Home Home Home Home Home Home Home
CakeSpy

 Buy my brilliant books!

Buy my new book!

Buy my first book, too!

 

CakeSpy Online Retail!

 

 

Gallery

Craftsy Writer

Entries in guest blog (60)

Saturday
Feb182012

Dough You Love Me: Batter Belly Dough Cake Recipe by The Miss Cupcake

Finalist 4: Batter Belly Dough Cake

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from The Miss Cupcake, who was a finalist in the "So You Wanna Be a CakeSpy?" Contest.

Batters’ Up! This mile high mini cake is sure to please any batter-licking soul. The hip hugging delight starts with a chocolate chip cookie layer, and then is topped with cookie dough filling. Bring on the brownie with a chocolate fudge variety which is blanketed under a plump layer of brownie batter filling. Lastly, a moist funfetti layer sends this cake into doughy harmony. Laced with a cake batter frosting and topped with mini baked treats, this dessert is no dream, it’s an unbaked ecstasy. Dough you want to try it?

Batter Belly Dough Cake

(Makes 2 mini cakes)

Items Needed:

Cake:

  • 1 roll refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 1 box brownie mix, reserve ¼ cup for filling
  • Water, oil, and eggs called for on the back of the brownie box
  • 2 box Funfetti cake mix, one for baking and one for filling
  • Water, oil, and eggs called for on the back of the cake box

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease and lay parchment paper into 3 pans. (1 Square 8x8 and 2 9x13 pans)
  2. Press cookie dough into a greased 8x8 pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.
  3. Prepare brownie mix according to package, making sure to reserve ¼ cup for filling. Pour into greased 9x13 inch pan. Bake according to package. Let cool.
  4. Prepare cake mix according to package. Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Bake according to package. Let cool.
  5. Using a 6 inch round cookie cutter or the end of and large circular object, cut two circles of each of the following: chocolate chip cookie, brownie, and cake. Set in the freezer for 20 minutes to harden. (If desired, using a small round cookie cutter. cut out circles of cookie, brownie, and cake. This will be used as a garnish)
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the frostings: recipes follow.
  7. To assemble each mini cake, start with a small dollop of cookie dough filling on the bottom of a small cake plate. Place cookie layer first, top with cookie dough filling, then the brownie layer, brownie filling, cake layer, and frost entire cake with cake batter icing. Pipe round dots of each icing flavor around the entire cake. Frost the mini cake circles, and place several small cutouts on top of the cake.

  8. Cookie Dough Filling
  • 1 stick softened salted butter
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBS. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add flour, milk, and vanilla. Beat on medium high for 3-4 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips.

Brownie Batter Filling

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup brownie boxed mix
  • 1/8 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Milk, as needed

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar a 1/2 cup at a time, then brownie and vanilla. Beat on medium high for 3-4 minutes. Add milk if too stiff.

Cake Batter Buttercream

  •  2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup Funfetti cake mix (You will have leftover!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Milk, as needed

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar a 1/2 cup at a time, then cake mix and vanilla. Beat on medium high for 3-4 minutes. Add milk if too stiff. 

Tuesday
Nov292011

Natty Boh Cupcakes Recipe from Cake Gumshoe Jen

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Cake Gumshoe Jen, who lives in Annapolis, Md., just down the road from Baltimore, the home of National Bohemian beer -- or Natty Boh. She was inspired by the adorable man with the mustache to bake these Natty Boh cupcakes for her blog, Eat. Swim. Shop. 

If you’re not from the mid-Atlantic, you may not be familiar with National Bohemian beer — or Natty Boh.

Natty Boh has a long history in Baltimore, and while it’s not brewed in the Charm City anymore, many people consider it Baltimore’s beer. And the super cute one-eyed mascot, Mr. Boh, still winks at everyone from the top of Brewers Hill. So when I decided to bake some beer cupcakes in honor of Baltimore Beer Week, I had to use Natty Boh.

