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Entries in seattle (182)

Monday
Jun292009

Waffle House: Delicious French Waffles at Scandinavian Bakery, Seattle

French Waffles
Upon walking into the Scandinavian Bakery in Ballard, Seattle, you'll notice a few things.

Certainly you'll notice how it looks--sweetly retro--but not in a contrived way, more in a "it's been this way since the day it opened, years ago" sort of way.
Scandinavian Bakery, Ballard
And you'll probably notice how it smells: of sugar, yeast, warm bread and various other wonderful things.

But once you've gotten beyond these surface charms, you may notice a small anomaly in their bakery case: the French Waffle. On the one hand, this seems strange--what business do French Waffles have with the cardamom buns and marzipan cakes? But once you taste them, all is forgiven. Crispy with brown sugar and spices on the outside, they're ever-so-slightly soft on the inside, and filled with a sweet dab of frosting that perfectly offsets the texture of the cookies.
French Waffles
It seems that these filled waferlike sandwich cookies truly are a sort of lovely mixture of cultures: where they vaguely resemble these French Waffle cookies, the sugar-and-spice coating ultimately does have a Nordic feel. 

So though they may waffle between cultural identities, but regardless of their origins, these little waffles are definitely delicious.

Do you know more about these sweet treats and their origins? If so, please comment!

 

French Waffles can be found (call first for availability) at Scandinavian Bakery, 8537 15th Ave. NW, Seattle (206)784-6616. 
Scandinavian Bakery on Urbanspoon

 

Sunday
May312009

CakeSpy Undercover: Curio Confections, Seattle WA

Tartlets at Curio Confections
Don't know about you, but when a new bakery opens in my town, it's a really exciting moment. So when Curio Confections finally opened in Seattle last week, naturally I was on the case. Having done some research on the joint for a DailyCandy feature, I had the pleasure of tasting some of proprietress Maria Friedman's delicious coconut marshmallows, so I was super excited to try more. Considering her baking pedigree--having worked at Trophy Cupcakes and having studied chocolate-making in New Zealand--I knew it was probably going to be good.
Nougat at Curio Confections
They opened for the first time on 10 a.m. last Saturday; I arrived at oh, about 10:08 a.m. They were clearly still in the flurry of opening-day activities; the shelves weren't quite stocked yet, and the register wasn't yet filled with change, and they couldn't yet accept credit cards. Not wanting to disrupt things too much, I picked up a couple of the freshly prepared mini-pies and went on my merry way.

Now, in the raging war between pie and cake, I have no qualms in letting people know that I am firmly on the side of cake. But when I tried these little pies, I may or may not have swooned. They were tiny--about 2 inches in diameter--but boy, were they mighty. The crust was slightly sweet and nearly shortbready, crumbling just enough to add a nice texture but not so much that you were left with a handful of crumbs. The fillings were delicate yet flavorful: the strawberry-rhubarb tasted fresh, like sun-ripened berries rendered awesomer by the addition of thick custardy cream; the blackberry-peach combination was unexpected, but completely awesome, chased with a delicate spicy aftertaste that made dear Mr. Spy wonder how fast he could cram the thing in his mouth. 

Goat's Milk Caramels, Curio Confections
Curio Confections has a cool and unexpected menu, ranging from house-made confections like nougat, marshmallows and even intriguing goat's milk caramels to sweets like scones and pies to even some savory baked goods; they cap it off by serving wine and beer, which is sure to establish it as a cool University District hangout (cos, you know, that's what college kids are into). While it might take a few weeks to get the service and technical stuff up to speed, they're clearly already bringing some serious sweetness to the table.
Curio Confections, 5509 University Ave. NE, (206)420-8493; online at curioconfections.com.

 

Friday
May152009

CakeSpy Undercover: Yellow Leaf Cupcake Company, Seattle

Tomato Soup Cupcake, The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co., Seattle
After having conversed and emailed with Yellow Leaf Cupcake Company's co-owner Mike Hein for the DailyCandy article I wrote, I naturally had to hit them up on their opening day. I arrived at a little after 8 a.m., and was informed that I was their sixth customer--ever. Sweet!

Yellow Leaf has a sweet story--owners Mike Hein and Tony Portugal both quit their office jobs and set to visiting cupcake shops all across America before opening their own shop in Belltown. The shop itself is sweet, with warm yellow walls. Their menu is homey but still eclectic-- standout flavors include their signature, the Tomato Soup Cupcake with cocoa Italian buttercream.

