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Friday
Jan162009

1.16.09: Baked Good of the Day: Cherry Cobbler Bar from Louisa's Cafe Bakery

Cherry Cobbler Bar from Louisa's Cafe Bakery
All I can say is, whoa. How had I never been to this place before?

Well, it's all about the location. Louisa's Cafe Bakery is on Eastlake Avenue East, and to a car-less person who doesn't enjoy any bike ride with even the slightest hint of an incline, this is kind of like no-man's land. But I had seen their cute logo while riding on the bus, and today I finally made it inside.

Louisa's is a cafe / breakfast and lunch spot, but they also have an extremely respectable bakery case, will all sorts of cookies, cinnamon rolls, mazurkas (!) and brownies and bars. Generally cherry isn't my go-to flavor, but the top crust on the cherry cobbler bar looked too good to pass up. At $3.75 it was an investment, but it weighed about the same as a hardbound copy of War & Peace, so I found it fair.

Even as a liker-rather-than-lover of cherry flavored baked goods, I recognized that this was good stuff. The bar held its shape nicely--no unbecoming ooze here. The cherries were not too sweet, but rather slightly sour, which provided a nice complexity to the flavor. But what really got me was the buttery top and bottom crust--slightly crunchy, with a touch of saltiness and a nice coating of coarse sugar on the top, it was simply wonderful. This bodes well for the rest of their baked goods--next time I'm definitely going for the cinnamon roll.

Cherry Cobbler Bar, from Louisa's Cafe Bakery.

Thursday
Jan152009

Cake Byte: New Cakespy Magnets by iPop!

Cakespy for iPop!
Who needs to stick to their New Year's Resolutions when they can stick these cool magnets to their fridge instead? iPop, a very cool magnet company in Seattle has just released a new line of their patented Clicks® magnets with Cakespy artwork!

The magnets come in two types of packages: 4-packs of four 1-inch magnets, and singly packaged jumbo 2-inch diameter magnets. Not only are the magnets super-strong, but topped with a clear acrylic dome, they're cool to look at too! The magnets come packaged in an attractive clamshell-closure clear acrylic box. A great gift!

Cakespy for iPop!
The Cakespy collection consists of three four-pack Clicks sets (pictured top), which retail for $11.50, and two singly packaged "Big Clicks" (pictured directly above), which retail for $6.50.

 

Thursday
Jan152009

1.15.09: Baked Good of the Day: Raspberry-Almond Tart from Svedala Bakery

Katalan
Last week, I ventured down to the Pike Place Market with the goal of checking out new bakery Svedala Bakery. It's a small stall in the same corridor as Daily Dozen Donut Co., specializing in Swedish pastries none of us had ever even heard of, but wanted to try, such as Mandelfläta (cardamom yeast bread with almond paste), Mazarin (almond tarts) and Dröm Rulle (chocolate sponge cake rolled with vanilla buttercream). You can imagine my horror as I approached at about 9:30 in the morning and they weren't open yet. Seriously, it should be a law that all bakeries open by at least 6 in the morning--or ideally, they'd be open 24 hours.

But reading that their goods were also sold at Whole Foods, today I ventured over to the Westlake location and picked up one of their very pretty Katalan--a Mazarin with a layer of raspberry jam.

Dude, this thing was good. Starting from the bottom, you've got a delicate, buttery crust that wasn't too flaky but was deliciously crumbly and moist; a very thin layer of raspberry then gives way to a thick filling of sweet almond paste, which was all topped off with a sort of raspberry jam icing. It's not a very large pastry--maybe 3 inches in diameter--but it certainly packs a decadent and delicious punch.

Katalan from Svedala Bakery, via Whole Foods Westlake.

Wednesday
Jan142009

1.14.09: Baked Good of the Day: Cookies by Little Rae's Bakery

Alien Cookie in Ballard
Little Rae's has been garnering quite a bit of press for their First Family cookies--and deservedly so, in my opinion--I think they're very well-designed. But are Little Rae's cookies delicious?

