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Entries in breaking cake news (320)

Saturday
Nov012014

Do Good While Eating Chocolates: Seattle Chocolates for the Holidays

When I first moved to Seattle, I had a "real job" at an upscale furniture store. Truthfully, it wasn't very well suited to me, and it didn't last very long. But one of the real benefits of having the job (you know, aside from the money) was the fact that I was next to a store that sold bars by Seattle Chocolates

More often than was decent, I would purchase and eat an entire "Pike Place" bar--a deep, dark chocolate bar amped up with the addition of toasty ground espresso. It was so good that it made me float for as long as I ate it, and since I would slowly suck each piece, it would really last a good long while. 

That is a very happy memory for me, so I was really-really-really excited when Seattle Chocolates reached out to me to tell me about their new program for the holidays. Basically the idea is this (from an email from their marketing department):

Through our #ChocolateGives program, we are raising money to fight hunger through a network of local food banks. One of our partners is Northwest Harvest! We would like to send you a special gift of our Seattle-based, American made chocolate and information about the program. We know your readers will enjoy, because we are happy and colorful just like you.

So, they sent me a package and darn-straight, it was jam-packed with happiness and color.

So what does my awesome box of chocolate have to do with you?

Here's how you can get involved in goodness through eating chocolate.

Fact 1: I think that Seattle Chocolates are just great. I think you should buy them.

Fact 2: If you do buy them between November 1 through the end of the ear, for every item purchased on the Seattle Chocolates website and every post of #chocolategives on social media, Seattle Chocolates will donate a serving of fresh food to someone in need. The donations will be made through a network of food banks in New York City, Boston, SF-Marin, and Seattle. 

And that--along with the chocolate you're eating--is something to feel really good about.

So go ahead, get your chocolate on! Shop at Seattle Chocolates.

Wednesday
Mar052014

Cake Byte: The Pillsbury Bake-Off is Now Open for Entries!

Hey, do you wanna win a million dollars?

Well, if you're an amateur baker and love tinkering with recipes, you might have your chance. The next Pillsbury Bake-Off is open for entries!

As a past media attendee of the event (see my reviews of the Bake-Off in Vegas here, and in Florida with Martha Stewart, here), I love what they do and am always excited to discover the creative recipes that entrants always come up with.

The Pillsbury powers that be have told me of some changes to the competition this year: 

-  For the first time, America’s vote will be combined with the judges’ decisions to determine the Grand Prize Winner.

- The Contest ingredient list has been expanded to include Pillsbury’s Gluten Free line of products. 

-  Judges will award the Pillsbury® Gluten Free Award to the Finalist with the best recipe which uses a Pillsbury® Gluten Free product and does not contain wheat or any products that include wheat as an ingredient.

- The Bake-Off® Contest now features four recipe categories with separate two entry periods. Participants have two chances to enter and vote.

So here's the nitty gritty:

The first entry period includes the Simply Sweet Treats and Savory Snacks & Sides categories and is open for entries from now until March 27 (11:59 a.m. CDT), 2014. The second contest entry period runs from March 27 (1:00 p.m. CDT) to May 8 (11:59 a.m. CDT), 2014 and calls for Weekend Breakfast Wows and Amazing Doable Dinners recipes.

To check out all things Bake-Off, it would be a good idea to visit the official site: www.bakeoff.com.

Thursday
Dec122013

CakeSpy Teaches a Baking Class for Kids

Baking class for kids

At this time of year, you have plenty of options if your heart is in need of some warming, including Hallmark or Lifetime holiday-themed movies, multitudes of volunteering opportunities, or perhaps simply sharing some cookies with the ones you love.

But if your heart needs a little more warmth, worry not. Let me tell you all about how I taught a cookie baking class for kids last weekend.

It was a hands-on class, and these kids were very dedicated to baking.

The class was at the Santa Fe Culinary Academy (which also deserves credit for the cooking class photos featured in the post), right up the street from the historic Santa Fe Plaza. The title of the class was "Kid's Class: Holiday Cookies". Well, if you guessed that we spent the class baking up some of Santa's favorites, you are correct. The kids mainly ranged from 6 to 10 in age, but there was one little brother who was three who also (quite ably!) participated.

After introducing myself and asking if they knew where gingerbread men sleep (on cookie sheets!), we got to work. 

We made snowballs...

and candy cane cookies...

and of course, cut out and decorated gingerbread men. 