I picked up three flavors: the Tomato Soup (natch), the Black Forest and (upon Mike's suggestion) the coconut. The cupcakes are a little spendy--$9.69 including tax for three--and are not overwhelmingly large, but have a satisfying weight. They package them in clear plastic containers, which may not be as pretty as a pink box, but they do keep the cupcakes safe.

So how were they? Here are my comments:
The Tomato Soup Cupcake (shown top) was a pleasant spice cake-y confection--if you didn't know it was made with tomato soup, you probably wouldn't know the source of its je ne sais quoi. The cake was pleasingly moist. I have to admit I think I would have preferred more of a flavor contrast with perhaps a cream cheese frosting (and I will note that Mike did mention on our first conversation that it may be served this way in the future).

Coconut, The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co., Seattle
The Coconut was actually surprisingly light for what can sometimes be a very rich and heavy flavor--and the slightly crunch coconut gave a satisfying texture against the soft cake and buttercream. This was my favorite.

Black Forest Cupcake, The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co., Seattle
The Black Forest The cake itself was gorgeous, exceedingly decadent and almost truffle-like. I did wish that the toppings had a little bit more muscle though--they were on the lighter side, and the flavor and textures weren't completely harmonious with the dense chocolate cake.
Now, I've only tried a small sampling of their products, but overall, it seemed to me that their flavors all had merits, and that it was a pretty impressive first-day showing. I think that Yellow Leaf shows potential, and I'm eager to see (and taste) more. 
Read more about them on my DailyCandy writeup!
Yellow Leaf Cupcake Company, online at theyellowleafcupcake.com.

 

Thursday
May142009

Sweet Fancy: Pinkies-Out Desserts at the Four Seasons

Totally sweet!
Truth: I don't often eat fancy food. It's true--perhaps it comes from a lack of culture (I am from New Jersey, after all), but usually I'd rather have a really good brownie or chocolate chip cookie instead of an ile flottante or a dessert served with a reduction of anything.

But I must say that after a recent visit to the Four Seasons in Seattle for a special event, I was most impressed by the fancy--but delicious--desserts by pastry chef Ryan Witcher. He's worked at some pretty fancy places and his skill is apparent, but he is completely friendly and accessible. His personality shows through in the desserts, which are pinkies-out fancy but with tongue in cheek touches like a Parisian-style macaron flavored like a snickers bar, or truffle "pops" fancied up with strawberry and basil. But enough talk--let's get to the sweetness:

Yum

Here are the Strawberry Basil Truffle Pops and homemade Rocher;

 

Desserts at Four Seasons
In the foreground here, you see the "Snickers" macarons, then Apple Almond Tarts, then 
Strawberry-Rhubarb Bubble Tea with Basil Tapioca (kind of a take on bubble tea);

Sweet!
Strawberry-Fennel Panna Cotta (which, like, levitated! OMG!);

Macaroons and mini tarts

Coconut macaroons and Passion Fruit-Raspberry Tarts;

Yum
and finally, Florentines with Eastern Washington Sage Honey. 
Moreover, mos' def the stuff of sweet dreams.


Though these items were made for a special event and might not be on the menu daily, you can sample pastry chef Ryan Witcher's creations at ART Restaurant, 99 Union Street, Seattle; online at artrestaurantseattle.com.

 

Tuesday
May122009

Cake Byte: Sweet New Additions to the Seattle Bakery Scene

Seattle Sure is Magical!
Sweetless in Seattle? Not on your life, jerk. Here's just a brief roundup of all of the sugary magic on the horizon:

Cupcake Royale: Seattle's first cupcake shop is opening their fourth retail location in Capitol Hill. Combined with the added deliciousness of Oddfellows' bakery case and the newly opened Molly Moon Ice Cream a block away, Cupcake Royale's entrance on the scene is really establishing Capitol Hill as a sweet mecca. Coming this summer; online at cupcakeroyale.com (you can also keep updated via their blog).


Curio Confections: When a Trophy Cupcakes alum branches out and opens a baking business, you know it's going to be good. No conflict of interest here--there are no cupcakes on the menu at this University District sweetshop, but plenty of pies both sweet and savory, fancy marshmallows, and even goats' milk caramels. Scheduled to open May 23; online at curioconfections.com.
 
