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Entries in Cakewalk (121)

Sunday
May012011

Cakewalk: Two Sweet Pittsburgh Bakery Visits with Cake Gumshoe Lauren

CakeSpy Note: You know what rules? Getting bakery tips from readers. Here's a great round-up of sweet spots that I know I'll be trying next time I'm in Pittsburgh, thanks to Cake Gumshoe Lauren H.!

I’m sure that there are many excellent ways to spend a rainy February weekend in Pittsburgh, but my favorite so far is most definitely exploring the city’s bakeries. While we weren’t there long enough to try too many places, my husband and I had a lovely time at the two places that we did visit (which we might have visited more than once), and I wanted to share them with other Cakespy readers who might be looking for sweets during their next trip to Pittsburgh!

Our first Pittsburgh stop was Dozen Bake Shop. I found a link to their website on Cakespy and wanted to be sure to visit! Dozen has two locations in Pittsburgh, one in Lawrenceville and one near the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon campuses in Oakland. We dropped by both; while the Lawrenceville location has seating and a more “café” feel, the Oakland location just seemed cozier for some reason!

Dozen has a daily cupcake menu, and I’m proud (ashamed?) to say that my husband and I managed to try the majority of the daily specials during our two days in Pittsburgh. The six cupcakes that took part in our taste test (pictured above, clockwise from the top left) were Mostess (basically a much tastier Hostess cupcake), Almond Dream, Milk Chocolate, Elvis (banana cake filled with chocolate buttercream and topped with peanut butter frosting), East End Chocolate Stout, and Red Velvet. Though all but one of the cupcakes were hits, the highlight was definitely the Almond Dream – I’ll be making my way to Dozen for another as soon as I arrive in Pittsburgh next time! The one miss was the East End Chocolate Stout: we were definitely not a fan of beer + cupcake + Irish cream frosting!  

We also indulged in some of Dozen’s non-cupcake sweets in the form of an incredible cinnamon bun, which I actually think my husband would rank above the cupcakes as his favorite Dozen treat.   

While Dozen was lovely, however, the highlight of our bakery stops was La Gourmandine Bakery, which is the best bakery that I’ve visited in any city for quite some time! The bakery has been open less than a year and is run by a French couple who relocated to Pittsburgh and decided to open a traditional French bakery there.   

The bakery is small and cozy, with just a few tables, but there was quite a Saturday morning line when we were there, despite its size and relative newness – and with good reason! As the photos above show, La Gourmandine has a spectacular selection of French pastries and breads, and the best part is that everything tastes even better than it looks!  

We indulged in (left to right) a coffee éclair, apple tart, and chocolate éclair. All three were beyond incredible, and the only thing that kept me from returning to purchase a box of coffee éclairs to take home with us the next day was the fact that La Gourmandine is closed on Sundays.  

If possible, La Gourmandine’s bread was even better than the pastries – we brought home a traditional baguette and a pain au cereal and could not stop raving about them (or eating them!) In short, pretty much everything about La Gourmandine was lovely and delightful – and tasted absolutely amazing! We’re planning another trip to Pittsburgh soon, and I’m fighting the urge to count down the days until we can visit the bakery to pick up another baguette and multiple coffee éclairs!

Hopefully this short walk will inspire other Cakespy readers to check out these bakeries next time they’re in Pittsburgh – and keep them full of sweets during their visit!

Places mentioned:

Dozen Bake Shop online at http://dozenbakeshop.com/

La Gourmandine Bakery online at http://www.lagourmandinebakery.com/

Wednesday
Apr272011

Cakewalk: A Sweet Bakery Tour of Montreal with Cake Gumshoe Lauren

CakeSpy Note: You know what rules? Getting bakery tips from readers. Here's a great round-up of sweet spots that I know I'll be trying next time I'm in Montreal, thanks to Cake Gumshoe Lauren H.!

Given Montreal’s ties to France, it seems logical to assume that the city is full of lovely French bakeries; so my husband and I spent a recent trip testing this hypothesis by visiting as many Montreal bakeries as possible! Thankfully, the assumption is correct – lots of good bakeries – and I wanted to share our findings with fellow Cakespy readers, in hopes of providing a couple of places for them to try next time they’re in Montreal!

As we visited a lot of places, I’ve ranked them in our order of preference. I’ve included boulangeries and patisseries on the walk, because you sometimes need some good bread to cut the sweet of all of the patisserie visits!   

