Home Home Home Home Home Home Home
CakeSpy

Featured: 

Cornmeal pecan cookies 

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

Entries in batter chatter (100)

Friday
Jul232010

Batter Chatter: Interview with Melissa Diamond, My Cake School - Giveaway Closed

People take courses online for all sorts of things--and now, cake is one of the subjects! My Cake School is an online cake decorating school with all sorts of tutorials, message boards, and other goodies (and a new CakeSpy sponsor). Now, without knowing too much detail, I'd go so far as to say that this schooling is far funner (and more delicious) than, say, required Math credits! But how does it all work? I got in touch with owner Melissa Diamond to find out. Here's the interview:

CakeSpy Note: Melissa has also kindly offered a free 1-year membership to My Cake School to one lucky reader! Find the details at the end of the post.

CakeSpy: First things first. Who exactly are you, Melissa Diamond? And what is your relationship with cake?

Melissa Diamond: I am a wife and a mom -- and I LOVE cake decorating.  I started a home-based cake decorating business years ago so that I could work from home--- now, I love to teach!  Cake decorating is so much fun--  anyone can learn!

CS: OK. Now that we've figured that out...what exactly is My Cake School?

MD: MyCakeSchool.com is my new cake decorating website.  I have a cake Blog that is open to everyone, and then other parts of the site that are for members.  Membership is $30 for a year-- With this, you can access my cake decorating video tutorials (over 100 so far). There are Message Boards available for members to share their experiences, ask questions, and request videos!

CS: What are some of the advantages of an online cake school versus taking a course in a physical classroom or kitchen?

MD: I think that both have their advantages---but what I like the most about MyCakeSchool is that you are able to see a close-up view of the skill being demonstrated as many times as you like.  Videos are permanently posted  and available 24 hours a day--so, there are never any scheduling conflicts! Finally, it is so much more affordable! $30 may buy a 4 class course in decorating.....or a cake decorating dvd-- but with my site, you have access for a year to sooo many more videos--there is always something new to see!

CS: What is your first cake memory? 

MD: Hmmmm.. I think that it was my 5th birthday-- My mom made me a cute cake with clowns on top----the giant swirls of buttercream with the plastic clown heads!! Do you know the ones?  They still sell them!

CS: As a professional cake decorator, what are your thoughts on cupcakes?

MD: I love cupcakes!  My favorite kind are just very simply decorated with a big swirl and a cute little topper or sprinkles! Or maybe the ones injected with cream.... or dipped in ganache.....

CS: Please, tell me something that people might not know about you.

MD:  I love decorating to LOUD music!  I can't do this in my videos though!

CS: What cookbook could you simply not live without?

MD: BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking by Shirley Corriher.  Such a great book--she gives you the science behind baking. 

CS: Morbid curiosity time: if you could envision your last meal, what would you have for dessert? 

MD: This is so hard! I'm going with banana pudding!

But wait, there's more! You can experience the magic for yourself at MyCakeSchool.com. And one lucky winner will win a year-long subscription for free! How do you put yourself in the running? Simply leave a comment on this post saying what cookbook you simply could not live without! One winner will be chosen at random--the giveaway will close on Friday, July 31 at 12 pm PST. The winner will be announced shortly after!

 

UPDATE: THE WINNER! We have a winner, friends, and it is Judy R., who says "My favorite cookbook is Confetti Cakes for Kids. Also the cake decorating blogs online". Congratulations, Judy!

Tuesday
Jun012010

Batter Chatter: Interview with Kimm Moore, Pastry Chef at Spitfire Grill, Seattle

When I attended CupcakeCamp Seattle a couple of months ago, I encountered a sweet surprise: several creative cupcake entries from an unexpected source: Kimm Moore, the pastry chef at Spitfire Grill. Why such a surprise? Well, for one thing, I didn't even know that they had a pastry chef--after all, it's a sports bar! Not exactly a place that you'd expect delicious pastries. But these were very tasty cakes, friends. I simply had to learn more--here's a sweet interview with Kimm!

CakeSpy: Tell me how you got involved in the pastry arts.

Kimm Moore: I have been cooking and baking professionally for about 5 years now. Growing up, I knew I wanted to career that is active, creative, fun, precise, and help people look at food differently. I love the pastry arts because it lets me be creative with food/desserts.

CS: How did you become the pastry chef at the Spitfire Grill, which identifies as "a gathering space for sports"?

KM: I have been working, at Spitfire - Microsoft main campus location, for almost one year. Yes, we do identify ourselves as a "casual sports bar" but we do much more. We hold private parties, banquets for morale events, inside and outside catering events, and dessert banquets. I am the pastry chef, but also a line cook. I started as a line cook, then showed my bosses all the pastry work in my past. I wanted to help Spitfire grow, pastry-wise.

CS: What kind of desserts can be found on your menu?

KM: From a basic brownie sundae to my homemade pound cake bread pudding. I also do banquet dessert items, which can include mini cupcakes, lemon tarts, caramel tarts, and chocolate rum mousse cups. We do receive orders for special items, which I am happy to make.