Manderin Cookie Co.: A custom-order cookie bakery specializing in decadent cookies and bars. Bacon may have jumped the shark, but just try telling that to devotees of the Bean's Bacon Bar (a heart-attack inducing bar of deliciousness comprised of layers of chocolate, peanut butter, cayenne pepper, caramel, and bacon). They're working on placing the product in retail locations; in the meantime, they can be ordered online at manderincookieco.com.
 
Molly Moon Ice Cream: How did such a cold treat get so hot? Molly Moon is featured in Bon Appetit and all over on the interweb--and now, there's more sweetness to go around. Their second location is now open in Capitol Hill! Online at mollymoonicecream.com.

Old School Frozen Custard: Can you stand it? Yet another place to get a sweet fix on Capitol Hill! This is actually their second location (the first is in Bonney Lake, wherever that may be); they specialize in frozen custard (different than other ice creams you may have tasted--read about it here), and we're so happy that they're coming. Opening this summer; online at oldschoolfrozencustard.com.

Trophy Cupcakes: Martha Stewart's favorite cupcake shop in Seattle has multiplied: their second location will open in the University Village early this summer. Now, all they have to do is open a third location next door to the CakeSpy headquarters and the holy trinityof sweetness will be complete. Scheduled to open either late May or early June; online at trophycupcakes.com.

The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co.: Seattle's newest cupcake shop, located in Belltown, will feature mostly cupcakes but a small array of morning pastries as well; though they will have coffee, fancy tea will be their beverage focus; they'll also have suggested "pairings" for tea and cupcakes. Wonder which tea would go with their much-anticipated signature Tomato Soup cupcake (AnTea Warhol perhaps)? Scheduled for a soft opening on May 15; online at theyellowleafcupcake.com.

Ready for some sweet gossip? In the Central District, a Japanese sweet shop is coming; also, we hear that there's a new gourmet ice cream truck coming later this summer to a neighborhood near you. More info as we receive it!

 

Monday
May112009

Cake Byte: CakeSpy Cupcakes All Month Long at Trophy Cupcakes!

Cupcake with CakeSpy Artwork, Trophy Cupcakes
Trophy Cupcake Photos c/o Alana

 

What could possibly be more magical than a cupcake?
How about cupcakes with CakeSpy artwork printed on them?

Cupcakes with CakeSpy artwork at Trophy Cupcakes
These sweet little morsels will be available all month long at Trophy Cupcakes in celebration of the CakeSpy art show! Even if you missed the artist reception last week, the artwork (and cupcakes!) will be on show and for sale all month long.
(Note: CakeSpy art is also on show at Schmancy in Seattle too this month!)

Preview of the show at Trophy!
Totally sweet!

 

Tuesday
Apr142009

Cakewalk Special: A Carrot Cake Caper in Seattle

Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot Cake from Macrina
Easter may be over, but even if you've already devoured the last Cadbury Creme Egg, there’s no need to stomp on daffodils or snatch at flavorless jellybeans in a fit. Instead, hop along to the next sweet fix with our Carrot Cake Tour of Seattle, provided by our newest Cake Gumshoe, Seattle-based Kitty Cake. She bravely sampled, reported on, and (very skillfully!) photographed some of the best spots for Carrot Cake in the city. Here are her findings and thoughts:

Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot Cake Cupcake from Cupcake Royale
CUPCAKE ROYALE Carrot Cupcake – This retro-cool cupcake clearly likes to party--and it’s easy to get the party started when wearing sweet cream cheese frosting, sugary sprinkles, and a hint of cinnamon. 

Ingredient notes: No raisins. Yes walnuts.
Availability / where to buy: Available daily. Multiple locations; online at cupcakeroyale.com. (New location coming soon!)
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Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot cake from Decadence Custom Cakes, Seattle
DECADENCE CUSTOM CAKES Classic Carrot Cake – Owner/Pastry Chef, Dan Mikosz doesn’t diss the common man. Sure, Dan’s love of quality ingredients and all things pretty has him in high demand by boutique hotels, lavish weddings, and special events; but he does not ignore the call of the wild cake child. Plan ahead at least 48 hours, and a moist-moist, poached-pear party, carrot abundant cake, topped with just-sweet-enough, creamy-creamy frosting and the most charming marzipan carrots you will ever meet, can be yours.