I am not a beer person, but Natty Boh tastes a little like Corona to me. So I thought lime zest would work well with the beer in the batter.

I didn’t whip the egg yolks long enough because I’m impatient. But the cupcakes will be even spongier if you do. So you should.

Don’t be scared by the beer in the batter. The cupcakes just have a slight hint of Natty Boh flavor (and scent), but it’s really nice. I put a little bit of beer in the frosting, too, but you don’t have to.

FYI, it’s probably a good idea to make sure you have enough powdered sugar to make frosting before you start making the frosting… especially if it’s 11 p.m. and your neighbors are asleep.

Since these are Baltimore cupcakes, I used Duff/Charm City Cakes black fondant to make little Mr. Boh-esque mustaches. I just used a small sharp knife to cut the mustaches out, but you could make a stencil from parchment paper if you’d like. I also tried to do an eye, but it looked weird. Alas.

Of course, don't let the extra beer go to waste...

Here's the recipe.

Beer-lime cupcakes (Recipe adapted from a really old edition of the Joy of Cooking. Makes about 15 cupcakes)

  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (sift if there are a bunch of chunks in it)
  • 3 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup beer
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Stir the sugar and lime zest together in a small bowl or measuring cup.
  2. Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl until thick and lemon-colored — this may take a few minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat until well combined. Stir in the beer. (And wash the beaters)
  3. In a small bowl or measuring cup (you can use the one you used for the sugar), stir together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to the yolk mixture and stir until combined.
  4. Using clean, dry beaters (and a clean, dry small bowl), beat the egg whites until they hold peaks, but are still glossy. Fold the beaten egg whites into the cake batter.
  5. Pour or spoon the batter into lined cake pans, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cupcakes start to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.

Beer-lime buttercream (makes just enough to frost 15-16 cupcakes, double recipe if you want to use a lot of frosting on each cupcake)

  • 1 stick (1/4 cup) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2-2 cups powdered/confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon beer
  • 1/2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest (optional)

Procedure

Beat butter and 1 cup powdered sugar together until fluffy. Add beer, lime juice and lime zest and beat to combine. Add additional powdered sugar until frosting reaches desired consistency (or until you run out, like me).

Saturday
Nov262011

Sweet Excess: Cake Gumshoe Jenny Visits the State Fair of Texas

Photos: Purple House DirtCakeSpy Note: Cake Gumshoe Jenny, who blogs at Purple House Dirt, is an invaluable source of sweet knowledge. She's visited sweet-shops in Ireland and was a recipe tester for my lovely and amazing book. And now, she's reporting on treats, mostly sweet, but some savory, of the deep-fried variety from the Texas State Fair! Read on:

At the State Fair of Texas, we put our stomachs to the test as we ate as many of the fried goodies that we could. As we nibbled, we sat with the recorder and captured our thoughts. 
******
At the fair this year we tried to hit booths that had some unusual options - not just the standard funnel cakes and elephant ears. The only exception I made to this was the corn dog - because of what I heard eavesdropping. I was standing in line to buy a cold Big Red when a crusty old cowboy-lady told her fair-going friends that the only thing she wanted to eat was a Fletcher's and then she could go home and wait until the fair came back next year. Having had a particularly bad corn dog at the Puyallup Fair back home, I was determined to have a better one, and my friend Jessica assured me Fletcher's was the genuine article. Only problems were the lines - all of the Fletcher's booths were at least an hour deep from the time the fair opened that morning. We'd have to hit it in the afternoon. 

The first thing we tried was this year's award winner for creative fair food (really!), fried bubblegum (pictured top). It came 3 to a stick, and was covered in teal-blue frosting and was sprinkled with Chiclets. This was perhaps not the right thing to start the day with - a sugar-soaked fried contraption - but sacrifices were required and we each took one in the name of pseudo-science. The laughter of the surrounding families proved what we knew from the mess in our mouths. This thing was nasty. Imagine a bubblegum-flavored marshmallow melted to the magma stage, then topped with grainy blue frosting that stains your teeth. That, my friends, is fried bubblegum. Out of 10 stars, this didn't even make the charts. 

