hear it? Why on earth is Paris Hilton famous?

But we Cake Gumshoes choose to ponder a much bigger (and more delicious) mystery: why is the princess cake green?

First things first though. For those of you not acquainted with the princess cake (or princess torte), we'd like to clarify that we're not talking about the "Princess Cake" that has a severed Barbie doll stacked atop a dome of frilly buttercream (though that one has its moments). No, we're talking about the Princesstårta, a cake which hails from Sweden, where it was invented in the 1930s by cookbook author Jenny Åkerström, who is said to have made it in honor of Sweden's three princesses at the time--Margaretha, Märtha and Astrid. While it's not as common in bakery cases as say, Red Velvet, it's not an exceedingly rare cake either--most urban areas will have at least a couple of bakeries that offer the sweet confection, which is made of alternating layers of light, airy cake, thick pastry cream, and jam, all topped with a sweet jacket of marzipan--often in a dome shape. But perhaps the most striking thing about this cake is how it's nearly always green.
Princess Cake
Of course, there are exceptions. For instance, famed Los Angeles restaurant Scandia offered a chocolate-topped version back in the day (which, with the help of pastry chef Chris Jarchow, we made it recently; see above); some bakeries will offer an off-white or pink version. However, it seems to us that most frequently--or at least frequently enough for us to have noticed-- it's an attractive and very signature pistachio tone of green.

So what gives?

Unfortunately, this proved to be quite the challenge. Here's a summation of our epic journey to discover the truth:

First Stop: The Library

 

First, we hit up the library, where we consulted the serious tome of a book The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg, in which we found the following passage:

"I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I do not have a definite answer as to why is the marzipan on top of a Princess Cake traditionally colored green. This is a question I have been asked time after time, and believe me, I have tried to find out. It would at least make more sense to me if the cake were flavored with mint or pistachio. Princess Cakes are often made with other colours..."

 

Our buddy over at ReTorte referenced Friberg's quote too, adding that "My fancy French pastry books do not even mention Princess cake..my only theory is that, as with a lot of stuff in the pastry world, it's green because of tradition. They do A LOT of stuff just out of tradition, even though it makes no sense otherwise!"


Larsen'sSwedish Cultural Center

 

Princess-ish cake from Larsen's

Second Stop: The Experts
We figured if anyone would know, it would be the good Nordic population of Seattle!
Unfortunately, the mystery only deepened with a call to the Swedish Cultural Center, where they had not a clue as to why the green-hued cake persists; however, they did point us in the direction of Larsen's in Ballard as a spot to pick up a particularly delicious one.
While the employees at Larsen's were friendly, unfortunately they were unable to shed further light upon the cake's color. "Maybe it was the princess' favorite color," one employee muses; "maybe it was the colors of her wedding flowers" adds another, referencing the fact that it's frequently topped with a pink flower.
Last-ditch: The Internet
Just when we were beginning to despair, we found a very informative bulletin board on chowhound.com that answered some of these questions--one user's comments in particular were very helpful. Turns out, the confection's invention may hold the answer.

Original princess cakes
Remember how that cookbook writer invented the recipe for three princesses in the 1930s? Well, as it turns out, "it appears that Åkerström had not one, but three different princess cakes, one for each of the princesses. They were very elaborate cakes, not terribly suited to the home baker. Astrid's cake most closely resembles the princess cake in its current form." (Cakes pictured, above). As it turns out, the article continues, "Annika Larsson, a baker at the Grillska Konditoriet in Stockholm, is credited with combining features from the three cakes and creating the princess cake that has become a tradition--that is to say, the green one. It appeared in Finland not long after it became popular in 1930s Sweden and has remained a traditional cake ever since, particularly for graduation and end of school year parties."
While this doesn't completely answer the question of why the cake is green, it does shed some light on the subject and leave it open to some guesswork. Perhaps when Annika was combining the best aspects of each cake, she simply preferred the green hued one as a matter of personal preference. Perhaps she had a surplus of green dye and it was done for more practical reasons. 
Of course, we like to think maybe it was something truly poetic: perhaps green was a color caught on with the Swedish audience because it represented the hope of spring, like the first gentle blades of grass coming up in the cold, dark winters.
But whatever the reason, one thing is for sure: the Princess cake is certainly iconic, and we certainly feel happy whenever we see the green-hued confection turn up on our table.

 

P.S. Wanna try to make the Princess Cake? A fantastic recipe can be found on Tartelette, as well as some seriously beautiful pictures!

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Nov122008

Cuppie Capers: Spinal Tap Cupcakes

Custom request, Spinal Tap Cupcakes

 

 

Monday
Nov102008

Cake Poll: WINter Wonderland Giveaway!