1. Duc de Lorraine. The pastries from Duc de Lorraine were far and away our favorites of the trip. While we took our treats to go, the bakery did have seating and savory options. In researching places to try, I’d read excellent things about the bakery, and it was clear why! The pastries that we tried (pictured below, clockwise from upper left, coffee éclair, delicious strawberry/banana pastry, crème éclair, and chocolate éclair) were as good as any that we had in Paris, and I’d return in a heartbeat!

2. Patisserie Kouign Amman. I had seen Kouign Amman on the Cakespy site and was hoping to try to visit, so I was thrilled when we passed it during a visit to Mont Royal. Unfortunately, we popped in late in the day, and there were no more pastries to try. Fortunately, they were still well-stocked with croissants, so we picked up a few for later. Thankfully, my husband talked me out of my original attempt at restraint (“Let’s just get one to share”), because I don’t think either of us would have been willing to give up a bite after tasting how wonderful the Kouign Amman croissants were. They’re everything that you’d want a croissant to be – flaky, buttery, and delicious.

3. Le Fromentier. I went to Le Fromentier specifically to get bread for a picnic dinner, and it was absolutely worth the trip. The shop itself is delightful and very European (one of the only places in Montreal where the shop keeper spoke only French), with breads, cheeses, and pastries. We only tried the bread, which was wonderful (especially the sourdough baguette), but I’d imagine that the pastries are equally wonderful. Le Fromentier is a bit out of the way and a bit of a walk from the closest metro station, but it’s definitely worth the hike!

4. Olive + Gourmando. I’d read that Olive + Gourmando was slightly more a brunch café, and that does appear to be the case, at least in part. We visited late on a Saturday morning, and they had soups, sandwiches, and hot breakfasts available in addition to more traditional baked goods and coffee. It was incredibly crowded, but the staff was efficient and got us a table in about ten minutes (impressive, given that there were 3 – 4 couples in front of us in line). They also offer the option of ordering your coffee and pastry to go, which numerous people appeared to be doing. We stayed more on the savory side at Olive + Gourmando, trying toast with cheddar, an apple and cinnamon “brioche” (more of a cinnamon roll), and a croissant au fromage (pictured, left to right, below). All three (and the coffee and hot chocolate) were lovely; this fact, combined with Olive + Gourmando’s central Old Montreal location, makes it a great place to try!   

5. Café Myriade. Technically, Café Myriade is a coffee shop. Still, I’m including it on the list because their cinnamon bun (pictured above) was one of the best non-patisserie treats that I had during the trip and my husband ranked his croissant (pictured below) as very close to those of Kouign Amann in quality. In short, Café Myriade has wonderful coffee and pastries and a very cozy ambiance – definitely worth a visit!

6. Premiere Moisson. Premiere Moisson is one of Montreal’s chain bakeries; they have approximately twenty locations throughout the city. However, the “chain” label is perhaps deceptive in this case: we visited the location close to our hotel a few times, trying more than the crème éclair and opera cake pictured above, and found all of the pastries to be very nice and not at all what you might expect from a place with so many locations. While Premiere Moisson lacks the “neighborhood” feel that the places ranked above it possess, its treats are good, and its multiple locations make it a great place to grab a nice pastry while you’re running around Montreal!   

7. Claude Postel. We stumbled across Claude Postel in Old Montreal and decided to pick up our desserts for the evening (coffee éclair, chocolate dessert whose proper name escapes me, and chocolate éclair, pictured left to right below) there. I’d definitely recommend it – everything was good – but the pastries didn’t quite measure up to the pastries from the other locations that we tried. Still, I’d try everything that we had there again – one of the benefits of Montreal is clearly that even the 7th ranked bakery on the list is still pretty wonderful!

8. Cocoa Locale. Cocoa Locale is ranked 8th only because it was closed when we arrived to give it a go. However, it is worth noting that it was closed an hour before it was scheduled to be because it had completely sold out of its cakes and pastries for the day (as the sign in the above photo indicates). This fact makes me think it would be ranked much higher if we’d actually gotten to try a Cocoa Locale cake – and puts it on the top of my list for our next trip to Montreal!

