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Entries in giveaway (58)

Friday
Oct232009

Sweet Impression: CakeSpy Rubber Stamp Giveaway!

Win a set of stamps!
Like, OMG! Are you ready for a sweet giveaway?

This time, it's a set of Christmas rubber stamps featuring Cuppie in all sorts of sweet wintry scenes! This set of unmounted rubber stamps is a collaboration between CakeSpy and Taylored Expressions, and it comes just in time for either making your own holiday cards...or for giving them to a crafty friend as a holiday present! The set would usually retail for $21.95, but one lucky winner is getting a set for free!

To put your name in the running, just answer the following in the comments section(because it's never to early to start thinking about these important things):

What sweet treat are you most looking forward to this holiday season? 

(Christmas cookies? Pies at Thanksgiving? St. Lucia Buns? Perhaps something else entirely?)
Of course, if you can't wait, you can purchase the stamps here, stay in touch with Taylored Expressions via twitter and their blog, and also check out the inspiration gallery here!
The cake poll will close on Monday, November 2 at 12 p.m. PST!

 

 

 

Sunday
Oct112009

Bake it Pretty: A Super Sweet Giveaway!

Bake it Pretty Giveaway
Probably you already know about Bake it Pretty, the cutest online source for baking decorations, packaging supplies, and other notions. And if you don't already know it, you will love it. But whether this shop is a new discovery or an old friend, one thing will hold true: you want what they are selling. One of everything, please.

And now, you can get a great head start with this super-sweet giveaway: a $50 gift certificate to BakeitPretty.com!

You probably don't need to be told that this is an awesome giveaway.

To put yourself in the running, simply leave a comment below with your answer to the following question:

Which part of making a cake (or any baked good) is the most fun: baking or decorating?

The cake poll is open all week--but be sure to enter before 12 p.m. PST on Friday, October 16! In the meantime, please feel free to click over to bakeitpretty.com to choose what you'd buy with the prize--you might want to check out their blog as well! 


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UPDATE: The Cake Poll is closed! Congratulations to the winner, Olivia from Ann Arbor, MI!

 

Monday
Oct052009

Underdog Desserts: A Savory Meets Sweet Giveaway from BK!

Giveaway!
Next time you feel compelled to glove-slap somebody, why not do it in sweet style? Well, you can: CakeSpy is giving away a pair of sweet gloves with cupcake pattern trim--a sweet donation from friends at Bitchin' Lifestyle (you may remember the interview with BK's Nadia G. from a while back?).

What do you have to do to enter?

To Enter, click over to the video about Underdog Vegetables on the Bitchin' Kitchen website--a hilarious roundup and appreciative ode to veggies like brussels sprouts and parsnips--and leave a comment on the site. Love veggies? Go ahead and sing their praises. Still not convinced? Then leave a comment talking up your favorite--wait for it--underdog dessert.

Of course, I'd love to see your comments here about what your favorite underdog desserts too. Perhaps you think coconut macaroons need more love? Or maybe oatmeal cookies have stood in chocolate chip's shadow for too long? Sing the praises of your favorite!

This giveaway will close for entries on Friday, October 9 at 12:00 p.m. PST!

 

Monday
Sep282009

Cake Poll: Mixing it Up with the Cake Mix Doctor, and a Giveaway!

Win it: The Cake Mix Doctor Returns
Growing up, there were a few things that were forbidden in our house, for various moral or health reasons: Doritos, the show Full House, and cake mix.

As a result, I grew up harboring a secret and dark love for all of these things. The crackle of a Doritos bag opening thrills me; I can't hear the theme song from Full House without feeling just a little shiver of excitement; and while I've come to appreciate homemade baked goods far more, I still don't have a huge problem with cake mix.

So it would stand that I've always been intrigued by the "Cake Mix Doctor" series, and as a result, when Laura at Workman Publishing contacted me to see if I'd like to check out the new and improved The Cake Mix Doctor Returns (a revamped re-release of the original book, with even more recipes), I jumped at the chance.

