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Entries in bakeries (274)

Sunday
Jul052009

CakeSpy Undercover: A Cake Gumshoe's Thoughts on Indulge Cupcakes in Puyallup, WA

Indulge Cupcakes, Photos and Writeup by Roxanne Cooke
CakeSpy Note: This is a guest blog post from Cake Gumshoe Roxanne Cooke. Check out her website here!

Live life one cupcake at a time.
Keep calm and have a cupcake.
Are you checking out my cupcake?


Inside Indulge Cupcakes in Puyallup, you’ll find a variety of cupcake sayings, as well as a variety of cupcake flavors. Indulging here is simple.

 

Indulge Cupcakes, Photos and Writeup by Roxanne Cooke
The bakers at Indulge have the classics covered: vanilla with chocolate or vanilla buttercream, chocolate with vanilla or chocolate buttercream, and red velvet with vanilla buttercream.

Indulge also offers chocolate chip mint, lemon with lemon cream cheese frosting, cinnamon swirl, caramel macchiato, and orange dreamsicle. The lemon and orange dreamsicle cupcakes have freshly squeezed juice in their batters.

The shop sells a few specialty cupcakes, including carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, coconut with coconut buttercream, cherry chip, and strawberry shortcake.
Regular cupcakes cost $2.80 and specialty cupcakes are $3.75. The rest of the menu is devoted to drinks: espresso, tea, and smoothies. There’s a shelf full of cupcake-themed items, including cards and cupcake-shaped ceramic containers. Indulge also rents its space for events, such as baby showers.


On two separate occasions in June, I visited the downtown Puyallup shop with a friend. On our first visit, it was near closing time, and we ordered the chocolate chip mint and red velvet. Both were a bit dry, but we chalked this up to the late hour. The frosting, while beautifully done, was a bit sugary for our taste buds.
Indulge Cupcakes, Photos and Writeup by Roxanne Cooke
Before leaving, I bought a cherry chip cupcake to go and kept it in my fridge for a few days before tasting it. The cupcake was yellow on the outside and pink on the inside. It was moist and sweet, but not overpowering.

 

Cupcake from Indulge Cupcakes, Puyallup WA

On our second visit, we arrived early in the day and tried the caramel macchiato and carrot cake cupcakes. The caramel macchiato (pictured directly above), featuring a coffee bean on top and caramel syrup swirled over the frosting, had a delicious coffee flavor, but the frosting was still on the too-sweet side. The carrot cake (pictured below), now my favorite at Indulge, was just about perfect. The ratio of cake to frosting was more manageable, the frosting felt smoother and tasted less sugary, and the cake was rich, moist, and flavorful. Plus, it’s just cute!

 

Indulge Cupcakes, Photos and Writeup by Roxanne Cooke
I’ll definitely be going back to Indulge Cupcakes to try their other cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and to see what other specials they come up with. The people running the shop are always friendly, there’s interesting art on the walls, and their beautiful cupcake creations are fun to try.
Indulge Cupcakes, Photos and Writeup by Roxanne Cooke

Indulge Cupcakes, 207 N. Meridian, Puyallup, 253-904-8234; online at indulgecupcakes.com. For more of Roxanne Cooke's work, check out her website here.


Do you want to be a Cake Gumshoe too? Feel free to submit bakery reviews or great baked good related finds (with pictures, please) to jessieoleson@gmail.com.

 

Tuesday
Jun302009

Rosemary's Babka: Devilishly Delicious Mini Chocolate Babka in Seattle

Mini Chocolate Babka
The other day while wandering around Ballard, I happened to walk into Great Harvest Bread and in doing so, unwittingly submitted to my destiny: The Mini Chocolate Babka.

Baked in a muffin tin, this two-pronged treat is a mini monstrosity, so ugly it's sort of cute. Because of its small size, the chocolate-to-pastry ratio is upped dramatically, making it amazingly buttery and rich; in spite of said richness, it's amazingly how quickly and easily it manages to get in your belly.
Mini Chocolate Babka
As the sign in the shop said, this mini version of a classic holiday bread is "too good to save for once a year"--and I tend to agree. Even if it is the devil in disguise.

Mini Chocolate Babka (call for availability!) from Great Harvest Bread Company, 2218 NW Market Street, Seattle, (206) 706-3434; online at greatharvestsea.com.

Not in Seattle? No need to panic. This recipe for chocolate babka sounds like just about the most delicious thing ever, and I bet it could be divided into muffin cups for mini portions.