9. Boutique Point G. Ranked last, behind even the place we were unable to visit, is Point G. We were drawn in by all of the brightly colored macarons and couldn’t resist trying a few, but it was such a disappointment! As my husband put it, “These look like Paris macarons, but they most certainly don’t taste like them!” The cookies were very cake-y and paled in comparison to all of the other treats that we tried during our trip; in fact, we carried the majority of them home and actually never ate them. Point G is a few blocks away from Kouign Amman – I’d definitely recommend skipping the macarons and going for a croissant instead!

I hope this walk gets other Cakespy readers visiting Montreal started on a boulangerie- and patisserie-filled trip!

Places mentioned:

Duc de Lorraine, 5002 Chemin de la Cote-des-Neiges

Patisserie Kouign Amann, 322 Mont-Royal Est

Le Fromentier, 1375 Avenue Laurier Est

Olive + Gourmando, online at http://www.oliveetgourmando.com/index_flash.cfm

Café Myriade, online at http://www.cafemyriade.com/

Premiere Moisson, online at http://www.premieremoisson.com/

Claude Postel, online at http://www.claudepostel.com/

Cocoa Locale, 4807 Avenue du Parc

Boutique Point G, online at http://www.boutiquepointg.com/

Wednesday
Apr202011

Cakewalk in Manhattan Part 2: Upper West Side

Not long ago, I heard about a group of artists who do the most wonderful thing to keep themselves inspired: they will navigate that city with a map of a different city. The idea, of course, being that sometimes, removing yourself from your natural element can help you see the world through new eyes. Well, to say I was enamored of this idea would be a bit of an understatement, and I have since tried to incorporate this idea into my pastry-eating and adventuring.

So when I was headed to NYC, to create an adventure to rival my pastry half-marathon, I knew I'd have to think of something good.

And then it came to me: a literal cakewalk. Here's the 411:

  • How: I took a map of Manhattan, and on both the upper east and west sides, I wrote the word “Cake” and transcribed it into a walking route (can you see it on the map above?)
  • Why this route: Well, because it was going to involve a lot of backtracking, I realized that choosing these neighborhoods, which bookend Central Park, would result in not only an interesting comparison, but would also ease up the physical amount of walking.
  • But what if I missed a good bakery? Well, I made a few side trips, but the idea in general was to have a route that might take me by places I might not otherwise have heard about and to possibly make some new discoveries.
  • Total Miles Walked: Many.

What did I find? So many sweet discoveries. Read on for the chronicle of the Upper West Side trek (you can also find the East Side Cakewalk here):

Necessary Side Trip: Hungarian Pastry Shop. How could you not stop here? It's a treasure.

105th and Broadway: Silver Moon Bakery. If you've never visited this breadmaker/bakery, you are in for a treat. Carb-o-load on freshly baked pretzels (if they still have any left), which are salty, yeasty, and completely addictive; get your sweet fix with pastries and truffles of all manner. Do it.

96th and Amsterdam: Maybe you've seen one before, but I never had: an Altoid Gum machine.

96th and Columbus: Sing Sing Market, where they have good crumb cake.

Image: Threadless.comAlso at 96th and Columbus: I saw a girl wearing a t-shirt that said “Stupid raisins stay out of my cookie”. No, I wasn't looking in a mirror. I will be, soon, though, because I found it online and ordered myself one.

Side note: Not that you asked, but I fell in love with a new building: 498 west End Avenue.

80th and Amsterdam: Sarabeth's. Favorite two things there: cookies, and jam. Not necessarily together.

81st Street at Broadway: Zabar's. Oh em Gee. Same family that owns Eli's on the East side. The crumb cake is some of my favorite in the city, and everything else—the cookies, the babka, the Hello Dolly bars—isn't so bad either.

72nd and Broadway: Grandaisy Bakery. A teeny tiny storefront, this spot offers a variety of pastries and cookies, as well as little pizzas; this time, I tried the Lumaca, or as I was told to call it, “the snail”, a sweet flaky roll filled with apricot, honey and pistachio. Sort of like a morning roll gets kissed by baklava.

Necessary side trip: Levain Bakery. With half pound cookies that taste as good as they weigh, you'd better make a short side trip to this place.

70th Street and Columbus: Muffins Cafe. This place has my favorite corn muffins, but they sell out early and I'll be honest, I've never tried anything else.

70th and Columbus: Soutine Bakery. Like a little dollhouse bakery at the first level of a brownstone on a side street, this place is as charming as can be, and has a loyal following.