If you're not familiar with the concept, basically what author Anne Byrne does is take a cake mix and "doctor" it up, offering creative alterations and ingredients that will make all sorts of desserts (not just cakes) with the mix which taste far better than simply mixing-and-baked per the box instructions. And by starting with a cake mix, you have the added ease of not having to make sure you have all of your dry ingredients on hand, which can be helpful for infrequent bakers.

So I tried out several of the recipes in the book, and I have to say, I have been very pleasantly surprised with the results. One in particular though, the "Houdini Bars"--a dense bar cookie with a yellow cake crust filled with a custardy cream cheese, nut, and coconut filling, was so delectable that true to their name, they disappeared in hours (I'll share the recipe in a few days!). Of course, Byrne isn't offering a quick fix to everything--while cake mixes are the core of the book, she insists that you make your own frostings, citing wise words indeed: "frosting is the first and last taste you experience when forking into a slice of cake. It should never be an afterthought", adding that "you can get away with a cake from a mix, but you must make your frosting from scratch."

So, overall, I have to say I was pretty impressed with the book. And I'm not just saying this because Workman donated three copies to give away (although they did)--which leads to the next subject...

Sweet Giveaway!

So, I have three copies of The Cake Mix Doctor Returns to give away! To put your name in the running, simply answer this important ethical question in the comments:

If you make a cake with a mix, is it wrong to hide the fact that it's not completely "homemade"?

 

Let the games begin! The Cake Poll will close at 12 p.m. PST on Friday, October 2; the winners will be contacted shortly thereafter. If you are leaving an anonymous comment, please be sure to leave an email address so you can be contacted if you win!


UPDATE: THE WINNERS!

The poll is now closed: here are the three winners who were chosen at random!
Felice from Hawaii, who writes the site All That's Left are the Crumbs
Melleah from South Carolina, who writes the site Goode Taste
and finally, Krystel T.!
Thanks everyone for entering!

 

Thursday
Sep032009

Batter Chatter: Interview with Julia Usher, Author of Cookie Swap, With a Giveaway!

Win a cookbook, learn about cookies! 

Let's talk about cookies. More specifically, let's talk about cookie swaps, a tradition big in the 60's--and one that Julia M. Usher, author of Cookie Swap: Creative Treats to Share Throughout the Year, says is making a comeback in a big way. Curious? Here's the CakeSpy interview...with a bonus recipe for one of Julia's favorite recipes in the book...as well as a giveaway to win a copy!

CakeSpy: Important question: what was the last cookie you ate?
Julia Usher: The Brown(ie) Noser--we had some left over from a signing I did on Saturday. I had it for breakfast the next morning!

 

CS: So, it was through a magazine that your book came to be--how did that happen?
JU: What happened was that I had a bakery for 7 years; I closed it a few years ago. I thought that what might better suit me was to write books and develop the creative content without being tied to the bakery and production. So I closed the shop and wrote a proposal. And I got an agent, which is particularly key in thecookbook arena, because it's very hard to get access to publishers without one. My initial proposal was actually for a cake book; after going through 40 possible agents and narrowing it down to 4, I ended up choosing an agent out of Cambridge, MA who was very reasonable -- she began pitching the cake book, and we kept hearing the concept was too big to sell in this marketplace--but she had seen the article I had written for St. Louis at home, and asked if we could craft a book around cookies and cookie swaps: I said I'm sure I could do that, and wrote another proposal. We ended up selling both, but we decided to go forward with one to start.

CS: How did it go from a book proposal to an actual book? Did it change a lot?
JU: So, the book proposal did include a sample chapter, but really, it was more of a business plan, with audience, competition, analysis, and all of that. There were some changes with the page count and amount of photographs--which were 2-3 times more than originally contracted. We ended up having to cut the content, change the size of the pages and shift from hardcover to paperback, but ultimately we kept the book at the same price point as initially hoped for. All in all though, everything I wanted to be there was there--if slightly abbreviated.

I did take on some moonlighting during the proposal process because I was getting bummed about because it was taking a long time to sell the book, and I felt like I needed the validation of making money.

