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Entries in washington (29)

Monday
Sep032012

CakeSpy Undercover: Bearded Lady Food Co in Olympia, WA

Chocolate Sundae

CakeSpy note: this is a guest post from Dawn M. Quinn of veganmoxie.com and Roxanne Cooke of roxannecooke.com.

Bearded Lady Food Co. is a mostly vegan, gluten-free bakery in downtown Olympia that makes and sells cupcakes, cake, cheesecake, brownies, cookies, ice cream, cheese plates, and sundaes. Many items are vegan and/or gluten free, but there are non-vegan versions of many of their goodies, too. You can pop in during the day to buy bakery case goodies, or show up in the evening for a seated dessert. Who could say no to making dessert a sit-down event? Dawn of Vegan Moxie and Roxanne of Roxanne Cooke Photography spent a recent Saturday evening trying a few of Bearded Lady’s plated desserts, as well as a couple beverages. Here are their impressions!

Dawn: After reading/hearing great things about Bearded Lady from friends and other vegan types, I knew that I had to get in to try their in-house baked goods and treats soon. My first trip to the shop happened rather accidentally: a group of friends went to dinner in Olympia, and a friend of a friend suggested we check it out. An amazing suggestion, as everyone (and me being the only vegan) thoroughly enjoyed their treats of choice and I couldn’t get the ice cream sundae I’d enjoyed that night out of my head. Fast forward a few months, and my friend Roxanne asked if I was interested in heading back to Bearded Lady for a most delicious blogging assignment: reviewing the bakery’s sweet wares for Cakespy. Um, yes please!

Roxanne: After that first successful visit to Bearded Lady with Dawn and other friends, I just had to go back to try more. I’m always up for trying new things, especially when it comes to baked goods and ice cream. Bearded Lady Iced Coffee Dawn: We came to Olympia from Tacoma on a warm summer’s afternoon, perfect for some sweet treats and cold beverages. I ordered an iced coffee, and was impressed by how decadent a normally simple beverage can be. Along with the accompanying soy milk I requested, the drink came with simple syrup that seemed to be dotted with vanilla bean flecks. I’d never seen anything like this before, and it added the perfect smooth and sweet flavor to the coffee that this traditional Americano, soy, no sweetener girl thoroughly enjoyed.

Roxanne: I couldn’t pass up the lemon fizz drink, since it was a warm evening (shorts weather, for sure). It didn’t disappoint; in fact, it was better than lemonade, yet just as simple! It was sweet but not overly so, and super refreshing and flavorful. Like Dawn’s iced coffee, the lemon fizz contained specks of vanilla that intrigued me and added a hint of sweetness that took it to the next level. All in all, it was the perfect choice for a summer night.

 

Bearded Lady Sundae - Dawn Dawn: Roxanne and I decided to order three desserts, again reaffirming the decadence of this outing, and my choices were the customizable “lil’ bit” sundae with vegan espresso-coriander ice cream, vegan chocolate mousse, toasted nuts, and vegan caramel sauce as my toppings, and a habanero sugar brownie. Roxanne had the espresso-coriander ice cream on our first visit, and I loved the flavor so much I knew I needed to try it again. The coriander flavor (something I generally don’t associate with sweets) really pops here, and the espresso isn’t overpowering, which allows the herb’s flavor to shine thorough. The addition of the mousse was a win this time around, as it was velvety smooth, boasted rich flavor and had a great texture. The caramel was great, no different in its appearance or taste from its non-vegan counterparts. Roxanne: My chocolate sundae consisted of vegan chocolate ice cream, vegan and gluten-free vanilla cake, fresh berries, and berry jam. There was a lot going on, but it meshed really well together. The rich chocolate ice cream was complemented by the fresh berries and berry jam. The vanilla cake was a bit dry, but it still went well with everything else. Overall, it was an extremely good combination I’d order again! Dawn: The habanero brownie stuck out to me in the bakery case because it sounded like an intriguingly rare combination: a super spicy twist on a traditional baked good. I took a couple of small bites and said, “This isn’t hot or spicy at all!” with a tinge of disappointment. I handed it over to Roxanne, who said “Whoa!” after taking her bite. After digging in a little deeper, I finally got it, too: pow! A peppery flavor hit like a kick in the mouth, in the very best way possible. The frosting was a bit hard, but that could be attributed to a few factors. The habanero sugar definitely added an element of surprise and bold flavor that made me opt for a brownie, a dessert option that normally doesn’t catch my eye. Well done, Bearded Lady. Well done.

