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Entries in seattle (182)


Peppermint Sweet: Peppermint Swirl Cookies from Essential Baking Company, Seattle

Today, without a doubt, one visitor to my store was far more special than all the others (no offense, all the others). It was Anna from Seattle's Essential Baking Company, because she came to hand deliver a holiday card --and she came toting a sweet batch of her company's Peppermint Swirl cookies.

There are several good things about these cookies. First and foremost, they are very buttery. Second, they are lightly crumbly--sort of tea cookie style, but not too dry. Third, the peppermint and chocolate swirl adds a nice flavor contrast to the crumbly tea cookie texture, and definitely gives them a festive holiday dimension.

I was even kind enough to share some with customers at the store, and everyone was very pleased. 

Want some for yourself? You can pick 'em up tomorrow at Essential Baking locations in Seattle--possibly for a few days after Christmas too, but I'd call first to be sure.

Find locations and contact info at essentialbaking.com! 


Gingerbread in the House: Gingerbread Crepes Recipe from Macrina Bakery

Gingerbread cookies are perfect for later on in the day, but what about for breakfast?

Howsabout these delicious Gingerbread Crepes, the recipe of the month from Macrina Bakery?

Here's the intro and recipe from their newsletter:

Jeanine Riss, one of our former chefs created these crêpes for a special Christmas Eve brunch at our café. They were a big hit, selling out earlier than expected. Jeanine found it best to prepare and fill the crêpes one day in advance. That way all she had to do in the morning was prepare the compote and syrup and reheat the crêpes before serving.

For the crêpes:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1-1/3 cups whole milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Canola oil

For the citron ricotta filling:
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup candied citron*
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

For the cranberry compote:
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the vanilla syrup:
1 cup pure maple syrup
1vanilla bean

Powdered sugar

Preparing the crêpes:

  • Combine flour, sugar, ginger, cinnamon and cloves in a medium bowl. Toss together and set aside.
  • In a separate medium bowl combine milk, eggs, and molasses mixing together with a whisk. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture into the bowl of flour, whisking as you pour. When ingredients are fully combined, whisk in 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  • Heat a small (7-inch) nonstick sauté pan over medium heat and brush with a little canola oil. Ladle in just enough crêpe batter to eventually cover the bottom of the pan, about 2 tablespoons. Lift and tilt the pan to spread out the batter more quickly. Cook until edges start to turn brown, about 1 minute, then flip the crêpe over with a spatula and cook the other side. Transfer finished crêpe to a large plate and cover with a piece of parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the batter, placing paper between each crêpe as you finish. You should have 8 crêpes.

Preparing the citron ricotta filling and assembling the crêpes:

  • Combine ricotta cheese, sugar, candied citron, and orange zest in a medium bowl mixing well with a wooden spoon.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Lay the crêpe out on a work surface and scoop equal portions of citron filling into the center of each crêpe. Roll each of the crépes into a log and place them seam sides down, on the prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with the remaining melted butter.  (It may be necessary to reheat the butter.)
  • At this point the crêpes can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator overnight. If you are ready to eat, move on to the next step.

Preparing the cranberry compote:

  • Combine cranberries, water, sugar, and orange zest in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until cranberries begin to burst, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove pan from heat and drop in butter, stirring until butter is melted and evenly distributed. Set aside.

Preparing the vanilla syrup:

  • Pour maple syrup into a medium saucepan. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise and using the tip of a sharp knife, scrape the seeds out of each half and add them to the pan.
  • Drop opened bean pods into the syrup for extra flavor and simmer over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove bean pods and set aside.

Finishing the crêpes:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Place baking sheet of crêpes on center rack of oven and bake for 10 minutes. Crêpes will be heated through and golden brown on the edges.
  • While crêpes are baking, reheat the cranberry compote and the vanilla syrup.
  • Place 2 crêpes in the center of each plate and top with a generous scoop of compote. Drizzle warm syrup around the edges of the crêpes, and garnish the plate with a little powder sugar. Serve while still warm.

