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Entries in seattle (182)

Thursday
Nov012007

Seattle Sweetness: Cakespy Seattle Launches on the PI Website

Do you love Cakespy? Of course. Do you ever get disappointed that we only post once a day? Naturally.

Well, there's good news for Seattle readers: Cakespy has launched a new sub-blog (is that really a word?) via Reader Blogs. The Cakespy Seattle outpost will feature all the most important cake news specific to Seattle.

Non-Seattle readers: Don't despair! Of course, we will continue posting our daily feature right here on Cakespy.com. But feel free to visit the PI if you need a little extra sweetness, or just want to make fun of Head Spy Jessie's embarrassing and ever-so-slightly smirky headshot.

Sweet.

Visit Cakespy Seattle at seattlepi.com.

Wednesday
Oct242007

Cupcakes and Robots: The Artwork of Jessixa Bagley

Cupcakes are rad. This is pretty much established; you couldn't possibly go wrong with a pint-sized, frosting-heavy cake that you're not obligated to share. But we do wonder sometimes: is there anything in this great wide world that could make cupcakes even better?

The answer is yes, and as proven by the artwork of Jessixa Bagley, that thing is robots. We first came across Bagley’s Cupcake and Robot series a while back during her solo show at Bluebottle Art Gallery in Capitol Hill, Seattle; we were instantly impressed by her ability to say so much with such spare line work, and naturally found ourselves smitten with her subject matter. The ink-and-watercolor works are whimsical, but more clever than cutesy: in one painting robot-heads double as sprinkles on cupcakes which have robot-feet sprouting out of the bottom; in another, two robots face off with a cupcake storm between them. Indeed, this artwork had us pondering how life can be so sweet and so hard at the same time.

And certainly the artist is a pretty cool dude herself: originally from Portland, OR, Jessixa now resides in Seattle, where amongst other things she has a regular comic featured in Seattle Weekly, and counts Trader Joe’s carrot cake “muffins” (sweet, cakey muffins with a suspiciously cupcake-like frosting glaze) as a favorite breakfast-dessert masquerading as health food.

Talk about living a sweet life.

Prints are available at Bluebottle Art Gallery, 415 E. Pine St., (206) 325-1592.

To inquire about custom work, or to view styles, visit jessixa.com

Tuesday
Oct162007

Don't Leaf Me: A Sweet Design Gingerbread Leaf Cookies Debut at Chocolati Stores

The leaves of fall: vibrant and speaking of the fleeting moments of life. Full of beauty; a seasonal poem.

That is, until it starts raining and they’re mucking up gutters and getting slippery, making you slip while walking to work, thus messing up your new “grown up” work outfit and resulting in nasty looks from the boss. Not that we'd know.

Here's a much more rewarding perk of the season: leaf-shaped, chocolate-dipped gingerbread cookies by A Sweet Design. This Seattle-based cookie wholesaler, headed by the friendly Pamela Rose, is known for their wonderful, thick, spicy gingerbread and sugar cookie creations (which are sold in various coffee shops in the area, including Cherry Street Coffee). And happily, they will be debuting their fall gingerbread selections this very week: leaf cookies at Chocolati in Greenwood this Wednesday afternoon, with wrapped cookies to follow next week in all three locations.

No manual labor necessary, and you’ll certainly have no trouble cleaning up this fall treat.

Leaf cookies available starting October 17 at Chocolati in Greenwood (8319 Greenwood Ave. N, near corner of 83rd); wrapped cookies available at all Chocolati stores starting next week; locations online at chocolati.com.

Thursday
Oct112007

Pie, Oh My: Pumpkin Pies Available at North Hill Bakery

Some say that the Christmas holidays are the most wonderful time of year. Unfortunately, those people are wrong. Sorry Santa, but this year it's all about October, especially with momentous events like the first pumpkin pies of the year debuting at the North Hill Bakery in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Our Head Spy was on hand to sample some of the very first batch of pies from their ovens (it's hard being a sleuth sometimes) and reports that the owners Tracey Peterson and Margaret Rumpeltes (both veteran Seattle bakers and cooks) certainly know what they're doing: after roasting their own pumpkins to fill a buttery, flaky crust, the pies are topped with fresh whipped cream and spice cookies that act like a mini-top crust and are the perfect complement to the smooth, creamy pie filling (which had not a bit of that jello-y finish that plagues canned-filling pies). The resulting pie is so satisfying, you'll even want to eat it for breakfast (which one of the bakers, Mary, admits to doing from time to time).