Dying to get the flavor out of our mouths, we went for fried beer. Not just any fried beer, but Shiner Bock, a little local from Shiner, Texas. I'd expected this to be a beer-flavored pillow, and was surprised to find hot liquid beer dribbling out of the fried ravioli case. Dipped in cheese sauce, this was a 5 out of 10. Needed more salt, but it was good at wiping the fried bubblegum slate clean. 

Frito pie is a ballpark tradition and must be something of a Texas thing because we ate these in elementary school. Open a bag of Fritos, ladle all-beef chili into the bag, and then top liberally with cheese. So when I saw the fried Frito pie, I knew I had to try it. Besides, a friend of a friend invented it and I knew I wasn't leaving the park without some in my belly. It was a plate of fried dough balls made of Fritos, chili and cheese, and was topped with sour cream and salsa. When all of the components came together, it was magic and took me right back to the school cafeteria. Easily a 7 out of 10. 

The only thing I'll say about the Fletcher's is that it was the real deal. And I bought a shirt to commemorate the awesomeness of this corny dog. 9 of 10. 

Deep-fried MargaritaThe most surprising treat at the fair was the fried frozen margarita. We declared this one the winner before we even took our last bite of fair food, we were that confident in it. As the two of us sat on a crowded picnic bench, Texas neighbors watched and laughed as we first nibbled, and then chugged our way through the margarita. It was served in a classic margarita glass, salt-rimmed and all. Fried funnel cake bits were scooped into the glass, then a generous pour of ice-cold tequila and lime syrup soaked it all (in fact, there was more liquid than fried nuggets). Topped with a little whipped cream and a thin slice of Persian lime, the fried frozen margarita was refreshing, surprising, and highly alcoholic. Tequila giggles ensued, and this winner clocked in at a 9 of 10.

Deep-fried PB SandwichThe last booth we visited boasted the Elvis - a fried peanut butter, jelly, and banana sandwich. It was served quartered, dusted with powdered sugar and a drizzle of grape jelly, and was very very hot. The sandwich insides oozed out when we took bites, and we decided that the banana really made the treat work. Alone, the PB&J was average. Add a hot fried banana to the mess and you have a contrasting flavor and texture, along with a little moisture. Definitely an 8 of 10. 

Perhaps the happiest moment of the fair was as we were walking out. The day had been filled with sugary sweets and fatty snacks, and rather than drinking water in the heat I kept chugging a warm Big Red. Just after I tossed my soda bottle we encountered a tooth brushing station - sponsored by a big-name toothpaste company. Even though we felt like idiots brushing and spitting in a community trough, the sensation of getting the day's sugar off my teeth was welcome. I could almost have gone back for more.

For more of Jenny's adventures, visit Purple House Dirt.

Thursday
Nov032011

Pizzelle Recipe: Breakfast of Champions, from Cake Gumshoe Rachel

Photo: Not Just SweetsCakeSpy Note: This delicious recipe comes from Cake Gumshoe Rachel, who writes the website Not Just Sweets.

My grandpa, whose family was from the Abruzzi region of Italy,  believed in starting the day with his favorite breakfast: pizzelle cookies dunked in his morning coffee.  He always kept an empty coffee tin filled with pizzelles by the front door so when friends or family walked in they could help themselves to a cookie.  At least once a week we would make pizzelles using his recipe:

Pizzelles

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon anise extract*

Procedure

  1. Add in the order listed. Drop by spoonful onto center of pre-heated pizzelle iron.
  2. Close lid and cook until steaming stops, about 45 seconds.
  3. Place a towel on the side of the iron and place pizzelles on towel and allow to cool.