69th and Columbus: Magnolia Bakery. If you've never had a cupcake from one of their outposts, do try the ones at this spot, the second location they opened. If you're so over cupcakes, dive into their banana nilla wafer pudding, which is a strong second-bestseller.

...and to finish, at Columbus Circle: Time Warner Center. You must go here, because they have two things of interest to the avid pastry-eater. For one thing, Whole Foods sells a variety of baked goods from many local bakeries, so if you aren't going to get to visit every neighborhood, you can find sweets from places like Two Little Red Hens, etc, here. Also, you must visit Bouchon, where you can get the most pinkies-out homemade oreos or Ho-hos you've ever seen.  

For highlights from the Upper East Side Cakewalk, click here!

Wednesday
Apr202011

Cakewalk in Manhattan Part 1: Upper East Side

Not long ago, I heard about a group of artists who do the most wonderful thing to keep themselves inspired: they will navigate that city with a map of a different city. The idea, of course, being that sometimes, removing yourself from your natural element can help you see the world through new eyes. Well, to say I was enamored of this idea would be a bit of an understatement, and I have since tried to incorporate this idea into my pastry-eating and adventuring.

So when I was headed to NYC, to create an adventure to rival my pastry half-marathon, I knew I'd have to think of something good.

And then it came to me: a literal cakewalk. Here's the 411:

  • How: I took a map of Manhattan, and on both the upper east and west sides, I wrote the word “Cake” and transcribed it into a walking route (can you see it on the map above?)
  • Why this route: Well, because it was going to involve a lot of backtracking, I realized that choosing these neighborhoods, which bookend Central Park, would result in not only an interesting comparison, but would also ease up the physical amount of walking.
  • But what if I missed a good bakery? Well, I made a few side trips, but the idea in general was to have a route that might take me by places I might not otherwise have heard about and to possibly make some new discoveries.
  • Total Miles Walked: Many.

What did I find? So many sweet discoveries. Read on for the chronicle of the Upper East Side trek:

Bonus coverage: because I couldn't NOT, I did veer off of the grid slightly for a small side adventure before starting the east side cakewalk:

First, Breakfast at Tiffany's: I drew a little Audrey Hepburn-inspired croissant to kick off my journey.

And now, on to the Cakewalk. Here are highlights from the love letter I sweet-walked across the grid of the Upper East Side (click here for the West Side tour):

59th Street: Macaron Cafe. A cafe dedicated to la belle macaron—what could be sweeter?

60th Street and 3rd Avenue: slightly off of my C route, Dylan's Candy Bar was worth the block diversion, because, after all...

59th Street and 3rd Ave: Financier Patisserie. A cute-as-a-button bakery featuring all manner of Frenchie Sweets.

Sidebar: I headed over to one of the little parks that dot the side streets off of Sutton Place, where you can see the view of the Queensboro bridge made famous in Woody Allen's Manhattan. Sweetness!

63rd and York: Sweet serendipity! De La Vega is an NYC artist who is very prolific with sidewalk chalk—it was a delight to discover some of his work. I kept on finding it around the east side, which made me feel like I had a sidewalk chalk compatriot.

73rd and York: Sugar Loaf Cafe. Gawd, isn't that just the best name you've ever heard?

75th and York: The best of the Delavega art I came across, wherein “become your dream” was “become your ice cream”. I left a little response. xo.

78th and 1st Avenue: Bagel and Appetizing. I always love the crumb cake at places like this.

Between 79th and 80th Streets on 1st Avenue: Anneliese's Pastries. Featuring row after row of cupcakes, cookies, and a very surprising variety of roulades, this place gave the entire block a nice, buttery scent.

80th and 1st Avenue: Agata & Valentina. This gourmet grocery not only had great produce but a nice array of treats obtained from various local wholesale bakers.

81 st Street: Gracie Mews Diner. Sweet tip: on the Sunday I walked by, their brunch menu featured something so magical it almost brings a tear to my eye: Brownie Waffle Sundae. I did not try it, but it evoked such sweet fantasies that I couldn't not share.

80th Street and 2nd Avenue: H+H Bagels. Complete with a second entrance for tiny people! (Kidding—it is where the flour is pumped in, I believe). 

82nd and 2nd Avenue: Sweet Temptations, Nut City: It was closed, but the sign did make me smile.

