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Entries in giveaway (57)

Wednesday
May142014

The Secret to Perfect Pie Crust? It's in Your Hands (Plus a Giveaway)

Pie crust technique

Note: this post includes a giveaway at the bottom! Lucky you.

You're always taught the same basic rules with pie crust. Cut small pieces of cold butter into a mixture of flour and salt; blend until the pieces are like peas. Add cold water, a little at a time, until the dough will come together in a clump. Gather, flatten into a disc, chill, and proceed. 

But recently, I learned a method that basically rocked my everloving, pie-eating world. Because it involves using your fingers to attain the perfect consistency.

This was very exciting to me because I actually kind of despise most kitchen tools. Especially the pastry cutter, because it is such a pain to wash. In general, the more functions I can get out of one tool, the more I like it. Wooden spoons and wire whisks? Awesome. Garlic press? Not so much. 

But enough about me--back to the pie. You're probably wondering some things. Let me try to answer:

Where the method came from

I learned this method at the Bake For Good event in Los Angeles, part of the Bake For Good Tour, where baker Robyn told us it was a method she'd learned from famed foodie Marion Cunningham.

By the way, if you want to know more about the event, check out this video.

Cherry cream walnut pie

How it works

Basically, the method includes working in larger than usual hunks of butter, and instead of mashing them with a pastry cutter, you squeeze the butter pieces with your fingers to flatten them.

    Cherry cream walnut pie

Why you should immediately adopt this practice

Those pieces of flat butter will make for the coveted "VB" (visible butter) in your rolled crust, and the taste is flaky and fantastic on your resulting pie.

Pie crust technique

I have co-opted and adapted it for my own use at home with a sort of mashup between traditional and by hand methods. Best of both worlds, and still, minimal stuff to clean.

And here, I will share it with you. Aren't you lucky?

Making Pie Crust with Your Hands

adapted from King Arthur Flour, who adapted it from Marion Cunningham

enough for a double crust pie

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup very cold water

Procedure

  1. Sift together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Set to the side.
  2. Size your butter. One stick cut into small pieces, the other cut into fairly large pieces (double the size you'd usually cut for a pie crust.
  3. Cherry cream walnut pie
  4. Work in the stick of smaller butter with a plastic dough scraper (my new favorite tool and very easy to clean). It's not going to have the same impact that double the butter would in terms of working in, but go for the regular pea sized consistency.
  5. Now, add the bigger hunks of butter. Gently coat them with flour in the mixture, so they won't stick to you when you squeeze them. 
  6. Cherry cream walnut pie
  7. Now, one by one, squeeze all of those pieces of butter until they're flat like pancakes. Cherry cream walnut pie You don't have to be too precious about it. Grab, squeeze, then move on to the next one.
  8. Got 'em all? OK. Give the mixture another stir with your pastry scraper. Now, start adding the water. Switch back to your dough scraper.
  9. Keep on adding it bit by bit until the dough forms a shaggy consistency, still floury but you can clump it together.
  10. Pie crust method
  11. Gather, form into a ball, and place on top of a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap the plastic on top of it, not too snugly, and then flatten it into a disc with your hand. Doing it this way, I learned, helps the dough spread out into the plastic and is just less messy.
  12. Pie crust method

Proceed with your recipe as usual. 

GIVEAWAY!

Hooray! King Arthur Flour has offered to reward one lucky reader with one of their mega cool dough scrapers, a cookbook, AND some of their highly patented and extremely delicious boiled apple cider (perfect for flavoring apple pie and using as a slightly fancy pancake syrup). Want to win? All you have to do is leave a comment (don't panic if it doesn't pop up right away; comment moderation is enabled) answering the following question:

What's your favorite type of pie to eat, and how do you like it served?

Apple pie with cheese for breakfast? French silk pie à la mode for dessert? It's all game here. I'll choose a winner by EOD Pacific time one week from today!

Wednesday
Jul312013

Giveaway: Craft-A-Doodle Book

Guess what? Last year, I was asked to contribute to a book called Craft-a-Doodle: 75 Creative Exercises from 18 Artists. Of course I was happy to do it. Basically, the idea was that 18 creative types like myself were to contribute idea prompts, to inspire the reader to get moving, creatively speaking. 

So, I did it! And now, a year later, the book is out! Hooray! You'll find some great creative prompts by myself, and other talented people. It was all put together by the lovely Jenny Doh.