CS: It seems that you're currently embarking on a bit of a guerilla marketing scheme to promote your book. Can you tell me more?
JU: I have about 100 stops nationwide; about 10 major metro areas. It's something I put together on my own dime; I'm looking to cover a chunk of the cost with cooking classes and lining up some sponsorships. The reality of the publishing industry is that there are less and less tours; when you sign a contract you know what kind of tour and support you are going to get, so I walked into this agreement knowing that if I wanted to do any additional PR, I would have to do it myself. For my first book, I wanted to make sure I had thrown everything I had at it and hopefully launch another one, even if it means I don't make much money off of this first one; hopefully it will command a bigger advance and more marketing on the second project.

CS: How much attention have you been giving to online media--blogs, etc?
JU: Quite a bit--that is how I reached you! The way I approached marketing was first by approaching national magazines, and then after that, I tackled every lead sequentially, planning stops at independent booksellers for my tour--I was prohibited from calling any big chains--then after that I approached local media--newspapers, radio, TV--and then I started approaching online channels because I realized the turn time was shorter; I approached high traffic websites and food blogs.

CS: You started out as an engineer and business consultant--how has this played into your current role as baker/cookbook writer/food stylist?
JU: I always bakd and always had a strong interest, but I didn't express that professionally; in college, there was more of a cachet to going into the business side of things where you made more money. I became burned out on the consultant position when I got transferred to an office in Boston where I felt I didn't fit as well. That precipitated the change in my life: could there be a way to marry what I loved avocationally with the rest of my life? In terms of past jobs informing baking, not really in terms of artistry or technical or construction aspects, but I do feel that what factors in is a business background -- I am fortunate that I am able to maintain the creative end without getting flaky...about obligations.

CS: Any words of advice for people who want to make a change?
JU: Be realistic. Prepare yourself--financially, of course--walking into any kind of food business you have to walk in with a sense of the financial reality. But then, there's no sense in working at something you don't love, so look at it realistically but don't let that bind you, because there are always creative ways to make things happen.

CS: OK, on to the cookies! Cookie Swaps date back to 1963...so does this mean that cookie swaps are a bit of nostalgia prime for a comeback?
JU: I think it plays into where we are as a society...people are eating on the run, without family, without sharing, without talking...and I think that things go in cycles and that this economy will bring us back to baking at home--as well as things like canning and preserving, things we did a lot of growing up that virtually disappeared. They take a bit more time but they bring people together over food...and I think that we are beginning to see that again.

CS: You say that the cupcake has basked in the limelight for too long...tell me more!
JU: The cupcake wedding cake was just starting when I closed my bakery. I do enjoy cupcakes, but I think that cookies are less intimidating for some people to make than cupcakes. Some of the cookies are fanciful and I don't want to diminish that, but I do feel as if the trending toward the kitchen will make people feel as if they can spend the extra time and decorate the cookies as shown in the book...or they can just bake them and have them as they are! CakeSpy Note: although the time spent is worth it; the cookies in the book really are gorgeous!

CS: Springlerle: let's talk about it. Any tips for a beginner?
JU: Ideally, the cookie is slightly crusty outside and pillowy on the interior, but it gets harder as it ages. It's a very basic dough in terms of mixing and preparation; the part that is harder is getting a fine imprint and having them look lovely. With that, it will take a little trial and error--to get a good imprint, you may need a little extra flour. You need to generously dust them and there is an art to rolling it out; regular cookie cutter cookies I will roll 1/8 inch thick, these I will roll a bit thicker to make sure I get a good imprint. Once pressed, I will let dry at room temperature overnight or for a few hours before baking; the pattern will set a bit more. I prefer working with individual molds rather than a roller. It takes longer, but I feel as if it offers more control in the impression than using a roller. House on the Hill is a great resource--there really are pins and molds for every occasion.

