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Friday
Aug292014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Let your garden be your muse: a sweet art tutorial (no cake involved, but still pretty sweet)

Tree nut star tarts. Yum.

Did you miss the awesome roundup of my recent edible adventures?

These cinnamon rolls in Nebraska have an interesting story.

Learn a bit more about Racine Kringles.

10 awesome pug cakes. Seriously.

A love letter to crullers, both the cake doughnut and the eggy French sort.

"Autumn Blaze Bubble Bread". Don't you love the name?

Make your cakes sparkle--literally. How to use edible glitter on cakes!

Tips for adding emotion to your original artwork. Helpful and sweet!

Marvelous marble swirl cake.

Chocolate covered cake on a stick!

Book of the week: Alpha-Bakery Gold Medal Children's Cookbook. Did you have this cookbook growing up? I did, and I just found it again at a used book store. It has cute illustrations and surprisingly easy and good recipes for every letter of the alphabet. Aside from the nostalgia, I'm just happy to own it again. Bring on the "X-Tra Special Celebration Cake"!

Monday
Aug252014

Postcards from the Road: August 2014

Madison--Metcalfe's Market

Where in the world has CakeSpy been?

Well, let me tell you. In the past two weeks I have been in all of these places:

  • Rincon, Puerto Rico
  • Belmar, NJ
  • Lancaster, OH
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Santa Fe, NM
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Dubuque, IA
  • Brodhead, WI
  • New Glarus, WI
  • Madison, WI

I know. It's a record, even for ME. So what the heck have I been doing in all these places? Well, let me tell you a bit more. 

As you know, I was in Puerto Rico for a while with my lovely parents. You can read more about my adventures there, via this post and this post. <3

I departed Puerto Rico and spent a few days with my family in Belmar, NJ. There, I baked this cake, which was a definite highlight...of life.

Birthday cake with brown sugar

I also visited Kane Brewing Company with my parents. It is so neat to see my home area develop into such an artistic and cool place. Here's me and my mom.

Next, I hit the road en auto and stopped in Lancaster, OH to visit my friends Ben and Misty. Ben, apparently, has been "really into breakfast" lately. I benefitted from this newfound passion (really, I've never been not into breakfast) by receiving this plate of awesome in the morning. Those pancake-y things? Corn-cakes made using Jiffy cornbread mix (here's a recipe for cookies made with apple Jiffy mix!). Brilliant!

Breakfast in Lancaster OH

I headed back on the road to visit my friend Lisa in St. Louis. She has this adorable tea shop called Smalls. It's only a limited lease, so check it out now, if you live in the area. Cutest ever, right? 

St. Louis, MO

I wasn't in St. Louis for long, but I did find enough time to take a yoga class at Southtown Yoga (such a stylish and cool studio) and enjoy a slice of gooey butter cake at the Mud House. This was a rather nice specimen of one of my favorite cookie bar/cake hybrids. Also: just an observation, gooey butter cake is a short phrase in which no single word is wrong, yet together they are even more right. Don't you think?

St. Louis, MO St. Louis, MO

OK. Literally, OK. That was the next stop: Oklahoma City, where I did a little yoga pit stop and then continued on my journey. I stayed in Amarillo, TX overnight, which is also home of Belmar Bakery, which I love because in addition to carrying sweet treats, it also bears the name of my hometown in New Jersey.

I kept on going and ended up in Santa Fe the next day, where I spent the next 18 hours and was reuinited with this guy:

 

Hooray! Twinsies, right?

Then, not too long after, we got back on the road to go to a wedding in Wisconsin. Back through New Mexico, enjoying this sort of beauty:

New Mexico

Back through Oklahoma I went. I stopped for a photo op in front of a store bearing my name (no relation)... Oklahoma!

and this time was treated to this beautiful sunset.

Oklahoma

There was a stop at one of the Casey's General Stores on the highway for doughnuts--surprisingly good.