Friday
Jun192009

Better off Red: A Legendary Red Velvet Slice at The Kingfish Cafe, Seattle

Red Velvet Cake from Kingfish Cafe, Seattle
The Red Velvet Cake at The Kingfish Cafe in Seattle is kind of a local celebrity. It's always winning those "best of" polls and getting written up in the various publications around town. And yet--amazingly--I'd never managed to taste it. But all that changed this week when I hit up Kingfish for lunch with my friend (a self-described "dedicated dessert-er") Judy.
Red Velvet Cake from Kingfish Cafe, Seattle
Now, the first thing you'll notice about this cake is its size. It's huge. And I am not saying that in an annoying girlie sort of way. This cake is, like, really big. The slice pictured at the top is actually on a large dinner plate, and it took up most of it. I'm not a fan of sharing desserts, but this one definitely yielded four servings. No, really.

The first thing you'll notice upon tasting the cake is that it is chilled. For some this is a detriment, but I adore chilled cake: the flavor just seems to blossom on your tongue.

And as that flavor develops, you'll taste a variety of things. First, the sweetness of the cream cheese frosting, complemented with the slightest tang. Then sweetness again from the generous dollop of whipped cream, which is garnished with strawberries. Then the cake, which itself is not too sweet, but gently cocoa-y. Judy thought it tasted a bit dry compared to some of her previous visits. I tend to be forgiving about a slight dryness as long as the flavor is there, and the flavor certainly was there with this cake. When you get that one perfect bite with cake, cream cheese frosting, whipped cream and strawberry, it is...maybe not nirvana, but close.
Red Velvet Cake from Kingfish Cafe, Seattle
The overall verdict? While sometimes hype can ruin desserts, I definitely found this one to live up to its reputation and can't wait to return to Kingfish to sample the coconut layer cake and Strawberry shortcake.

The Kingfish Cafe, 602 19th Ave. East, Seattle, (206)320-8757; online at thekingfishcafe.com.
Kingfish Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday
Jun182009

Sweet Surprise: A Letter from a CakeSpy Reader

North Hill Bakery Cake, C/O Michelle
Not long ago, a CakeSpy reader wrote to me asking for advice on where to get a layer cake for her grandmother's 90th birthday party in the Seattle area; being from out of town, she didn't even know where to begin.

Now, personally I always find making recommendations pretty stressful--what if the other person's taste isn't the same as mine? What if a place that has never let me down has an off day when this person goes? But nonetheless, I bravely suggested a few places, including a Capitol Hill-based bakery whose birthday cakes I've always enjoyed, North Hill Bakery. A few weeks later I received this sweet email; I'm always so happy to hear about such sweet cake experiences!
North Hill Bakery Cake, C/O Michelle

Dear CakeSpy:

Thank you so much for all your help finding a bakery for my
grandmother's 90th birthday party cakes.

I ordered a coconut and a lemon cake from North Hill Bakery.

The were lovely, homemade looking treats that tasted wonderful. The
cake was moist and full of flavor, the frostings were light and
creamy. Everyone's stand-out favorite was the coconut but the lemon
was delightful too -- sweet, tart and very light.

The folks at North Hill were really great, they let us pick up the
cakes before they opened on Sunday and we were able to talk them out
of several lovely pastries as well.

The cakes were so popular that long-time Seattle residents kept asking
where I'd gotten them and pledging to get their next event cakes from
North Hill Bakery.

All in all, the cakes were a hit, I came off like a family hero, and
none of it would have been possible with out some CakeSpy help.

Thanks again.

North Hill Bakery, 518 15th Avenue E, Seattle, WA (206) 325-9007; online at northhillbakery.com.

Tuesday
Jun162009

We Must Increase Our Crust: A High 5 Cutie Pie Feature on DailyCandy

Cutie Pie from High 5 Pies
When I met High 5 Pies, the brainchild of Dani Cone (aka owner of Fuel Coffee) it was most certainly a case of love at first bite. Not only is their crust just how I like it: thick, lightly flaky, and very buttery, but their presentation is wickedly clever and cute.

Pie in a Jar, High 5 Pie
Take for instance their PieJars--pies baked right into a mason jar, which you can then heat and serve directly. It's a perfect gift, and no awkward conversations later about "Hey, can I get my pie plate back?".

My article for DailyCandy on Cutie Pies!

But their newest addition, Cutie Pies--mini pies baked in muffin tins--(which I just wrote a story about for DailyCandy)--will have you reeling from the cuteness. The fillings range from classics, like apple with a delicious crumb topping to unusual but surprisingly delicious combinations like peach, blueberry and clove. And as an added bonus, the high crust-to-filling ratio is tailor-made for crust enthusiasts like me who don't like it when pies are too fruity and virtuous-tasting.
Apple Hand Pies by High 5 Pie, Fuel Coffee
Of course, they've also got regular pies and sweet little hand pies on their menu too; check it out at high5pie.com. The pies are currently available exclusively at Fuel Coffee locations. For more information on the Cutie Pies, read the article I wrote for DailyCandy Seattle!