CS: Do you have a lot of creative license in the kitchen, to design new desserts?

KM: To an extent. There are "set" items on the menu, which regular people like to see, but I love to get creative with banquet dessert items.

CS: At CupcakeCamp Seattle, you brought an amazingly creative roster of cupcakes to the event. Any chance we could get any of those at your work?

KM: Yes! I love making and creating new cupcakes also. If someone wants a special request cupcake, I am sure to do it!

CS: What is your favorite dessert to make?

KM: As simple as it sounds, I love to make cookies. They are a sweet item everyone loves and has favorite. You can get very creative and artistic with cookies...or just make a simple batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Also, there is some "science" to different mixing methods, for cookies, which I love.

CS: What is your favorite dessert to eat?

KM: There is something child-like about eating a good quality ice-cream, or gelato, in a waffle cone. Frozen desserts are in a world of their own, and I tend to favor those. I have a weakness for semi-freddos.

CS: Pie and cake are alone in a dark alley with switchblades. Who's going to come out the victor in this battle?

KM: Pie and cake are similar to cupcakes, because all have a "home-like" appeal to the masses. I believe pie will come out as a winner. Pie tends to be "lighter" versus cake. I like what High 5 Pie is doing around Seattle, bring more people aware of "good" pie. I love baking pie, too. I went to a National Pie Baking Contest, in Kissimee, Florida, and has a blast meeting with fellow pie bakers from across the country.

CS: If I were to ask something obnoxious like "do you see any emerging trends in the world of pastry?" what would you have to say?

KM: Honestly I see: beer in desserts, small bite banquet desserts, and healthy, especially gluten-free and vegan, desserts/baked goods.

CS: What is one of your proudest baking moments?

KM: When I was a bread baker, for COBS BREAD, our bakery's Country Grain bread placed 1st in a bread baking contest in Canada. I felt like waking up at 2 am everyday, for work, FINALLY paid off! I also, felt very proud at Cupcake Camp and meeting fellow cupcake bakers and lovers. I always feel happy and confident when someone says they love my work! What are some of your ultimate goals as a baker? As a baker, I want to change how people look at pastry items and how good ingredients equals a better product. You do not need to buy prepackaged cookies or take 'n' bake cookie dough, you can make your own cookies with good ingredients. Some people tend to "skimp" on baking ingredients which makes a less quality product. I also want people to eat better, healthier baked goods. I love baking healthy, gluten-free, and vegan items. I give them to people to taste, and they say "Wow! Can't even taste a difference!"

You can taste Kimm's desserts at The Spitfire Grill!

Friday
Apr232010

Batter Chatter: Interview with Sweetened Condensed Milk and Evaporated Milk

Undoubtedly you've baked with either Sweetened Condensed or Evaporated Milk, if not both. But what exactly are they? And what's the difference, anyway? Happily, I was able to get the full story directly from the source, when I sat down with a couple of the respective canned dairy products for an interview:

CakeSpy: First off, I'd like to thank my guests, Sweetened Condensed Milk and Evaporated Milk. And I'd like to say, for the record, that no matter what anyone says, I've never considered you dairy misfits.

Sweetened Condensed Milk: Who said that?

Evaporated Milk: I'll kill them! It was Whipping Cream, wasn't it? He's so smug.

CakeSpy: Outta sight! So, to get things started, Sweetened Condensed Milk...what exactly are you?

Sweetened Condensed Milk: Well, since I was googling myself before the interview, I can tell you that I'm "cow's milk from which water has been removed and to which sugar has been added, yielding a very thick, sweet product which when canned can last for years without refrigeration if unopened."

CakeSpy: Wow, that's a long time.

Evaporated Milk: No wonder why you seem so dated.

CakeSpy: Now, now, Evaporated Milk. I'm interested in you too--what is it exactly that you are?

Evaporated Milk: So glad you asked. I'm comprised of dehydrated milk, and am considered a shelf-stable canned milk product with about 60% of the water removed from fresh milk.

CakeSpy: You guys, no offense, but it doesn't sound like you're all that different. What exactly is the difference between you two?

Sweetened Condensed Milk: I've got sugar!

Evaporated Milk: I don't need sugar! I have a very unique flavor and am often used in desserts such as Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie.

Sweetened Condensed Milk: But with my deliciously decadent sugary nature, I'm often used in desserts too--perhaps most notably, or notoriously, in the Magic Cookie Bar.

Evaporated Milk: I thought those were called Hello Dolly Bars.

CakeSpy: Tomato, tomahto.

Sweetened Condensed Milk and Evaporated Milk (in unision): Whaaat?!?

CakeSpy: Nevermind. (pause)

Anyhow, to review, you're both shelf stable canned milk products, but basically Sweetened Condensed Milk has added sugar, and Evaporated milk doesn't. You both have a rich history and a rich texture, and are often used in baking. And no matter what Heavy Cream, Yogurt, or Cream Cheese says about your status as reputable dairy product, I love you both.

Evaporated Milk: Thanks...I think.