Ingredient notes: No raisins. Yes walnuts. Pear.

Availability / where to buy: Available by advance order only; Decadence Custom Cakes is located in a commercial kitchen at 501 2nd Avenue West in Queen Anne; online at decadencecustomcakes.com.
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Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot Cake from Hiroki
HIROKI Carrot Cake with Coconut & Pineapple – We called to verify some of the ingredients in this treat, but the only thing the guy on the other end would reveal was that the raisins are specialty raisins and not available to the average consumer. Gee, thanks. Discover for yourself what’s in this super-secret recipe, which includes not-too-sweet, smooth coconut-covered cream cheese frosting, specialty raisins, fat shreds of carrot, chopped walnuts, and a subtle touch of pineapple – a super moist mystery.

Ingredient notes: Yes raisins. Yes walnuts. Pineapple and coconut.

 

Availability / where to buy: Available frequently, call ahead to confirm. HIROKI, 2224 N 56th St; online at hiroki.us.
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Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot Cake from Macrina
MACRINA BAKERY Old Fashioned Carrot Cake – Not afraid of confrontation, this venerable cake looks you straight in the eye and demands that you eat your vegetables (well, at least one). Toasted walnuts, tangy citrus cream cheese butter cream, and plenty of fresh carrots make us want to ask for more. 

Ingredient notes: No raisins. Yes walnuts.


Availability / where to buy: Available frequently; call ahead to confirm. Various locations; online at macrinabakery.com.
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Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot Cake from Metropolitan Market, Seattle
METROPOLITAN MARKET 4-inch Orange Almond Carrot Cake – You must be a fan of orange extract to enjoy this little treasure, as the sweet and creamy frosting is fragrant with orange, which is sold at Metropolitan Market but is baked by Montlake Mousse. The toasted almonds help cut the sweetness, making for a cake that we’re not certain we want to share.

Ingredient notes: No raisins. Yes almonds.


Ingredient Specifics: “Carrots, sugar, canola oil, cake flour, eggs, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, pure vanilla extract. Frosting: powdered sugar, cream cheese, unsalted butter, orange extract, almond extract, shaved almonds.”
Availability / where to buy: Available daily; call your local Metropolitan Market to confirm. Various locations; online at metropolitan-market.com. For other Montlake Mousse retailers, visit montlakemousse.com.
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Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot Cake Cookie sandwich from Essential Baking
THE ESSENTIAL BAKING COMPANY Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwich – The sandwich may look ladylike, but our dear Spy was anything but dainty trying to keep this happily-spiced and well-carroted cookie sandwich intact (thanks to the firmness of the not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting center) as it was gobbled up in the driver’s seat of the car (looked too good to wait).

Ingredient notes: No raisins. No nuts.


Ingredient Specifics: Wheat four, carrots, butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract, baking soda, cream cheese frosting (cream cheese, powdered sugar, sour cream, vanilla extract).
Availability / where to buy: Available frequently; call ahead to confirm. Various locations; online at essentialbaking.com.
CakeSpy Note: We recently spied another carrot cake cookie sandwich at local coffee shop Cafe Javasti; for information and locations, visit javasti.com.
-------------------------------------------

 

Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot Cupcakes from Trophy Cupcakes
TROPHY CUPCAKES Old Fashioned Carrot Walnut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting – A parade of deliciousness that rivals any Easter candy leftovers. Cinnamon, nutmeg, golden raisins, and slightly tangy cream cheese frosting get this carrot cupcake a standing ovation.

Ingredient Notes: Yes raisins. Yes walnuts.


Availability / where to buy: Available Tues., Thurs., and Sat. at Trophy Cupcakes, 1815 N. 45th Street, Suite 209; online at trophycupcakes.com (new location coming soon too!).

 

 

  • As for the important question of whether or not buying in bulk can be a beautiful thing, Kat votes YES when it comes to Costco's (4401 4th Ave. South) surprisingly delicious carrot cake, which serves 48 and is satisfyingly moist, filled with apricot mousse and topped generously with rich cream cheese frosting.
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Footloose and frosting-free: Of course, oh so generously, Kitty also wanted to offer up some suggestions for those of you who want the carrot adventure, minus the frosting (ie, those who like to suffer); and so, for your consideration, a few carrot muffins:

Photo c/o K. Morales, Carrot Muffin from Flying Apron, Seattle
FLYING APRON BAKERY Carrot Muffin – Sitting smart in the Fremont Public Library, this carrot muffin knows what’s good for you. Like bunnies, these giant juicy raisins seem to multiply with each bite. Nuts and coconut add a great crunch/chew factor to a very moist muffin. Who knew being this good could feel so… well, good?