 

Saturday
Jun132009

Rhubarb Nirvana: The Rhubarb Strawberry Bar by Parisian Star Desserts

Rhubarb bar from PCC (Parisian Star Desserts)

Rhubarb is a magically versatile vegetables (yes, it's a vegetable). It can be used in a variety of dishes both sweet and savory, and some even claim to like it all on its own (liars).

 

But really, everyone knows that rhubarb is truly at its best when used as an ingredient in sweet desserts. And recently we discovered a really, really good one: the rhubarb-strawberry bar made by Parisian Star Desserts.

Parisian Star is a Seattle-based wholesale dessert company whose desserts live up to their name: fancy, Frenchy desserts that seem ideal for post-dinner party. They are sold at various venues around town, but they have an especially nice showing at PCC's Fremont bakery case, which is where the bar in question caught Mr. CakeSpy's eye.

Now, there are plenty of awesome rhubarb crumb cakes, bars and pies out there. And with its cookielike base and crumb topping, this one didn't look too different from other varieties we'd tried. But this one has a little something special--it sets itself apart with a thick layer of custard, which perfectly mellows out the tart fruit in addition to adding a delightfully rich flavor dimension and density to the bar. As an added bonus, the custardy filling provided a perfect texture contrast to the slightly crunchy topping and firm bottom layer. 
But watch out--though it may look like a bar cookie, all the awesome in the middle does have a tendency to ooze, so this one definitely requires a fork and knife.

 

 

Parisian Star Desserts Rhubarb Strawberry Bar, available at PCC in Fremont; for more information on their desserts and other places to buy, visit parisianstardesserts.com.

 

Friday
Jun122009

Beyond the Lunchbox: When Peanut Butter and Jelly Meet Bar Cookie

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bar, Ciao for Now, NYC
No doubt about it, peanut butter and jelly have enjoyed an enduring love affair that is basically the stuff of culinary history. But it's come time for them to abandon the bread and become awesomer than they could ever be as mere elements of a sandwich: it's time that we all pause to greet the peanut butter and jelly bar.

This baby was discovered at Ciao For Now's East Village, NYC location. Ciao for Now is a sweet little bakery specializing in organic treats (many of which are also vegan!). Though their menu does vary day by day, this peanut butter and jelly cookie bar instantly captured my attention on a recent visit. Served in thick, dense wedges, this bar is weighty--but oh so rewarding. It all starts with a thick cookie-like crust on top of which is sandwiched a thick layer of peanut butter and a sliver of jelly, which is then all topped with an oaty-nutty-crumbly topping. It's sort of like a mazurka bar, but with peanut butter.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bar, Ciao for Now, NYC
And in my humble opinion? This bar is perfect. The peanut butter adds a decadent richness to the bar, but the jelly adds a slight tart contrast which brings together the savory peanut butter and sweet crumb topping. In fact, the only problem may be the fact that I didn't buy two.

So, in closing? When peanut butter and jelly meet bar cookie, awesomeness and deliciousness ensue. 
Ciao For Now (East Village), 523 E. 12th Street, NYC (212) 677-2616; online at ciaofornow.net.

 

Wednesday
Jun102009

Get Sconed: Sweet Treats at The Scone Pony, Spring Lake NJ

Red Velvet Cupcake from The Scone Pony, NJ
The Stone Pony is a legendary rock club in New Jersey, largely put on the map as one of the venues where Bruce Springsteen got his start. But why go into detail about that on a baked-good website? Well, it lets you in on the joke when we talk about one of our favorite new bakeries, The Scone Pony in Spring Lake, NJ.

Now, we were already halfway in love with this bakery based on the pun-tastic name alone. But happily, as good as the shop's name is, the baked goods are even better. For reals.

The Scone PonyThe Scone Pony
As soon as you walk in, the warmth of the space and staff hits you instantly. The space is small but cozy, with various little gift items and a limited amount of seating up front leading up to a generously filled bakery case which opens up right into the kitchen so you can see the bakers at work. Owner Debra grew up around baked goods--her parents owned a bakery in North Jersey when she was growing up--and her passion and enthusiasm are contagious. She and her family made the transition from home baking to commercial baking starting with scones (theirs are half biscuit, half cake, and very delicious), which began to take on a cult following at holiday get-togethers; they began to build a home business around it, and eventually decided to graduate to a retail space. Though the scones are still a big part of business, they're certainly not the whole picture: the bakery has a dizzying array of treats. Naturally, we tried a variety:

Lobster Tail
Some deliciously flaky sfogliatelle;

Brownie from The Scone Pony, NJ
An insanely decadent, fudgy chocolate brownie;

Coconut Cupcake from The Scone Pony, NJGerman Chocolate Cupcake from The Scone Pony, NJ
Cupcakes, including a delicate coconut cupcake which had delicately coconut-infused cake as well as frosting, and a surprisingly subtle, not too-sweet German chocolate;

Whoopie Pie from The Scone Pony, NJ
A whoopie pie filled with tantalizing sweet creamy filling;

Peanut Butter Pie
An almost too-decadent (note: almost) peanut butter pie topped with luxurious chocolate ganache;

Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwich
A simple but perfect peanut butter cookie sandwich filled with a sweet peanut butter cream (kind of a fancy Nutter Butter);

Vanilla Bean Scone
And of course, the scones--in vanilla bean and mixed berry.