Sweetened Condensed Milk: Let's go shank Heavy Cream!

For recipes using Sweetened Condensed Milk, visit the Eagle Brand site; for Evaporated Milk recipes, check out Carnation.

Saturday
Apr172010

Batter Chatter: Interview with Laura Liscano of Confection Concoctions

Everything tastes better on a stick. And nobody knows this better than Laura Liscano, owner of Spanaway, WA-based Confection Concoctions, a special-order sweets company specializing in cake pops and truffles (which have, by the way, officially been declared a "faddy food"). So why not learn more about the art of making cake on a stick--and how she got from a Bakerella-inspired moment of baking to a business venture:

CakeSpy: Why is it that everything tastes better on a stick?

Laura Liscano: I think it brings us "grown ups" back to a happy place in our childhood where things like lollipops, corn dogs and popsicles would usually be associated with fun times.

CS: Tell me more. How did you get your start as an arbiter of sweet treats, mostly on sticks? 

LL: I discovered Bakerella's super cute Cupcake Pop through Martha Stewart one day and decided I would make a bouquet for my neighbor/friend. They took me FOREVER but I was hooked! She asked me to make some for her to give to someone else which is when I started to get creative and put my own spin on them. I've always had a creative side and this allows me to tap into that.

CS: Currently you offer cake pops, cake truffles, and decorated cookies. Any plans for other products in the future?

LL: I made some yummy cupcakes for my daughter's classroom yesterday and am making some for a bridal shower this weekend. Other than that, I think I would rather be great at a few things than "ok" at a bunch of things. I would love to start playing around with sugar; mostly for my own personal growth though.

CS: What's your personal favorite sweet on a stick that you've made?

LL: I really love the original designs that I have come up with. Like the Cake Slice and the intricate 2-tier Square pops with the Zebra Stripes and the Cherry Blossoms. It makes me feel like I'm somewhat unique and not just copying others' ideas.

CS: You say that Cake Balls and pops are the new cupcake. Could you kindly back this up with cold hard proof?

LL: LOL. It's hard to maintain that after attending Cupcake Camp but what I mean is cupcakes are all the rage right now and Cupcake Boutiques are popping up everywhere. And while cupcakes will always be a classic, I think they will run their course and Cake Pops will be next in line to be the "in" thing.

CS: You currently work by special order only. Do you plan on ever opening a retail shop?

LL: I can picture my Cake Pop Shop in my head right now! A lot of stars would have to align for that to happen though. With the economy the way it is; I think it would be a risky move, especially when there are still so many people that dont even know what a cake pop is yet. I hope to continue to move forward and eventually get to that point.

CS: What's your most popular flavor?

LL: Red Velvet with Cream Cheese icing for sure! Its funny because I grew up in the South and have always known about Red Velvet but up here in the NW, it seems like its a new trend and folks out here are loving it!

CS: For fun: what is your favorite dessert to eat (vs. to make)?

LL: I love a good old-fashioned cobbler with vanilla ice cream. It doesnt have to be pretty and is super easy to make. For the stuff I create, I must admit I thoroughly enjoy the decorating part vs the actual baking when it comes to cakepops, cookies and cupcakes. Although I make sure that they taste great, I am a perfectionist with the appearance. I thrive off of the positive reaction of my customers when I deliver a bouquet to them. Thats what keeps me going!

CS: What's next?

LL: Right now I am taking it day by day and letting the business growth determine my path. I am starting to do wedding favors and corporate events in addition to the bouquets so that is exciting. I'm greatful to have discovered this new passion and I hope that I can continue to grow what started as a thank-you gift into something that can help support my family for many years.

Want more fun that you can shake a stick at? Keep updated with Confection Concoctions via their website and Facebook!

Sunday
Apr112010

Batter Chatter: Interview with Stefanie Gaxiola of Red Velvet Stefanie

Red Velvet has certainly enjoyed a surge in popularity in the past few years--as well it should, due to its high deliciousness factor. But when it comes to red velvet lovers, Stefanie Gaxiola, aka "Red Velvet Stefanie", may just take the cake. Not only is she the award-winning mastermind behind The Cheesecake Factory's bestselling Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake™, but she also develops and sells specialty cake mixes--red velvet being the keystone of the line, natch--online at her Red Velvet Stefanie website. Care to get a closer look at this international (red) velvet superstar? Well, you're in luck: here's an interview.

CakeSpy: First off: what is the last baked good you ate?

Stefanie Gaxiola: One of my Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese frosting. It was amazing!

CS: OK, down to business. Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you start this company/what is your background / etc?