So, I'll bet you're pretty interested in the book, yes? Want to win a copy?

OK! Let's do a giveaway, right here, right now. How do you enter? It's so easy.

To enter: All you have to do is leave a comment on this post (comment moderation is enabled, so if it does not pop up right away, don't panic) saying what gets YOU inspired. Is it dancing in your living room? Drawing stars on notebook paper? Drunk-texting ex boyfriends? (Wait...) Whatever it is that gets you inspired, get the rest of us inspired by letting us know! 

I'll choose a winner at random one week from today, on August 7, at 5pm PST, and announce it shortly thereafter. Because the publisher will be sending the book directly from their US warehouse, they have asked that only US entrants be eligible. Good luck!

Meantime, buy the book here: Craft-a-Doodle: 75 Creative Exercises from 18 Artists

Saturday
Jun152013

Batter Chatter: Citi of Sweets, North Carolina

Citi of Sweets

Oh, hi. You know what kind of city I love? One made of sweets. That's sort of the idea behind Citi of Sweets, a boutique baking business which specializes in homemade treats like whoopie pies, cake truffles, and other decadent goodies. 

Now, it's exciting to share this business with you for two reasons: one, it's always fun to discover a new baking business. Two, they're offering a giveaway! See the bottom of this post for how to enter. 

Please describe your business in 6 words or less? Non-traditional, sweet, fun, creative, challenging and friendly.

Citi of Sweets

What's your personal favorite item on your menu? Ayesha: whoopie pies(strawberry with buttercream) Chanel: Cookies N Cream cake truffles

What made you take the jump from amateur to professional baking? Chanel:It started as just something i wanted to try and i asked my best friend ayesha to help me experiment and it turned out horrible at first the cake was just not staying on the sticks and it was just a chocolate disaster so we left it alone and then we ended up trying again a month or so later and we were way better at it and we started doing them more and getting better and better with practice and time. We then came up with our name and menu and we've been baking ever since we started with our co-workers at our job and we haven't had a bad complaint ever in 2 years. We like being creative and making our customers happy.

What's the best thing to happen to you in the past 48 hours? We went grocery shopping to get more supplies to make more sweets!

Citi of Sweets

Cake or Pie? Cake

If you had to wear one pair of shoes for the rest of my life what would they be? Chanel: Purple Fuzzy Slippers Ayesha: Angry Birds Slippers

What's your favorite non-sweet food? Ayesha: hot wings Chanel: fries

What quality do you most value in others? Honesty

What is your biggest dream? Our biggest dream is to have Citi of Sweets all across the world.

Citi of Sweets

What's your next hope for your business? to open our first storefront in Charlotte.

Now... back to that giveaway! Here's what two lucky winners will receive: 2 Cake Pop Samplers Dozens one to each winner. They will be available for pick up, or shipping. The flavors will be (3) trrriple threat(chocolate) (3) butter pecan, (3) cookies n cream and (3) french vanilla.

Yum! So how to enter? It's easy. Just do this:

1. Simply "like" Citi of Sweets on Facebook or follow them on Twitter

2. Leave a comment on this post (don't worry if it doesn't show up right away, moderation is enabled!) stating your favorite flavor of cake.

I'll choose a winner at random 1 week from today (Saturday, June 23, 12pm PST). To ensure fresh tastiness of the prize, we're only going to allow US entrants on this particular giveaway!

For more, check 'em out online: Citi of Sweets

Wednesday
May292013

Batter Chatter: Interview with Mei of Tiny Hands Jewelry, and a Giveaway!

Much sweeter than wearing your heart on your sleeve? Wearing sweets around your neck, or on your finger, or around your wrist! I'm talking about food-themed jewelry of course, and I'm pretty sure that Tiny Hands makes the absolute cutest stuff around. From teeny-tiny waffles with butter to sno-cones (pictured above) to slices of pie to doughnuts and cookies and now, even cupcake rings, these charms are not only adorable, but they are scented, too. What a fantastic way to declare your love of sweets!

Now. I really want to share this great company with you, so I'm going to do two things in this post: first, I'm going to introduce you to the company owner, Mei Pak, via interview. And then second, I'm offering a giveaway! You can scroll to the bottom of the post to figure out how to enter, ok?