*If you prefer a more mild anise flavor, use 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of anise extract. These cookies are easy to make and will stay fresh for 3 days in an airtight container. You can serve plain or sprinkle with powdered sugar or shape into ice cream cones and cups. Pizzelle irons are available online or at your local Williams-Sonoma store.

Tuesday
Oct112011

Virtual Tour de Sweet, Stop 2: Nanaimo Bar Awakening by Bake it in a Cake

Photo: Bake it in a CakeCakeSpy Note: My book tour has already begun--online, that is! Bake it in a Cake marks stop 2 for the virtual Tour de Sweet blog tour. And this one's a true victory: I have made Megan Seling a True Believer in the mighty Nanaimo Bar! Here's what she has to say:

I had the perfect plan. To celebrate the release of CakeSpy’s new book, CakeSpy: Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life, I was going to bake Nanaimo Bars into a cupcake! They’re one of CakeSpy’s favorite treats, after all, and I wouldn’t know about their magical existence without her introducing me to them.

But last night, when I made Nanaimo bars for the first time (can you believe I’ve never had one until yesterday??), I realized the bars, as dense as they are, are about 80% butter (no wonder CakeSpy loves them so much). I can’t bake these into a cupcake! The fluffy, custardy, buttery center would just melt away into nothing. What kind of Nanaimo bar has no fluffy middle layer? So instead of baking these treats into a cupcake, I simply made them and enjoyed them the way CakeSpy meant for them to be enjoyed. They’re every bit as delectable as she says they are—a co-worker even declared that they were “The best treat ever brought into the office.”

CakeSpy’s adorable new book also has some suggestions for variations—eggnog Nanaimo bars, peppermint Nanaimo bars, even boozy Nanaimo bars! Click here to buy the new CakeSpy book—you Bake It in a Cake fans will be happy to know, contains a recipe for cupcakes baked into cupcakes

Read the full entry on Bake it in a Cake. 

Monday
Oct102011

Virtual Tour de Sweet, Stop 1: Everything Fall Cupcakes by Cupcake Project

Photo: Cupcake ProjectCakeSpy Note: My book tour has already begun--online, that is! Kicking off the Tour de Sweet blog tour for my book is Stef at Cupcake Project, who was inspired by my cupcakes baked in cupcakes--and she created her own fall version, which include all of the best fall flavors in one sweet treat! Here's a sneak peek at her post; read the entire post and find her recipe here.

When perusing Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life to decide what to bake for you for on the tour stop (what would a baking book tour be without sweet treats?), my choice was clear.  In her book, Jessie creates the cupcake in a cupcake - genius!!  The Everything Fall Cupcake is my own take on her creation (which, by the way, is her take on the work of her friend Megan Seling from Bake It In a Cake)...

...When you bake a cupcake inside of a cupcake, you end up with a little cupcake nipple poking out of the top of the original cupcake.  This is normal, and as you can see in the photo at the top of this post, once you frost the cupcakes, no one will ever know it was there.

Cupcakes inside of cupcakes open up a whole new realm of cupcake possibilities.  Take any two cupcake and frosting flavors you love and you might love them even more in the same cupcake!  Not only do you achieve different but complementary flavors in one bite, but you also end up with varied textures, a super moist center from the twice-baked cupcake, a typical cupcake texture from the normal-sized cupcake, and a top that has flaky crunchy bits from the mini-cupcake's frosting spreading and caramelizing.

Photo: Cupcake ProjectFor Stef's recipe for "Everything Fall" Cupcakes as well as the rest of her sweet thoughts on the book, visit her site!

Wednesday
Oct052011

Cake That Looks Like Pie: Blueberry Chocolate PiCake Tutorial

Photos: Cake Gumshoe SetiaCakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Cake Gumshoe Setia, who just started blogging at cakesbysetia.blogspot.com.