SG: I am a 25 year-old baking enthusiast, baking since the age of 5. With 20 years of experience under my belt, I felt it was about time to break into the baking industry with a bang! I have the highest dreams and aspirations of anyone I know; I literally, eat, breathe and sleep baking. All of my experience has been self taught or, I learned through my mother. I have not attended culinary school but, I am currently making plans to do so in the very near future. Baking as much as I do, I try to find short cuts for myself. So, my boyfriend and I decided, why not pre-package all of my dry ingredients so that when I bake everything is ready to go, minus the wet ingredients. So, we created our very first cupcake mix! What better way to go to the top of the baking world than with a Red Velvet Cupcake mix? I have googled, shopped and searched for Red Velvet Cupcake mixes and, to my disappointment, there is a very small selection to choose from. As my boyfriend, Jason Heard researched all of the guidelines on business and selling of baking goods, I spent extra time in the kitchen perfecting my mix. One empty box and bag of sugar at a time, Stefanie's Gourmet Red Velvet Cupcake Kit was complete and ready for sale. Within the first hour my website was up and running, we had sold several kits. When I saw that, I knew we really had something good on our hands. Stefanie's Gourmet Red Velvet Cupcake Kit is currently only for sale from my website, www.redvelvetstefanie.com. I am also happy to announce that we have recently introduced cupcake catering to Red Velvet Stefanie, one of our first big events will be catering Coachella Music Festival next weekend. Also new to our website, cupcake apparel, Cupcake mix of the Month Club, downloadable recipe guides  and custom cupcake stands! We are so excited!

CS: What is included in the cupcake kit?

SG: Stefanie's Gourmet Red Velvet Cupcake Kit includes: All dry ingredients for the cupcakes and frosting and 20 baking liners.

CS: What is it about Red Velvet cake that makes it so special to you?

SG: Red Velvet cake is truly my all time favorite dessert. The combination of light chocolate, extra moist cake and sweet and creamy Cream Cheese frosting makes me smile. Every time I take a bite, it makes me feel like a kid again; I get excited, bubbly and light up.

CS: It says on your site that you are the creator of the Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake....please, tell us more!

SG: I am the concept creator of the top selling cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory® named Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake™. I entered The Cheesecake Factory's "What's your Flavor?" contest. The idea was to find a new recipe concept for their menu. As soon as I heard about the contest, I knew Red Velvet was  going to be my entry and, that I was going to win with it! Moist layers of Red Velvet Cake and The Cheesecake Factory’s ® Original Cheesecake covered with cream cheese frosting. On April 1, 2009, America had voted and The Cheesecake Factory named Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake the winner! The moment I saw my name on The Cheesecake Factory's website, I knew this was going to change my life.

CS: Some people have an idea that cake mixes are "bad" -- what is your response to this?

SG: Definitely not true! Before I went pro in the baking world, The Cake Mix Doctor's collection of cook books were my baking Bibles. Anne Byrn, the amazing author behind these books has done an amazing job at bring cake mixes to the next level. As for my cupcake mix, they are all made to order.. The ingredients are the finest and freshest I can find so, each and every confection you will get out of my kit will be 100%, fresh, light, fluffy and sinfully delicious!

Photo from the Red Velvet Stefanie Facebook pageCS: What is the most important aspect in making a great cake (or cupcake)?

SG: Oh my goodness, so much goes into baking a perfect cake! Here is a list of the most important that I utilize in my baking:

-Preheat the oven to the correct temperature and, let the oven heat up for at least 20 minutes so it can reach the temperature.  

-Let ingredients such as eggs, butter, milk, cream cheese, sour cream, etc. reach room temperature before you use them in your baking.

-Sift all dry ingredients, except for cocoa powder. Sifting really makes all the difference in the world, it's a pain but you have to do it!

-Make sure not to overmix the cake batter, it will turn out dry.

-It is important to rotate the cake pans at least once, halfway through the baking time to make sure, they are evenly cooked.

-Make sure to time your baking. If the package recommends a 20 to 22 minute baking time, check after 20 minutes. you do not want to over-bake your cake. Also, if you can smell the cake throughout your house early, check on the cake. If you can smell it, it is probably done!

-Always let your cakes cool on a baking rack.

-Wait until the cakes are completely cool to frost if you don't, the frosting will run right off.

CS: What is next for Red Velvet Stefanie?

SG: After seeing the quick success of my Gourmet Red Velvet Cupcake Kits, I started working on more. Red Velvet Cookie Mix and Red Velvet Brownie Mix are among the next to come out. Red Velvet is so hot right now, I figured I would stick with that. Other than that, I am looking to apply to Culinary School and continue with my cupcake catering so I can eventually open a store front. Red Velvet Wedding Cake is the most requested catering menu item from my friends, family and fans. So, stay tuned for my unique version of Stefanie's Red Velvet Wedding cake, you will truly be amazed!

For more information, or to get your hands on some of that delicious red velvet mix, visit redvelvetstefanie.com.

Tuesday
Mar022010

Batter Chatter: Interview with Sara Leand of Sara Snacker Cookie Company

I don't know much, but I know I love Sara Snacker Cookie Company. Why? Because their menu contains such delights as Vanilla Milkshake cookies, homemade Tootsie Rolls, and chocolate covered Twinkies. Really, I shouldn't have to tell you more than that.

