- First, choose your favorite pie crust recipe (we used this one). We made the equivalent of a single pie crust, and the yield was about 15 mini Donut Pies.
- Next, decide what your filling would be. For our filling, we mixed one ripe banana, a small amount (1/4 cup, adding more to desired thickness) of heavy whipping cream, and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, and two pinches of cinnamon. We mashed it until it was incorporated, but still a little bit lumpy. You can fill them with just about anything you'd use in a pie though. Let your filling sit to the side.
- Roll out your pie crust, and then score into strips. The strips should be about 2.5 inches wide, but as long or as short as you'd like. The length will determine how large the donut's circumfrence will be, so if you like mini donuts, keep them shorter.
- Lengthwise, spoon a small amount of filling in each strip. Be sure to leave a small gap of space at the top and bottom of the strip.
- Fold the crust over the filling lengthwise, so that you have a long, narrow, filled "log" of pie crust with filling inside.
- Form into a circle.
- Since we don't have a deep fryer, we then filled a frying pan on with about 2 cups of canola oil, set to high heat, and once hot gently placed the donuts several at a time into the fryer, frying each side about 3-4 minutes or until golden.
- Gently remove from frying pan and place on paper towels to blot excess oil.
- Garnish as desired: with additional fruit topping (as above), whipped cream, ice cream, or for a more donutty look, chocolate icing (as seen on the chocolate topped ones) and sprinkles or swirls. Yum.
The parcel was from Seattle's newest custom-order cupcake business, Look Cupcake. Based out of a commercial kitchen on Lower Queen Anne, owner Rhienn Davis takes a unique slant on the cupcake trend by looking inwardly--literally--by specializing in gourmet, filled cupcakes.
Our assortment included three flavors: the Feather Boa (coconut cream cake, mojito cheesecake filling, vanilla buttercream, coconut garnish); the La Nina de Chocolate Diablo (spiced mexican chocolate cake with kahlua especial swiss meringue buttercream); and the A Formal Affair (vanilla cake, bittersweet ganache filling and whipped truffle frosting).
The difference between meringue buttercreams (there are several - Italian, Swiss, French - every European country thinks they know best, apparently,) and regular "American style" buttercream (what we think of as a more "crunchy" frosting) is as follows:
- American buttercream is just butter (sometimes a little cream cheese) and TONS of powdered sugar mixed together. The result is that intense, super sweet, sometimes a little gritty, frosting. I make a great one with fresh ginger grated into it. Mmmm!
- (Pick your European country) Meringue buttercream is made by dissolving a relatively small amount of granulated sugar into egg whites, whipping it into a meringue and then adding the butter. They're smoother, creamier and less over the top sweet. They also stand up better in heat, which is awesome for those of us that do seven million weddings in the dog days of summer.
Every so often, someone will make that grand, sweeping statement: "Pie is the New Cake". Usually, this is someone who owns or is related to the owner of a pie-related business. Unfortunately, in a world which supports cupcake shops opening roughly every five minutes, pie has simply failed to have the same effect in the baked-good market.
So what's the problem? Clearly, it's a lack of media attention. After all, what did Heidi get for Posh on her birthday? What does Katie pick up for a sweet afternoon snack with Suri? Sorry, pie--but cupcakes are most definitely taking that cake.
But we feel for you pie lovers--really, we do. And so, in an effort to lend a helping hand in getting pie the attention it deserves, may we humbly suggest the following tried-and-true tabloid methods to be applied for pie promotion? Here goes:
Stir up some controversy:
What a sweet Valentine's Day treat: CakeSpy was featured on KCRW's Good Food! Our Head Spy Jessie was interviewed about her recent cupcake art installation in Seattle by the amazing Evan Kleiman. It was such an honor to be featured on the show--in our opinion, it's one of the best food shows out there!
And of course, don't forget to support KCRW and Good Food!
How time flies! It's been a while since our last Cake Poll, so we're making up for it by offering a very sweet treat: an original (not a print!) Cakespy watercolor! The watercolor (shown top) will come in a 4x5 inch frame and will go to just one lucky winner. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment with your responses to the below poll, centered around the star of all February sweetness: chocolate! Here goes:
- Chocolates for Valentine's Day: cute or cliché?