I love cake. I bake cakes for many people and many occassions, and am constantly brainstorming my next cake project and an occassion to make it for. So, imagine my surprise when I happily tell my husband that I have a wonderful cake idea in store for his birthday, and he responds "I was actually thinking I might want pie". (Insert gasp of horror here). Pie? Seriously? You are asking a lover of cakes - a cake-artist-in-the-making, if I may be so bold, to make you a PIE?

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against pie. In fact, on occassion, I quiet fancy a slice; heated, served with a side of vanilla ice cream. I can even make a decent pie when I put my mind to it. Yet that is not the point, is it? The point, if not already apparent, was that I was desperately excited to come up with some wonderful cake creation for my husband's birthday. Sure, I knew he was probably teasing about the whole pie thing...right? However, I was now bound and determined to make something a bit tongue-in-cheek that would teach him a lesson, and yet give him what he wanted at the same time.

A cake that looks like a pie seemed like a pretty obvious solution! Why not? I'd never made one - it sounded like good fun! He'd get a good laugh! Perfect. Hmmm...yet it didn't seem quite perfect enough. More brainstorming required... Then I remember hearing of a place in Philidelphia that serves a dessert called "Pumpple Cake". It looks like a regular cake from the outside, but has an entire pie - two in fact - (apple inside vanilla cake, pumpkin inside chocolate cake, double stacked) on the inside. Now this got me thinking...What if I took that a step further? A cake disguised as a pie is great fun. But a PIE, disguised as a CAKE, further disguised as a PIE...well that is just genius!! (At least in my muddled little mind!)

My husband loves blueberries; fresh blueberries, blueberry pancakes, blueberries on cereal, and yes, of course, blueberry pie. And what goes swimmingly with blueberries - or any kind of berry for that matter, I asked myself? Why, chocolate of course! And so, I went forth and baked...And the results, in my opinion, were both pleasing to the eye and to the palate! Voila! A deep-dish blueberry-looking pie!

Here's how you make it happen.

Blueberry Chocolate PiCake Instructions

 

  1. Make favorite never-fail chocolate cake recipe.
  2. Pour enough batter into the cake pan to just cover the bottom.
  3. Insert pie onto batter.
  4. Pour remaining batter on top and around sides of pie.
  5. Bake the cake/pie as directed- takes considerably longer than regular cake-baking time. It seems like the top will never cook, but be patient, it will! Just keep watching it!
  6. Turn pie over onto work surface so it is upside down.
  7. Smother with a delicious chocolate ganache. Smooth ganache with hot knife to ready it for the fondant.
  8. Decorate to look like a deep-dish pie, using fondant. (I decided to do a lattice "crust" on the top).
  9. Use a little brown food colouring and vodka mixed together to 'paint' more colour onto the fondant, giving it a more "baked" look.
  10. Add fresh blueberries as desired.

 

Tuesday
Sep202011

Guest Blog Post: Cake Gumshoe Molly Visits Dooher's Bakery, Ontario

Images: Molly AllenCakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Cake Gumshoe Molly. Read her full post here!

Dooher’s Bakery of Campbellford, Ontario, Canada has always been a favorite of mine. Dooher’s opened in 1949 and has flourished with popularity ever since. Everything about Dooher’s is kept within the family and all recipes are made from scratch.

I’ve never stepped foot in a bakery with so many delicious choices. Dooher’s is stock full of breads, buns, biscuits, muffins, cookies, donuts, pies, and sweet pastries. The choices are ridiculous, as you will want to eat one of every single item available.

I had one of their cream puffs, mainly because it has been a must-have for every Dooher’s trip I’ve had since I was little. Those things are incredible. Most cream puffs are made with a puff pastry base, but Dooher’s makes theirs with donuts! Two incredibly fluffy, sweet donuts with a big spoonful of cream in the middle? Aren’t you convinced yet?