I haven't tried the Obama cookies, but I was very impressed by their same-flavor-but-different-shape Alien cookie, which I picked up on a trip to Cafe Bambino in Ballard. I was pleasantly surprised by their subtle flavor and satisfying texture--a touch of crunchiness from the hard icing on the outside, giving way to a soft, just-a-touch crumbly interior. Of course, it didn't hurt to later find out that the bakery is committed to using fresh and natural ingredients--no hard to pronounce ingredients in these cookies. Also, they happen to be one of the few completely nut-free bakeries in the area, if allergies are an issue.

Little Rae's Bakery is a wholesale bakery; their products can be easily found at Metropolitan Market locations and at coffee shops throughout the city.

Tuesday
Jan132009

The Icing on the Cake: An Exploration of Icing, Frosting and Even Glaze

Glaze, Icing, Frosting
There are times in life when we find ourselves confronted with serious questions; in seeking answers, we might just have a defining moment or two. This is one such time: we are now going to discuss the question of icing versus frosting

Is there a difference between the two, and if so, what? Ingredients? Consistency? Or are the terms interchangeable, as in the way some say "pop" and some say "soda"? And going even further...what is a glaze? Here's what we found:
Our first stop, naturally, was the The International Dictionary of Desserts, Pastries, and Confections, which, while noting that there are many different types, ultimately tells us "the term icing is interchangeable with the term frosting". For shame, sweet dictionary--certainly it can't be that simple, can it? 
And so we moved on toNancy Rommelmann's fantastic book Everything You Pretend to Know about Food and Are Afraid Someone Will Ask, which (thank god!) has a whole section entitled "What's the difference between frosting and icing?". The section reads:
Often used interchangeably, frosting and icing are in fact different. Frosting tends to be thick and gooey, with a cream or butter base. It is slathered on cake layers, or applied in fluffy waves. Icing is thinner, sometimes with simply a sugar base, and creates a glaze on cakes and pastry, such as the kind you find on coffee cakes.

This idea is backed up in a Williams-Sonoma release simply entitled Cakes, in which it is noted that icing is "used to coat and/ or fill a cake...similar to a frosting, and the terms are frequently used interchangeably"...but ultimately "an icing is generally thinner and glossier" than frosting, which is "a thick, fluffy mixture, such as buttercream, used to coat the outside of a cake." Of course, the book even goes on to even differentiate a glaze from the two as being "thinner than either a frosting or an icing"...which makes the slope all the more slippery--but does further define the difference between these sweet toppings.

OK--so to review, with pictures:


Cinnamon Roll, Nielsen's, Queen Anne, SeattleTop Pot Doughnut (Purchased at Top Pot Belltown)
GLAZE: Thinnest type of sugar topping, often made with just a sugar base. Usually translucent. Common on cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, and heavier cakes like pound cake that don't need a lot more on top.
Bittersweet, ChicagoMini Flower CakesLe Fournil, SeattleChaos Theory, Chicago
ICING: Thicker than a glaze but not always opaque. Can be made with a sugar base or may also include egg whites, butter or cream. The term "icing" is often used interchangeably with "frosting". Coffee cakes and cookies are often "iced" rather than "frosted".
Magnolia Bakery CupcakesCloseup of Wedding Cake from Layers in Monterey, CAFrostingFrosting the Cupcake
FROSTING: The thickest of the lot, opaque and fluffy; think buttercream frosting on a birthday cake.

Of course, regardless of a picture chart, what became clear during our research is that while there are some ways to discern whether it may be a glaze, icing or frosting atop your sweet treat, it really is a fine line, and one ought not worry unduly about the difference. Because really, whether it's the sweet glaze on your doughnut, the fluffy frosting on your cupcake or the icing on the cake--it's the taste that counts.

 

Tuesday
Jan132009

1.13.09: Baked Good of the Day: Carrot Cake at Mr. Spot's Chai House

Carrot Cake from Mr Spots Chai House
Confession: we'd never even been to Mr. Spot's Chai House until this week. But after a disappointing trip to Cupcake Royale (disappointing because they were out of cupcakes for the day!), we decided to give the Chai House a try. And we found a most gorgeous-looking carrot cake there.

Happily, this carrot cake was delicious as well: exceedingly dense and moist, with fluffy frosting an inch thick all around. Oh yes. Many of the baked goods in their case were not made in-house (Top Pot Doughnuts, etc), so we don't know if the cake was made on the premises (the employee wasn't sure), but regardless of its origins, we're happy to have come across this fine specimen of carrot cake.