76th and 2nd Avenue: Caffe Noi. For when it's Gelato o'clock!

76th and 77th and 2nd Avenue: Pick a Bagel. Once again, the crumb cake!

75th and 3rd Avenue: Citarella. This gourmet grocer always has some nice sweets, generally from nicer local bakeries.

79th and 3rd Ave.: Crumbs Bake Shop. I've had hot and cold experiences at this cupcake chain, which has proliferated around NYC and now beyond. If I am going to tell you the complete truth, I have enjoyed their cookies more reliably than the cupcakes.

79th and 3rd Ave: Corrado Pastry. This bakery has a location in Grand Central Terminal too, and I was delighted to see a bigger cafe. Good cookies.

80th and 3rd Ave: Eli's. Now, this place is kind of like heaven for foodies. Let's pause to see just a few of the sweeties on offer (a mix of baked in-house and outsourced). The picture above really does not show how extensive their baked-good and sweet offerings truly are--candy, confections, cakes, pastries, pies, cookies...the works. It is like heaven.

Necessary side trip: Wm. Greenberg's, for some of the most celebrated black and white cookies.

83rd and 84th at York: Yorkville Creperie.

86th and 2nd Avenue: Dunkin' Donuts. If you believe it, this is the first one I ran across (unless I missed on along my route previously?)

Necessary side trip: Two Little Red Hens, where you can get your cupcake on, old school style. Just walk over to York Avenue.

86th and 3rd Avenue: This isn't necessarily sweet, but I totally saw Emeril filming at Gray's Papaya at this corner. Cool.

86th and Lexington: Tim Horton's. Just donut. Also, Shake Shack--anyplace that has a Custard Calendar is just fine with me.

93rd and 3rd: Corner Bakery. Featuring fauxtess cupcakes, cookies, and more, this spot was packed.

3rd Ave at 95th: Zesty's Pizza, one of my guilty pleasures, has delightfully greasy zeppole.

96th and Park: Gourmet Garage. Another good bet for baked goods wholesale from some of the city's nicer bakeries.

101st at Park: A sweet heart on the street.

102nd and Lexington: Delicious Bread House. Believe it or not, I used to live on this corner. But when I lived on this corner, this place wasn't there, just a friendly guy who would stand in front of this empty storefront and, I think, deal drugs. Maybe I wouldn't have moved away if this place had been there. The place is roughly the size of a postage stamp, and baking is not done on premises—instead, they receive their baked goods from a variety of wholesalers—but the two workers there during my visit, who were adorable, told me that their goal was to bring artisan bread and delicious pastries to Spanish Harlem. I told them I loved them. Everything was stupid-cheap: I picked up a three-pack of cakey Lemon drop Italian cookies for $1.50. More info here.

110th and 1st Ave: La Tropezienne. This was the jewel gilding the lily of the E on my final turn. Unmarked and unassuming from the outside, I probably wouldn't have looked twice but for the crowd and the singular, heady scent of butter and sugar that I know signifies “Bakery”.

Inside, I discovered a sweet spot indeed: cases and cases of delicate french pastries, cakes, tarts, and even cream puffs shaped like swans. More info here. 

Click here for the West side companion Cakewalk.

Wednesday
Mar302011

Oh Fudge: Chocolate Covered Cherry Fudge by Fields of Cake

Images: Fields of CakeCheck it. So, a week or two ago, I went to Vermont for the Maple Open House weekend. Which was awesome. You'll totally hear more about it soon. But.

Right now, I want to address a beautiful diversion from said Vermont Maple Weekend. 

So, I have been bloggy BFF's for, like, ever with Fields of Cake. Carrie Fields, the talented proprietress of this blog and Portland, Maine-area home-based baking business, has not only been a customer of mine for years, but has wowed me with her baking prowess on many occasions.

So when she sent me a message that basically amounted to "You're this close, come to Maine!"...I listened.

And I went to Maine, where I was treated to sea, sunshine...and the most delicious fudge I have ever, in my life, tasted.

And I have tried my share of fudge varieties, let me tell you.

This chocolate-covered cherry fudge is extremely sweet in the up-front, assertive way that only fudge can get away with. But Carrie's was a gorgeous variety: completely smooth, none of that "chocolate sand" gritty texture business, and in spite of the sweetness you could still taste the flavor of real cherry shining through.

