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Thursday
Oct182007

Stay Cool, Be Hot: Oven Mitts and Potholders by Deadly Squire

At Cakespy, we know that using quality ingredients, seeking the best recipes and perfecting your technique are all very important in the path to becoming a great baker. But we know it’s not all about these things.

It’s also about looking totally hot while doing all of the above.

That’s why we were very happy to spy the new collection of oven mitts and potholders by Deadly Squire. Now, this Brooklyn-based design duo is pretty cool to begin with: Anna and Tim Harrington are a painter and punk-rock singer respectively on their own, but together they are both husband and wife and killer housewares designers. As they put it, Deadly Squire embodies a “distinctive design sense, infectious enthusiasm, and a taste for mischief”; we think this reflects nicely in their largely nature-inspired patterns, featuring retro-modern leaf, pod and flower forms in sophisticated palettes with titles like “Feasting at the Berry Bush” or “Groundskeeper’s Cameos”. Their kitchen accessories are beautifully constructed: the mitts are not too-big, which can often be a problem with one size fits all merchandise; the potholders are thick and cushy, guaranteeing that your delicate hands won’t get burned.

Because hot as you are, you’ve got to stay cool.

Available online at deadlysquire.com.

Wednesday
Oct172007

Cake on a Stick: The Cakesicle Pan

Popsicles, cotton candy, corn dogs. Does food on a stick offer the best, or the worst, of the culinary world? Such a tough call.

Finally, something has come along to tip the scale: Cakesicles! Yup—now you can make your own popsicle-shaped mini cakes on sticks, thanks to Norpro’s Cakesicle Pan, which accommodates 8 healthy sized cakes at a time. But the fun really begins after they’re baked: they’re super-fun to decorate; you can put frosting on all sides; and since they’re on a stick, you can eat them while walking. No fork and plate holding you down.

We’d say that food on a stick just got kicked up a notch.

Available online at hearthsong.com, where they’re currently on sale! Hearth Song also has a small selection of decorating items available.

Tuesday
Oct162007

Don't Leaf Me: A Sweet Design Gingerbread Leaf Cookies Debut at Chocolati Stores

The leaves of fall: vibrant and speaking of the fleeting moments of life. Full of beauty; a seasonal poem.

That is, until it starts raining and they’re mucking up gutters and getting slippery, making you slip while walking to work, thus messing up your new “grown up” work outfit and resulting in nasty looks from the boss. Not that we'd know.

Here's a much more rewarding perk of the season: leaf-shaped, chocolate-dipped gingerbread cookies by A Sweet Design. This Seattle-based cookie wholesaler, headed by the friendly Pamela Rose, is known for their wonderful, thick, spicy gingerbread and sugar cookie creations (which are sold in various coffee shops in the area, including Cherry Street Coffee). And happily, they will be debuting their fall gingerbread selections this very week: leaf cookies at Chocolati in Greenwood this Wednesday afternoon, with wrapped cookies to follow next week in all three locations.

No manual labor necessary, and you’ll certainly have no trouble cleaning up this fall treat.

Leaf cookies available starting October 17 at Chocolati in Greenwood (8319 Greenwood Ave. N, near corner of 83rd); wrapped cookies available at all Chocolati stores starting next week; locations online at chocolati.com.

Monday
Oct152007

Batter Chatter: Interview with Triy of Cupcake Culture

Some will say that Western Culture has wreaked havoc on Eastern countries: we've given them McDonald's, cowboy boots, Michael Jackson. Owch. But we've also redeemed ourselves a little bit by exporting the cupcake trend, which is just starting to take off in countries like Japan, China and Singapore. Cakespy recently had a chance to talk about cupcakes with Triy, owner of the aptly named Cupcake Culture, a new cupcake catering business located in Singapore. Here's what we learned about cupcakes, dessert, and the best time of day to eat cake: 


Cakespy: How did you get started making cupcakes?
Cupcake Culture: I've always loved baking since young! In fact, when my dad ask me what I would like for a birthday gift, I told him I wanted a hand-held mixer! That's how I fell in love with baking. As for cupcakes, I only started out in recent years and started researching before doing lots of it for a friend's wedding last June.


