Home Home Home Home Home Home Home
CakeSpy

Featured:

 

How a rainbow cake is really made
Unicorn Love: the Eating Disorder Recovery Blog

 

 Buy my brilliant books!

Buy my new book!

Buy my first book, too! 

CakeSpy Online Retail!

 

Archives
Gallery

Fantastic appliance for cake making on DHgate.com

everyrecipe.co.nz

Craftsy Writer
Saturday
Mar282009

Cake Poll: The Winners!

Lamb and Lion Cuppies
Another month has ended, and another Cake Poll is closed. So who won the awesome prizes, including CakeSpy goodies and paper products from 11:11? Here are the three names which were chosen at random from nearly 300 entrants:

The first winner is Rachel, who you probably know from her wonderful site Coconut & Lime, which is chock-full of creative yet accessible, and completely delicious recipes both sweet and savory. And while she's a fan of salted caramel, don't go to her site looking for macaron love--she thinks they're overhyped!

The second winner is Caroline, whose site i am a greedy girl is an inspiring collection of design, fashion and other cool stuff. To highlight some of her responses, she's still not decided on whether bacon in baked goods is over; however, she's pretty decidedly not into designer cake mixes, salted caramel, a proliferation of cupcake shops or savory cupcakes.

The third winner is Cara from Florida, who says bacon is "so over" and isn't so into macarons; however, she is totally into salted caramel and while she's still excited about more cupcake shops opening, she's totally ready for whoopie pies to be the next big thing.

Stay tuned for more giveaways soon!

 

Thursday
Mar262009

Totally Swede: A Loving Look at a Sweet Bun Called Semla

Semla from Svedala
Semla. There are so many things to say about the sweet treat (which we recently scored at local Swedish bakery Svedala), but first let's just get acquainted, shall we?

First, what is it? Delicious, that's what. While there are different variations, what it comes down to is a cardomom-spiced yeast-raised wheat bun filled with almond paste and whipped cream. 

What's with the funny name? According to the internet, the word "semla" actually is derived from the Latin similia, which means "fine wheat flour". Apparently in Sweden "semla" can be a catchall phrase for "bun"; therefore it may also be known in Nordic regions as "Fastlagssemla" or "Fastlagsbulle" or "Fettisdagsbulle" (thoughts from readers from these Nordic regions?). But for ease of use, let's stick with Semla.
Semla!

 

Where does it come from? Semla is a pastry which has roots in Finland, Norway, Denmark and Estonia, but is probably most closely linked to Sweden. 

When is it available? Semla is most commonly associated with Shrove Tuesday (we call it "Fat Tuesday") as a fatty and decadent kickoff to that season of deprivation perhaps better known as Lent; however, according to Sweden.se ("the official gateway to Sweden"), the delicious treat "has arguably outgrown its religious symbolism", noting that 

The plump, cream-filled buns traditionally eaten on Tuesdays begin appearing in shops as early as January 1. Fat Tuesday would be more aptly named fat January, February and March.

Semla from Svedala
How is it eaten? Apparently, the traditional way to eat Semla is served in a bowl of hot milk; however, as we were assured by the owner of Svedala Bakery in Seattle, eating it on its own (at room temperature) is really just fine, and as we discovered, even finer with coffee or hot tea. Of course, as we also learned from Sweden.se
in Finland, the bun is sometimes filled with strawberry jam instead of almond paste, and bakeries in Finland usually offer both versions. (Many bakeries distinguish between the two by decorating the traditional bun with almonds on top, whereas the jam-filled version has powdered sugar on top).
Where can I get it? Well, if you're in Seattle and are willing to order enough to warrant her baking a batch, the owner of Svedala would probably make you some; check out their webpage here. 
In Portland, OR, Broder seems like a good place to try--after all, their motto is "Sweden in Portland".
In NYC, a little bird tells me that Semla can be found at Fika Espresso Bar on West 58th Street.
In Sweden, one famous retailer of Semla is Nybergs Hembageri, a cafe which has served the Semla-hungry masses since 1949; during the peak Semla season, they'll make over 350 semlor a day. That's a lotta love (and cardamom)! 
Could I make it myself? Sure, why not? We found this recipe online. If you make some, please be sure to make enough to mail some to the CakeSpy Headquarters.

Semla
Do you have any Semla trivia to share? But of course! Via Wikipedia and Sweden.se:

 

 

  • Sweet Surrender: King Adolf Frederick of Sweden died of digestion problems on February 12, 1771 after consuming a meal consisting of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring and champagne, which was topped off by 14 servings of semla, with bowls of hot milk. Semla was the king's favorite dessert. (CakeSpy Note: One should hope so!)
  • Gimme some sugar: Semla was the sweet chosen to represent Finland in the Café Europe initiative of the Austrian presidency of the European Union, on Europe Day 2006.
  • Swede Fancy: Each Swede eats five semlor per year on average.