But perhaps you're curious to hear more about the magic that goes on behind the sweet, sweet menu? Well, lucky for you I was able to catch up with owner Sara Leand and learn more about Sara Snacker's sweet goings-on. Here goes:

CakeSpy: First off, I don't want this to be awkward, but as you probably see I already have my bag packed. Can I please come live in your kitchen?

Sara Leand: Sure! Whenever you would like.

(Pause while CakeSpy does a happy dance)

CS: I've got to ask. TV producer turned confectioner/baker--how did that happen?

SL: I’ve loved to bake ever since I was a little girl. In college I used to bake so much for my friends that they talked me into starting my own company, and that became the original incarnation of Sara Snacker Cookie Company. I did that for the last two years of college but had to put it on hold when it began to grow larger then I expected, plus, my roommate constantly kept eating all the inventory!

CS: Indulge me: if you had to describe Sara Snacker's treats in five words or less:

SL: Fun, unique, nostalgic, crave-busting, and yummy!

CS: In addition to a career change, you also relocated from LA to NYC. How does the attitude toward baked goods and sweets differ on the east and west coast?

SL: When I lived on the west coast I was a Hollywood agent for several years. There are no agents that bake, at least not publicly, in Hollywood. So, my baking past was only known to my closest friends. I always had dinner parties and made treats for everyone, but that was as far as it went for a time. Everyone on the east coast loves to talk about food; it is quite different here. When I would tell anyone on the east coast that I liked to bake, they'd give me an order of what to make them right away!

CS: What role do sweets play in a balanced diet?

SL: Everyone deserves a special treat sometime, so why not indulge in something fantastic! I say treats plays an important part in life since they’re essential for good mental health. Sweets keep you sane, as long as you don’t overdo it. :)

CS: Sara Snacker is a relatively new company, but you're an old hat at baking--you actually ran a renegade baking business out of your college dorm room. I definitely need you to tell me more about that--what did you bake, and who did you sell to?

SL: It was great. I sold all over campus as well as at several local shops. I made pretty divine treats — none of which are part of my product line now, but maybe in the future. My best seller was the "Best of Both Worlds"- a brownie and chocolate chip cookie combo.

CS: What's your personal favorite item on the Sara Snacker menu?

SL: That is a tough one! I have so many personal memories tied to each of my products that it’s hard to say. The Chipn’etzels will always be dear to my heart, but I really love the T.W.ookie (a crisp oatmeal cookie with white chocolate chips and a hint of salt) and the Vanilla Milkshake Cookie if I had to narrow it down to just a few.

CS: Got any new products, services or milestones in the works?  

SL: I am always coming up with new products. We launched several new ones recently (including the Vanilla Milkshake Cookie, Lemonade Cookie, and all-natural Animal Cracker Cookies), so I will have some more come springtime. Keep on the lookout, they will be awesome! If you have a special childhood memory that you think would bake up great in a treat, just let me know and I'll work on something for you.

Where can you get Sara Snacker sweets? Right now there is limited availability infancy food stores in the NYC area; however, they can ship anywhere in the USA! Here's a link to their online store; for more information, visit sarasnacker.com.

Friday
Feb262010

Batter Chatter: Interview with Emily of The Divine Cupcake

What happens when a midwife and a sound engineer decide to open a cupcake business? No, it's not the plot line of the latest reality show (although perhaps it should be)--it's the story of The Divine Cupcake, a custom-order cupcake business in Eugene, Oregon which is upgrading to retail storefront set to open on March 5. Want to know more? Here's an interview with proprietress Emily Downing-Moore.

CakeSpy: You are also a midwife. Do you ever offer combo specials--say, delivery and a dozen cupcakes?

Emily Downing-Moore: I wish! Maybe if I was in a small private practice, but as of now I'm in a group practice, delivering around 50-60 babies a month between us, so that would be a lot of cupcakes to coordinate! A lot of our women are also loyal cupcake customers though!

CS: How does it feel to be making the jump from custom order bakery to retail storefront?

EDM: It feels awesome! It's been our dream since we started the business, and we are so excited that its grown to a point where we can make the leap. I'm most excited to be able to offer people a variety of flavors, because up to this point if you ordered from us it was one flavor per dozen.

CS: Are your offerings going to change at all with the transition?

EDM: Yes! We will be able to offer more variety of flavors and we will also be offering Organic espresso, teas and drinking chocolate. We have a huge list of cupcake flavors to start experimenting with now that we have a bigger kitchen! We will also be making specific tea-cupcake and coffee-cupcake menus so people can see what drinks go with specific flavors the best.

CS: Because it's the question that everyone asks me, I'm curious about your response: why cupcakes?

EDM: We get asked this all the time as well! We usually say why not?! Everybody loves cupcakes! We chose them because they are fun to make, and the creativity you can infuse into cupcakes is endless. They are the perfect size dessert, and there is no better feeling than seeing people's face light up with a huge smile when they seem them.

CS: What is the first cake you remember baking?

EDM: Chocolate, of course!

CS: If you had to pick a flavor that you'd say is "very Eugene"...which would it be?