 

Ingredient notes: It’s the Big O! Organic, that is. Yes raisins. Yes walnuts. Coconut.


Ingredient Specifics: “fruit juice sweetened, organic brown rice flour, organic garbanzo bean flour, certified gluten free oats, organic coconut, organic walnuts, organic raisins, filtered water, concentrated pear, peach and pineapple juice, organic canola oil, pure vanilla extract, baking soda and sea salt”

 

Availability / where to buy: Available daily at Flying Apron Bakery, 3510 Fremont Ave N; online at flyingapron.net.
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LOUISA’S BAKERY AND CAFÉ Morning Glory Muffin - Good morning, Morning Glory! Louisa’s Bakery helps out Caffe Vita on occasion, so look for these delicious muffins when picking up your coffee.

Ingredient Notes: No raisins. Yes walnuts. Currants and pineapple.

Availability / where to buy: Available daily at Louisa's Bakery + Cafe, 2379 Eastlake Ave. E.; 206-325-0081.

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MACRINA BAKERY Morning Glory Muffin - Crazy moist and good for you.

Ingredient notes: Yes raisins. Yes walnuts. Apple, pineapple, coconut.

Availability / where to buy: Available daily. Various locations; online at macrinabakery.com.
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(Final Disclaimer: Secure your carrot cake by calling ahead to ensure that it exists [not in the existential kind of way, as this will leave you hungry, though perhaps philosophically satisfied.] Bakers sometimes enjoy playing with our emotions and don’t necessarily keep set daily  menu selections.)

Of course, this is just a few of the fine establishments in the Emerald City offering our favorite orange-hued treat-- you have a favorite that is not listed above, please submit it and--please--share the details of its goodness.

 

Tuesday
Apr072009

The Night Kitchen: The Secret Lives of Early Morning Bakers

The Secret Lives of Bakers
The idea of a baker's life has always been quietly romantic to me: waking up before dawn, firing up the ovens, and living some sort of secret life that goes on while most of us are still sleeping. As an avid sweet-seeker it's always a strange yet compelling thought to me that by the time I go in to a bakery in the morning, there have already been hours invested in stocking the case from which I am choosing between scones, biscuits and cakes.

So when Dan, the lead baker at the Eastlake Grand Central Bakery, invited me to bake alongside him one Sunday morning, I jumped enthusiastically at the chance.  A few days before our planned baking rendez-vous he sent me a list of what we'd be baking that day, along with a note that he would see me at 4.30 a.m.  Was he joking? No, he was not joking. And so I went to bed early with sweet dreams of the baking adventures ahead.
So, are you curious about the life of a baker? Here's a peek of the experience, with apologies if my times are slightly off in some cases--it was, after all, very early.


3:47 a.m. The alarm goes off. I had set it for 3.47 because it seemed slightly less cruel than 3.45. I turn it off and promptly fall back asleep.


3:49 a.m. The backup alarm I'd set, in case I went back to sleep, goes off. I get up and shower, pin back my hair and put on my apron.
4.15 am
4.15 a.m. I drive over to Grand Central's Eastlake location. It's raining, and there are few other cars on the road. Along the way, I see a couple walking into an apartment building, wearing last night's clothes. It's strange to witness this unique pocket of time where late and early overlap.

Coffee
4:30 a.m. I arrive right on time, and Dan's already there. He rode his bike, bless his soul. He makes me a latte (double bless his soul!) and shows me around. I ask if it is nerdy that I brought my own apron; he casually pulls out his chef hat. Clearly, I am in good company.

Croissant TimeIrish Soda Bread
4:50 a.m. We get to work. Now, here's where things get tricky. You see, Grand Central offers a variety of different types of baked goods, which require various attentions and prepping. Some things, like the biscuits and scones, are mixed and made directly before baking; some items have been handmade in advance and come from the freezer to be baked; yet other items, like the cinnamon rolls, will have been left in the "proofer" so that the dough can develop to a perfect, ready-to-bake consistency. Is your brain full yet? Mine was. 