For years, my family has come to Dooher’s for their tarts and pies. Their pastry crust is unsurpassed, and their fruit fillings are made from locally grown produce. We picked up a few lemon tarts, which are, by my standards, incredible. Creamy, lemony, tart filling plopped on a flaky crust; no wonder they do such wonderful business.

This time during my visit, Dooher’s had a new treat I had never seen before. The friendly clerk at the counter described it as “a French pastry crust with a custard and raspberry filling, topped with whipped cream.” Whoa. Sure, I had already chosen a large number of treats…but I think that can be considered a necessity. It was flaky, it was creamy, it was sweet, it was tart; all of the best baking adjectives combined into one incredible treat.

Lastly, we took home a bag of Dooher’s Oatmeal Jam cookies. Such a simple treat, but an incredible one at that. These cookies consist of two vanilla-oatmeal cookies with a sweet layer of raspberry jam in the middle. It is really easy to eat the whole bag in one day; a love/hate relationship.

The Dooher family has spread their love of baking throughout Ontario for years. My family have been avid customers for a number of years. Their baked goods are of the best quality. There is no other bakery I have found that can compare to this favorite of mine.

Dooher’s Bakery, 61 Bridge Street, Campbellford, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday
Aug302011

Going Dutch: Cake Gumshoe Kate Lebo Investigates the Dutch Letter in Iowa

CakeSpy Note: When I heard a rumor that Kate Lebo of Pie-Scream (I'll tell you more about THAT soon) was headed to Iowa to judge the pie contest at the Iowa State Fair, I had a request: FIND MORE ABOUT THE DUTCH LETTER. This elusive sweet seems to be an Iowa specialty...but why? Here's Kate's report.