CS: Can you tell us a little bit more about your business? Do you work by special order only, or do you have a store?

CC: I work by special order only, mostly wedding functions, but occasional smaller orders are OK for me if I'm not already tied up with another order.


CS: How long have you been running your business?

CC: Only 4 months!



CS: What is the most cupcakes you've ever made in one day?

CC: 200 of various flavours.


CS: Do you only make cupcakes, or do you make full-size cakes too?

CC: Cupcakes only, for the moment. But I have one bride who's getting married in September next year who insisted that I do a 2 tier wedding cake for her after seeing the one I did for a dear friend. I'm venturing into that, so be patient with me for the moment please!


CS: Cupcakes are extremely popular in the USA right now; there are many bakeries that ONLY sell cupcakes here. Is it the same in Singapore?

CC: Well, we really do not have many that specialise in cupcakes here, but it's slowly picking up.

 

 

CS: What are some of the other popular desserts in Singapore?

CC: Definitely ice-kachang! A delectable mountain of shaved ice, drizzled with coloured sugar syrup, with lots of kidney beans, cubed jelly and palm seeds hidden at the foot of the mountain...YUM!! Others would include red ruby with coconut milk, black glutinous rice, green bean soup...the list goes on! We're lucky to have a huge variety of desserts here in our warm and humid weather.


CS: Where do you get your recipes?

CC: Many online, with trial and error tweaking to get my ultimate recipe..some from my library of recipe books.


CS: Do you have any favorite recipes you'd like to share?

CC: Oops! Trade secret! But I recommend '500 cupcakes' by Fergal Connolly. I love the recipes in it!


CS: What is the most important aspect in making a great cupcake?

CC: I would say thinking of who the receiver of the cupcake is, and making the cupcake just the way so that it would bring a smile to the recipient's face..



CS: What is the most popular flavor that you get orders for?

CC: Definitely my chocolatey chocolate!


CS: What is your favorite cake flavor?

CC: Chocolatey chocolate. Need we say more?


CS: What is the best way to eat a cupcake?

CC: I love mine with a cup of freshly brewed English tea.


CS: What is your favorite food, either sweet or savory (other than cupcakes)?

CC: Oriental stir fried beef strips with onion in brown oyster sauce.


CS: What is the best time of day to eat cupcakes, in your opinion?

CC: Afternoon!

 

 


CS: Do you think that cupcakes will ever lose their popularity?

CC: Never! They're so lovable!


CS: What are your future plans for Cupcake Culture?

CC: I started the business by baking with love and passion for a dear couple close to my heart, and that brought a smile to their face. I hope that it can remain that way, that my humble creations will bring a smile to my clients and warm their hearts.


CS: Any tips or words of advice for those starting out a cupcake business?

CC: Bake them with passion, and let your creative juices flow!

 

For more information, visit cupcakeculture.blogspot.com.

 

Sunday
Oct142007

No Grey Area: A Lesson in Black and White Cookies

What is a black and white cookie? Well, if you live in the metro New York region, it's part of everyday life: a cakey cookie iced with half-chocolate, half-vanilla fondant icing that is available at almost every bakery and deli. But in other areas of the country, many people have been walking around, living their lives, perhaps not even knowing what black and white cookies even are. Or, even worse, they'll mistakenly think that examples like the below are black and white cookies:


Although they are certainly delicious, cookies that are dipped, dolloped or contain white and dark chocolate chips are simply not black and white cookies.