 

Wednesday
Mar252009

Cake Poll: Baked Good Trends!

Cake Poll!
Spring has sprung, and it's time for another sweet giveaway! 

There will be three lucky winners who will receive one of the following prize packs, complete with CakeSpy pins (shown below) and awesome stationery items with retro cake imagery donated by the cool company 11:11:
Prize Pack 1: A retro cake design notebook by 11:11; a pack of CakeSpy travel buttons; a Cuppie figurine
Prize Pack 2: A retro petit-four design checkbook holder by 11:11; a pack of CakeSpy travel buttons; a Cuppie figurine.
Prize Pack 3: A retro cake design business card / credit card holder by 11:11; a pack of CakeSpy travel buttons; a Cuppie figurine.

New buttons!
This time, we're talking about baking trends. Weigh in on these important issues! Just enter your responses as a comment below and you'll automatically be put in the running for the super sweet prizes! Three winners will be chosen at random, and the poll is open to entrants everywhere. The Cake Poll will close at 12pm PST on Saturday, March 28.
Here goes:
  1. Bacon in baked goods: so good or so over?
  2. "Designer" cake and baking mixes (for instance, those made by celebrity chefs or famous bakeries)--yay or nay?
  3. Salted caramel: totally sweet or way too...salty?
  4. Cupcake shops opening everywhere: enough is enough, or room for more?
  5. French macarons: delicate delight, or way overhyped?
  6. Chilling dough for perfect cookies: is it worth the wait?
  7. Savory cupcakes (for instance, meat loaf cupcake with mashed potato frosting): yum or yuck?
  8. Whoopie pies as the next big thing: do you agree?

 

Wednesday
Mar252009

Bee Sweet: Cupcake Royale Debuts the Honey Peanut Brittle Cupcake in April

Honey Peanut Brittle Cupcake from Cupcake Royale
Sounds like Seattle's Cupcake Royale is ready for spring, with their new Honey Peanut Brittle Cupcakes, available starting April 1! Direct from the Cupcake Royale Blog, some musings on this new flavor:

What we've done here is take some delicious Pacific Northwest blackberry honey and transform it into a mouth-watering buttercream.

Then, we took some more of that delicious Pacific Northwest blackberry honey, threw some salted peanuts in there, wiggled our magical cupcake noses, and out came honey peanut brittle.

That's right. Honey. Peanut. Brittle.

Finally, we swirled the honey buttercream onto our vanilla buttercake, and crumbled the honey peanut brittle all over it. Good God y'all!

Maybe April isn't such a cruel month, after all.

For more information, visit the Cupcake Royale website or their blog.

 

 

 

Tuesday
Mar242009

Batter Chatter: Interview with Erik of Pie in the Sky

Pie in the Sky interview
Woods Hole, Massachusetts is an interesting little town, home to a well-known biological laboratory, the port from which ferries depart to that rich-kid playground called Martha's Vineyard...and possibly most importantly, home to a little bakery called Pie in the Sky. Owner Erik Gura has been baking from the same location for over 20 years--with that type of expertise, when he talks, you listen. We recently caught up with Erik and got to address many important aspects of living the sweet life in a tourist town, as well as gaining some insight on that strange New England phenomenon of apple pie with cheese; here's what we learned:


Pie in the Sky
CakeSpy: Why Pie? 
Erik Gura: She spoke to me. She told me she wanted to be the vehicle for our culinary expressions & I believed her. Some days I feel like the good bus driver, carefully making all the stops, smiling faces everywhere. Some days I try to stop the runaway bus, usually with mixed results….either way. I get excited to fire up every morning & go for that ride.

 

Pie in the Sky, Woods Hole MA
CS: You're located close to the ferry to Martha's Vineyard. What do you think is the best pie to take on ferry rides?
EG: One from Pie in the Sky, of course! Blueberry’s my pick, despite the potential for ruining lightly colored summer clothes.

Pie in the Sky, Woods Hole MAPie in the Sky, Woods Hole MA

CS: Do you notice a difference in baked good preference between locals and tourists?
EG: Locals praise value & consistency in all areas of Pie. They like little things, day in & day out. Tourists tend to buy like they are embarking on a 6 week sea voyage. …Do you have any Popovers? “Yes” OK… “How many would you like?” Oh, …all of them…

CS: What is the most important aspect of making a great pie?
EG: There is no one critical aspect to a good Pie. Rather, it is the physical manifestation of careful years of training & practice, coupled with a disciplined execution of each & every small detail in the process that comes from the heart and hands of a passionate baker. Oh, and keep both your fat & your water COLD. & don’t over mix!