Then we went into no-bake territory and made some cornflake wreaths. Have you ever made those? The process is similar to making rice krispies treats, but you use cornflakes, tint the marshmallow mixture, and shape them into wreaths. 

At the end of our 2 hours-and-change class, we had a wonderful variety of cookies, and each student had a little gift bag including a card, a bookmark, and a button. 

Baking class for kids

 

During breaks or dough resting periods, I taught them how to draw a variety of my characters, including Cuppie the cupcake, as well as my unicorn and robots. They had crayons and craft paper on the tables--here are a few shots of their brilliant work.

Baking class for kids Baking class for kids Baking class for kids

I told them that I brought one of my little mascot Cuppie figurines and placed it on the edge of the baking space, because in case anything went wrong, then I could blame Cuppie. They *loved* the idea of that: BLAME CUPPIE!

Clay cuppies

In fact, one student was so inspired that she sent me this a few days later. Note the fine attention to cupcake detail, and the "blame cuppie" incorporation.

Baking class for kids

Another student gave me this:

Baking class for kids

flip side of the envelope:

Baking class for kids

and inside, this note:

Baking class for kids

Doesn't it just melt your heart?? As for me...my reaction is that I must have done my job well! I was so impressed by these creative little baker-elves, and felt a renewed sense of wonder and magic at the art of baking after spending time with them.

What is your favorite cookie that we made? 

Thursday
Sep052013

Cake Byte: Depressed Cake Shop, Seattle Edition

After a successful round in LA, it's coming your way, Seattle…

Here's the 411 from Melissa Riddington, the organizer of Seattle's Depressed Cake Shop event:

The Depressed Cake Shop – a one day charity event that aims to stomp out the stigma of depression, one grey cake at a time.

The Depressed Cake Shop campaign started in London early August, by Miss Cakehead (Emma Thomas). The concept is simple – make grey cakes and sell grey cakes for one day, in an attempt to raise awareness around depression and mental illness. The campaign’s idea spread quickly around the UK and is now going global, with lots of one-day events taking place around the world.

Why does it always rain on me?

What: The Depressed Cake Shop Seattle

When: Saturday, October 5

Time: 10am-4pm

Where: Sole Repair Shop 1001 East Pike Seattle, WA 98122

Money raised will go to the Seattle’s non-profit organization, NAMI –Greater Seattle (National Alliance on Mental Illness).

More info for interested bakers:

We’re on the lookout for talented bakers, cakers and sugar shakers to donate delicious grey goodies for our event! The only stipulation is that the goodies need to be grey in color (to represent the feelings felt by many suffering from depression), but they can have a pop of color inside the cake (to represent the feeling of hope). Here’s a link to our Depressed Cake Pinterest Board for inspiration on making grey beautiful!

Learn more by "liking" the Depressed Cake Shop Seattle Facebook page.

Find out more about the global Depressed Cake Shop campaign.

Want to bake up a storm for the Depressed Cake Shop Seattle event? Please do get in touch! Melissa Riddington melissariddington@gmail.com, or phone 206-432-1852.

Stomping out Stigma, One Grey Cake at a Time.


Monday
Aug052013

Does Baking Help Depression? Depressed Cake Shop Pop Up Event

CakeSpy Note: Sweeties, here's an event that I think might interest you. If you're in LA, then very cool--you can attend! But even if not, it's an interesting event to read about. All photos are via the Depressed Cake Shop Pop Up page.

Where cake meets performance art meets do-gooding...there's the Depressed Cake Shop Pop-Up.

This is a pop-up baking event dreamed up by Emma Cakehead (a version of the pop-up has already happened in the UK and San Francisco, which collectively raised more than $10,000) at which bakers will be selling grey (as in the hue and the theme) cakes and artwork to bring awareness about mental illness and benefit NAMI Westside LA, an organization that educated, supports, and advocates to improve the lives of families and those afflicted with mental illness. 

An odd pairing? Perhaps not as much as it initially might sound. Many of the bakers who have gotten involved have battled their own demons with depression. They have been quite vocal about how baking has changed their lives for the better.

Can baking help your mental state? Here are some bakers' thoughts.