EDM: I asked Eugene what flavor they thought was "very Eugene" and the list was hilarious. I actually meant what flavor off the menu but you should check out the facebook page for all the responses. Hilarious! From that list it looks like I need to make a blackberry & a hazelnut cupcake. If I had to pick one from the current menu, I'd say the Electric Pumpkin. The name catches the eye of everyone, and they always ask me what makes it "electric." You can decide on your own why I might say it's the most "Eugene", but really... there's only food ingredients in it!

CS: Can gluten free cupcakes really be delicious?

EDM: Yes! However, the texture will always be different from a wheat cupcake, so as long as you can eat it without the expectation of that being the same, the flavors are delicious. Lemon is my favorite!

CS: Any special events for opening day?

EDM: Free Cupcakes, Live Music & the Emerald City Roller Girls will be skating around the parking lot.

Want more? Luckily, The Divine Cupcake is all over the interwebz. Check them out on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and on their website. And if you're lucky enough to live in the Eugene area, hit 'em up starting on their opening day, March 5; the retail storefront is located at 1680 W. 11th Avenue in Eugene, OR.

Thursday
Feb042010

Batter Chatter: Interview with Katy Gunderson of The Yellow Bowl Bakery, Indiana

Pop quiz: you're in Lafayette, Indiana. Where do you get a sweet fix?

Answer: The Yellow Bowl Bakery, the source in the area for cakes, cupcakes, bars, brownies and cookies. One glance at their menu--which ranges from the expected cake flavors to some that might warrant a double take (Un-Cola Cake or  Irish Car Bomb cupcakes, anyone?) will probably convince you of their intense awesomeness, but if not, here's an interview to fill you in on the sweetness behind the cakes, and an insider's view to a day in the life of the bakers, including not only their sweet stories, but some of the sweet causes that keep them energized:

CakeSpy: How did you decide on the name The Yellow Bowl?

The Yellow Bowl / Katy Gunderson: When more people started to hear about my cakes and I began to make them for people outside of my friends and family I decided I needed a name. I was still in the experimental phase with the recipes that I was using. So I was baking nonstop in my tiny little kitchen. I was trying desperately to come up with a name that spoke to the way I feel about baking. One rainy afternoon I was making a fresh batch of blueberry muffins when it hit me. I was just starting to gently stir the wet and dry ingredients together in my only bowl, the big Pyrex yellow bowl that had belonged to my mom and to my grandmother before her. Voila! The Yellow Bowl Bakery was born, out of a rainy day and blueberry muffins.

CS: Katy, you mention that your entry into the world of baking was at home, with your mom and grandma. Tell me about one of the sweets you have fond memories of baking.

YB: When I think of my mom’s cooking I am snapped back to waking up on Saturday morning to my mom’s fresh blueberry pancakes. Pancakes made with love, real maple syrup, and blueberries picked from my Grammy’s blueberry bushes. My mom is a self proclaimed foodie so as long as I can remember I have been cooking with my mom. She made everything we ate as a kid, bread, granola, applesauce, even our mayonnaise! My mom taught me how to crack an egg, measure flour, and follow a recipe, all of these things I might add took place in that yellow bowl. My Grammy taught me how to toast a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (amazing by the way if you have never tried it) how to bake cookies and brownies. During the brownie and cookie process I also learned about salmonella and that a good way to freak her out was to eat raw batter or cookie dough. I’m not going to lie sometime I did it on purpose just to see if she was paying attention. My mom and my Grammy never stifled my creative spirit. In fact I remember one rainy day I decided I was going to make peanut butter with Grammy antique nut grinder. I succeeded in making a huge mess but she let me try it anyway. My favorite thing to make was Christmas cookies because that was when the three of us all baked together. Three generations of women making cookies in that yellow Pyrex bowl.

CS: Molly, you are formally trained in pastry arts. Do you feel as if your formal education has changed the way you look at home baking?

YB: Truthfully my views of home baking have not changed drastically since I attended culinary school. I always used baking at home to test out different recipes, techniques, and flavor combinations on my family and friends. I do have a much greater respect for all home bakers because they do what I do but usually without a lot of the equipment I have readily available.

CS: Working at a bakery, how exactly is it that you are not obese? I've seen pictures. You're both quite svelte.

YB: If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that! Coming from a foodie background I came to have a very special relationship with food. I love to cook, not just bake my boy friend Mark and I rarely eat out. We can often be found coming up with new and fun things for dinner in his kitchen, he is going to kill me for this but he does one heck of an Emeril Lagassee impression so I think I also burn a lot of calories laughing when he is cooking. That being said it’s not all laughing that keeps me fit, I love to work out. I can be found at the gym every morning at 5:30 AM before I go into work. Molly is still in college and she walks to class a lot also when you spend all that time around sweets we get to craving salads quite often. Who would have ever thought I would have a craving for broccoli!

CS: If all of your cupcake flavors had to duke it out in a dark alley, which one do you think would be the last cake standing?

