Banana Bourbon Bread

Have I *ever* got a treat for you. It's a recipe courtesy of Tracey Ceurvels, author of The NYC Kitchen Cookbook.

It's a recipe for a little something called banana bourbon bread. Because if, like me, you've ever found yourself eating a boring, G-rated banana bread and found yourself wishing for it to be at least PG-13, this is the solution. 

This recipe doesn't mess around. It's simple and to the point, letting the sweet banana and the bracing bourbon flavors come together and caramelize while they bake, yielding a delicious and sophisticated banana bread for your anytime-eating delight. As Tracey says in her headnote, "The scent of this cake baking in the oven is intoxicating. I often make two and keep one in the freezer for when friends visit. Serve this cake as is or with ice cream, whipped cream, or icing." 

Let's not be silly, Tracey, we're always going to serve it with one or all of the three latter suggestions. :-) 

As for the book--Tracey has done something very cool here, not necessarily offering recipes for NYC classic dishes only, but celebrating the ingredients and resources in her NYC home and creating thoughtful dishes based on her favorite vendors and shops. It's a great volume with lots of tasty-sounding recipes; check it out here

Banana Bourbon Bread

Makes 1 loaf

  • 1⁄3 cup melted butter, plus extra to grease pan
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon (I recommend Four Roses Bourbon)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 11⁄2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons cardamom or Cake Spice from Penzeys Spices
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt

Butter a loaf pan and preheat oven to 350°F. Combine bananas, egg, bourbon, and vanilla in a bowl and mash together. Add the melted butter and mash until combined. Then, add the remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Pie

In case you hadn't heard the word, CakeSpy is 10 years old. As such, I've been revisiting some of my all time favorite recipes. Today? COOKIE CAKE PIE.

OK, so the Cookie Cake Pie I made in 2009 really kind of went viral, you guys. It was featured all over the interwebz and believe it or not, it even has its own Wikipedia entry (yes, proud moment). 

I mean, it was a brilliant idea. The basic premise was "cookies? cake? pie? why decide?". Genius might not be quite the right word, but it's the first one that comes to mind.

I decided the other day it was about time that I make it again. I didn't refer back to the old recipe, but instead just kind of winged it and kept it simple, with a construction punctuated with plenty of chocolate chips. It tasted just as good as I remembered.

The nice thing about this recipe is that you can make it using whatever components you like. Use your favorite pie crust, cookie dough, cake batter, and frosting. It can all be store bought or homemade. The bake time can vary but just keep an eye on the thing and you'll be fine.

Give this baby a try, if you never have! It's a little naughty, incredibly high carb, and intensely delicious. 


Makes 1 pie

  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  • Cookie dough 
  • 1 box cake mix, batter mixed to package specifications 
  • A big ol batch of frosting (I used a can of Funfetti Frosting, but sadly I had poached the sprinkles from it so I had to use edible glitter to garnish)

Start by preheating the oven. I preheated to 350, because that's just always a good moderate place to start.

Place your cookie dough in the pie crust. Me, I happened to have about 10 portions of this "egg free" cookie dough so I just plopped them right in the crust. There were two types, whole wheat and all purpose flour cookie dough, I figured a little extra health couldn't hurt, right? 

On top of the cookie dough, pour a big ole bunch of the cake batter. Me, I used vanilla cake batter but stirred in a handful of chocolate chips to help it match the cookie dough. Now, this is important: you probably will not need the entire batch of batter, particularly depending on how full the crust is after the cookie dough. Basically, don't overfill. You can use that extra to bake some cupcakes or make pancakes, you know? 

Put your pie unit into the oven. Bake until golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For me, this took about 30 minutes, but depending on the type of cake batter and cookie dough you use, plus your oven, this could vary. Use your senses. 

Remove from the oven, let cool, then frost (generously). Garnish with sprinkles, edible glitter, whatever feels great to you. 

Serve in big fat slices. Thank your lucky stars that you've tasted this and can die happy now.

What kind of cookie cake pie flavor combo would you like to make?


Guess what, my sweet friends? As a Happy 10 Years of CakeSpy anniversary present to me, you, and the world, I've been hired to do something VERY VERY SPECIAL YES ALL CAPS NEEDED. Please watch: 

OMG, right? I am writing the book I was born to write and illustrate, about UNICORNS! It's very hard to not die right now. Of happiness.

Now, this book is going to be a little different from what I usually do. It has a few recipes, but it's NOT a recipe book. It is an illustrated humor book that is basically a unicorn's guide to life. While intended for adults, it's totally appropriate for kids, too.

Here's a preview of the cover.