But be warned, these pies are a bit like the vibrant leaves of Autumn: in season for only a short time, they won't last forever. So enjoy the season while you can!

Cakespy Note: No one trick-pony here, North Hill Bakery also has a full array of charming treats, fall and otherwise; check out their adorable cookies and dreamy chocolate cake!

Available at the North Hill Bakery, 518 15th Ave. East (b/t E. Republican & E. Mercer Sts); for more information, visit northhillbakery.com.

North Hill Bakery in Seattle

Wednesday
Oct102007

Be Free: Complimentary Babycakes at Cupcake Royale in Seattle


What is better than free cake? Maybe something, but nothing comes to mind immediately.

For this reason, it would be wise to leave work early tomorrow (Thursday, Oct. 11th) so that you can be the first in line for the 7 p.m. opening reception of the Derek Charm art show at Cupcake Royale's West Seattle location. Because in addition to seeing some great artwork, you'll also be privy to the limited supply of free harvest babycakes in the new fall flavors: pumpkin, caramel apple and carrot. Free!

West Seattle too far? We understand. Luckily, there's another opening reception at the Ballard location this Saturday (Oct. 13th) at 7 p.m., featuring the artwork of Brad Strain; more artwork, and another chance to cram as many babycakes in your mouth as possible.

Once again: free! Non-Seattleites, our apologies.

For more information and locations, visit cupcakeroyale.com.

Sunday
Sep232007

Batter Chatter: Interview with Jennifer Shea of Trophy Cupcakes


Trophy Cupcakes is truly the full package. Not only are their cupcakes amazing--moist, crumbly and with the perfect frosting-to-cake ratio--but their entire store area in the Wallingford Center embodies the spirit of celebration and happiness that cupcakes bring us, with bright colors, happy typestyles on the signage and adorable party supplies for sale. We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Jennifer Shea, the mastermind behind Trophy Cupcakes; over a Cardamom Chai cupcake (!), this is what we learned:

Cakespy: So I read that you are a registered dietician…
Jennifer Shea: (somewhat sheepishly) Yes…

CS: So how does a registered dietician come to open a cupcake shop?

JS: It was a long, crazy road--but I think that I've always just loved food and that drew me to become a nutritionist and dietician. The biggest thing that I learned in school was to be mindful of the quality of the ingredients you’re using when you’re baking or cooking; knowing where your food comes from. The other thing that interested me...was the psychology of food. I think that when we allow ourselves to have something very nourishing or comforting in a way that reminds us of home...like a cupcake, and don’t feel guilty about it, and if it’s coming from good ingredients...it's very good for us. When you are filling yourself up on nonfat or fat-free everything, I don’t think that you ever feel really satisfied, and so you keep on eating it, and that’s more of the problem with people being overweight in this country than people eating sugar or carbohydrates. So I think it fits, even though some people think it’s weird that I’m now selling sugar!

CS: Did any bakeries in particular inspire you?
JS: I would say a lot did…I got the idea first in Manhattan when I went to the Cupcake Café with some girlfriends and just had no idea that there was any such thing as a cupcake bakery! I was already the girl in my group who was making the birthday cakes and cupcakes, and planning the parties...when we went there I was instantly like “wow, this would be something that would be so awesome in Seattle, and I could see myself doing this"; my brain started formulating this little plan. It took eight years to really make it happen.

CS: Where do you get your recipes?
JS: I would say that a lot of my recipes are tweaked from Martha Stewart’s stuff; I think that for the most part all of her recipes are well done; I started using a lot of hers a long time ago and just made little changes here and there. Some of our items like the peanut butter and jelly (cupcakes) were just a regular kind of Swedish butter cake recipe that a pastry chef who used to work with us developed by adding a new filling and making a peanut butter buttercream. But...they’re not recipes that are made from nothing like a pastry chef who’s like “OK, I’m going to see what happens if I put two cups of flour with this many of this"...so they’re pretty much just classic recipes that have been tweaked so that they will work in a commercial setting.

CS: One of the things we’ve noticed is your beautiful decorations. How would you describe your cupcake aesthetic?
JS: I just think that cupcakes being beautiful is part of the package; my whole thing for the store is that we inspire celebration, and so I think that everything has to have this fun look that goes along with parties. It doesn’t make sense to me to haphazardly frost the cupcakes if they’re going to be for a special occasion. They have to look really amazing.