Cake Byte: Happy National Boston Cream Pie Day from Trophy Cupcakes, and a Sweets Crawl in Seattle

Guess what? I'm headed to Canada (home of the mighty Nanaimo Bar) this weekend. But clearly I've chosen the wrong weekend to flee Seattle, because there's a lot of awesomeness going on! First off, did you know it's National Boston Cream Pie Day? Well, Seattle's Trophy Cupcakes is bringing on the party--as owner Jennifer Shea says:

Happy National Boston Cream Pie Day! Of course Trophy whipped up a cupcake version today...Vanilla Cupcake filled with pastry cream and dipped in Belgian Chocolate Ganache!

Now, if that doesn't sound like a celebration, I don't know what does.

Find them while they last at Trophy Cupcakes locations in the Seattle area!

But wait, there's more! If you're in or around the Capitol Hill neighborhood today, there's also a totally sweet walking tour--The Great Cap Hill SweetTooth Crawl! Although CakeSpy Shop does not actually have cake, it will be a sweet stop on the tour (buy some cards while you digest!). Check out the details here.

Oh, and finally, how cool is this: CakeSpy Shop artist Mike Geno's Challah Painting is on the cover of The Stranger! You can buy the real thing here. 


Cake Byte: Mini Bacon Maple Cupcakes by Mini Empire Bakery Now Available!

This revolution may be mini, but when it comes to flavor, these cupcakes are maxed out (now, just to clarify, when I wrote that I really intended for it to be said in a booming, "Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!" sort of voice).

That's right: Mini Bacon Maple Cupcakes by Mini Empire Bakery. Starting with a biscuity-cake base, these are topped with a rich daub of maple buttercream and topped off with bacon for a perfect sweet and salty union that tastes like a sort of breakfast-meets-dessert party in your mouth.

And they're available for purchase at Seattle Coffee Works downtown, and at Mioposto in Mount Baker! Or I'll bet if you asked really nice, they'd do a custom order for you too.

Find out more about Mini Empire Bakery on their website.


Sweet Profiles: Wendy Sykes of Four and Twenty Blackbirds

If you're a professional CakeSpy, basically when it comes to anything sweet, you always want the backstory. So when Wendy Sykes (AKA Four and 20 Blackbirds) entered her prize-winning Rhueberry Pie in the Cake Vs. Pie faceoff, basically I had to know more. Turns out, she's not only a tremendous baker, but has recently launched a business where she will teach you how to make delicious pies, too!

Here's a bit more of the story, directly from the source!

I've always been an big baker, but my entire professional life was spent as a journalist/public radio producer. (most recently at Marketplace, but Seattleites might remember my first show, Rewind.)

Recently, I was between jobs (like sooooooo many) and I was baking and entertaining and cooking a lot.  Friends kept asking me questions about the things I made, how to do this and that - but they seemed especially befuddled by and intimidated by pie crust.

I gave a few classes for fun, to a group of friends and it just spread from there!

I really like it - it's a great fit for my personality (as it turns out, teaching is not so different from producing) and I love seeing how proud people are when they make their own little pie!

I teach the classes out of my home in Ravenna and keep them small (8-10) so everyone gets hands-on instruction. I really think that's key - you have to feel and touch the pastry dough to know how it's supposed to be. So many people in class say, "Ohhhh - that's how it should feel!"

The setting also makes for a really fun, relaxed event - it's more like having your friend teach you something, rather than learning from an "instructor."  Since I'm not a trained professional (I joke that I went to The Culinary Institute of My Mom) people seemed more apt to ask questions, joke around, be silly.

The most important thing that I want people to leave class with is confidence. I want them to know that they can do this at home. Confidence is key - because pie crust is just like dogs and horses - it can smell fear.

I have some class descriptions on my blog as well on my site; I do the pie classes, (also one for parents and kids) and then cookie classes as well. I've been making this certain sugar cookie forever and decorating them. I teach people all the little tricks to ice the cookies as well.  The cookies are so good - which is important to me, cuz sometimes those really adorable decorated sweets taste just ungodly - they're made more for looks than taste.