  1. “If it’s almondy and crispy, it’s Dutch” said Cassie Van Wyk of Jaarsma Bakery in Pella, Iowa. I’d asked her why so many of the peach pies I’d tried at the Iowa State Fair had almond extract in them. I’ve seen that addition in cherry pie, sure, but peach? It makes peaches taste canned! Cassie’s response also applied the baked goods she was selling me: Almond Banket (pictured below), St. Nick Cookies, and what I’d driven an hour down I-163 to find, Dutch Letter Cookies.
  2. When Jessie Oleson found out I was going to spend two weeks in Iowa so I could judge the State Fair pie contest and spend some time baking with Beth Howard of The World Needs More Pie at the American Gothic House in Eldon, IA, she asked if I’d take on a sleuthing assignment for Cakespy. “Dutch Letters,” she said. “Ever heard of them?” Nope. What did they look like? “They’re S-shaped pastries. Apparently they’re an Iowan specialty.” The S-shape brought to mind the S-cookies my mother used to feed me when I was a small child in Southern California. She’s from Iowa, so the connection isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. That’s how my search started with a phone call to Mom.
  3. “Dutch? I’m pretty sure they came from an Italian bakery.” There goes my S-cookie theory, I thought. “When we moved to Washington, I couldn’t find them anymore. They were the perfect snack for small kids because they were just a little sweet and soft, not crumbly or flaky, so they didn’t make a mess when you snacked on them.” That’s my mom, Ms. Practical down to desserts. I remembered S-cookies as being about five inches high, golden brown and lemony. And the texture--Mom had that right. It would dissolve in your mouth before crumbling in your lap. But Italian? That couldn’t be right. Dutch Letter Cookies are, well, Dutch.
  4. So I asked my mom’s other sister, Gail, the one I’d be staying with in Des Moines, if she’d ever heard of Dutch Letter Cookies. “Oh sure. I have one in the freezer. But they’re not called Dutch Letter Cookies. They’re called Dutch Letters.” Ah ha! When I got to Iowa, my quarry would be waiting for me.
  5. Gail's Dutch Letter had wilted in the freezer, but I could get the general idea with just a couple bites: flaky pastry stuffed with mildly-spiced sweet almond paste, studded with chunky sugar and arranged in an S-shape. Why an S? I asked Gail. “Santa? I’m not really sure.”
  6. The day I met Beth Howard at the Iowa State Fair, it was 90 degrees in the shade but still not too hot for pork chop on a stick. While we wolfed down our snack, I told her about my Dutch Letter quest. “You have to go to Pella,” she told me. “It’s a Dutch community about halfway between Des Moines and Eldon, so that’s perfect. Most of the bakeries there make Dutch Letters, but the Jaarsma Bakery’s are the best.” A couple days later, after eating mountains of almond extract-flavored peach pie, I charted a course for Pella.
  7. Pella has windmills. Huge windmills. Plus lots of antique shops, old European storefronts, and dutch bakeries, Jaarsma chief among them. When I walked in, I noted the white lace hats the workers wear and the fact that Jaarsma’s dry goods section carries De Ruijter, a Dutch treat I’ve been dreaming about since I last made it my daily midnight snack during a week-long stay in Holland. De Ruijter are essentially soft chocolate sprinkles you serve on hot toast. They melt where they touch the bread but stay crunchy on top, and unlike Nutella they have no nutritional value whatsoever. I picked up a box and made my way over to a pastry case full of S-shaped stacks of Dutch Letters. “Why the S?” I asked Cassie Van Wyk. “It stands for Sinterclaus. It’s also the easiest letter for our bakers to make. Way easier than E or an R.” Except for I, right? I asked. “We have those too,” she said, pointing toward a pyramid of boxed I-shaped pastries labeled Almond Banket. They’re surprisingly heavy. “That’s because they’re super-stuffed with almond paste. My boss says that one Banket is the equivalent of about four Dutch letters. When I have one, I have to share it with two or three friends.” Thinking of Beth and the folks that I’ll soon meet in Eldon, I added one to my shopping basket.
  8. Cassie told me that Jaarsma is still owned by the family that opened the bakery in 1898. The owner is a direct descendent of founder Harmon Jaarsma, who brought traditional Dutch recipes with him when he emigrated from Holland. The spices they use in their Dutch Letters and other pastries are imported directly from Holland, as are their Pickwick teas, licorice, and De Ruijter. “We make our own Dutch Rusks though.” Dutch Rusk? “It’s a crispy, twice-baked biscuit (like zwieback or digestives) you dip in your coffee.” St. Nick cookies--thin spiced crisps in windmill and other shapes--serve that purpose as well. That’s how Cassie and I got on the subject of crispy almondy things. She said it’s still custom in Pella to have a plate of these crisps with coffee when guests come over. I asked her if she’s Dutch. “Nope, Bohemian. But I married into a very Dutch family.”
  9. A fresh Dutch Letter tastes like a defrosted Dutch Letter times ten. It is a tidy mother’s nightmare--so flaky and light that pastry shards cling to your mouth with every bite. The almond paste inside gives the pastry some heft and substance, the way De Ruijter transforms toast into dessert. The almonds are ground so finely that the only suggestion this dreamy paste was once made of crunchy nuts is its unmistakeable marzipan flavor. It reminds me of an almond croissant, but you don’t have to work so hard to find the almonds hidden inside. My aunt’s guess was almost right--Dutch Letters were originally baked as special treats for Sinterclaus Day (the Dutch Santa Claus Day) but at Jaarsma you can have a Dutch Letter any day of the year. Thanks to the internet, that goes for all you non-Iowan folks too. Order on Jaarsma’s website and they will ship them straight to you.
  10. I still don’t know why Iowans put almond extract in their peach pies. Could it really be just “a Dutch thing”? Gail says my grandmother uses almond extract, but we’re German. She puts pineapple in her peach pies too. God knows where that idea comes from. When I asked again why all things crispy and almondy are Dutch, Cassie brought a baker from the back out to help answer my question. She smiled at me over the glow of the pastry case, shrugged and said, “it’s tradition.”

To order from Jaarsma, visit their website; to see more of Kate's work, visit Pie-Scream.