YB: We have a flavor that is called the “Irish Car Bomb”. It is named after a drink that is very popular at a local pub called Nine Irish Brothers. The cup cake created quite a stir when I first opened some people were a little turned off by the name. I don’t know if nine Irish Brothers has ever had any issue with the drink but I guess for some the name was a little too hard core for a cupcake. The cake packs quite a punch with a special beer in the chocolate cake and our Baileys flavored butter cream it will knock your socks off. So I’m guessing it could knock the frosting off our other cakes!

CS: I'm intrigued by this "un-cola" cupcake flavor I see on your menu. Can you tell me more?

YB: The “un-cola” was born of an over abundance of soda that we had in the store one week. We were trying out new cupcake flavors and Dr. Pepper, and Root Beer Float have become big sellers during the summer. We had bombarded everyone with chocolate for a week and decided we needed a break. We made cupcakes with a lemon lime soda, and used a large piping tip to make bubbles of butter cream in lemon lime flavors. I had remembered 7-up being called the un-cola, thus the “un-cola” cupcake was born.

CS: Riddle me this: say you're stranded on a desert island, and you've got to decide on one item from your menu to take with you. What's it gonna be?

YB Katy: Hands down I would take our Margarita cupcake. If I was going to be “trapped” on a desert island what better cupcake to have!

YB Molly: If I could bring only one cupcake I would bring our Sweet Potato cupcake. The rich spicy flavor would bring me back to an Indiana fall day, where even if I was on some beach I could pretend it was a little cooler. The cupcake is topped with marshmallow and caramel sauce and this cupcake would definitely lift my sprits if I was deserted on an island.

CS: In addition to baking sweets for your retail shop and community, you're also giving back through the Cooking with the Wounded program. Can you tell me more about the program--what you're doing and who it benefits?

YB: I was contacted by a woman who wanted to send desserts to her brother and sister in law in Iraq about six months ago. I tried to find a way to do this but with the distance and security I could not figure a way that we could keep the desserts safe. A few months after I had to side line the project I found an article in our local paper about a man named Blake Powers who was traveling to Germany to cook a steak dinner for the troops at Landstuhl. On a whim I contacted him and he was in my bakery the next day. The marriage of Cooking with the Wounded and The Yellow Bowl Bakery or Bakers without Borders, as we have been lovingly nicknamed, was solidified on a trip to Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital in DC. Here the bakery made southern style desserts to complement a BBQ prepared by Military blogger “Concrete Bob”. We fed over 200 wounded Military men, women, and their families at Mologne House. Blake has been kind enough to adopt me as a permanent part of the program. The ultimate goal for the program is to help those leaving military service, most especially the wounded, who are interested in a career in the food and beverage industry get the knowledge and training they need. It is also hoped that teams of chefs can be sent to Afghanistan, Iraq, and other locations to cook for the troops there. More information on the program can be found here and on the Yellow Bowl site.

CS: What's next for The Yellow Bowl?

YB: I would love to say that I have a plan for what I would like to see happen with the bakery in the next year but sometimes I get the feeling that the bakery is much bigger than just me. It has come to mean so much to so many different people not just in Lafayette but around the world so I think a better question would be what does The Yellow Bowl Bakery have next for me. I can honestly say that I can’t wait to find out!

The Yellow Bowl Bakery is located at 918 Main Street, Lafayette, IN,  (765) 588-6212; online at theyellowbowl.com.

Sunday
Jan312010

Batter Chatter: Interview with Sarah Moske of Monkey Bread Bakery, Memphis TN

Why cupcakes? Well, let me defer to Sarah Moske, proprietress of Monkey Bread Bakery, a custom-order baking business with a focus on the baby-cakes based in Memphis, who cites several reasons why cupcakes take the cake:

  • They are portion perfect. Each equals about 1/2 a slice of cake.
  • They are portable and require no fork to eat.
  • They are easily personalized and versatile for any occasion.
  • Big enough to be an indulgence, but small enough to be guilt free.
  • They are DELICIOUS!!
  • Best of all you never have to share a cupcake!

Yup, that Sarah is one smart cookie. Ready to learn more about her and her baking business? Let's go:

CakeSpy: What was the last baked good you ate?

Sarah Moske: A mini chocolate raspberry tart...yummy, yum, yum!

CS: Tell me more about your business. How did you get started with Monkey Bread?

SM: Ever since I can remember I have loved to bake and help in the kitchen. After my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I realized that life is too short and deiced go after my goals in life. I got some business cards printed, had a friend build me a website, and started bringing treats to work for my co-workers to taste. I figured I would at least give it a shot and if it didn't work out, no big deal...but at least I would know that I tried. It worked and the rest is history.

CS: How did you come up with the name? What is Monkey Bread?

SM: My hubby and I both love anything that has to do with monkeys. As a young child, I used to love to go to the zoo and watch the monkeys. When I started teaching school, our class mascot was the monkey. My hubby said that if I ever had a bakery, I should call it "Monkey Bread". Monkey Bread is actually a yummy treat itself, although I do not actually sell it. In my world, monkey bread is a cupcake.

CS: Tell me a favorite cake (or baked good, or candy) memory of yours.