Want yet more? You are urged to visit fourand20blackbirds.com.


Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Reasons Why You Should Visit Cupcake Royale in Bellevue

Being firmly planted in the camp of "Bad Things Happen When You Leave The City", I never thought I'd find myself saying this, but...

...you've got to get your sweet self over to Bellevue to check out the new Cupcake Royale.

Don't just pack up based on my simple statement, though, because I've got a baker's dozen of reasons to back up this suggestion of an epic crossing-the-water journey. Here goes:

  1. First off, let's just say it: Cupcake Royale rules. They are cool, they have good cupcakes, and now they're in Bellevue. You owe them a visit.
  2. OK, and on to the specifics. Ye Olde Exterior. I've got to say that (no offense) when I think "Bellevue", I think of malls, chain stores, and confusing underground parking. But somehow Cupcake Royale has managed to find its own unique niche--a place as unique and special as their cupcakes.
  3. Ye Olde Interior. Formerly the home of an IHOP, I suspect that their may be elves lurking in the kitchen (actually, I can confirm that there are. I met one, and her name is Rachel.)
  4. Ye Olde Interior, continued: it has a storybook-worthy back room. I want grandma to read me stories back here, while I stuff myself silly on cupcakes and Stumptown Coffee.
  5. Speaking of Stumptown, this is the first joint on the Eastside to be serving it, I believe. Woot!
  6. They have an expanded variety of morning sweets and cookies, from Macrina and also from another local Bellevue bakery. Yes!
  7. They have the most adorable little dumbwaiter-esque system by which they slide cupcakes through the wall from the kitchen to the retail area. OMG!
  8. New Fall Flavors: OK, so you could get it at the other locations too, but wouldn't a pumpkin cupcake with maple frosting taste just a little more magical in a place where you might see an elf?
  9. They have this super sweet campaign: "Practice Random Acts of Cupcakes". Is this not the most delightful thing you've ever heard?
  10. I swear, owner Jody Hall gets cuter with every new location she opens.
  11. They have an expanded retail space at this store, which means that you can get even more of their totally sweet tongue in cheek tees ("Rock Out With Your Cupcake Out", "Legalize Frostitution"--you know, cute).
  12. The cupcakes are baked on-site, and are already making Bellevue sweeter, based on the crowds!
  13. Hint, hint: You may be seeing some CakeSpy stuff there in the future! 

Seriously, what are you waiting for? Find directions and details at cupcakeroyale.com.


Whoopie Pie Frozen Custard from Old School Frozen Custard, Seattle

Three guesses as to what was the most decadently delicious thing I tasted this week.

That's right: Whoopie Pie Frozen Custard. 

This bit of sweet manna was the special flavor of the day on Thursday, September 30th at Old School Frozen Custard in Capitol Hill. Now, if you don't know much about Old School, then let me learn you a bit about their M.O.: they generally have only three flavors available daily--vanilla, chocolate, and a special flavor of the day. Naturally, Audrey (who is also the one who inspired these cupcakes) and I had to walk over to sample this one.

So what exactly is Whoopie Pie frozen custard? Well, according to Old School's site, it's comprised of "Our Chocolate Cake Batter frozen custard with a delicious butter cream varigate folded into it".

But really, this description doesn't tell you much about the exquisite joy of eating it. While eating it, the first flavor that hits is chocolate--but then something happens. A slightly tangy, rich-sweet undertone to the taste--that's the cake batter. And then--little nubbins of vanilla buttercream swirled throughout--something that isn't really necessary, but sure is nice. 

While had I been given this custard blindly and asked what flavor it was, I might not instantly guess "whoopie pie", but I certainly would have finished it and licked the bowl. Yes, indeed.

The final word? A fine flavor of the day. Bring it back soon!

Old School Frozen Custard has locations in Seattle and Bonney Lake; visit their site for details.