Saturday
Jun252011

Double Trouble: Cheesecake-Stuffed Carrot Cake Recipe from Rice Kernel

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from The Rice Kernel. Named for a little boy who came along and transformed one family's kitchen experiences, Rice Kernel features wholesome, homemade recipes to help you achieve a "rainbow a day" of colorful and nutritious foods.  For the sweets lover, Rice Kernel's "rainbow" includes plenty of indulgences, often made over with healthful ingredients.  This triple strawberry cheesecake is the perfect collaboration of creamy, decadent cheese and fresh, tart summer berries. The recipe originally appeared as part of this post.

This two-in-one cake has a sweet secret: what appears to be a traditional carrot cake is actually stuffed with cheesecake! As Rice Kernel puts it,

While my humble looking cake doesn’t hold a candle to the professional ones, the combination of smooth cheese and flavorful carrot cake is undeniable.  Beneath the unpretentious appearance lies a creamy cheesecake sandwiched by layers of moist, mildly spiced cake flecked with carrots and pineapple.  As if the layers aren’t enough, the cakes are enveloped by a generous coating of marshmallow cream cheese frosting.  (Marshmallow optional, but this is an all-out recipe with granulated sugar and a generous amount of oil.  It is butter-free, if that counts.)  You could certainly interchange the carrot cake layers for flavors of your choosing; a red velvet cake would be a beautiful contrast.

Luscious Carrot Cake, from Whipped

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups canola oil
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shelled walnuts, chopped
1 cup shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups pureed cooked carrots
1 small 8 oz. can of crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup walnuts for the top (optional)

For the Cheesecake Layer

2 oz. white chocolate, chopped
16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (2 packages)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsn. sugar
1 tablespoon flour
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon heavy cream

For the Frosting

8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups marshmallow creme (7-oz)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Procedure 

  1. Prepare the carrot cake layer. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9 inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper. Peel and cook carrots until a fork easily can be poked in to them. One small bag of full sized carrots should yield about the right amount of pureed, cooked carrots. Drain the carrots and purree while still warm in a blender or food processor until they are smooth. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of the carrot puree and set aside.
  2. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Stir dry ingredients together with a whisk to combine well. Add oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat well for about 2 minutes. Fold in walnuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple. Pour equal amounts of batter into each pan. Set in the middle of the oven and bake for about 50 minutes or until edges have pulled away from sides and toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
  3. Remove from oven and let sit in pans 10 minutes. Turn out onto a rack and cool completely.
  4. Prepare the cheesecake layer. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  5. Melt the white chocolate, set aside to cool slightly.
  6. In a large bowl using an electronic mixer, mix the cream cheese on low speed until creamy. Add the sugar and mix slowly until smooth. On low speed, mix in the flour. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl and beater with a rubber spatula. Add one egg at a time, mixing well after each addition, scraping the sides of the bowl. Mix in the vanilla and cream until the mixture is smooth. Using a large spoon, stir in the melted white chocolate until incorporated.
  7. Pour the batter into a parchment paper lined 9-inch spring form pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the center is set when you slightly shake the pan. Allow to cool before removing from the spring form pan. Allow to cool completely before assembling the cake.
  8. While you're waiting for the cakes to cool, go ahead and make the cream cheese frosting. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy. Set to the side for once the cake is assembled.
  9. ASSEMBLE IT ALL. Place your bottom layer of cake on the dish/ plate you will be serving it on with the leveled side facing up.
  10. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese frosting on top – it doesn’t matter how messy it looks since it will be covered.
  11. Transfer the cheesecake to the top of the cake, then spread another thin layer of cream cheese frosting on top of the cheesecake.
  12. Top with the remaining layer of cake – leveled side down so that you have a clean surface. Use the rest of the cream cheese frosting to frost the entire cake.
  13. Top with optional nuts or shredded coconut.
© Cakespy, all rights reserved. Powered by Squarespace.