- The chocolate box: which flavor would you rather leave for others?
- Milk chocolate: amateur hour or respectable citizen?
- Chocolate in savory foods (mole sauce, etc): awesome, or awful?
- Hot chocolate: with or without marshmallows?
- Chocolate-flavored or scented body products: ooh, or eww?
- What's your favorite chocolate dessert?
Recently, our Head Spy Jessie was invited to take a tour of Little Rae's Bakery, a wholesale bakery here in Seattle (and, one of the nation's few completely nut-free bakeries). If you live in the Seattle area, you're undoubtedly familiar with their natural, organic baked goods--they're sold at nicer supermarkets and coffee shops all throughout the city, and even made national headlines with their recent First Family Cookies.
Having grown up fascinated with that spot about how crayons are made on Sesame Street, and as an avid watcher of Unwrapped, there was no doubt about a response--the word "YES!" couldn't be uttered quickly enough.
First off, everything is big. Big, big, big. From an enormous Hobart mixer to a big machine which divides dough into individual portions, the machinery is heavy-duty (see Little Rae's owner James next to one of the machines for a size comparison).
Of course, the most magical part (to me) was the point at which they were out of the oven--when the aroma of fresh, sweet baked goods was rich in the air, and the employees set to frosting and decorating them. Several employees were delegated to these tasks, and moved at warp speed, icing, frosting and adding sprinkles to the cookies. Really, I could have watched them do this all day.
Finally, once allowed to dry or set, the baked goods are packaged--all of the packaging has fun pictures of the employees-- and put out for deliveries.
Of course, I'd be lying if I didn't mention that one of the best parts of the tour was the box of free goodies I got at the end of it, including my favorite, their iced shortbread cookies:
Moreover, I was impressed by the fact that even though they are baking these treats in larger quantities, the process isn't really all that different than baking at home--just a lot more sterile (no licking the spoon here!) and with a lot bigger machinery. It was especially exciting to see that even at a larger scale, this company isn't adding anything scary to their baked goods--it's all fresh and organic, and it's clearly a labor of love for owner James, who oversees all daily operations. And of course, having seen the process, it made the cookies all that much more delicious to eat afterward.
(Blondies in the top right, c/o Outsider Tart)
They also do cakes (New York style cheesecakes and Chocolate Devil’s food cake are displayed on pretty pastel cake stands) as well as cookies and pies. And no, most Brits still can’t get their heads around eating pumpkin as a dessert.
47 Old Brompton Rd (South Kensington Tube)
Open 10.30am-7pm daily
133 Portobello Rd (Notting Hill Gate Tube)
Yuatcha: This is an extremely flash Chinese restaurant in the midst of Soho. Being near my office, one of my favourite lunchtime pastimes is to gaze in at their spectacular patisserie section as I meander past. Their rainbow of macarons are as amazing as the Parisian café Laduree’s, but here you’ll find them in slightly more exotic flavours. Coffee milk chocolate anise, coconut pistachio cinnamon, hibiscus, lychee raspberry and chocolate jasmine are just a few. If you wish to take a box away, expect an artfully wrapped box to be handed over.
Whereas the basement is where you’ll star spot in the evenings, the ground floor of the restaurant has more of a teahouse vibe, making it the perfect place for a fabulous afternoon tea (which comes with dim sum as well as pastries), or just for their spectacular desserts. Along with hand-painted chocolates and truffles, you will spend 10 minutes simply gazing at their intricate works of art.
For me it was a tough choice…would it be the passionella, with milk chocolate biscuit and mousse topped with passionfruit cream and coulis? Perhaps the asian citrus yuzu? Yuzu Kura has a dark chocolate mousse, yuzu jelly, yuzu and a dark chocolate biscuit. Apricot Millefeuille with caramelized puff pastry, lemongrass almond biscuit, apricot compote and coconut cream?
No, for my fellow gum shoe and I, it was the dragon. A diamond angled dark chocolate case with dark chocolate brownie as a base, topped with a spicy dark chocolate ganaches, raspberries and little cubes od raspberry and red pepper coulis. Delicious!