SM: I can remember making fudge in the kitchen with my grandmother and cookies with my mom. That always makes me smile.

CS: Do you think cupcakes will ever be "over"?

SM: I do think that cupcakes are a trend right now, but cupcakes will never be "over". They are yummy, portable, and take you back to your childhood.

CS: I'm always curious about regional specialties. What are some desserts that you would consider classic Memphis treats?

SM: Our most "Memphis" treat is the Fat Elvis cupcake. It is a banana cupcake with a chocolate hazelnut center, peanut butter buttercream and a banana chip on top :) It's a hunka-hunka yummy num-num!

CS: What are some of your goals for your business?

SM: Right now, Monkey Bread Bakery is special order only. Right now, I get the best of both worlds! I teach school for my full time job and make cupcakes on the side. Eventually I would love to open a store front.

Want more Monkey Business? To find out more (or to place an order, if you're lucky enough to be in the Memphis area) visit monkeybreadbakery.com.

Tuesday
Jan122010

Batter Chatter: Interview with Rose Levy Beranbaum

Rose Levy Beranbaum wrote the bible on cakes--literally. Her first book, The Cake Bible, originally published in the 1980s, is largely considered a classic and is currently in its 42nd printing (in case you needed to be told, that is a lot of books!). And it's not hard to see why--Rose approaches baking with a chemist's knowledge but an artist's eye, with recipes which yield delicious and beautiful results. And after a number of blockbuster baking books, now she's back to cakes again with the gorgeous volume Rose's Heavenly Cakes, which includes over 100 recipes for all sorts of cakes, ranging from decadent flourless chocolate cakes to the ethereal Golden Lemon Almond cake and so many more. Even non-bakers will find it hard to resist the gorgeous color photos by Ben Fink (some of which are featured here). Ready to learn more about the baker behind the cakes? Let's go:

CakeSpy: What was the first cake you ever remember baking?

Rose Levy Beranbaum: A Duncan Hines chocolate cake from a mix. The instructions just said to grease, not grease and flour and the cake came apart in three pieces so I had to glue it together with canned frosting. It was for my parents' anniversary.

CS: With Valentine's Day coming up, what cakes might you suggest to set
the mood for love?

RLB: Rose Red Velvet, Double Chocolate Valentine, Quail Egg Indulgence Cake.

CS: My mom will probably be mortified that I am saying this, but she recently confessed to me that although she knows it's wrong "because it says so in Rose Levy Beranbaum's book" that she still uses salted butter in her recipes. Can you give any advice as to why she shouldn't do this?

RLB: Salted butter varies in amount of salt. Sometimes being 3 x the amount of salt specified in the recipe.

(CakeSpy Note: Mama Spy, stop making salt lick cakes!)

CS: In the intro of your book, you acknowledge bloggers as a source of inspiration. Has the advent of food blogs changed the way that you work?

RLB: Hugely! My blog has provided a means of connection for people all around the world which quickly and exponentially increases all of our knowledge. I love seeing bloggers¹ renditions of my recipes with new variations and draw inspiration from requests for specific types of cakes such as the Orange Chiffon baked in a pan without a center tube. I am able to have my recipes tested by my assistant who lives in another state and see the results online.

CS: You say that "today, my goal in baking is to translate the chemical into the practical"--can you explain a bit more?

RLB: The Rose Red Velvet is a perfect example to demonstrate how my analysis of the individual components affects the creation of the recipe. Understanding that buttermilk benefits from baking powder rather than being neutralized by baking soda enabled me to eliminate the usual vinegar and still have a nice tang. Understanding the way in which ovens vary and mixing methods all contributing to the outcomes in baking taste and texture.

CS: Tell me about a favorite cake memory of yours.
RLB: There are so many! Research wise: After many years and many tests trying to make a chocolate chiffon cake, when I finally discovered that adding the egg whites to the batter unbeaten and then beating the batter created the perfect cake I was ecstatic. I called my assistant and he still remembers the words I used which were "cake history has been made tonight!" This cake became the base for my German Chocolate Cake and then the base for the Deep Chocolate Passion Wedding Cake. I traveled across country to make this cake for my friend chef/restaurateur Daniel Patterson and this version appears in my new book, presented on my mother's milk glass dental plate which used to hold her instruments for dentistry. It is the most stunning photo in the book! (pictured left)

Another favorite memory was my appearance doing the Pinecone Chocolate Cake on the Charlie Rose show. It started off with me being very shy but evolved to my favorite part of the long segment when Charlie said he wanted to go into business with me and would sweep my floors and I suggested we marry so my name could be Rose Rose!

Want more? You can easily lose yourself for hours on the informative and entertaining Real Baking With Rose Levy Beranbaum, which includes recipes, baking tips, discussion groups and so much more; you can also get baking with the Rose-inspired baking group Heavenly Cake Bake-Along, and follow the grande dame of cakery on Twitter and Facebook!

Page 1 ... 2 3 4 5 6 ... 10 Next 10 Entries »
© Cakespy, all rights reserved. Powered by Squarespace.