Carrot Cake, found at Mr. Spot's Chai House.

Monday
Jan122009

1.12.09: Baked Good of the Day: The White Chocolate Macadamia Brownie by Finale's Gourmet Desserts

Macadamia caramel chocolate crumb bar, Seattle
In general I'm not a huge fan of Tully's Coffee, but I have a weakness for the bar cookies made by one of their vendors, Seattle wholesaler Finale's Gourmet Desserts. And one of my favorites is their White Chocolate Macadamia brownie.

Now, the name "brownie" is somewhat misleading, because it really is more cookie-like, comprised of Macadamia nut shortbread with white chocolate and caramel in-between. But names aside, it's ridiculously rich, and exceedingly addictive, what with its crunchy top layer, soft midsection and perfect balance of sweet-and-salty; I still don't care much for Tully's coffee, but I will travel for these bars.

White Chocolate Macadamia brownie by Finale's Gourmet Desserts; they can be found at various Tully's locations throughout the city.

Sunday
Jan112009

Sweet Spot: Dessert Links!

Ococoa Chocolate Peanut butter cups
Need advice on how to burn dessert with panache? Find it here.

Martino's Bakery is famous for their tea cakes, but to us they look like--gasp!--square cupcakes! (via Jess Loves Cupcakes)

Lenôtre est mort--we loved learning more about his life and contributions to the world of pastry.

Gale Gand tells us where to eat sweets in Chicago--but lucky us, we'd already been tipped off about a lot of these places by Natalie of Bake and Destroy and Claudia of Babushka Bakery!

We're impressed by the eclectic array of shippable desserts (including baklava, rice pudding, cinnamon rolls and cupcakes!) we found at foodsoftheweb.com.

These artistan, handmade butter cups (not just peanut butter!) by Ococoa look deliciously indulgent. Pictured top.

 

Did you know that for just $40 you can become a lifetime member of the Pie Council? (Did you even know there was a pie council?) Membership benefits include access to the Pie Times newsletter, manufacturer coupons/offers and discounted entry fees for the Pie Baking Championships.

 

Friday
Jan092009

1.9.09: Baked Good of the Day: Caramel Turtle Brownie from Macrina Bakery, Seattle

Caramel Turtle Brownie from Macrina
I don't know about you, but I don't care for light, cakey brownies--for me, the denser, fudgier, and heavier, the better.

Macrina's Caramel turtle brownies are my kind of brownie. Weighing roughly the same amount as a brick, they're so dense, moist, and fudgy that it's almost impossible to finish the entire thing in one sitting. Almost.

While I generally don't think that toppings or flavorings are necessary with brownies, the caramel-nut combo is a nice complement: the caramel is smooth and slightly salty, providing a nice subtle counter-flavor to the chocolate; the pecans give it a nice added texture.

Of course, after eating one of these brownies you might have to just sit down and rest for a while, but oh, are they worth it.

The Caramel Turtle Brownie is $3.50 at Macrina Bakery.

Thursday
Jan082009

1.8.09: Baked Good of the Day: Galette des Rois at Le Panier, Seattle

Posterior view of the Galette des rois
Christmas may be over, but the Epiphany brought on a whole new season of cakes and goodies, starting with the tres-Frenchie galette des rois. After several attempts to locate one in Seattle (no luck at Belle Epicurean or Le Fournil), I finally found it at Le Panier in the Pike Place Market; and this one was certainly worth the wait.

The galette des rois, while part of the same family tree as the New Orleans King Cake, is not the same--as baking expert Dorie Greenspan so eloquently put it,


"The galette is really very simple, if a little time-consuming to make--it's an almond and pastry-cream filling sandwiched by two rounds of (all-butter) puff pastry dough--but so, so good."

 

Like the King Cake, one of the most important aspects of the galette des rois is the prized porcelain figurine to be found hidden in one of the slices. Luckily enough, I arrived at Le Panier to receive the piece with the little "feve".
Feve from the galette des rois

But prizes aside, this cake is definitely a treat--while it doesn't have the same visual appeal as a frosted cake, it's buttery, flaky, and rich enough to more than make up for it. Or as they say in French, le yum.

Galette des rois, available for a limited time only at Le Panier.

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