Basically, this was the type of fudge that could make you swear off chocolate covered cherries forever.

And--happy dance--she posted a recipe, here. But I'll bet she'd also sell it to you if you sent her an email through her great site.

Tuesday
Mar222011

Sweetness by the Bay: Cake Gumshoe Charlotte's San Francisco Picks

CakeSpy Note: My readers are totally sweet. Case in point: Cake Gumshoe Charlotte, who recently took a holiday to San Francisco and was kind enough to report on some of her sweet finds!

Just returned from San Francisco, fully loaded with sweetness. Walgreen's had big bags of M&M's 2 for 4 dollars!

I also got to sample some totally sweet treats. During a rainy walk through Telegraph Hill and into North Beach I came across this Italian French Baking Company--that's what it was called. The Nonna working the counter was on two phones getting the low down on the previous night's events and there were two older gentlemen on stools in the window, this place had a very local feel. I was there in the afternoon, so a lot of their sweet treats were sold out. I was really hoping for an almond croissant but was informed that I was too late for those. Must be a hot item.

I picked up an Almond Lemon scone, which I had for breakfast the next day. Delicious, perfect balance of the two flavours.

The next morning I walked down Market Street to the Ferry Building. I had it on good authority that I would find stalls and vendors with 'artisanal baked goods'. And I did. There was a lot to choose from but when I saw Pebbles Donuts my mind was made up.

Super friendly service from the vendor, who was not one of the bakers. She told me there are two bakers, sounded secretive. I chose a Meyer Lemon for my man, and the cinnamon sugar because the vendor said it was her favorite. They were delicious. Soft and moist, not a bit greasy at all. Yum!

That afternoon I went to the SF MOMA and when it was time for a sit down break I headed to the 5th floor cafe and found Humphrey Slocombe! They didn't have a choice of flavours, but an art inspired desert based on a work by Tony Cragg. One scoop of blood orange, one scoop of malted milk and a sugar cone. The blood orange had a bit of a salty taste to it with subtle orange flavour and the malted milk was amazing!! Just like a Malteaser, (or a whopper in the U.S.). So yummy!

Sounds like a sweet adventure!

Places mentioned:

Italian French Baking Company

Pebbles Donuts

Humphrey Slocombe

Sunday
Mar132011

Cakewalk: A Sweet Jaunt to London with Cake Gumshoe Lauren

CakeSpy Note: You know what rules? Getting bakery tips from readers. Here's a great round-up of sweet spots that I know I'll be trying next time I'm in London, thanks to Cake Gumshoe Lauren H.!

I definitely do not purport to know all of the lovely bakeries in London – it is chock full of them, as one might imagine given Britain’s reputation for afternoon tea and all of the sweets that it entails. Still, my trips to the city have left me with a couple of favorites that I thought other Cakespy readers might enjoy exploring next time they’re in London!

First, Konditor and Cook, which has several locations throughout London, largely south of the Thames.   

Konditor and Cook is very much a “drop in to grab a treat” type of place: while a couple of locations have tables, the majority are counters for tea, coffee, savories, and sweets.

I love Konditor and Cook because you can visit for everything from a breakfast treat to lunch to take-away pastries to cakes. A few highlights from many visits:

Traditional Millionaire Shortbread – Konditor and Cook is one of the only places that I’ve been able to find it in London, and it is more than delicious!  

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a proper English bakery without a collection of cakes and tarts…(pictured top of post; clockwise from the top left: Coffee Walnut Cake, Bramley Apple Tart, Chocolate Raspberry Fudge Tart, and Almond Fruit Tart.)

Konditor and Cook is perhaps best-known for its “Magic Cakes,” which are small lemon sponge cakes that are, quite honestly, almost too adorable to eat.

If you’re looking for a more sit-down, proper-English-tea experience, Bea’s of Bloomsbury is likely to be a better fit. Bea’s has been open in Bloomsbury (relatively near The British Museum) since 2008 and recently opened a new location at One New Change, just across the street from St. Paul’s Cathedral. New Change is intended to be the “hip, younger sister” of the original location, and this intention is clear in the décor. Still, the sweets and service are the same at both locations.