Bearded Lady Food Co. 412 Franklin Street, Olympia, WA 360-943-6235 Serves bakery case goodies Friday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Evening sweet kitchen open Thursday-Sunday, 5 to 11 p.m. Online here.

Tuesday
Jun052012

CakeSpy Undercover: Corina Bakery, Tacoma WA

Honey Lavendar cake

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Cake Gumshoe Roxanne. View more of her work at roxannecooke.com!

Corina Bakery, located between Tacoma’s Theater and Stadium districts, offers a wide assortment of baked goods for a variety of dietary restrictions. The bakery recently celebrated its 4-year anniversary. Happy birthday, Corina!

Corina Display

Among Corina’s many goodies: cakes, cheesecakes, pies, cookies and bars, scones, muffins, and savory goods such as quiche. There are also options for vegan, gluten free, soy free, or low sugar diets. You’ll see most of the goodies in the main display case when you walk in, but don’t forget to look around the corner for the refrigerated display, with puddings, cheesecake, quiche, and more.

Corina cool display

Corina recently moved to a larger space. The shop’s old location was nice and cozy, but lacked seating space. Now there are plenty of places to sit, with lots of beautiful natural light shining in through big windows. Plus, the bakers get a much bigger kitchen!

Because there are so many different sweet treats at Corina, I’ve sampled something new during each visit and selected my favorites to review.

Valhalla brownie Valhalla brownie and tea

Valhalla brownie: Corina serves organic, fair-trade coffee from Tacoma-based Valhalla Coffee Co., and one of their most delicious desserts makes fantastic use of it! The brownie is rich, flavorful, and moist, with just a faint taste of rich coffee flavor. Decadent, for sure, so I couldn’t finish it in one sitting (that’s okay—more for later!).

In addition to Valhalla Coffee, Corina serves tea from Mad Hat, an organic, fair-trade tea purveyor in Tacoma. My go-to is the black lavender tea, pictured above with the Valhalla brownie, but there are many others, including decaf and herbal varieties.

Lavender honey cake (pictured top): This is just one of several different types of specialty cakes Corina offers. So far, it’s my favorite. Dried lavender is baked into a vanilla cake, topped with lemon-honey buttercream, and sprinkled with more dried lavender. I couldn’t stop eating this (gigantic) slice, with just the right amount of sweetness.

Vegan pumpkin loaf

Pumpkin loaf (vegan): The pumpkin loaf apparently goes really well with coffee, but since I’m not a coffee drinker, I didn’t try it. I did, however, eat the entire mini loaf in one sitting. The pumpkin seeds on top provide a contrasty crunch to the soft, moist bread. All in all, it’s a good, flavorful choice if you’re not in the mood for something as sweet as cake or a brownie.

Gluten free vegan pb cookies

Peanut butter cookies (gluten free, vegan): I used to avoid peanut butter cookies. They’re always so dry and crunchy! But not these peanut butter cookies. They’re soft, and yummy, and pair perfectly with a glass of milk. They’re quickly becoming my favorite Corina item.

This is really only a tiny sampling of what Corina has to offer. For prices, bakery hours, and a detailed menu, check out Corina’s website. Or, even better, stop by for a cookie and a cup of tea before catching an indie flick at the Grand Cinema next door!

Corina Bakery, 602 Fawcett Avenue, Tacoma, 253-627-5070; online here.

Thursday
Feb232012

CakeSpy Undercover: Doughnuts and More at Cle Elum Bakery, WA

Cle Elum Bakery

I've been to Cle Elum Bakery in Washington before.

I've tried their tantalizing Torchetti, and lovingly learned about the bakery's history.

But on a recent visit, I had the good fortune of trying a few more goodies: their quiche (savory, I know), as well as several of their doughnuts (cake and a yeast variety with coconut coating) and their divinity.