CS: I've been told that since I love cream pies better than fruit pies, I'm not a "true" pie connoisseur. What are your thoughts on this important issue?
EG: My mom says there’s no accounting for taste….I use that one a lot…

Apple pie and cheese: Better together!
CS: Can you shed any light on the phenomenon of cheese on apple pie for us?
EG: Back where my Great Grandfather was born, in the St. Lawrence River valley, there were a lot of both cows & apples. The way my Grandma told it, it was only a matter of time before they got together. My family has New England roots that span back 300 years & to the best of my knowledge, everyone for generations enjoyed the combo, especially for breakfast. Portable, delicious, & packed with enough goodness to get you through till lunch…Ideally you’d get it warmed before you left the house, wrapped in waxed paper for snacking a bit later…works best with day old pie…

Pie in the Sky, Woods Hole MA
CS: You also offer some breakfast items, but we're curious: what's the difference between a popover and brioche?
EG: Volume. With Brioche, you add flour to butter until you can bake it. If you add too much flour, you create something with the consistency of a baseball. With Popovers, you whip up a thin batter & then bake it in a hot oven so it blows up like a balloon. Not enough heat or whipping and you create something with the consistency of a baseball.

CS: Be honest...if someone came into your cafe and said they were on a low-carb diet, what would happen?
EG: We encounter all sorts of dietary constraints on a daily basis…We do the very best with what we have to offer & sometimes there’s just no makin’ it…I’ve noticed some folks actually just want to talk to a real live baker. Like all specialized diets, the low carb thing is a challenge. I suggest sharing…after all, it’s healthy food for an active lifestyle.. Did I mention we stock Sprite Zero…and Diet Dr. Pepper…and Tab…??

Pie in the Sky, Woods Hole MA
CS: Since we can't be in Woods Hole at the moment to taste it at the moment, can you please describe the glory that is your bread pudding?
EG: Our Bread Pudding with Black Rum Hard Sauce is about 16 ounces of hot, rum and butter soaked- goodness that is only improved with a slathering of real whipped cream – or -- vanilla ice cream, dealer’s choice…also good for sharing…there’s a good visual on the website…It will burn if you put a spark to it….not for kids…

Pie in the Sky, Woods Hole MA
CS: What do you see as the emerging trends in the world of baked goods / desserts?
EG: I think there is currently a growing appreciation in this country for artisan quality locally fresh created food of all types. A bit of a run on sentence. I know, but I’m a baker, strong like bull, smart like tractor.

CS: What's next for Pie in the Sky?
EG: Naptime! All bakers enjoy a good napperoo…..that, and a second story on my tiny building…and a roast beef sandwich on toasted white bread with extra extra mayo, pickles, onions, & tomatoes & a little fresh ground pepper…hopefully more correspondence with the Cakespy crew…it’s kinda an open-ended question…

Hungry for more? For further insight & additional goodness, check out the Pie in the Sky website at www.woodshole.com/pie--make sure to keep up to date with the “Pie in the News” tab. 

 

 

Tuesday
Mar242009

Sweet Art: Subtract for Illustration Friday

Subtract for Illustration Friday
Does a proliferance of cupcakes subtract from their awesomeness? At least a couple of cynics seem to think so. But personally, I say shun the nonbelievers!

This sweet piece was done for Illustration Friday, where this week's theme is "subtract".

Tuesday
Mar242009

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Gourmet + CakeSpy = BFF
Like, OMG! CakeSpy is one of Gourmet's favorite food sites! There are simply no words that can express how honored your little Cake Gumshoes feel.


Curious about wedding cupcakes? Recipe Girl offers a comprehensive tutorial.

We told you that cookie sandwiches were the next big thing: NY Times weighs in on the Whoopie Pie.

Love the look of Peeps, but not the taste? Why not make your own? Here's a recipe and how-to.

Franny's Cup and Saucer in Point Arena, CA is our newest bakery crush.

Do you love chocolate? Then you'll love this comprehensive list of the 100 best chocolate websites.

This Dunkin' Donuts new donut flavor contest is strangely addictive.

Caramel sushi? There's no fish, thank goodness.

 

Peanut butter cayenne caramel bacon chocolate cookie bars: just one of the offerings from Seattle's newest specialty bakery, the Manderin Cookie Company.

Are your cupcakes looking frumpy? Class 'em up with these fancy cupcake liner jackets by Bella Cupcake Couture.

Creme that Egg!: the prolonged (and hilarious) death of a Cadbury Creme Egg. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Jules for sharing this awesome link.
Remember these? Marshmallow cones that taste like childhood.