CS: What is your most popular flavor?

JS: I would say chocolate-vanilla, the valhrona cake with the Madagascar vanilla bourbon buttercream, I just think that's a crowd pleaser type of flavor. I would say that Chai Cardamom and Green Tea sell a little less, but the people who do love those flavors are kind of mad about them, and there is a little bit of a cult following with flavors like that, because I don’t think that people can get them anywhere else. Red velvet is also very popular. That type of cake is very trendy right now, I’m not sure why, but it is!

CS: That leads to our next question. Red Velvet: Classy or Trashy?
JS: (Laughs) I think it’s classy, but I hate the word classy. I think that it’s definitely an old-school, southern traditional, loved recipe, so if you’re not from the south it might seem trashy and you might not understand it. But the recipe was borne out of the need to have a lighter cake, and it would make sense to have a beloved light cake that everyone really enjoys.

CS: What is the most cupcakes you’ve ever made in a single day?
JS: The most we’ve ever made in a day here is about 2500.

CS: Whoa!
JS: Yeah.

CS: What happens to the leftover cupcakes at the end of the day?
JS: We have a food bank that comes and picks up, and we try to figure out our pars; we know how many big orders we have per day, and we generally sell straight from the case...so usually we only have a few dozen left over, so somebody’s always going out somewhere and can take the frosted ones, and anything unfrosted gets packaged up and goes to the food bank.

CS: Do you sell any other pastries other than cupcakes?

JS: Other than European drinking chocolate and drink-type things, no.

CS: Do you think you ever will?
JS: I don’t think so, I mean, if it slowed down to the point where it seemed like we should add some cakes or some other baked goods, maybe, but in looking at the popularity going on ten year for cupcakes in New York…they’ve just hit the west coast, so...I think that we have at least good ten years if we follow the same model as Manhattan. Obviously Seattle’s not Manhattan, but we have a lot of years left in the cupcake craze.

CS: How often do you eat your own cupcakes?
JS: Like Sit down and eat a whole one?
CS: Yes.
JS: Probably once a week, but I’m tasting cupcakes every single day.

CS: How does a baker's schedule affect your personal life?
JS: I don’t have a personal life! I mean, I have a fiancé, but we put wedding planning on hold because it’s just so nuts in here all the time. And that’s more being a business owner than a baker. If I were just working a baker's schedule like my other bakers I think maybe I could have a little bit of a life in the afternoon, because then I would just go to bed early, but right now I’m just sort of here all the time, so not a ton of social activity happening.

CS: Do you think you’ll have your own cupcakes at your wedding?
JS: No. I love cupcakes but I think that when I get married I want to have something totally non-cake, because I eat cake every day. I will have a croquembouche or something.

CS: What are your thoughts on cake mixes?
JS: I guess if you're in a super big hurry, there are some cake mixes out there that yield a good result; but to me, because cake is something that I make every day, it seems like something very easy and fast, and it doesn’t seem like it would take much longer to just measure out your dry ingredients and do it all from scratch. But I also know that people are super busy, and I think that making a cake from a mix is better than buying it from a store. I mean, at least you’re halfway making it from scratch!

CS: You've received some pretty high accolades since opening earlier this year--including "Best Cupcakes" by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine! So do you feel like you've made it?
JS: I think everything’s going really well and I’m super excited, but I’m still in those stages of being ridiculously busy all the time, and so I think when I have a little bit more free time and I can enjoy the benefits of having a successful business, then maybe I’ll feel like I’ve made it. Right now I still feel like I’m working 14 hours a day 7 days a week. And I feel like that’s part of why we’re doing so well, because I really care and I want to be part of everything, everyday, which is sometimes not a good thing, because I need to give myself a break!

CS: So what’s next for Trophy Cupcakes?
JS: We really want to launch a kind of delivery system. I mean, we deliver now, but it’s more if people call and ask; we haven’t really advertised for it. My dream is to have the vintage milk truck delivery type of thing, but I don’t know how practical that’s going to be. We’d ideally like ...to use biodiesel in it, but it’s hard to find one of those vintage ones that are diesel, so we might just end up opting for a newer van but just paint it kind of retro. I really want to do full-service delivery, like you could send someone a birthday in a box, a dozen cupcakes with a party hat and a candle, and deliver it anywhere in the city. So that’s kind of the next thing. We’re also kind of already outgrowing this kitchen, so we’re thinking that we might need more of a commercial kitchen which all of our big orders and deliveries could come out of, and this (location) could kind of focus more on the walk-in customers.