Like Konditor and Cook, Bea’s does coffee, breakfast, and lunch, but afternoon tea is truly the best reason to visit Bea’s. The Bloomsbury location serves it from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday – Friday, and One New Change serves from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday – Friday. Both locations do weekend tea from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Afternoon Tea at Bea’s takes on one of two forms. If you’re not too hungry or are looking to stay in the savory range, there’s the Cream Tea option, which consists of lovely, lovely scones and, of course, a pot of tea!

For the slightly more hungry (and cake lovers among us!), there’s the Sweet Afternoon Tea, featuring scones, cupcakes, brownies, blondies, meringues, homemade marshmallows, and other treats. I’m not entirely sure how it’s possible for one person to eat everything that comes on the tea tray (though I’ve seen people try!), but the Bea’s staff is wonderfully flexible in terms of allowing sharing and extra treats.

Here’s a peek of the Sweet Afternoon Tea at the Bloomsbury location (above)...

And one from One New Change...

And so ends my rather short cake walk – hopefully it will be helpful to the next Cakespy reader who has a bit of time to spare (and a sweet tooth!) in London!

Places mentioned:

Konditor and Cook, online at http://www.konditorandcook.comBea’s of Bloomsbury, online at http://www.beasofbloomsbury.com.

Sunday
Jan232011

It's All About The Cookie: Sweet Dreams Cookies from Baker Street Bread, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia

Only a professional Cake Gumshoe would walk into a place known for its bread and pass right by the heavenly carbohydratey display of loaves and go right for the cookies.

But oh, am I glad I did.

I'd like to introduce you, friends, to the Sweet Dreams Cookie from Philadelphia's Baker Street Bread. It's fairly standard cookie fare at first glance, but one bite tells you why this cookie has been elevated from mere chocolate chip to "sweet dreams" status. It's comprised of the usual suspects, upon first taste: buttery cookie base. Chocolate chips. Nuts. And then...cinnamon. A simple addition, but one that adds so much to the end result, and makes you look forward to each following bite until the cookie is gone.

It's one smart and well-spiced cookie.

Sweet Dreams Cookies, Baker Street Bread, 8009 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.

Baker Street Bread on Urbanspoon

Saturday
Jan222011

Totally Swede: Cake Gumshoe Nicholas Shares Sweet Finds from Cafe Saturnus, Stockholm

CakeSpy Note: So, I have a totally sweet customer named Nicholas. He's basically the ideal customer: he comes in and buys stuff, and then tells me all about the delicious sweets he eats when he travels the world. Just looking at his pictures is bound to evoke some seriously sweet wanderlust. Here's where he's been recently:

I tried a new cafe here in Stockholm and check out the size of these buns:

Pretty delicious! Cafe Saturnus is a small cafe in the middle of Stockholm which has a pretty strong French theme (although all the pastries are Swedish). I haven't tried the savory food, but it looks very very good.

This is the "kanelbulle" (CS Note: here's a link to a recipe for these Swedish cinnamon rolls!), which is a cinnamon bun. This one was enormous and had a little more vanilla than usual.

Not that this is such a bad thing. Oh, and btw, Nicholas included another picture for good measure:Yeah, that's right. Get yourself to Stockholm! Curious to learn more? Find Saturnus online here.

Tuesday
Jan182011

My, My, My Delilah: Banana Nilla Wafer Pudding from Delilah's, Philadelphia

On our recent trip to Philadelphia, emerging at 30th Street Station after an epic journey from the Jersey shore, both Mr. Spy and myself were unified in one singular feeling: HUNGER.

So when we spied Delilah's (OMG! As seen on Throwdown with Bobby Flay!), we were some very happy cake gumshoes.

But we passed right by the famous mac and cheese (next time!) and went for the sweet jugular: the banana nilla wafer pudding. Now, anyone who has ever eaten banana nilla wafer pudding knows what an ambrosial foodstuff it truly is. And at Delilah's, we were treated to a particularly fine example: it was simply full of bananas ("I think this has a whole banana in it!" was Mr. Spy's reaction) smothered in creamy custard with a smattering of nilla wafers, and the flavors had reached a point of perfect fusion, making each bite a deliciously creamy dream.

I'm not saying that you should skip a first course, because with a menu full of fried chicken, mac and cheese, and barbecue, there's plenty to keep you fat and happy--but I am saying don't get so full that you have no room for dessert.

Delilah's, Philadelphia; for locations and information, click here.

Delilah's at the Terminal on Urbanspoon

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