15-17 Broadwick Street
Soho, London W1F 0DL
Tel: 020 7494 8888
(dim sum served from midday)
Paul A Young: London in winter can be a cold dark place. Which is a perfect reason to indulge in some warming rich real hot chocolate. Paul A Young is a chocolatier who has 2 boutiques in London. His truffles are spectacular, particularly if you are keen to challenge your tastebuds. Marmite is a brown yeasty spread that people on this side of the world spread on their toast for breakfast. You either love it or you hate it…and I couldn’t love Paul’s marmite chocolate truffle more.
But on the day I squelched into Paul’s warm inviting purple store (it was raining cats and dogs outside), it was his hot chocolate and brownies that called. Paul’s hot chocolate is dark, rich, creamy and spiced to your liking. The Mayans used to add spices such as chilli, cinnamon, ginger and pepper to their drinking chocolates, and at Paul’s, you’re able to choose what you’d like to spice up your cup of liquid heaven.
His delightfully sinful brownies have been named ‘the gooiest in Britain’. The moment you take a bite, it all makes sense. They’re available in classic chocolate fudge, stem ginger, simnel (with spiced fruits and marzipan) or my favourite…Pecan.
Keep in mind that a lot of shops in the City aren’t open during the weekends, so if you’re after a wonderfully wicked weekend fix, you should head to his Islington store instead. (Angel tube station)
33 Camden Passage,
11am-6pm Wed, Thurs, Saturday
20 Royal Exchange,
Threadneedle St, London
10am-6.30pm Monday-Wednesday, Friday
Also shut for lunch between 2-2.30pm daily.
The Lemon Meringue pie seems to get bigger every time I pass, and the white chocolate pistachio cheesecake gets me every time!
There’s almost always a couple of gluten free, vegan or wheat free options, including rich dark brownies and chocolate raspberry truffle cake…just perfect with a side of their homemade honey frozen yoghurt. It’s a great little place to pop into when you want to get away from the chaos of Oxford St or the tourist prices of Piccadilly Circus!
Open Monday-Friday 8am-6pm (Breakfast 8am-11.30am)
Saturday 12pm-6pm (breakfast 12pm-4pm..for those who like a sleep in!)
0207 287 2544
53 Lexington Street, Soho, London W1F 9AN
Oxford Circus Tube Station (0.4 km)
Piccadilly Circus Tube Station (0.4 km)
Tottenham Court Road Tube Station (0.5 km)
Leicester Square Tube Station (0.6 km)
The guys also do a fabulous cake and pie selection (lemon meringue, peach, pecan…and they’re even trying to convert us to sweet potato and pumpkin!)
One of the Davids was raised in the Deep South so has brought his passion for biscuits and scones to Outsider Tart. Here in the UK, we’re used to petite sweet scones with a smattering of jam and clotted cream….but these guys do good ‘ol American ones in every flavour from Chocolate to Chestnut to Cheddar and Dill.
My favourite part of their selection is their ‘Barkery’. That way you can buy a cupcake for yourself, and a ‘Pupcake’ specifically for your dog!
The boys bake their goods from the downstairs area of Profile, a gay bar in Soho. They used to sell their wares at the bar, but due to some issues with the bar’s hours, you usually find them at their stalls in different farmers markets in London.
The markets are a little further afield, but definitely worth checking out!
Every Saturday at Richmond Farmers Market
Heron Square, London TW9
Time: 11am - 3pm
Also, every Sunday at Chiswick Farmers Market
Dukes Meadows, Chiswick W4
Time: 10am - 2pm
When I tell people how much I love North Hill Bakery, I'm constantly surprised that they don't know about this little gem in Capitol Hill. Even residents of the Hill often don't know about it. I think their birthday cakes are spectacular though, and always recommend them to friends.
And I was very happy to see that a friend followed my advice on a recent birthday, buying their "Grandma's Chocolate Cake" but choosing to frost it with raspberry buttercream instead of the regular fudge frosting. Good call--the raspberry was refreshing and a nice contrast against the rich, decadent chocolate cake, and the color was so pretty.
For chocolate lovers, the off-the-menu version of Grandma's Chocolate cake is a study in chocolate excess: that is to say, extremely delicious. A little goes a long way, but oh how enjoyable that little bit can be.
North Hill Bakery, 518 15th Ave E.; online at northhillbakery.com.