WINterwonderland Giveaway!
Halloween and the election are over...whew! And now, we're at the cusp of the sweetest season of the year, that series of two months where we eat copious amounts of delicious pumpkin pie and christmas cookies. That's right--November is the point of do not pass go, do not diet until New Year's.

And in celebration, we're offering a seasonal sweets poll! It's a bounty of five sweet prizes--for five separate winners! The following prizes are being offered:

  • One lucky winner will receive a cupcake tote bag from Penguinbot! Love is in the details with this sturdy, durable vinyl tote--it's delicately reverse-appliquéd with an adorable cupcake, with the an inner lining of bright, contrasting pattered fabric. It's an extremely well-made bag which would usually retail for $50 (and would be worth every penny). Even if you don't win, you should probably buy one (you know, to help the economy); you can get one here.
  • Two lucky winners will receive Elisa Strauss' new book, Confetti Cakes for Kids. Even without kids, these recipes are super fun and the pictures are amazing to look at!
  • Two winners will receive a pack of Cakespy Holiday notecards! Each pack includes an assortment of cards which are guaranteed to make this the sweetest holiday season ever!

What do you have to do to enter? Don't worry, it's easy. All you have to do is answer the following two questions.

 

1. What is your favorite Thanksgiving dessert?
2. What is your favorite Christmas cookie?

But wait, there's more! If you copy and paste (or include a link to) a recipe for either of your responses, you'll be entered into the drawing twice! That's right...double your chances of winning!

SORRY--THE POLL IS NOW CLOSED!

 

 

Friday
Nov072008

Cookies So Nice, They Baked Them Twice: Musings on Biscotti, Mandelbrot and More!

Chris made the cutest biscotti ever
(The mini biscotti pictured was made by ace Seattle Pastry Chef Chris Jarchow!)


What in the world is a twice-baked cookie?

 

To discover the real meaning of the twice-baked cookie, you've got to start with the biscuit. In terms of etymology, "biscuit" means "twice cooked"--and acording to John Ayto's book An A-Z of Food & Drink, "its name reflects the way in which it was once made. The originl biscuit was a small flat cake made of wheat flower, sugar, egg yolks, and perhaps a little yeast. It was intended for long keeping, so to dry it out it was returned to the oven for a while after the initial cooking process had finished". The signature hard texture and long shelf life has endeared the twice-baked cookie to seafaring voyagers, teething babies, and lends itself quite nicely to dunking in sweet wine.

In the United States, the term "biscuit" refers to something else these days, but the concept of a twice-baked cookie is still very much alive. To Americans, the most famous example is probably the Italian version, biscotti. It's arguable, but our theory for its preeminence is that it grew in popularity with the coffee-house revolution that hit the US in a big way, in which biscotti was a common food to be offered.

Interestingly enough however, many different cultures boast some variation on this biscuit--and so we've prepared a small primer on some of the twice-baked cookies out there for you. (Note: If you want to read more about it, check out this article too!).

 

Biscotti by the Italian Woman at the Table

Biscotti: While in Italy, biscotti is a kind of catch-all phrase for cookies, in North America, we think of it as a long, dry, hard twice-baked cookie with a curved top and flat bottom designed for dunking into wine or coffee. The name biscotti is derived from 'bis' meaning twice in Italian and 'cotto' meaning baked or cooked. Generally, what separates biscotti from other variations is that it frequently gets its fat solely from eggs and nuts--often it does not contain oil or butter. Of course, these days there are all sorts of variations, so this is not a hard-fast rule. Here's a link to a delicious recipe.

 

Beschuit met Muisjes
Beschuit met muisjes: In this Dutch version, which translates to "biscuits with little mice", a twice-baked bread not unlike the rusk (below) is characterized mostly by its garnish: according to Wikipedia,

They are spread with butter (or margarine) and the muisjes (lit. 'little mice') are sprinkled on top. These muisjes are sugared aniseed balls. They are sold in a mixture of two colours: White and pink. In 1990 a new mixture was introduced: white and blue, and it has become a custom, but not a universal one, that the latter (blue) are served when a boy is born, and the former (pink) for a girl. When a child is born in to the royal House of Orange, orange muisjes are sold.

 

 

Croquets de carcassonne (or biscotte): This is the french variation on biscotti; from what we could find, the major difference seems to be that biscotte contains butter (and plenty of it!). While we couldn't find the reasoning behind the name Croquets de carcassone, it did have a nice ring to it, so we included it! Here's a recipe.