Sweet Love: Ode to the Vegan Oat Bar, Caffe Ladro, Seattle WA

Vegan Oat Bar might not sound like the sort of sweet that would inspire a sonnet, but it is. Let me prove it with a terrible one:

Oh vegan oat bar
beautiful morning sweet
what a lovely thing you are
for me to happily eat

You may not have butter, eggs, or milk
but I don't feel deprived
'cos unlike some pastries of your ilk
you don't taste contrived

You're so sweet, tart, and nutty
when push comes to shove
I have a confession, buddy
I think I'm in love.

Reading that poem, I hope that two things have come across. First, that I should never pursue writing poetry professionally. But more importantly, what I hope that it's conveyed is that this bar is a very special treat which is worthy of love and affection. It's good--seriously good. Starting with a rich cookie base, it has a layer of rhubarb which adds a tart layer of flavor and soft, lightly gooey center, which is all crowned with a generous oat-and-crumb topping which is sweet, lightly salty, rich, and startlingly addictive. Not just "good for a vegan treat", this bar is so good that you'll never miss the butter. And as someone who generally firmly believes that the secret ingredient is butter, and lots of it, this is a bold statement.

This is all to say--this is one sweet treat worth seeking out.

Vegan Oat Bar, available at Caffe Ladro in Seattle; for locations, visit their website.


Roll Over: The Apple Cinnamon Roll from 3.14 Bakery, White Center WA

Sure, you could go to 3.14 Bakery in White Center and get pie.

But wouldn't that be kind of, well, obvious?

No, be the one who boldly walks in and buys a cinnamon roll. Or at least, the one who buys a cinnamon roll in addition to some pie.

We (Mr. Spy and I, that is) had the good fortune of being gifted one of these behemoths by beloved CakeSpy Shop customer Stacy, and I can attest that it is a fine specimen of cinnamon roll.

For one thing, it is huge. Not sure if the pictures really show it, but the plastic container is one of those jumbo salad-bar type clear containers, and the cinnamon roll basically fills the whole thing. Not that quantity equals quality all the time, but it sure does make an impressive presentation.

But even more importantly, it's an incredibly satisfying carbohydratey treat. For some, the cinnamon roll experience is all about the goo and the glaze--the 3.14 roll may not be for you. If you are able to find room in your heart to enjoy a cinnamon roll which showcases the earthy yeast flavor of the soft dough with an assertive but not aggressive spread of butter, sugar and spice and flavor (in this case, chunks of baked apple), then you're going to be pleased by this cinnamon roll.

Plus, aforementioned enormous size allows you to share without feeling deprived (even halving it will give two eaters a huge serving).

You can find these cinnamon rolls (and pie, I guess, but I haven't tried that) at 3.14 Bakery, 9602 16th Ave SW, White Center. Find them on Facebook here.

3.14 Bakery on Urbanspoon


Huckleberry, But Not Finn: Huckleberry Cupcakes for September at Cupcake Royale

What's a ton funner than climbing a mountain, and many times more delicious?

The Blue Mountain Huckleberry Cupcake from Cupcake Royale, that's what.

That's right: it's September, and it's time for a new flavor of the month. Here's what they have to say about the new variety:

Our fine friends over at Foraged and Found collect these delicate little woodland wonders and bring them to us fresh and direct. Baskets of sparkling huckleberries, packed with sweet Pacific Northwest goodness, fill our bakery in anticipation of being baked up into the perfect cupcake. So, that's we do with them, and we top it off with a huckleberry buttercream that's as pretty as it is delicious.

These are blue mountain huckleberries. They're a little different from the ruby red gems you might be picturing. They're  a bit sweeter, akin to a very fancy wild blueberry...only better! They make for one super delicious cake, and one beautiful hue for a buttercream!

Which just goes to show that a sugar high is better than, say, a Rocky Mountain High, any day of the week.

You can find this flavor all month long at all four Cupcake Royale locations; for directions and hours, visit cupcakeroyale.com. Stay updated on their daily goings-on and the progress of their upcoming Bellevue location via Twitter!

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