Donut, Casey's General store

Next up was Lawrence, Kansas, where we stopped for some sweetness at Sylas and Maddy's Ice Cream. Sylas and Maddys, Lawrence, KS

I was so impressed by this place. They had fantastic flavors like "ladybug crunch" (strawberry ice cream with oreos) and a chocolate and rainbow sprinkle-laden birthday cake flavor. But what I got, and what I considered a masterpiece of ice creamery, was the item in the forefront: BANANA PUDDING ICE CREAM. Can we all say "best thing ever" in unison, please? 

Sylas and Maddys, Lawrence, KS

Continuing on the road, there was a stop in Des Moines for, well, more yoga (I have a goal to do yoga in all 50 states, so this trip provided me a great chance to add more spots to my list), and then jetted off to Dubuque where more doughnuts were consumed. I'll tell you the truth, they were from Hy-Vee groceries, but they were actually pretty good!

Hy-vee, Dubuque

Next up was Brodhead, Wisconsin. I got myself a unicorn there.

Brodhead WI

After that, we jetted to New Glarus, which is where the wedding will be held. We had a lovely picnic dinner, and the hosts had actually made a recipe from my second book, The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Sweet Stories & Recipes for America's Favorite Desserts , for dessert--jumbles!

Um, I should probably tell you that this happened, too, at the New Glarus Hotel. We only ordered the three that are not on the tray. But yes, there were three desserts. The first cake (going clockwise from the top) was a blueberry cake with cream filling; the second was a German chocolate; the third was a lemon custard. The desserts were all satisfying, with my favorite being the custard--like lemon curd in custard form, even better with sweet Wisconsin dairy whipped cream! The filling from the German chocolate cake was something I wouldn't mind eating my weight in, either.

New Glarus Inn

In the A.M., I went to Madison for (you guessed it) another yoga class, at Inner Fire Yoga. I then stopped at Metcalfe's and picked up more doughnuts at Metcalfe's Market

Madison, Metcalfe's

(It's OK to laugh at this cruller. I did).

Whew! It's been a whirlwind so far. And I still have the wedding to go! Now, I think I'll explore New Glarus more, including the bakery everyone keeps telling me is great. I'll keep you updated on my sweet adventures, my sweetest ones.

Happy Summer! Love, CakeSpy

Thursday
Aug212014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

In case you missed it: brown sugar swirl cake. Brown sugar frosting. #winning

Homemade gluten-free pizza dough: tips and tricks.

Best ice cream I've had in a while: Sylas and Maddy's, in Lawrence, KS.

I'm going to New Glarus, Wisconsin. Naturally I will hit up this bakery.

My birthday is on Tuesday. If I have any leftover cake, I promise to make birthday cake French toast.

Or I suppose I could use the leftover cake in one of these clever and tasty ways.

But with a cake like this, there probably will not be leftovers. 

Dear heavens: oreo banana pudding. Make me a vat!

Just about the best frosting ever, if you ask me.

Homemade ho-hos. Wait, what did you call me?

For fun: reminisce with me about how I killed a bunch of Little Debbie Snack cakes that one time.

A free doughnut e-guide. All things doughnut: recipes, decorating tips, etc! 

How to test cream of tartar for freshness.

Book of the week: My book! The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Sweet Stories & Recipes for America's Favorite Desserts! Because it's my birthday this week and this book includes the story behind, plus a recipe for, birthday cake. Awesometown!

Thursday
Aug212014

A Guide to BBQ Pairings and Desserts

Photo via CraftsyFor me, the best part about a BBQ is the sides. From collard greens to cornbread, this is the stuff I like to make a meal of. And for dessert--the pies! Puddings! Cobblers!

Assuming it's possible you love the sides as much as I do, I've put together a guide to barbecue pairings for your delicious reference: check it out here

Wednesday
Aug202014

Brown Sugar Swirl Birthday Cake With Brown Sugar Frosting

Last week, even though it was a bit early for my August 26th birthday, I made a cake.

You see, I was in New Jersey for a few days with my parents, and I would be leaving before the big day, so I decided we should all have a little party. Any excuse for more cake, right?