Here's the interview:
Please describe your business in 6 words or less. Super cute scented food jewelry!
What is the best thing to happen to you in the past 48 hours? Wow, it's like you're in my mind! My husband and I just bought our FIRST home!! We're so excited - it's the perfect house for us and where we're at in our lives now. We just finished moving in. We're really stressed with the transition, but we're also super happy about our new home!
Can you describe your office (or where you work)? Our new Tiny Hands headquarters has hot pink walls, rainbow colored curtains and a large U-shaped white desk with pink chairs for us to make and ship our food jewelry across the world! What was once a boring built in cabinet, will be a really nice and neat storage space for all our materials and shipping supplies. We removed the doors and installed white curtains so our storage area looks really pretty too! We have some modular Ikea furniture for more organized space as well.
What quality do you most value in others? Kindness -- a year ago I was featured on local TV for the first time. We don't have TV at home so there was no way I could record the show. That weekend I was doing a craft show, and a really sweet older woman said she saw me on TV and had the recording. A few weeks later, I received the tape in the mail! This woman's kindness really touched me and I won't forget what she did for the rest of my life!
If you could instantly conjure up any dessert or sweet in the world at this moment, what would it be? French macarons! There aren't many french bakeries here in the Twin Cities, and I know making macarons can be super tedious!
One of my favorite things about your line is that it's all scented. Have you ever gotten mixed up and given one of your pieces of jewelry the wrong scent? Hmm... if I have I don't remember it! I have everything labeled so it's really hard to screw up!
How do you stay motivated? I love looking at pictures of real food! Pinterest is great for that. When I see a delicious looking cake, I just want to miniaturize it!
Cake for breakfast. Thoughts? Oh, heck yes! Cake for second breakfast too!
In your opinion, do people tend to gravitate toward the jewelry that reflects their food tastes, or do they just choose what they find cutest? I think people pick jewelry they've had a personal connection with. I had a grandma buy a chocolate chip cookie necklace for her granddaughter, who she nicknamed Cookie!

What's the product you're personally most excited about now? Ice cream cone and cupcake rings! Everyone keeps asking for them, and I'm stoked to put them up for sale!
What is a dream you'd love to see realized within the next 10 years? It would be awesome that in the next 10 years, I can open my own restaurant or bakery! I love food and know so many people do too, so I can't think of a better way to share that kind of experience with people.
If you want more info, or to go shopping, visit Tiny Hands online!
And as for that giveaway...want to enter? OK! It's easy. Here's how you enter.
  1. First, choose any item equal or lesser than $30 from the store.
  2. Next, post a link to it, and why you chose that piece, either in the comments section on this post (moderation is enabled!) or post your response on the CakeSpy facebook page.
We'll choose one lucky entrant at random one week from today, (end of day on Wednesday, June 5) and send them their chosen item! Because shipping rates overseas and abroad can be hefty, though, we have to ask that only US entrants participate. 
Good luck!
Thursday
Jan242013

Giveaway: Entenmann's Prize Pack

I'll admit it: I find the current Entenmann's promotion highly adorable.

In it, their most popular donut, named Rich, last name Frosted, is finally making an honest lady of his "Mrs. Rich Frosted". I mean, the jig is up--where did all those mini donuts and "pop-ems" (donut holes) come from? 

So finally, on his 40th Birthday, which is coming up on January 31, "Rich" the donut dude is going to reveal who his baby-mama is (on facebook, natch). What flavor is she, do you think?


• Glazed Buttermilk Donut?
• Crumb Cake Donut?
• Plain Donut?
• Powdered Donut?

Well, you can guess, but the big reveal will happen soon--the “Mrs.” will be revealed on Rich’s birthday on January 31, 2013, plus a variety of prizes for all Entenmann’s Facebook fans!

But wait, there's more. Not only will "Rich" be celebrating the New Year and his 40th birthday- he’ll also be celebrating the 400,000,000th Rich Frosted Donut to be coming off the production line in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. That's a "hole" lotta dough!

And for you, dear readers, there's a possible prize pack. It includes:

 

  • 1 Rich Frosted T-shirt
  • Entenmann's Travel Mug
  • 2 Entenmann's Coupons

 

Personally, I love giveaways like this because the merch is the kind of stuff that is really kitschy and fun as the years go by--I love buying stuff like this at second hand stores, so I think it's fun to have the original promotional stuff.