The quiche (not pictured) was truly outstanding. The crust was just flaky enough, and full of flavor. The filling (vegetables on the day I went) was not at all bland (a common quiche complaint for me)--it was simply bursting with flavor, and required no seasoning whatsoever. It paired beautifully with the dark, rich Caffe Vita coffee which they serve.

Cle Elum Bakery

The doughnuts were divided, in my mind: the cakey varieties were pretty perfect, just greasy enough, and delicious with coffee. The yeast varieties were not quite as memorable in this Spy's opinion, relying more on the toppings for flavor, with a slightly drier interior. 

The divinity was unlike any other I've tried, more like a meltaway cookie. Extremely delicious, melt-in-your mouth, with a tantalizing slight saltiness that will make you want to keep on eating more. 

The bottom line? Cle Elum Bakery is well worth a visit, and not just for the famous Torchetti. Of course, next time I know I have to try the butter horns--or else, says my friend Molly!

For more information, visit the Cle Elum Bakery Facebook page.

Wednesday
Nov302011

Teeny's Tour of Pie: High 5 Pie, Seattle

CakeSpy Note: This is the first in Teeny Lamothe's Tour de Pie series on CakeSpy! Teeny is touring the country, learning how to make pies at some of the nation's sweetest bakeries. She'll be reporting here on each stop! First stop: Seattle!

Where: Seattle, Washington

When: The first stop was September... beginning to end.

Why: I found a friend in pie and a fellow lady baker: Dani Cone. She is a truly savvy business lady as well as an inspired pie baker. Dani was the first person to say yes to the tour of pie! 

How: The first stop on the tour was phenomenal. I couldn't have asked for a better way to begin. Not only were Dani and lead baker Anna happy to host, they seemed enthralled with the idea of a pie tour. They provided some really solid advice as well as major baking time. I was able to go in four or five times a week and learn the process of making a High Five pie. 

Observations: I was able to do all sorts of things during the month I was at High Five. I learned how to make fillings by the pound rather than by each individual pie. I helped bake the wholesale pies, packaged them and got them ready for delivery. There was always crust to be rolled out. Anna was very conscious of not wasting excess dough, and I've actually incorporated a lot of her crust ideals into my own pie making. While I was there I fell in love with their marionberry pie and their savory reuben pie. I made my very first cream pie ... banana cream, thank you very much! and was able to share my own recipe for french silk pie, which I think they might still make on occasion. (and if they do, I am endlessly proud) Every day at the kitchen felt like a collaboration. If we weren't making the actual fillings we were talking about them, bouncing ideas off of each other and essentially letting the excitement of baking pie permeate our lives. The whole month felt very surreal, I had a hard time grasping what my life had become. Every day I got to play with butter and flour and that at the end of each day our labors resulted in delicious pies. It was truly an inspiring first stop. 

Tour of Pie Recipe: I did a lot of biking while I was in Seattle, and after getting very lost one day I stumbled on a huge cache of wild blackberry bushes. I later found out that they grow like weeds along the bike trails... but that day I thought I had discovered an amazing hidden treasure. I was tired and frustrated and entirely lost lost lost, but I dove into those bushes without a second thought and picked blackberries until my arms were sufficiently scratched, my fingertips were sufficiently stained and my appetite was sufficiently sated. So, clearly, the Seattle 'tour of pie' recipe is for...

Washington Blackberry Pie

Whole Wheat Crust Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1/2 c shortening 
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter (12 tbs)
  • 1/4 c vodka
  • 1/4 c water

Procedure

  1. mix all the dry ingredients. cut in the butter and shortening until the pieces are about the size of peas and coated in flour. add the vodka, smush together with a spatula. add the water, smush together with a spatula. it's gonna be a little sticky/wet. divide into two balls, put in baggies, refrigerate for at least half an hour.... ya know, while you mix the filling. 