I was writing a post for Craftsy about brown sugar buttercream, and I decided to make a cake to go with it (although, for the record, I have nothing against eating it by the spoonful). I hit up my mom's old cookbook collection and found an old treasure: silver white cake, AKA my birthday cake growing up. Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar I doctored it up a bit, making it richer by including the entire eggs and by adding a swirl of brown sugar. The "swirl" came out more like little lumps of brown sugar here and there...but DELICIOUS lumps. Oh, and I also doubled the salt. Because if I've learned anything in my baking years, it is that brown sugar loves salt.

This cake came out tremendously, if I do say so myself. Everyone took seconds, which is always a good sign. Maybe it can add some joy to your non-birthday day, too!

Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar Birthday cake with brown sugar

Brown Sugar Swirl Birthday Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

For the cake

Makes one 2 layer 8-inch cake

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated (white) sugar
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 8-inch round cake pans. Set to the side.
  2. Beat the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, milk, and vanilla in a stand mixer on low speed, scraping the bowl occasionally, for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs, and increase the speed to high, scraping the bowl occasionally, for 2 more minutes, or until the mixture is pretty much smooth and lump free. 
  4. In a small bowl combine the brown sugar and melted butter. It should be pretty thick yet smooth. Fold into the cake mixture, trying to incorporate little bits of the mixture throughout the batter.
  5. Pour into the prepared pans. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden on top and a cake tester comes out mostly clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and immediately run a sharp knife around the perimeter of the pans to loosen the cakes. After a few minutes, invert them on to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. While the cakes cool, make the frosting. When ready to assemble, start by generously frosting the top of one of the cakes; layer the second on top of that, and then frost the whole thing all over. I found this cake did not require a crumb coat.

Brown sugar buttercream

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4-6 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup of half and half, plus more if needed

Note: This recipe yields a perfect amount of buttercream to ice a two-layer 9-inch cake or a 9x13-inch oblong cake. This recipe can be doubled.

  1. Cream the butter until fluffy. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon; beat until it has become smooth in texture yet whipped.
  2. Add three cups of the confectioners' sugar, and mix on low speed so that you don't have a snowstorm. Stir in the vanilla extract, salt, and cream. Stir until incorporated.
  3. Add the remaining confectioners sugar to your taste. If it becomes too stiff, add a bit more cream. Store unused portions of the buttercream in the refrigerator for up to a week.

What kind of cake will you have for your birthday this year?

Tuesday
Aug192014

How to Know When An Illustration is Done

 

This is a subject I can get pretty philosophical about: when do you know a piece of art is done? 

 

While ultimately it's a very personal decision, I do have some definite thoughts on some ways to know, and tricks to help figure out where doneness lies in your process. Check out the full post with ideas here.

 

Friday
Aug152014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Baby elephant ears. Delicious babies.

Why didn't I ever have a class trip like this when I was young? 

OMG, you guys. My mom wrote an amazing post for Craftsy about preparing an illustration for publication. She's a famous illustrator in case you didn't know!

This thing. It's what I wish I was eating right now.

Strawberry cream cake: doesn't it look so summery and just...happy?

Cookie stuffed crescent rolls: I am so, so very down with this.

Barbecues are all about sides and desserts. Here's the tasty guide I made to all these things on the side.

This guide to the food of Lisbon includes a lot of valuable info on sweet specialties. Maybe I should go there next?

Stir-fried desserts? Why not?

101 amazing doughnut shops from around the USA.

When is it time to declare an illustration finished? Here's how to know.

Though it's just a picture, I'm linking because it made me so happy to know it existed: Danger Mouse Cake!

Do we still care about bacon in desserts? If so: Chocolate bacon ice cream

Book of the week: Craft-a-Doodle: 75 Creative Exercises from 18 ArtistsThis is really a wonderful book for anyone who loves to create--the creative prompts get your mind working in a way that is productive for any type of art, from baking to writing to, of course, drawing. I'll admit this is a slightly self-serving suggestion: I'm one of the contributors who came up with prompts for the book!

Thursday
Aug142014

Marshmallow-Mango Biscuit Sandwiches

Homemade biscuits

I'm not sure if you think about biscuits as much as me. In my life, thoughts about biscuits are about as common as thoughts about what time it is or if I have a new email--that is to say, like, all the freaking time.