How do you enter? It's so easy. Either leave a comment on this post, or on my Facebook page, saying what flavor donut you think Rich's missus should be. I'll choose a winner on the 31st, to coincide with the "reveal"! The prize will be sent directly to the recipient from Entenmann's.


More info about the Entenmann's product line can be found at bimbobakeriesusa.com and entenmanns.com.

Saturday
Dec152012

National Cupcake Day Cake Poll and Giveaway

How do you eat yours?

Let me be the first to wish you a very happy National Cupcake Day. Yes, you heard me correctly. Today (December 15) is National Cupcake Day.

And in honor of this momentous day, I'd like to bring back a question I asked a long while back, that I'd love to ask again--you know, in case old readers' preferences have changed, or in case there are new readers who didn't weigh in the last time!

The question is a most important one: how do you eat a cupcake? 

Do you eat it with a knife and fork, pinkies out?
Do you tear it in half and discard the bottom so as to increase the frosting-to-cake ratio?
Do you invert it, sandwich-style, to keep your fingers free of frosting?
Do you eat yours with a spoon, served in a dish of milk?
...Or do you just dig in?

 

I can't wait to hear your responses. Oh, and to make it slightly more fun, I'm going to choose one commenter at random and send them a copy of  Cupcakes: More Than 50 Fun Recipes for Creative Cakes! This is an adorable book wherein you'll find recipes and decorating tutorials such as:

Cupcakes Cupcakes Cupcakes

Awesome! So, once again, to enter to win the book, just leave a comment saying how YOU eat a cupcake! I'll close the poll and choose a winner one week from today, on December 23rd at 5pm PST.

Wednesday
Nov212012

CakeSpy is Thankful for You. Now Win a book!

Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion to get a little cheesy. So here I go:

I am thankful for you. And by "you" I mean any and everyone who has taken or is taking the time to read my website.

When I began CakeSpy in 2007, I thought it would be a way of combining my three greatest loves (writing, illustration, baked goods) in one place. As a hobby. 

But it has become so much more--it has become not only my livelihood, but a big part of my identity and life.

So I guess I'm saying...thanks for supporting my life and livelihood by reading this sweet site. It makes my day that you might leave this site a little happier than when you came. 

But you know what? I'm not just going to get cheesy in this post. I'm also going to give away a copy of MY BOOK, CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life. It's not only a great read, it's full of sweet recipes!It's perfect to keep, or to give to a friend for the holidays (don't worry, I won't tell them you won it rather than buying). Oh, and I'll sign it for you too, and draw a unicorn in it. YES!

How to enter to win? It's so, so easy. All you have to do is a leave a comment on this post (don't panic if it doesn't show up RIGHT away--comment moderation is enabled) saying something you're thankful for. It can be sweet or savory or not even food at all--what is making you feel thankful this Thanksgiving?

This giveaway is open to everyone (US, abroad, whatevs), but it will close one week from today, November 29 at 5pm EST. Can't stand the idea of not winning? You can always shop online here, and use code AWESOME12 through next Monday for free shipping on all orders over $25.00.

Monday
Nov122012

Giveaway: An Amish Kitchen

Amish Kitchen

I don't know about you, but I love it when fiction incorporates food. A heartwarming story that is punctuated by recipes? Sign me up, yo.

And now, I'm ready to give away a copy of An Amish Kitchen, just such a book. Here's the synopsis:

- - - - -

The Amish Kitchen is the Heart of the Home – and the Ideal Setting for Stories of Love and Hope.

Fall in Paradise, Pennsylvania always brings a brisk change in the weather. This time also provides unexpected visitors, new love, and renewed hope for three women.

Fern has a green thumb for healing herbs and flowers, but longs for love to bloom in her life. The next-door neighbor’s oldest son Abram comes running into Fern’s kitchen seeking help for his little sister. The crisis soon leads to a promise of romance—until an incident threatens to end their growing attraction.

Nearby, Hannah runs her parents’ bed and breakfast, Paradise Inn—but her life feels nothing like Paradise. She longs for a man of integrity to enter her life, but never expected him to knock on the front door looking for a room. Will she be able trust Stephen with her future once she discovers his mysterious past?

When a storm blows a tree onto Eve’s farmhouse, she has little choice but to temporarily move her family into her parents’ home. Outside of cooking together in the kitchen, Eve and her mother can’t agree on anything. But this may be just the recipe for hope in healing old wounds.