Blackberry Filling Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen (but definitely handpicked if possible!) blackberries
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 4 tbs cornstarch

Procedure

  1. mix everything together and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. assemble the pie! Roll out the first of the chilled crust balls. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter pie dish, trim any excess dough but be sure to leave a 3/4 inch overhang, spoon filling into the crust. I would use a lattice for the top crust, because it's just the prettiest with the dark blackberries. Arrange 7 or so dough strips on top of the filling, spacing evenly. Form lattice by placing remaining dough strips in opposite direction on top of the filling. Trim ends of dough strips even with overhang of bottom crust. Fold strip ends and overhang under, pressing to seal. Crimp edges decoratively.
  3. bake for 45 - 55 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown and your blackberries are bubbling. 
Sunday
Nov062011

CakeSpy Undercover: Cake Gumshoe Molly Visits The Gingerbread Factory, Leavenworth WA

Gingerbread Factory, leavenworth

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Cake Gumshoe Molly, a student at Central Washington University, pursuing a degree in English as well as a Professional Writing Certificate. Amongst the reading of great literature and the writing of papers, Molly spends all of her free time baking, visiting bakeries, and writing about all of the sweet things she finds along the way!

Recently, I visited The Gingerbread House. This place was absolutely adorable, with a gingerbread mail box, and a rolling pin built into the door. As you walk inside, and ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg fills your nose, and you can see the bakers working in the kitchen. This small shop offers customers a view from “behind the scenes” as the mixers, counters, and ovens, are right behind the display case.

Gingerbread Factory, Leavenworth

The cookies, gingerbread and sugar, are incredibly cute. Each is decorated individually with various colors, in shapes such as maple leaves, reindeer, trains, and skates.

Overall, considering this and my other sweet bakery visits in town, I would consider Leavenworth to be an oasis of sweets. This isn’t a town many would live in, but the visits sure are tasty! If you ever have a chance, please, get in your car (or fly) and visit this tasty little town.

The Gingerbread Factory can be found online here.

Tuesday
Aug162011

Gelat-O'Clock: Gelato from Procopio Gelateria, Seattle

I don't know if I have told you this in so many words, but I have been having a Gelato Awakening in recent months. I'd consider my visit to Via Dolce Gelato in Leavenworth the kickoff to this awakening; since then, I have been sampling the sweet and cold stuff at as many places as I can. I'm just in love with that tiny spoon, and find it the ideal strolling-while-eating food. 

And most recently, I tried Seattle's Procopio Gelateria.

The establishment, perched in the shadow of the Pike Place Market, is named for Procopio dei Coltelli, who is said to have opened the first gelateria in Paris in the 1600s, who may not have invented the stuff, but is credited with, you know, making it a "thing".

Well, clearly this appealed to my confectionery and sweets-history obsession, and the gelato, made using the same time-tested traditional methods, reflects a love and respect for the sweet treat's storied history.

I made the wise decision of pairing the seasonal Cherry gelato, which was creamy, pleasingly pink, and redolent of rich, deep cherry flavor, with the vanilla, which was flecked with vanilla beans and had a deep, rich vanilla flavor that worked like sweet love with the cherry. The consistency of the vanilla flavor was more to my liking, but when paired together, they worked beautifully.

The flavors couldn't have been more spot-on, and I look forward to trying more seasonal flavors at this sweet spot in downtown Seattle.

Procopio Gelateria, 1501 Western Ave., Ste 300, Seattle; online here.

 

Monday
Aug082011

CakeSpy Undercover: Cake Gumshoe Molly Visits Vinman's Bakery, Ellensburg, WA

CakeSpy Note: This is a summary of Cake Gumshoe Molly Allen's recent visit to Vinman's Bakery, in Ellensburg, WA. Molly is a student at the nearby CWU!

Vinman’s, across the street from the the Central Washington University campus, not only provides sweet and savory treats for Ellensburg residents, but also comfort food for the homesick college student.

On a Saturday morning at Vinman's, the options range from sweet and decadent treats to loaves of bread and foccacias. Vinman’s display holds danishes, croissants, muffins, sticky buns, Nanaimo bars, and even freshly made dog biscuits. Their loaves of bread, stacked behind the counter, included sourdough, wheat, and rosemary olive. 

Unfortunately, in sampling their treats, I had to choose wisely; on a college budget, one has to declare limits.