But even I had never thought about this particular concoction, although I'm so glad it's now in my life: marshmallow-mango biscuit sandwiches. Like, OMG.

It was a bit of kismet, actually: I was in Puerto Rico working on upcoming Craftsy posts which involved, respectively, homemade biscuits and homemade marshmallow fluff. We also happened to have a beautiful fresh mango in the kitchen--I just kind of looked at all the bounty, and a new classic was born.

Homemade biscuits

Fluffy homemade marshmallow goo adds the perfect amount of "manufactured" sweetness to the natural, mellow sweetness of ripe mango. Sandwiching it between rich, buttery biscuit halves adds just the richness and saltiness it needs to really be a nice and satisfying treat. It's got everything going on: fluffy, buttery, mallow-y, sweet, salty...and of course, with the mango involved, it's officially health food. Score!

Fluff

The biscuits were an adaptation of these three-ingredient buttermilk biscuits, and the marshmallow fluff was an adaptation of this homemade version. I suppose if you wanted to you could use another fruit, but this combo was pretty killer.

As an added bonus, they kind of look like savory breakfast sandwiches from a distance. So they're like a guerilla dessert, and a sweet surprise!

Homemade biscuits Homemade biscuits

Marshmallow-Mango Biscuit Sandwiches

Makes 4

  • 4 heaping spoonfuls of marshmallow fluff (here's a homemade recipe)
  • 2-3 thick slices of fresh mango per biscuit
  • 4 buttermilk biscuits (approx 2-inch diameter), split in two
  • butter and salt

Procedure

  1. Split the biscuits in half. Toast them in a toaster oven or heat them in the microwave until they are warm. 
  2. Butter and salt the halves to taste.
  3. Place a big ol' mound of marshmallow fluff on top of one of the halves; place the mango on top of that. The gooey marshmallow should poke through a bit so that when you put the top half back on top, it should stick.
  4. Eat warm. Enjoy. 

Have you ever tried marshmallow and mango together?

Tuesday
Aug122014

Postcards from Puerto Rico, Volume 2

Hi, sweeties! I thought it was about time to share a bit more about my Puerto Rican getaway with you. Ready?

Well. My mom arrived to hang out for a week in lovely, sunny, beachy Rincon. First thing we did? Went to get frappés, naturally.

In Rincon, you'll see signs for frappés everywhere. On the side of the road, at specific frappé shops, at ice cream vendors. So what's a frappé

Basically, it's like a frappuccino, but with any sort of flavoring, from soursop to cherry; from oreo to horchata; from queso to coconut. We went to Kahuna Frappé, which is in the Plaza Bonet. I chose the pistachio; mom got the pineapple. They topped them, I will guiltily admit, with cool-whip. They were just as amazing as they look: taste-wise, falling somewhere between a milkshake and a smoothie. Creamy and sweet and milky; mashed with ice, but not icy. A real delight. 

Frappes, Kahuna Frappe, Rincon

We also hit up a place called Cowboys, where they have horse rides (alas, not on the day of our visit as it was raining) and savory food. This also happened there, I thought I should tell you.

Puerto Rico

I did some sweet art on another rainy day. Love art

We went to an outdoor flea market and checked out some of the candy. It's very sweet and tends to be coconut-heavy.

Candy

I also realized I must be more famous than I thought, if they have murals of me at ice cream shops in Puerto Rico.

Flea market

On Sunday, we attended the farmer's market, where we got our fill of tasty foods. One vegan baker was selling sweets of all sorts; we picked up a vegan brownie and a ginger-lemonade. The brownie surprised me. It was more cakey, which I typically don't go for, but the lightness worked in this case: it was like eating brownie bread. Brownie bread, I have decided, is a superior type of bread to zucchini. Just in case you've ever wondered.

Vegan brownie

The baker in question was a very cool dudette who had actually gone to FIT; since I went to Pratt, we had a New York connection in common. There are actually a surprising amount of Northeasterners here, for various reasons. Some are surfers; some like the cheaper lifestyle; others come to live off the grid. It makes for great people watching and some interesting conversations. 

