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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!

 

Tuesday
Mar172009

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Last Cake Standing
Stand by for some sweet TV: the Food Network debuts Last Cake Standing, a show in which only the sweetest survive, on April 5. (picture of contestant Elisa Strauss of Confetti Cakes, above)

11:11 makes totally sweet cake and baked good-themed checkbook and passport covers, notebooks and yes--even condom holders.

Have you kept up to date with the fantastic adventures that our friend Bakerella recently had with Ree of The Pioneer Woman Cooks?

NY Cupcakes in Bellevue is under new ownership--we hear the cakes have improved too!

They fly through the air with the greatest of ease: Portland's Saint Cupcake is now shipping customizable cupcake kits.

Boston's Taste Coffee House shares their recipe for a creamy & rich Affogato Shake.

Indian Curry and Pistachio brittle? You had us at hello, Morning Glory Confections.

Curio Confections is opening soon in Seattle--just look at their tantalizing menu!

CakeSpy reader Kathy has made us obsessed with cotton candy cupcakes--has anyone ever tried them (or does anyone have a recipe to share)?

Hoosier Mama has an awesome name and awesome looking pies in Chicago.

In Seattle, Immortal Dog proves that dogs deserve delicious cookies too.

S&M meets sugar, with a spikey torture dessert pedestal by LASdesigns.

Don't forget: learn about the sweeter side of business at the upcoming CRAVEbusiness SHOP Symposium this Sunday!

Monday
Mar162009

Sweet Art: Legendary for Illustration Friday

AB FAB Cupcakes: They're Legendary!
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!

Monday
Mar162009

Cake Byte: CRAVEbusiness SHOP Symposium, Featuring CakeSpy

CRAVEbusiness SHOP Symposium
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.

Here's a blurb on the mission statement of the Symposium: 

 

 

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.

 

For more information, tickets, and the schedule, visit the official SHOP Symposium website.

 

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