Three Amish stories—each celebrating love, family, and faith—all taking place in a tight-knit community where the kitchen truly is the heart of the home.

- - - - -

Oh, and it has recipes, too. Here's one of them, with one of the authors pictured holding the pie!

Pie Pic1

 

Rosemary’s Apple Crumb Pie

  • 6 cups peeled and sliced (or chopped) apples
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup ½ & ½ cream
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Crumbs:

  • ½ cup butter, cold
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients and place in an unbaked pie shell.
  • Combine crumb mixture and sprinkle on top.
  •  Bake at 325°F for 55 minutes or until apples are done.

Now. Back to the giveaway. Want to win a copy of An Amish Kitchen? Cool, dudes. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post, or on the CakeSpy Facebook page, telling me your favorite type of fall pie. Traditional Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie? Rich pecan pie with cranberry? You tell me. But do it before next Monday, the 19th, at 5pm EST - cos the giveaway will close then! Because the book will be shipped from the publisher, US residents only, please.

Monday
Nov052012

Giveaway: The Newlywed Cookbook by Sarah Copeland

Newlywed Cookbook

I have a book to tell you about. It's called The Newlywed Cookbook: Fresh Ideas and Modern Recipes for Cooking With and for Each Other. I know what you're thinking. Why should you care about this book? 

Well, because the couple that cooks together stays together. And because there's a killer dessert chapter. It includes cocoa, carrot cake bars, upside-down rhubarb cake, etc, and there are also some brunch recipes that are on the sweet side as well. So while the cookbook isn't completely dessert-focused, there's a large, decadent dessert section.

The book was donated for this giveaway by BHLDN, Anthropologie’s one year old sister store. Who are they? Well, I'll let them explain: "a wedding and special occasion retailer that provides attire and accessories for unique, fun-loving brides and their guests. They also sell uncommon, vintage-inspired décor to create the perfect atmosphere for any special occasion. From cake stands to pinwheels, BHLDN’s décor works for any soiree, from a sweet wedding to a special birthday brunch."

But back to that book and its desserts. Want to win a copy? I feel you. All you have to do to enter is this: leave a comment, either here or on the CakeSpy Facebook page, saying your favorite sweet to eat with others. It could be the chocolate torte you love to share with your sweetie, the double popsicle you like to split with your BFF, or maybe even the 2-pack of pop-tarts that you split with your toddler. What's your favorite sweet to share?

This giveaway will close next Monday, November 12, at 5pm EST. Per the request of BHLDN, this giveaway is only open to US residents. Good luck!

Monday
Oct082012

Bad Hot Chocolate, Awesome Book Giveaway

Worst Hot Chocolate Ever

Yesterday, I had a really terrible hot chocolate. I mean awful.

It was surprising because it was at a cafe where the food is quite good. It was on the menu, for $3.50, advertised as "hot chocolate with whipped cream". Yum.

But when it was delivered, there were some things wrong.

First, there was no whipped cream.

Second, it was made with a mix. Already bad enough, but to add insult to injury, it was improperly mixed, and still lumpy.

Third, it was made with water, not milk. Gross!

So, I sent it back. They were apologetic and offered to re-make it...but I declined. And I got to thinking: what makes a really good hot chocolate? Is it the chocolate itself? The milk? The temperature? The texture? Well, kind of all of the above. For me, it's a rich drinking chocolate like I had at Cafe Angelina in Paris.

What about you? What is your ideal hot chocolate? 

Real Snacks

Feel free to chime in, and you'll be entered to win a copy of this AWESOME book by Lara Ferroni entitled Real Snacks: Make Your Favorite Childhood Treats Without All the Junk. I'm a huge fan of Lara's work, and also love her previous recipe book, Doughnuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home.

This time, she's back with homemade versions of popular snack treats. Sweet and savory. Some examples:

Cereal Bars Animal Crackers

I do believe I spied a unicorn on those pages! 

OK. So, to review: 

Leave a comment telling me about what makes the ideal hot chocolate, in your opinion (is it from a place? Made with heavy cream, at home? Or perhaps it's just Swiss Miss? I'm curious!). And on October 15 at 5pm EST, I will choose one lucky winner (at random) to get a copy of this great new book by Lara Ferroni. Due to the price of shipping overseas, I can only open this one to US residents.

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