Vegan brownie, Puerto Rico

I also picked up a baggie of toasted coconut. I've been hitting this lady up every week--it's so simple but so good. 

Puerto Rico

We went to a fruit vendor and picked up what he called "guava pears" which he had grown on his property. A google search of guava pear resulted only in that guavas are related to pears, so maybe I just had a small guava? It looked different from guava I have seen before but apparently this is a regular kind.  Anyone have any info to offer on this? 

Guava

We went back to Dulcis Vita, which was a fantastic moment because I got more cheesecake. Yay!

Cheesecake

On this visit I also observed that they have amazing tables that can read minds. Whoa!

Cupcakes table

So. Much. Mango.

Mango

A few days into my mom's visit, I was able to "get" another yoga pose that has been eluding me. Seriously: look at this! Thanks to Centro La Paz for keeping me in yoga shape.

Foot behind head

We had a wonderful mofongo (a mashed plantain specialty here) feast at The Red Flamboyen, which has flamboyen trees all around.

Mofongo, Red Flamboyen

On a rainy day, I took a little while to practice drawing flamboyen flowers. They're so strange yet beautiful!

We went out for ice cream at Tip-Top Ice Cream in downtown Rincon, and I got the corn ice cream. If I had to describe it, I'd say it tasted like what creamed corn aspires to be in a dessert world. It was quite addictive, actually--if you ever see corn gelato or ice cream, GET IT.

Corn ice cream, Tip-Top, Rincon, Puerto Rico

I made biscuits. I'll share the recipe really soon.

Homemade biscuits

I got a new bracelet with my name on it.

Bracelet

I also learned how to make marshmallow fluff from marshmallows. I'll share that post on Craftsy in the next few weeks, so lucky you.

Fluff

I also met a new friend.

New friend

We didn't forget to treat ourselves; so yes, another tropical cocktail was maybe consumed.

And of course, I did some more sea glass paintings! Here's one in reverse.

Puerto Rico

Sadly I'm leaving Puerto Rico in a couple of days but I've had such a joyous time.

Happy summer! Love, CakeSpy 

Monday
Aug112014

Cinnamon Roll Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches

Recently, Pillsbury sent me a roundup of their "State Fair-inspired" recipes. When I opened the email, I almost clicked my heels in delight: therein was a fantastic collection of recipes ranging from churros on a stick to deep-fried candy bars to pizza cones. OMG! 

But this one, I simply HAD to share. Cinnamon roll waffle ice cream sandwiches! I mean, seriously. There's no wrong in that recipe, only right. And lots of right. 

Here's the recipe; for the others mentioned, click on the respective links above. Here are some process shots they sent me, so I don't have to disrupt the flow of the recipe to share them with you.

Cinnamon roll waffle ice cream sandwiches

15 minutes active, 30 minutes total; makes 5

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 can Pillsbury™ Grands!™ Flaky Supreme refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing (5 rolls)
  • 2 1/2 cups ice cream, any variety, softened slightly
  • Powdered sugar
  • Assorted candy sprinkles, if desired

Procedure

  1. Heat Belgian-style waffle maker. Grease generously with oil. Separate dough into 5 rolls; spoon icing into small resealable food-storage plastic bag, and set aside.
  2. With serrated knife, cut each cinnamon roll in half lengthwise; grease both sides of dough with oil, and place 1 or 2 at a time (depending how many fit without touching) on waffle maker. Close waffle maker.
  3. Bake 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until cooked and golden brown. Using wooden kitchen utensil, carefully remove to cooling rack. Repeat with remaining cinnamon roll dough, greasing waffle maker and dough each time. Cool waffles completely.
  4. To make sandwiches, with ice cream scoop, add about 1/2 cup ice cream to center of 1 waffle for bottom, and top with another waffle. Cut corner of icing bag, and pipe icing on top of each waffle sandwich; sprinkle with powdered sugar and candy sprinkles. Serve immediately, or place in freezer until ready to serve.
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