Right away I knew I wanted a bear claw. Bakeries often attempt to shape the dough, which then results in a semi-circle that only somewhat resembles the shape of a claw. Never have I seen a bakery offer this treat with the same shape definition as Vinman's does. Topped with a thin vanilla glaze and slivered almonds, this treat proved itself. The outer part of the treat was crispy, but not tough. The inside, was light and flaky and full of flavor. Though many bakeries often fill their bear claw treats with custard or a fruit spread, Vinman’s keeps this classic treat simple. Filled with a light almond paste, Vinman’s bear claw was one sweet treat.

Among their other tasty options, Vinman’s offers two types of croissants, one with prosciutto and Asiago cheese, and the other with Gruyére cheese. I chose the one with Gruyére, a satisfying decision on my part. Vinman’s croissants weren’t traditionally shaped in a crescent, as most would see at a bakery. But don’t let the rectangle shape deter you; Vinman’s croissants are the perfect balance of light, buttery pastry and savory cheese. The croissant, a hollow, flaky bread, was lined with Gruyére cheese, a sweet and salty cheese.

The lemon bars, stacked and displayed on a pedestal, caught my eye as I made my choices. The bars, consisting of a half inch of pastry crust and a half inch of lemon filling weren’t overly impressive. The ratio between crust and filling wasn’t ideal. Though flavorful and buttery, the crust was dense and overbearing. Many struggle with offering a successful lemon bar filling to their customers, often times the filling can be too sweet or too bland, or too ‘eggy’. Despite the unsatisfactory crust, Vinman’s lemon bar filling was balanced. The lemon was tart and sweet, but not too sweet, and certainly not overpowering. I suppose with this treat, one will just have to weigh the pros and cons.

Lastly, I grabbed a coconut macaroon from the cookie jar. The outside, which was sweet and flaky, tasted perfectly toasted. The inside was smooth and cool, with the perfect amount of coconut for those who love or only sort of like coconut. This macaroon wasn’t too strong or overbearing, and fluffy, as it should be.

Thankfully, since Vinman's is the only local bakery Ellensburg has to offer, I found their treats suitable for another trip in the near future.

Vinman’s Bakery is located at 700 E. University Way in Ellensburg, WA. Online here.

Monday
Aug012011

Batter Chatter: Interview with Cyndy of Stanwood Cupcakes, WA

Images c/o Stanwood CupcakesCupcakes truly are taking over the world. The trend of cupcakeries that started in cities is continuing to spread in the suburbs and smaller towns, with continued success; one such establishment is Stanwood Cupcakes in Washington. I recently caught up with owner Cyndy for some sweet talk about her business:

To break the ice: tell me. What is the last amazing dessert or baked good you ate? It was a crème brulee that had been made just perfectly with the top torched and just a dollop of whipped cream on top. I'm a sucker for the creamy desserts!

Stanwood Cupcakes. Tell me baby, what's your story? About 2 years ago I became aware of the growing interest in a couple of cupcake shops in Seattle. I began to follow their growth and I started to have cupcakes delivered to my Seattle friends for celebrations. A year ago, my husband and I took a car trip to Ashland Oregon and decided to stop at every cupcake store on the way back to Stanwood that showed up on our GPS. We tried a cupcake at over 15 different cupcake shops on that trip. Last summer, all the right things happened for us to get into the business ourselves. I started to overwhelm my neighbors with cupcake samples and got great feedback on the good and bad of my cupcakes. After loads of paperwork, lots of equipment orders and hundreds of cupcake bakings, my husband and I opened our shop in October of 2010. We believed that Stanwood needed a happy place to drop in for a cupcake, cookie or hand-dipped ice cream and we're glad that we created just that place.

(CakeSpy Note: P.S. here are a few shots of Cyndy and her husband David...one from 1968 and one from since opening the cupcake shop! Which one is sweeter?!? I can't say!)

What is your most popular flavor right now? Our most frequently purchased cupcake right now is the S'mores. Graham cracker crust, chocolate cake filled with marshmallow frosting, topped with a swirl of ganache, a pile of marshmallow frosting, a sprinkle of graham craker crust and finally a square of chocolate.