"Baking has given me something to focus on, to put my energies toward when the rest of my life seems a bit crazy. It is calming and a huge positive addition, in more ways than just calories. My day job is full of numbers and when I bake I get to do the complete opposite and let my creativity free." - Alicia Hansen, owner of Ali's Cake Pops

"I bake whenever I feel like my world is spinning out of control. It centers me and forces me to focus on one thing for long enough to calm down again. Plus, it makes me happy seeing people eating things I've created. It's also good for clearing my mind when I feel blocked on photo shoot ideas." - Jaxx Victoria, baker and photographer

"Baking saved me from myself." - Zainah Ismail, baker in Cardiff, UK

"Baking has kept me from crawling up into a ball and not re emerging. I started a food blog which I love and a lolly business Holly's Lollies with a dedicated black charity lollipop. It keeps me focused and happy." - Holly Brook, and owner of Holly's Lollies

"I bake primarily to relieve stress. The attention to detail needed (especially in the decorating) gets me out of my head. As a bonus the joy it brings to others (when I give away my creations) lifts my heart." - Laura Makey, baker and woman in charge of San Diego pop-up.

"t was just something I started to do so I wasn't doing nothing. Beating things in a bowl is exactly the right combination of mindless and distracting, and the decorating was a skill to practice. When you have to get the icing right on the next batch, you look forward to something. Then there's always cake to eat at the end." - Amy Conkerton, baker in Birmingham, UK

"Baking gave me identity, hope and I became proud of me. I learnt how to be happy. No one can take that away from me." - Allison Henry, baker in London

"It gives me an opportunity to follow lists and instructions and lose myself in detail already set out by someone more experienced, which I find comforting in my loneliness. I love to share the results with friends and family too; there's something very heartwarming about feeding loved ones." - Vicky Cooper, baker in London

"Through baking, and the feedback I received, I felt confident enough in my skills to go ahead with my dream of opening my own cafe. Now I have my own business that fits in with my family life, rather than shift work that was so difficult for us all." - Nell Watkins, baker in the UK

"Making cakes allows me to put the devil in the detail instead of keeping it inside." - Mi Tulip, baker in London

How can you attend? Here are the details:

Date: August 23+24
Location: Buckwild Gallery, 12804 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles, CA (very close to Venice, CA)

Not content to be a bystander? Here's how you can get involved.

Be added to the guest list here.
Join the fan page here.
To donate work or become a baker, email Rebecca Swanner at secretmarmalade@gmail.com or comment on the Facebook wall.

Tuesday
Jul092013

Upcoming Book Events: Seattle!

Cuppies at the West Seattle Junction

Oh, Seattle! My former hometown, and one of the sweetest places I know. Home to delicious cupcakes, delicious ice cream (sometimes at the same place!), and delicious buttermilk biscuits

And for the next nearly-a-week, home again for me, too! 

Here's what I'll be up to, and I hope I'll see you at one of these sweet events to support my book, The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Sweet Stories & Recipes for America's Favorite Desserts!

First up, we've got a meet and greet at Mrs. Cook's, a wonderful cookery supply store in the University Village (there is a Trophy Cupcakes nearby, too!). Please, come and buy a copy (or 10) of my book and I'll sign them for you! 

Cuppie at Trophy Cupcakes, Seattle

Signing at Mrs. Cook's

  • Date: Friday, July 12
  • Time: 1-3 p.m.
  • Location: Mrs. Cooks, University Village. More info here!

 

Milk and Cookie in Seattle

Then, over the weekend, I will be selling my artwork (and copies of both of my books!) at the Urban Craft Uprising. I'll have a Square reader so I can take credit cards, too! Sweet!

Urban Craft Uprising

 

Cuppie at the Seattle Art Museum

Hope to see you this week, Seattle Sweeties! If not, feel free to buy my book online--it's waiting for you: The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Sweet Stories & Recipes for America's Favorite Desserts. 

Sunday
Jun162013

Cake Byte: Pillsbury Bake-Off Voting Now Open

This is hardly a news flash, but last year when I went to the Pillsbury Bake-Off, it was basically the best thing to ever happen to me. And I have had a lot of things happen to me.

There have been some changes to the contest, and it has made me more excited than ever! Let me give you a brief primer.

As I was alerted by finalist Brett Youmans, creator of the "Heavenly Hazelnut Torte with Mascarpone Cream" recipe (which is pictured above--and the maker of which was also a finalist in the last Bake-Off, for his Orange Cream Macadamia Torte), for the first time ever, the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest organizers are allowing America to choose the recipes that get to compete in the Contest finals.  These finalists are on view at www.BakeOff.com, and it's open for public voting June 13 - June 27 at 1:00 pm ET!

New this year, to encourage simpler, original recipes, submissions were limited to seven or fewer ingredients and must take 30 minutes or less to prepare, not including baking or cooling time.  A difficult task, I should say!