 

Luckily, although black and whites aren't readily available at bakeries outside of the New York region, you need not panic or stoop to the level of buying pre-packaged grocery store hybrids (in our opinion, usually a sorry excuse for black and white cookies, with icing that flakes off disappointingly). While there are several places to buy online, here are Cakespy's personal picks:

Bing's Bakery: Although on the outskirts of true black and white cookie country, these are the real deal, with soft, chewy fondant icing and a perfect quarter-inch of overlap of the two flavors of frosting in the middle. $15.95 for a half-dozen. 


Rocco's Pastry: If you've ever visited Rocco's Pastry in Greenwich Village, you'll know that it's nearly impossible to walk by their big glass window teeming with cookies like these and not buy anything. Their black and whites are as good as they look. $3 each (jumbo cookies). Available online at roccospastry.com.

William Greenberg Jr. Desserts: These black and whites are the celebrity of the bunch, having recently been featured on the Today Show and praised by Martha Stewart. We think they're worth the hype. $45 for a dozen jumbo cookies; $27 for 18 mini cookies. Available online at wmgreenbergdesserts.com.

Zabar's: Where better to get the perfect New York black and white cookie than the quintessential Upper West Side grocery Zabar's? For many, these are the black and white cookies that set the standard: like their online description says, "black and white and craved all over". 'Nuff said. $7.98 for 10 mini cookies. Available online at zabars.com.

Cakespy Note: For those who are interested in learning more, we strongly suggest checking out The Black and White Cookie Review, a NYC-based blog dedicated to seeking happiness, fulfillment and the perfect black and white cookie. A true kindred spirit indeed. Online at blackandwhitecookiereview.blogspot.com.

Thursday
Oct112007

Pie, Oh My: Pumpkin Pies Available at North Hill Bakery

Some say that the Christmas holidays are the most wonderful time of year. Unfortunately, those people are wrong. Sorry Santa, but this year it's all about October, especially with momentous events like the first pumpkin pies of the year debuting at the North Hill Bakery in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Our Head Spy was on hand to sample some of the very first batch of pies from their ovens (it's hard being a sleuth sometimes) and reports that the owners Tracey Peterson and Margaret Rumpeltes (both veteran Seattle bakers and cooks) certainly know what they're doing: after roasting their own pumpkins to fill a buttery, flaky crust, the pies are topped with fresh whipped cream and spice cookies that act like a mini-top crust and are the perfect complement to the smooth, creamy pie filling (which had not a bit of that jello-y finish that plagues canned-filling pies). The resulting pie is so satisfying, you'll even want to eat it for breakfast (which one of the bakers, Mary, admits to doing from time to time).

But be warned, these pies are a bit like the vibrant leaves of Autumn: in season for only a short time, they won't last forever. So enjoy the season while you can!

Cakespy Note: No one trick-pony here, North Hill Bakery also has a full array of charming treats, fall and otherwise; check out their adorable cookies and dreamy chocolate cake!

Available at the North Hill Bakery, 518 15th Ave. East (b/t E. Republican & E. Mercer Sts); for more information, visit northhillbakery.com.

North Hill Bakery in Seattle

Wednesday
Oct102007

Just Donut: Apple Cider Donuts by Delicious Orchards

What is Fall? More than just dates on the calendar, it's a season of colors, flavors and sensations. Fiery-colored leaves, the taste of hot apple cider, piles of leaves that all but ask to be jumped upon. Blustery days that make your body and soul cry out for sweet, cakey treats.

And what could be a better marriage of seasonal flavors and comforting cake than apple cider donuts?
Happily, Delicious Orchards of Colts Neck, New Jersey, offers these wonderful fall treats online. The orchard and gourmet market, based in Central New Jersey, serves as proof of why it's called the "Garden State" with their beautiful and seasonal selection of gourmet foods and baked goods. These donuts are the stuff of dreams: beautifully spiced and thick, they're perfect with hot coffee or apple cider; we love how they taste after having been heated in the toaster oven for a minute. They come in two variations: plain apple cider, and powdered sugar coated apple cider.

They'll leave you full of happiness--and energy for diving into your neighbors' leaf piles (and running away after).