And guess what? It's already available for pre-order. LUCKY YOU! 

Pre-order Stuff Unicorns Love here.

CakeSpy is 10 Years Old Today!

My blog is going into the 5th grade. It's practically a tween. And I couldn't be prouder. 

My first post on this blog was on August 1, 2007. It was a very different time than today, when "blog" was not a well known word at all. Basically, within a month or two of starting a blog I had probably "networked" with every single other food blogger out there. I may be exaggerating a bit, but compared to today, it was a very small world. 

I am thankful that I started my blog when I did.

This is partially because if I started it today, I am not sure if I would stand out. This isn't because I don't think I'm special, it's just that there are so MANY blogs now, and all of them are so beautiful. I mean, it's like flipping through an Anthropologie catalog when you visit some of the food blogs out there! It's inspiring, but as a newbie, I think I might have found it intimidating, as well.

When I started CakeSpy, what set my blog apart was two things.

First, I was very laissez-faire about baking (I had actually just started baking in earnest, since I'd just gotten a stand mixer as a wedding present) and loved doing all sorts of kooky experiments like "how NOT to ship a cupcake" and "cereal treat wars" and "Little Debbie death match". Funny stuff.

Second, my artwork. Not many other bloggers were also illustrators, so to feature my L'il Cuppie character (now just Cuppie) was something really different. 

Within a year of starting my blog, Cuppie was kind of an internet celebrity. I did all sorts of paintings of him (yes him) and sold them on Etsy, which was also new around that time. I did a lot of paintings for people--Cuppie all over the world, Cuppie in custom scenes requested by people, Cuppie with people's dogs, etc, etc.

Among my favorite requests ever? A painting featuring (I kid you not) two cupcakes in their underwear, eating soup and watching Dawson's Creek, "with a cat playing with some yarn nearby".

I mean, to get just a small idea of how many paintings I have created, check out this Flickr gallery

People loved Cuppie. They made tributes to him. Readers sent me crafts, drawings, and sculptures of Cuppie. Cuppie was used as part of marriage proposals. Videos were made:

More than one reader even got a tattoo:

Now, I don't know if it is quite possible to explain how it feels, as an artist, to see your work / character have such an impact. It's humbling. It's unbelievable. It's incredible. I appreciate every single thing that people made, every single painting that I was commissioned to do, and everyone who loved and loves Cuppie.

In less than 2 years of starting my blog, I was able to quit my job working for a refrigerator magnet company to do this full time. 

Over the years, CakeSpy has changed a lot.

My photography has gotten better, my illustration style has changed a bit, and I have gained more prowess in baking, though I still feel in many ways like a beginner. 

Me, circa...2009, I think! My hair is about 2 feet longer now. 

Me, circa...2009, I think! My hair is about 2 feet longer now. 

I've had so many amazing experiences and opportunities through this blog. I've had art shows. I've had travel opportunities. I've developed recipes for major companies. I've met Ben of Ben and Jerry, Martha Stewart, Jay and Silent Bob...



the Pillsbury Dough boy (yes, I got into trouble for hugging him "too hard" here):



and more. I've written books! I've been on the cover of magazines! My artwork has been in movies! My first book was featured on the Today Show! For a few years, I even owned a retail gallery in Seattle!

Things have changed personally, too. When I started out my blog, I lived in Seattle. Since then I have lived in Philadelphia, Santa Fe, Asheville NC, and am now about to move back to Philadelphia. Whew! 

My blog outlasted my marriage, which is kind of funny and in other ways heartbreakingly sad. I have "come out" as a disordered eater, and share my recovery struggles here. I've had bangs, I've grown out my hair, I've had favorite outfits come and go. 

I don't know if I have quite enough words to thank everyone who has played a part in the wonderful unfolding process that is CakeSpy. Because more than just about anything else, the best part of this site has been the people. The people who read the site, the other bloggers I've met, the companies I've worked with. The people have been like the salt in baked goods: that thing that transforms it from a good thing into pure magic. 

I still don't know where the journey will lead, but I am so happy to still be on it after all these years.

2015! Me and my bro Ben (of Ben and Jerry's)

2015! Me and my bro Ben (of Ben and Jerry's)

August is a pretty special month for me: it's the blog's anniversary on the first, and my own birthay on the 26th, so I basically feel like it's MY month. Please, come back often this month as I repost some of the best posts from over the years and tell you all about what I decide to bake for my birthday! 

OH! And don't forget to pre-order The Cupcake Coloring Book, my latest coloring book volume which features Cuppie the Cupcake! 

Happy birthday to CakeSpy!