Out of the 60 recipes selected for the online vote, only 34 will advance to the next round to compete for a chance to win the $1 million grand prize to be held at the Bake-Off Contest finals, November 10-12, 2013, at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

It's a 1 time only vote (not daily!) so make yours count. 

Will you vote for Brett's tasty-sounding Heavenly Hazelnut Torte with Mascarpone Cream (pictured top of post)? Or perhaps the Hot Pink Raspberry and Cream Cake (pictured above this paragraph)? Or maybe the Creamy Peanut Butter Truffles? Or perhaps the Spicy Churro Crescent Bites? Gosh, they all sound so good!

Do your part: View the finalists and vote here!

Sunday
Apr282013

Cake Byte: Cottage Bakers Market in Bellevue, WA

Dolci Divino

Dudes, dudettes. Here is some very exciting news: there's a BAKED GOODS FARMER'S MARKET coming to the Seattle area!

It's true: I know this because the organizers reached out to tell me all about it. Here's the 411, from the source.

Cottage Bakers Market, taking place on May 4 and May 11, 2013, in Bellevue, WA.

Dolci Divino

This is a temporary indoor market where small-business specialty food crafters and bakers will gather to sell their fresh, made-from-scratch sweets, such as brownies, cupcakes, pies, cheesecake, lollipops, breads, caramels, marshmallows, cookies and cakes to everyone who loves delicious desserts. This includes folks who are gluten-intolerant, adhere to a vegan diet or want sugar-free and dairy-free options.

First of Its Kind. This is the first market of its kind in the Seattle area (there is a similar market up in Vancouver, B.C.) and is a new outlet for small food companies and bakers to offer their goodies to the public, since none of the vendors at the Cottage Bakers Market have retail stores – except for one! It’s also an opportunity for people to find a really unique mix of handcrafted food items under one roof.

Sweets You will Find Here: Decadent sweet (they also do savory) cheesecakes in cupcake-size servings from Dolci Divino. Owner Keri D’Angelo says “we take care in developing all nuances of our recipes from the crust to the topping. Our 2 signature flavors are Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake and Triple Chocolate Stout Cheesecake.” Another vendor is award-winning pie maker Barbara Schwartz of Pies By Barbara. She took home the award for Best Professional Cherry Pie at the High 5 Cherry Pie Bake-off in August 2012! She also offers hands-on pie making classes. Yum! The market will also feature customized, flavorful cupcakes from Jessie’s Haute Cakes, moist lavender-infused brownies by Little Sunshine Bakery and This Charming Candy’s lollipops, hand-poured in small batches to ensure a silky texture and superior, beguiling flavors.

Lavender brownie, Little Sunflower Bakery

Dates of Event: May 4 and May 11, 2013; Saturday; 11 am to 4 pm Location: Northwest Arts Center - 9825 NE 24th St., Bellevue, WA 98004 Cost to Attend: Free.

For more information, visit the Cottage Bakers Market website!

Monday
Feb112013

Cake Byte: New CakeSpy Article on Craftsy!

Totally sweet! I just wanted to let you know that I am now contributing to the awesomely sweet site Craftsy.com.

You can check out my first published article, on cake stenciling, here! 

Saturday
Jan262013

Cake Byte: Red Velvet Pop-Tarts Exist

Image: theimpulsivebuy on flickr

Apparently, a Pop-Tart and a slice of Red Velvet had a very intimate evening in the breadbox, because this is completely not a joke. It's true. For a limited time only, taking their place in your heart next to the red velvet donut at Dunkin', something that actually exists is Red Velvet Pop-Tarts.

Image: Biggest MenuAs the official Pop-Tarts website says, 

Sweet cream-cheese-flavored filling enveloped by a red velvety crust and topped with vanilla icing and sprinkles. Toast it for a delicious treat your taste buds won't soon forget.

Although I haven't tried them yet, I found a helpful review on Foodette Reviews, who reports:

Surprisingly, they are actually good and taste like their namesake. Albeit, you're not going to find a distinct resemblance to Aunt Sarah's homemade from scratch, vinegar in the batter red velvet cake with mounds of frosting, but these will definitely save you the time and labor you would normally take in making a red velvet cake from a box. They have that raw flour, not-sweet cake batter flavor that I personally adore, and the filling adds a touch of sweetness and a little creaminess, too. Warm, they fared somewhat less successful and tasted like pancake batter, probably because all the frosting evaporated out.  

Red Velvet Pop-tarts, yes; visit the Pop-tarts website for more information or where to buy.

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