Available online at deliciousorchardsnjonline.com.

Wednesday
Oct102007

Be Free: Complimentary Babycakes at Cupcake Royale in Seattle


What is better than free cake? Maybe something, but nothing comes to mind immediately.

For this reason, it would be wise to leave work early tomorrow (Thursday, Oct. 11th) so that you can be the first in line for the 7 p.m. opening reception of the Derek Charm art show at Cupcake Royale's West Seattle location. Because in addition to seeing some great artwork, you'll also be privy to the limited supply of free harvest babycakes in the new fall flavors: pumpkin, caramel apple and carrot. Free!

West Seattle too far? We understand. Luckily, there's another opening reception at the Ballard location this Saturday (Oct. 13th) at 7 p.m., featuring the artwork of Brad Strain; more artwork, and another chance to cram as many babycakes in your mouth as possible.

Once again: free! Non-Seattleites, our apologies.

For more information and locations, visit cupcakeroyale.com.

Tuesday
Oct092007

Sweet Story: The Tale of L'il Cuppie

Many readers have expressed an interest in learning a little bit more about our little cupcake mascot, so we thought we would publish a bio on the little guy, who we fondly think of as L'il Cuppie.

L'il Cuppie was made from leftover batter from a birthday cake, and has always had a chip on his shoulder about this. Is he a "complete" cupcake? Or an "incomplete" cake? It's truly his internal struggle. As a result, he rebelled as early as his babycake days, and has a tendency to go over the top for attention, occasionally getting himself in trouble (although he always has great adventures in the process!). But don't be fooled by his bluster; at heart, he's a good little cake and can occasionally be caught in moments of extreme sweetness.

What does the future hold for L'il Cuppie? Well, you'll just have to visit cakespy.com to see!

Friday
Oct052007

Batter Chatter: Interview with Dian Scott of Cupcake Heaven


Are cupcakes what greet you in heaven, or is heaven a place on earth when eating cupcakes? It's a moot point, a chicken or the egg type of question. But there's no arguing that Cupcake Heaven in Tucson, AZ is serving up something ambrosial to mere mortals: rich and creamy frosting atop perfectly moist cakes are something that will bring an angelic smile to anyone's face. We were able to talk cake (and pie!) with proprietress Dian Scott; here's what we learned about how they like their sweets in Tucson:

Cakespy: How did you get started in cupcakery?
Dian Scott: I've been a baker and cook my entire life and wanted so much to help spread the joy with cupcakes! People light up when they see my cupcakes in their very cool boxes, wrapped with a ribbon! The presentation just "sends" them; then they taste them and are gone!!!

CS: What is your most popular cupcake flavor?
DS: I must confess, it's the chocolate peanut butter; also the best seller.

CS: How frequently do you eat cupcakes?
DS: Again, this is going to be "true cupcake confessions", I have one almost everyday! I don't eat other sweet treats as much as I used to though so I have struck a balance.

CS: What is the most important characteristic of a great cupcake?
DS: Moist! No doubt about it!

CS: What makes a "bad" cupcake (is there such a thing?)?
DS: Yes, unfortunately I have had dry, crumbly ones: "bad cupcake".

CS: What do you think is the best time of day to eat cake?
DS: Anytime, as long as you're awake.

CS: Do you sell anything other than cupcakes? If not, do you think you might in the future?
DS: No, I'm only selling cupcakes from my on-line bakery but I do have the next thing in mind.

CS: Have you ever baked using a cake mix?
DS: When I was a child, never as a professional.

CS: We've heard it said that "Pie is the new cake". How do you feel about this?
DS: I believe it! In fact my next thing will be individual pies!

CS: If you weren't a cupcake maven, what do you think you'd be doing?
DS: Catering. I still do on occasion and my company is called Occasional Catering.

CS: What is next for Cupcake Heaven?
DS: Pies, sweet and savory I think. But for now cupcakes are it!

For more information, visit cupcakeheaven.biz.

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