Big mixerBaking area
Now, if it were me alone, baking all of these things would take me far longer than one morning. Luckily Baker Dan knows what he is doing, and set to alternately mixing, turning trays in the oven, applying egg washes, letting fruit soak, and a bevy of other tasks. I get to choose the scone flavor of the day. I choose cherry-almond. Boring? Maybe. But boring in a delicious way.

Thumbprints in JammersJammers
At one point I am allowed to indent and fill with jam my favorite Grand Central baked good, the lovely biscuit which they call a Jammer. I wonder idly when bakers pause to eat breakfast.

Croissants
I lose track of time for a while. There is a lot going on, but it seems a controlled chaos. We talk comfortably about a variety of subjects while doing the morning bake, ranging from bakeries to East vs. West coast culture (we're both from the East Coast originally) to architecture (Dan is a designer) to music (I boast about Mr. Spy's band)--but it seems like more than anything, the conversation comes back to all facets of baking, from our favorite bakeries and baked goods to methods and thoughts on all manner of sweet stuff. 

I am Small, Mixer is Big
5:45 a.m. Every now and again, I hear a timer go off, but I cannot keep track of what's what. Baker Dan admits that sometimes he doesn't know what timer goes to which project either, but that when they go off they serve as reminders that something must be done. 

Sticky Buns
6:00 a.m. Baked goods are starting to come out of the oven. They smell very, very good. As nothing is burnt, the timer trick must work!

Hand Pies!
6:30 a.m. More trays are being put in the oven and yet others are coming out, bearing steaming, golden, delicious-looking pastries. I wonder, not as idly this time, what time bakers take a break for breakfast. 


Sexy bread pudding
7:00 a.m. Birds are singing and the morning bake seems to be winding down. The trays of baked goods are making their way to the cooling racks, and the cinnamon rolls have been put out front, the first item in an otherwise still-bare pastry case. As the final few items are being put in the oven, we glaze and put finishing touches on the pastries; I especially love applying powdered sugar to the individual bread puddings (made with leftover cinnamon rolls, yum), which Dan says should look "snowy". Delicious snow.
Hazelnut danish
The talk turns to the baked goods we've been working on. Dan is excited about one of Grand Central's newest pastries, the hazelnut danish, which has an orange-infused glaze which tastes vaguely of creamsicle (shown above).

Coffee Cake being slicedCoffee cake

 

Stocked bakery racksBaked goods ready to go out on the shelves

7:30 a.m. By now, some of the other employees have started to arrive, and there is a flurry of activity as the cases are loaded, coffee is made, and the first customers are starting to walk by (I think one even tried the door--eager to join the party I guess). 

Dan the baker, and me, his little elf helperThe bakery
8:00 a.m. We take a break (so this is when bakers eat breakfast). Even having seen it all made, I am not as much tempted to try a new baked good as I am to try my old favorite, the Jammer--after all, while I've had them before, I've never had a jammer I made (or helped make) myself. We talk over baked goods for a while, and get Sam to take a picture of us. It is at this point that I realize that had an outside viewer been looking in, they might have thought I was a little baker elf assistant to the real baker--such is our height difference.
Jammer!

 

 

8:30 a.m. Baker Dan is back to work, starting to make cookies for the later customers and prep work for tomorrow's bake. I have a full day so am not able to stay on, but thank them all for having indulged me this time baking. Before I leave, they load me up with a box roughly the size of Rhode Island full of baked goods. 

The case is full now!
8:35 a.m. I part ways with Grand Central, entering into the sunshine and feeling like I've lived an entire secret life before the rest of the world was even awake. Having done so, do I feel like it might be the life for me? Well, as much as I love baking, I can honestly say no. Is it the hours? I suppose that is a factor, but if I am to be completely candid, I am aware that when you actually work at something professionally, it does change how you look at it--and though I adored the experience of playing the role for a day, I don't think I'd ever want to give up that magical feeling--as consumer--of walking into a bakery and seeing all of the choices, the result of someone's hard work starting long before I was even awake, just waiting for me.

Grand Central is open for business
8:36 a.m. I call Mr. Spy, who answers sleepily after about five rings. "Have you eaten breakfast?" I inquire. "No" he says. Have I woken the dear boy up? "Don't!" I say, and eagerly rush home with my box of sweetness.


The booty!