What made you decide to take the jump to opening a retail storefront? My husband and I were both available to put all our time into our shop and the timing was right!

Are you professionally trained or self taught as a baker? I am a self taught baker pulling lots of guidance and tips from being a food network junkie. When I watch the food network, I pretty much go into a zombie mode, shutting out the world around me, taking in all the techniques and recipes.

Describe a "perfect" cupcake to me. A perfect cupcake is moist, flavorful, well balanced with frosting to cake ratio and appealing to the eye.

I've never sampled Cascade Glacier ice cream, but it's your house brand of ice cream. What makes it cream of the crop? We sampled several local brands to ice cream looking for creaminess, incredible flavor and that refreshing uplift that should come with ice cream. Cascade Glacier, from the Oregon Ice Cream Company, got our highest marks all around. It never lets you down.

Some people like to say that cupcakes are "so over". What is your response? Cupcakes are "new" to Stanwood and our goal is to help Stanwood and Camano Island residents learn the delightful joys of cupcakes.

In your opinion, what is the ideal cake-to-frosting ratio for a cupcake? For most cupcakes, the best ration for cake-to-frosting is 2/3rds to 1/3rd.

I didn't fail to notice that there is a "Cyndy's Famous" chocolate chip cookie on the menu. What makes these cookies so special? As a kid, I started making these same chocolate chip cookies and have raised 3 kids on them. At every church and school function, they were always a hit and neighbors and visiting children always asked for more. My son was amazed and delighted to see these cookies featured at our shop.

For more information, visit stanwoodcupcakes.com

Thursday
Jul212011

Pastry Profiles: Raspberry Dark Chocolate Shortbread Bar from Avenue Bread, Bellingham WA

And now, I'd like to tell you about something delicious I ate.

It was simply called a "Raspberry Dark Chocolate Bar" and it was one of the bar cookies available at Avenue Bread in Bellingham, Washington.

Just look at this thing.

It's like a shortbread cookie on the bottom (already good), buttery and flaky and dense...but wait, there's more.

On top of that buttery base, a layer of raspberry jam, lightly tart and sweet.

And on top of that jam (which might be too healthy on its own), a smattering of dark chocolate chunks and nuts.

And then, on top of that, a rich crumb topping which was sweet and lightly salty.

Are you on your way to Bellingham yet?

As a bonus, this establishment also offers sweet pretzel-y looking cinnamon twists, all sorts of other carbohydratey treats, and it's right down the street from Mallard Ice Cream and Sweet Art.

Everything about this bar cookie and this establishment spells "WIN".

Avenue Bread, various locations (I visited 1313 Railroad Ave. in Bellingham); online here.

Avenue Bread & Café on Urbanspoon

Monday
Jul112011

Sweet Chill: Gelatiamo, Downtown Seattle

Hello, Gelatiamo.

My name is CakeSpy, and I am going to talk about the experience of eating your delicious gelato for a few minutes.

For those who may not know Gelatiamo, it's in sort of an odd spot--downtown, on a block of 3rd avenue with a hub bus stop, and therefore, a lot of, shall we say, very interesting people watching. It's like a little pastry oasis surrounded by chain restaurants and mall-type stores.

But when you walk inside, you'll be so glad you did. There are rows and rows of pastries (including respectable cream puffs, which I have known and loved in the past), but because I have been suffering a recent gelato obsession, finally I visited at long last to try their signature product.

After looking at the rows and rows of delectably tempting flavors, I settled on a scoop of coconut, and a scoop of chocolate. Pretty normal, but good flavors to see what they were all about, I thought.

The coconut, for me, was the clear winner--coconutty and rich and creamy, with little flecks of coconut inside of the creamy gelato which offered a nice texture. The chocolate was pleasant, but I felt like it was a bit dull next to the coconut. Does this mean that I should have just paired my flavors better? Possibly. 

Overall, this was a highly pleasant if not earth-shattering gelato experience; I will most definitely be returning to try out more flavors to find my perfect match. 

Gelatiamo, 1400 Third Ave., Seattle; online here.

Gelatiamo on Urbanspoon

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