CS: Do you think you'll open another location?
JS: We’d love to do another location. We’re trying to take it one step at a time and not grow too fast because I think that the quality is so important to me, and I think that sometimes when people grow too fast, or too big, you have to make decisions that are ultimately going to lessen the quality of your product. So, I just want to be really careful to not go too big too fast and not be able to control what we’re doing.

Trophy Cupcakes and Party in Seattle

Thursday
Sep202007

Unexpected Sweetness: Secret Seattle Pastries

Not to alarm you, but Seattle is a city simply teeming with baked goods you might not know about. Frequently, wonderful pastry experiences await you at establishments not “known” for their desserts: places masquerading as coffee shops, sandwich joints or even gourmet pasta markets! Since they usually don't have neon signs advertising their homemade goods, Cakespy is spreading the sweet word:

Caffe Ladro: Many Seattleites don’t realize that all of the baked goods at Caffe Ladro are made in their own bakery! Ranging from cakey scones drenched in buttery glaze to cardamom crumb cake and substantial cupcakes with smooth, thick frosting, we’d say it's worth a visit. In fact, Mr. Cakespy has been known to go in solely for their vegan oat bars and not even buy a coffee. Various locations; online at caffeladro.com.
Dish D’lish: You probably think of this place more for catering and savory items, but their sugar cookies are serious business: snow white and dense, with meltingly tender crumbs; they also make a beautiful strawberry shortcake (click here for the recipe!). 5136 Ballard Ave. NW (b/t NW Ione Pl. & NW Dock St.); online at kathycasey.com.
Monorail Espresso: Their “chubby” cookies rock our world—kind of a chocolate chip cookie dough cookie which is perfectly soft but still fully baked. And they’re homemade by Monorail’s quirky owner, Chuck Beek, who was one of the first coffee-cart dudes in Seattle in the 80’s; talk about street cred. 510 Pike St. (right by the Banana Republic store on 5th Ave.).
The Other Coast Cafe: Much ado about muffin! Their muffins and cookies are made from scratch, and are buttery, sweet little masterpieces that go above and beyond the bakery items you’d expect from a sandwich shop. Go before 8am and your muffin will still be warm; take one bite and wonder why you haven’t gone in before lunch before. 601 Union Square (at Union & 6th Aves.); online at othercoastcafe.com. ** Baked goods at the downtown location only; a special thanks to Cake Gumshoes Renee and Krista for introducing us to these baked goods!
Pasta + Co.: True, many of their desserts are supplied by Dessertworks--but not the lemon tarts, which are made in-house, and are just the right degree of custardy-sweet and tart. Various locations (though we favor the Queen Anne one); online at pastaco.com.
Specialty’s: Mostly known for their sandwiches, their desserts are all from scratch: cookies like the rich peanut butter or wheatgerm chocolate chip, as well as mini bundt cakes and brownies including the “Lovers’ Lane” which is a double fudge brownie topped with coconut, semi sweet & white chocolate chunks, and crunchy walnuts. Is it too much...or is it just enough? Various locations; online at specialtys.com.



 
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Thursday
Sep062007

A Wink and a Smile: Cupcakes by Wink


Cupcakes. They're so ubiquitous at this point that you almost want to stop eating them. Almost.

And now there's one more place in Seattle to get them: Wink Cupcakes. The brainchild of Zoe-Ann Bartlett, Wink was born after she decided to take some time off from a stressful corporate position to study baking in France. It must have made her reevaluate her goals, because she subsequently opened a cupcake catering business in lower Queen Anne (a good decision, we say!). And with their dense, moist cake (in yummy flavors like Peanut Butter and Hazelnut) and a generous dollop of creamy, buttery frosting, all we can say is bring on the elastic waistbands. They're primarily available by special order for the moment; however, individuals can pick up single cupcakes on Thursdays via the Queen Anne Farmer's Market.

And surely if it's just once a week, you can go ahead and eat one. Ok, two. Wink, wink.