 

Marla's Mandels
Mandelbrodt (also known as Mandelbread, Mondelbrodt, Mondel bread, and probably more that we've missed!): Never heard of it? No surprise. As our foodie crush Arthur Schwartz writes, "Isn't it ironic? It used to be that biscotti were explained as Italian mandelbread. These days, mandelbread is explained as Jewish biscotti." While mandelbrodt shares similarities to biscotti, it is not the same: unlike biscotti, which gets its fat primarily from eggs, mandelbrodt will generally contain oil as well. And while nuts are common in biscotti, they're a key ingredient in mandelbrodt, which literally translates to "almond bread". If you're curious, you can buy some via mail-order at marlasmandels.com (photo above); also, you can find a recipe here!

Lulu's Mondel Bread
Paxemadia (or biskota): In this Greek version, from what we can gather, the main variation here is with spices--one informative biscotti recipe posting suggests that you could make a biscotti recipe into the Greek variation by adding "a flavor mixture of 1/4 cup flour mixed into 1 tablespoon crushed coriander seed, 1 tablespoon crushed anise seeds, 2 tablespoons grated orange peel, 2 tablespoons grated lemon peel; and 1 1/2 cups chopped toasted walnuts."

Rusks: Like the term "biscuit", "rusk" seems to be more of a concept, with all sorts of different cultural variations, from long, slender versions to small rounds to toast-shaped versions. Like Mandelbrodt, the rusk differs from biscotti in that it will often contain an added fat--oil, or sometimes butter. One thing seems certain though: more than any other variation, the Rusk seems to be attached to seafaring culture--Swedish recipe books and John Ayto's book (referenced above) both refer to it as a cookie that accompanied naval officers and sailors on long voyages. Here's a recipe.

Sukhariki: The Russian term also seems to be a catch-all, referring to any type of crispy bread, from more crouton-esque variations to sweetened ones. Here's a hazelnut variation.
Zwieback
Zwieback: Per Wikipedia, the name comes from German zwei, meaning "two", and backen, meaning "to bake". This is the only variation in which we saw recipes that called for yeast, and indeed, this would be in keeping with it sometimes being referred to as "zwieback toast". Of course, this is not to be confused with Russian Mennonite Zwieback, which is more like a roll. More than any other variation, we associate this one as a baby's toothing snack. Most notably, however, we have to say, zwieback certainly takes the cake when it comes to cultural references. here are just a few:

  • In an episode of The Simpsons entitled "Homer the Smithers", the character Smithers remarks to his boss Mr. Burns, "...I've alphabetized your breakfast. You can start with the waffles, and work your way up to the zwieback."
  • In the 1991 classic film Doc Hollywood, when Ben Stone (Michael J. Fox) first arrives in Grady, nurse Packer tells him there is Zwieback and Vitamin C in the cabinet.
  • In "Dear Mildred", an episode of the TV series M*A*S*H, Radar O'Reilly compares his first days with Colonel Potter to visiting summers with his prim-and-proper aunt; "You can't dunk your zwieback in your Bosco."
  • In her song "Caving In", Kimya Dawson sings that she is "just a piece of zwieback toast getting soggy in a baby's aching mouth."

 

 

Thursday
Nov062008

Cuppie Capers: Yes We Cake

Yes We Cake

P.S. Love this design? Why not order a 10-pack of postcards? Available for pre-order now at cakespyshop.com!

 

 

Wednesday
Nov052008

Batter Chatter: Interview with Aran of Cannelle Et Vanille

Interview with Aran of Cannelle et Vanille
 

Cannelle Et Vanille. Some may argue that this means "cinnamon and vanilla"--but those people would be fools. Consult the Dictionary of Cakespy you'll find a far more poetic translation, along the lines of "most beautiful pastry website on the glowing technological wonder we call the internet". Seriously--this is a site with all hits, no misses. Aran, the incredibly skilled pastry chef and photographer behind the Florida-based operation, originally hails from the Basque Country, and that certain European je ne sais quoi has a way of creeping into everything she does, from stunning Îles flottantes surrounded by a web of spun sugar to super-stylish ice cream sandwiches. Let's learn a bit more about her, shall we?

Cakespy: Why did you start your site?
Cannelle et Vanille: I left work to take care of my son and the first year after he was born, I realized I had not been baking enough and something was missing in my life. I didn’t really know what blogs were until a friend of mine introduced me to Cupcake Bakeshop and then I found Tartelette. One Sunday afternoon, I just started a blog out of the blue and I haven’t stopped since.
Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille
CS: There's no delicate way to say it: your site is food porn. How does it feel to know that all over the world, people are drooling over your site?
CV: It feels great! I never thought so many people would follow my blog but I love thinking that every dessert I make and every photo I take can make one person smile. It still amazes me.
Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille
CS: It seems like a lot of people who begin blogs / sites dedicated to their passion find that it really changes the way they look at the world. How has your site changed life / the way you look at baking?
CV: It really hasn’t changed the way I look at baking. I really just bake what comes to me naturally. But what I have found is that I have struck friendships with people that I would have never met in any other way.


Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille
CS: You're from Basque country. What foods do you miss from home?
CV: So many to count… little tiny green peppers from Gernika, fresh fish, red beans from Tolosa, great produce, mamia and my uncle’s puff pastry!
Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille
CS: Is the US approach to food and eating really as repulsive as we suspect it is to people from other countries?
CV: “Repulsive” is a harsh word… I wouldn’t say repulsive. I think there are many people in this country who enjoy fine food. I don’t mean expensive food per se, I mean people that know how to identify fresh fish, how to smell bread or pick great fruit. But I think that the masses are still way behind of how food is viewed in other countries such as my own.
Cakespy Note: Clearly Aran is too diplomatic to say "You Big Mac-eating Americans are gross!". But we have our suspicions. Oh yes.

Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille
CS: Following up on that point, a while back you actually sent us some of your delectable lemon-olive oil madeleines. Well, I (Head Spy Jessie) personally would like to admit that I hoarded them and shared only one with Mr. Cakespy. Does this make me a bad person?
CV: No, it makes me laugh! It reminds me of myself when I was 7 years old and my grandmother gave me a small white chocolate Nestle bar. I was holding the chocolate bar when my brothers entered the room and I stuffed it all in my mouth, all at once, so I didn’t have to share it with them!
Note from the Head Spy: Allow me to clarify that while Aran was seven during her hoarding incident, I was 26. Yeah.
Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille
CS: If you could spend time baking with any figure in the food world--living or dead--who would it be?
CV: It would definitely be my grandfather Angel who was also a pastry chef. A fine one if I may say so. He retired when I was about 9 years old so I never had a chance to work with him.
Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille
CS: You have pretty much the cutest son, like, ever. What's his favorite dessert?
CV: He loves everything and it can be a problem sometimes. He particularly likes my banana bread but will try anything I give him.

 

CS: If pressed, what would you say the next big thing will be in baking or baked goods?
CV: I think small and delicate will stick around. I like the idea of a small treat. I like leaving wanting more. I also think a natural and rustic approach to food is necessary. I don’t think this is a new idea at all, but I see a lot of focus on it once again.
Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille
CS: Does your family ever get pissed off that they can't eat dessert til your photo shoot is over?
CV: Yes and they drive me insane! The pressure is always on. I sometimes have to hide things in unexpected places so they don’t disappear before the photo shoot.

Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille

CS: What is your ultimate goal as a baker...and with your site?
CV: It’s hard to say. Baking is almost like an impulse for me. Sometimes I feel like an idea comes over my body and I must transform it into something sweet. It’s like purging, otherwise I go insane.
I think as of now, my goal is for me to become a better photographer. That’s where I am at the moment.
Want more? Get yourself over to Cannelle Et Vanille right away; check out her wonderful photos at flickr. If you're interested in hiring Aran, she's available, baby--she's mos' def your girl for recipe development, consulting and food photography and can be contacted through her site.

 

 

 

Tuesday
Nov042008

Sweet Spot: Dessert Links!

Sweetiepie in Norwich Notes

Golly, the internet is a sweet place! Here are the places we've been getting our fix this week:
Did you really need another reason to just get out there and vote? How about free sweets? A huge number of bakeries, doughnut joints and ice cream shops are offering either free, discounted or special goodies today in celebration of the big event--Cupcake Royale (Seattle), Retro Bakery (Las Vegas), Ben + Jerry's (all over), Cupcake Jones (Portland), and so many more!

 

Bmoresweet bakes cupcakes for her candidate. Delicious!

Cards from Bethany's shop!
So sweet: new silkscreened cards from Bethany Schlegel Art + Design.

Grown-up candy bars that we're in love with at bonbonbar.com.

We definitely need more event planners like Amy Atlas: she does dessert parties!

After reading about them in Vogue and Coolhunting, all we can say is when, when will you open, oh soon-to-be darling of Greenwich Village, Sweetiepie? When we went by last month, all we saw was construction!

How to serve dainty desserts? How 'bout on sweet monogrammed plates by LA Plates? We love the solid pink style!

It was about time this little-known dessert hit the mainstream: say hello to StickyToffeePuddingCompany.com! (via the Nibble)

 

 

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