 

Thursday
Mar192009

ShamRock Shake, Rattle and Roll

Shamrock Shake, Rattle and Roll
St. Patrick's day may be over, but the ultimate symbol of green excess is still available through the end of the month. No, we're not talking about green beer--we're talking about that green monster of a cold confection, the Shamrock Shake.

There's something delightfully trashy about this shake, which has clearly resonated with the public--there's even a movement to make it available year round. But somehow, as attracted as we are to this never-found-in-nature-green drink, we can't seem to make ourselves cross the threshold of those golden arches--must have seen Super Size Me one too many times.
Shamrocks
Luckily, we've come up with a solution to make something just as satisfyingly unhealthy at home--and this recipe actually has shamrocks. So bad it's good, in a rot-your-teeth-out sort of way; plus, with St. Patrick's day baking supplies on sale, it's also an extremely cost-efficient treat.

Shamrock shakeShamrock shake
Shamrock Shake
Ingredients:
  • A massive handful of green shamrock sprinkles (no, you may not substitute non-shamrock shaped green sprinkles)
  • 4 ounces or so milk (we used soymilk--yes, we see the incongruity in this)
  • A healthy scoop of ice cream 
  • Small handful of ice cubes
Directions: Pour in blender; blend until smooth. Pour in your favorite glass that will allow the green to show through. Bask in the sugary green glory. Serves one.
* Optional note: Feel free to add Bailey's Irish Cream, Creme de Menthe or straight whiskey to taste. 

 

Wednesday
Mar182009

Taking it to the Sweet: Cupcake Street Art Takes Over the World!

Have a Sweet Day!
When we recently did a cupcake street art installation in Seattle, we had no idea that it would garner such a reaction--we've gotten so much love and support, and the project was even featured on KCRW's Good Food!

Since then, we've received numerous emails from artists, crafters and bakers interested in spreading the sweetness in their own cities. We love this idea.

Want to take part?
Your mission, should you choose to accept: 
  • Spread sweetness throughout your neighborhood or city by making up a batch of sweet (but not delicious) cakes--here's a tutorial on how we made ours--and leave them in unexpected spots for others to discover, with the idea that this will brighten people's day.
  • Help us document the project! Most importantly, take pictures! Send them--and your stories--to jessieoleson@gmail.com and we'll write about your experiences!
  • Spread the word! Put the CakeSpy URL (or your own, if applicable) on the back of the little affixed flags, so that people can read about the project if they are the lucky ones who find the cakes out on the street. 

 

Wednesday
Mar182009

Sweet Art: A Tutorial on How To Make Fake Cupcakes

People Like You. Really.
Whether you're taking these to the streets as part of a sweet art installation or just want to decorate a room, these cupcakes are not delicious, but they sure are sweet. Keep in mind that this is more of a field guide; feel free to make alterations to suit them to your fancy.

Here's how we made ours:

You will need:

  • Plaster of Paris (available at most hardware stores or Target-type places with a hardware or home section)
  • Water
  • Paint to dye the plaster (we used crafter acrylic paint--the type that is less thick)
  • Cupcake cups (we used the silicone kind, but the paper kind work as well)


Making Fake CakesMaking Fake Cakes
For the cake part: Mix plaster and water (usually 1 part each, but adjust to a pourable but thick consistency). You can mix up whatever quantity you'd like; generally we will do about 3-4 cups' worth at a time; with 4 ounce cupcake-cups, this will make about 8 or so cupcakes. Add a small bit of water-soluble paint (like a watery acrylic or gouache) in the color that you want the bottom part to be, and mix until the color is to the point you like it. Pour into the cups til they level off at the top.

 

Making Fake CakesFake Cakes

Let these dry for an hour or so. It's ok to move on when they are hard, even if they are still slightly clammy to the touch.

 

Making Fake FrostingFake Cakes
For the frosting: Do the same plaster mix, but with whatever color you'd like for the frosting (we like pink best--so red paint). You can do slightly less, maybe 2/3 the amount that you used for the cake. Make this "batter" a little bit thicker though (by adding a little more plaster) so that it won't drip off of the sides when applied.
Fake Cupcakes
Using a spoon, gently put a spoonful on top of each cupcake, adding another spoonful to get a gentle "tiered" effect on the frosting, which will kind of melt into a pleasing cupcake frosting-y shape.

Sweet Sentiments
Optional for if you'd like to add messages: While still wet, insert toothpicks into center of frosting so that it will dry with the toothpick in. You can have the flags attached now or attach them later.

Let them set overnight or until they're hard and dry.

Now you're ready to place them on the street--or maybe just give them to friends--but whereever they end up, they're bound to make the world a little sweeter!

 

© Cakespy, all rights reserved. Powered by Squarespace.