CS: What are some of your favorite cookies in the book?
JU: I like gooey and rich, so that guides my responses. I have two: one is the Brandied Cherry Chocolate Sin Cookies; it's a globby type of batter, very simple but they have a lot of give with the bake time and are very yummy and easy. The other one I really like is the Brown(ie) Noser, which I like to glaze with a bit of ganache on top. Of course the sugar cookies (which I grew up baking with my mom; nostalgia definitely plays into baking.

CS: Back to the Brownie Noser. It brings up a serious point--are brownies really cookies?
JU: To me, they are fundamentally cookies: the have the same fundamental ingredients, they're just flat and transportable; they could just be shaped into conventional cookies; in a way, it's kind of a shortcut, where you just make one big cut at the end (unless you're layering lots of stuff). And you don't have to worry about as many multiple cookie sheets.

Want more? You can connect with Julia via her website or Twitter feed!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
OK: Now on to the giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a copy of Julia's book, Cookie Swap: Creative Treats to Share Throughout the Year! How do you enter? It's easy. Just leave a comment answering the following questions before 12pm PST on Tuesday, September 8:
  • What is your favorite cookie to eat?
  • What is your favorite cookie to bake?
UPDATE: The winner! Chosen at random,
Elaine takes the cake (er, cookie!) on this one!

 

Tuesday
May262009

In The Mix: A Sweet Giveaway from Gourmet Gift Company!

Giveaway!
It's a funny thing, but somehow the shortest weeks always feel the longest. Perhaps it's the harsh reality of going back to real life after a sweet long weekend?

It's official: you deserve a giveaway.

Gourmet Gift Company has generously offered a $100 gift certificate to one lucky CakeSpy reader! Their website is chock full of sweet gourmet mixes for cakes (including flavors like chocolate, red velvet, vanilla and champagne), cookies, brownies and a variety of other treats. Just think how much sweetness $100 could get you on this site--you could pick up some sweet treats for yourself, and friends too! What a sweet gift-by-mail for a faraway friend or relative these mixes would be! Or, if you're planning a wedding or event, the gift certificate would get you quite a few of their unique customized favors.

To put your name in the running, simply leave a comment on this post and tell which of Gourmet Gift Company's flavors you'd try first!

Sorry, US entrants only this time; this giveaway will be closed on Saturday, May 30 at 12 p.m. PST, and the winner will be chosen at random and announced shortly thereafter.

Thursday
Dec112008

It's All About the Cookie: Another Impromptu Giveaway!

Cookie Giveaway
This time of year, there's one thing on our mind above all other things: cookies. It's true: we're totally not above raiding Santa's secret stash in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve.

And what better way to celebrate this than by having another bonus giveaway (in addition to our monthly Cake Poll, which we'll still have later on this month)?
My Kids Cookies
Gift Box, My Kids CookiesCards
Since nothing's better than a care package by mail, My Kids' Cookies has generously offered to donate a semi-sweet chocolate chip cookie gift box. Sweet! Nestled in a bed of white tissue paper, this delectable semi-sweet treat is bound to make your day far more delicious. But wait, there's more: to sweeten the deal, the lucky winner will also receive a pack of Cakespy notecards (from the Cakespy shop) too!

To enter (US only this time, please!), just leave a comment before 12pm PST on Monday, December 15th, weighing in on this important issue:
What, in your opinion, makes up the ideal chocolate chip cookie?

 

Wednesday
Dec032008

What a Dish: Win a CAKESPY Plate by La Plates!

Cakespy Plate--win it!
Now, usually we wait til the end of the month to do a giveaway, but this was just too cool to wait! The wonderful company La Plates has made a wonderful CAKESPY plate, which will go to one lucky reader! 

La Plates is a very cool company that makes custom plates--what a wonderful holiday idea! But act quickly--their deadline for custom holiday orders is December 5.

 

This contest is in addition to our regular monthly cake poll, which will occur later on this month. The winner (sorry, US only this time!) will be announced this Friday at 5pm PST.


To put your name in the running, just leave a comment letting us know the following:

 

What's the first sweet you'd like to eat off of this fantastic plate?

 

 

 

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