 

A most sincere thanks to Dan and the rest of the lovely staff at Grand Central Baking Company for letting me have a peek of what goes on behind the scenes at their bakery! For locations and more, please visit grandcentralbakery.com.

Monday
Feb232009

Cakespy Undercover: Macaron Fever at Honoré in Seattle

Macarons from Honore, photo c/o Kim
Seeking Parisian-style macarons in Seattle? We'd been hearing some great things about Honoré in Ballard, so recently our Cake Gumshoe Kim went to see for herself. Here are her thoughts:

I wanted some macaroons--so I went to Honoré and bought 5! I've now tested all the flavors I got. Granted, these are the first macaroons I've ever had so I don't have much to compare them to, but I have to say they were amazing! They were everything I hoped they would be.
Macarons from Honore, photo c/o KimMacarons from Honore, photo c/o Kim
I chose lavender, coffee, pistachio and another one which I think was chocolate/coconut/salted caramel. They had about 10 flavors in all and i wished I could have got one of each, but unfortunately I was on a budget! I'm a sucker for all things lavender flavored - I had a feeling those would be my favorite so I bought two. I was right! The lavender flavor was just right, they were topped with little flowers, and had a delicious creamy chocolate filling which I didn't expect. The coffee one had a rich coffee flavor which was very satisfying. The pistachio flavor was very nutty and tasted just like pistachios... except sweet! Lastly, I finished off the mysterious chocolate/coconut/salted caramel this morning. It was so good! I could definitely taste the salted caramel, and there were little bits of coconut inside the cookie.

So to sum it up - they were all good, and all different. I want to go back and try more flavors!

On another note about Honoré's general awesomeness - the girl working the counter was so nice. She listed off all 10 or so macaroon flavors to me, sweetly, without an eye roll in sight! We also got a croissant which was very good, and they had a bunch of other pastries that looked really yummy.

Honoré is open Wed.–Sun.; 1413 NW 70th St.; 206.706.4035.

 

Honoré Artisan Bakery on Urbanspoon

 

Tuesday
Feb172009

Looking Good: Sweet Treats from Look Cupcake in Seattle

A surprise package from Look Cupcake
Last week, something magical happened: upon returning home to the Cakespy Headquarters after running some errands, we found the most gorgeous box of cupcakes on our porch. Magic!

The parcel was from Seattle's newest custom-order cupcake business, Look Cupcake. Based out of a commercial kitchen on Lower Queen Anne, owner Rhienn Davis takes a unique slant on the cupcake trend by looking inwardly--literally--by specializing in gourmet, filled cupcakes.

Look Cupcake
Our assortment included three flavors: the Feather Boa (coconut cream cake, mojito cheesecake filling, vanilla buttercream, coconut garnish); the La Nina de Chocolate Diablo (spiced mexican chocolate cake with kahlua especial swiss meringue buttercream); and the A Formal Affair (vanilla cake, bittersweet ganache filling and whipped truffle frosting).

These cupcakes were--to put it mildly--crazy delicious. But even more than the fillings, what impressed us was the frosting. Silky, buttery and absolutely luxurious, it seemed different a lot of other cupcake-frostings we've tried. What gives? 

Sweet Surprise from Look Cupcake!Sweet Surprise from Look Cupcake!
Turns out, they were topped with what is known as Swiss Meringue Buttercream (and in the case of the chocolate frosting, ganache whipped in, which only added to that luxurious texture).
So what is Swiss Meringue Buttercream? Happily, Rhienn (aka the "Cliff Clavin of buttercream") was able to explain:

 

The difference between meringue buttercreams (there are several - Italian, Swiss, French - every European country thinks they know best, apparently,) and regular "American style" buttercream (what we think of as a more "crunchy" frosting) is as follows:

 

  • American buttercream is just butter (sometimes a little cream cheese) and TONS of powdered sugar mixed together. The result is that intense, super sweet, sometimes a little gritty, frosting. I make a great one with fresh ginger grated into it. Mmmm!
  • (Pick your European country) Meringue buttercream is made by dissolving a relatively small amount of granulated sugar into egg whites, whipping it into a meringue and then adding the butter. They're smoother, creamier and less over the top sweet. They also stand up better in heat, which is awesome for those of us that do seven million weddings in the dog days of summer.
So there you go--unexpected free cupcakes, and an unexpected lesson on various different types of frosting: we'd call that a sweet treat, indeed.
For more information, visit lookcupcake.com.

 

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