Available 3-7 p.m. Thursdays at the Queen Anne Farmer's Market (1st Ave. W at Crockett St.); online at winkcupcakes.com

Sunday
Sep022007

Labor of Love: Poilâne Bread at Metropolitan Market

Although this feature is not specifically dessert-based, we at Cakespy believe that if something has to come before dessert, it had better be good. So, as a bit of a Labor Day Special, we are happy to report that Metropolitan Market is now flying in bread from Poilâne Bakery, which is a bit of an "it" bread in France (for those not in the know, it's the bakery featured in Peter Mayle's book Confessions of a French Bread Baker) once a week, so now you too can enjoy your pain quotidien without actually, you know, having to make it yourself. Visit metropolitan-market.com for locations.

Monday
Aug272007

Cakewalk in West Seattle

We've heard that Eddie Vedder, who resides in West Seattle, occasionally goes by the pseudonym "Wes C. Addle". Certainly a neighborhood capable of leaving such an impression must have some great virtues, not to mention some great bakeries.

Cakespy Note: Sunday is a great day to visit West Seattle due to the farmer's market, which is a wonderful opportunity to try a bunch of great Seattle pastries all in one place. 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Sundays through December at the corner of California Ave. SW and SW Alaska; online at seattlefarmersmarkets.org.

Here are Cakespy's highlights from West Seattle:

Alki Bakery: The Alki Bakery has a location in the Seatac Airport and additionally sells wholesale to Tully's, so we were a bit skeptical that the pastry might taste a little...well, mass-produced. Although the sandwiches didn't look like anything exceptional, the cinnamon rolls and shortcakey scones left quite an impression. 2738 Alki Ave. SW (at 61st Ave. SW); online at alkibakery.com.

Bakery Nouveau: Bakery Nouveau is a little bit like a hot girl who knows that she's hot. With some pretty high accolades and a hotshot pastry chef, it's got a lot of pressure to live up to: and it does. Rows of French patisserie-style pastries line the glass shelves with American favorites like cheesecake (all Paris-ed out with Laduree style macaroons) and sexy carrot cake slices with velvety frosting. 4737 California Ave. SW (between SW Alaska & SW Edmunds Sts); online at bakerynouveau.com.


Coffee to a Tea With Sugar: The sign reading "Happy Hour--half price cake 7-9 p.m." bodes extremely well at this cute cafe, and we were willing to forgive them for the cutesy name and the inexplicable beeping sound that kept on going off. The cupcakes are beautiful, dense and completely fulfilling. They're available on a rotating basis; take their cupcake menu home and read it before bed for sweet dreams. 4541 California Ave. SW (between SW Oregon & SW Alaska Sts).



Eats Market Cafe:
We imagine that under the dictionary listing for dessert, the pictures must look something like the pastries made by Eats Market. Homemade (but of course by someone much more skilled than you) and classic, think perfect buttery cupcakes, rich and chewy bars, and some extremely handsome sweet crostata with fruit. Sunday at the West Seattle Farmer's Market, California Ave. SW and SW Alaska; storefront at 2600 SW Barton St; online at eatsmarket.com.


Herban Feast: A little taste of Herban Feast's fare at the Sunday farmer's market has left us hungry for more. Their crumbly lemon-rosemary shortbread cookies were wonderful, and their full dessert menu online looks even better. Sunday at the West Seattle Farmer's Market, California Ave SW and SW Alaska; online at herbanfeast.com.


Little Prague Bakery: If your Grandma came from the old country, maybe she told you stories with a funny accent and served you rich strudels after school. If that wasn't your childhood, visit Little Prague Bakery today and make up for lost time. Sunday at the West Seattle Farmer's Market, California Ave. SW and SW Alaska; storefront at 6045 California Ave. SW (between SW Raymond & SW Graham Sts).

The Original Bakery: This bakery is homey and almost completely lacking in pretention; the moment you walk in, you feel as if you've walked into another era. The cookies have a slightly nordic flavor, and the doughnuts are rich and satisfying. 9253 45th Ave. SW (at SW Willowood Rd).


Shoofly Pie Co.: This new pie bakery may have an identity crisis (the facade is just this side of garish, the inside is erring on too minimalist), but luckily the pie suffers none of this turmoil. The crust is gorgeously misshapen; the fillings are alternately smooth and rich on the cream pies and delightfully oozing on the fruit pies; it's worth the trip. 4444 California Ave. SW (between Genesee & Oregon Sts).




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