Honestly, everything we tried was very impressive--homey, but in a...shall we say, better than we could make at home sort of way. The Scone Pony has a great name and even better baked goods--if you happen to find yourself by the NJ shore, they're an absolute must-try.

The Scone Pony, 305 Washington Ave. (just off of Main Street), Spring Lake, NJ, (732)280-8887; online at thesconepony.com.

 

Friday
May152009

CakeSpy Undercover: Yellow Leaf Cupcake Company, Seattle

Tomato Soup Cupcake, The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co., Seattle
After having conversed and emailed with Yellow Leaf Cupcake Company's co-owner Mike Hein for the DailyCandy article I wrote, I naturally had to hit them up on their opening day. I arrived at a little after 8 a.m., and was informed that I was their sixth customer--ever. Sweet!

Yellow Leaf has a sweet story--owners Mike Hein and Tony Portugal both quit their office jobs and set to visiting cupcake shops all across America before opening their own shop in Belltown. The shop itself is sweet, with warm yellow walls. Their menu is homey but still eclectic-- standout flavors include their signature, the Tomato Soup Cupcake with cocoa Italian buttercream.

I picked up three flavors: the Tomato Soup (natch), the Black Forest and (upon Mike's suggestion) the coconut. The cupcakes are a little spendy--$9.69 including tax for three--and are not overwhelmingly large, but have a satisfying weight. They package them in clear plastic containers, which may not be as pretty as a pink box, but they do keep the cupcakes safe.

So how were they? Here are my comments:
The Tomato Soup Cupcake (shown top) was a pleasant spice cake-y confection--if you didn't know it was made with tomato soup, you probably wouldn't know the source of its je ne sais quoi. The cake was pleasingly moist. I have to admit I think I would have preferred more of a flavor contrast with perhaps a cream cheese frosting (and I will note that Mike did mention on our first conversation that it may be served this way in the future).

Coconut, The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co., Seattle
The Coconut was actually surprisingly light for what can sometimes be a very rich and heavy flavor--and the slightly crunch coconut gave a satisfying texture against the soft cake and buttercream. This was my favorite.

Black Forest Cupcake, The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co., Seattle
The Black Forest The cake itself was gorgeous, exceedingly decadent and almost truffle-like. I did wish that the toppings had a little bit more muscle though--they were on the lighter side, and the flavor and textures weren't completely harmonious with the dense chocolate cake.
Now, I've only tried a small sampling of their products, but overall, it seemed to me that their flavors all had merits, and that it was a pretty impressive first-day showing. I think that Yellow Leaf shows potential, and I'm eager to see (and taste) more. 
Read more about them on my DailyCandy writeup!
Yellow Leaf Cupcake Company, online at theyellowleafcupcake.com.

 

Tuesday
May122009

CakeSpy Undercover: Little T American Baker in Portland, OR

Little T American Baker
If there's anything we love, it's getting reader suggestions for bakeries we should visit.

So when CakeSpy reader Cynthia dropped by and visited the CakeSpy booth at Crafty Wonderland in Portland last weekend, my friend Danny and I were delighted when she told us about one of her favorites: Little T American Baker. So delighted, in fact, that Danny went right on over to pick up some treats to sample.
Little T boasts an awesome pedigree: it was opened by Tim Healea of Pearl Bakery and Kenny & Zuke’s (both CS favorites!). It's a stylish little space, and while the service wasn't necessarily swift, it was friendly. 
We sampled their peanut cookie, a shortbread cookie shaped like a puzzle piece, and the lemon tart. 
Let's start with the cookies. First was the "peanut cookie"--not a "peanut butter cookie". And it seems that there is a difference--this cookie, which was fat and very buttery, didn't have a strong peanut butter taste throughout, but rather got its nuttiness from a generous smattering of whole peanuts throughout. It was pretty delightful.
The shortbread cookie, which Danny declined to share, was declared "very good". 
But oh, the lemon tart. Lemon tarts and bars can be tricky territory, often falling into the category of too eggy or too sweet. A well-balanced filling is hard to come by, but so wonderful when you find one. And Little T's lemon filling was perfect. Smooth and creamy, rich and yet still tasting of fresh citrus, it was perfectly complemented by a shortbread-y crust. Heaven!
Our most sincere thanks to Cynthia for introducing us to Little T American Baker.
Little T American Baker, 2600 SE Division, Portland OR (503) 238-3458; online at littletbaker.com.

 

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