Batter Chatter: Interview with Mei of Tiny Hands Jewelry, and a Giveaway!

Much sweeter than wearing your heart on your sleeve? Wearing sweets around your neck, or on your finger, or around your wrist! I'm talking about food-themed jewelry of course, and I'm pretty sure that Tiny Hands makes the absolute cutest stuff around. From teeny-tiny waffles with butter to sno-cones (pictured above) to slices of pie to doughnuts and cookies and now, even cupcake rings, these charms are not only adorable, but they are scented, too. What a fantastic way to declare your love of sweets!

Now. I really want to share this great company with you, so I'm going to do two things in this post: first, I'm going to introduce you to the company owner, Mei Pak, via interview. And then second, I'm offering a giveaway! You can scroll to the bottom of the post to figure out how to enter, ok?

Here's the interview:
Please describe your business in 6 words or less. Super cute scented food jewelry!
What is the best thing to happen to you in the past 48 hours? Wow, it's like you're in my mind! My husband and I just bought our FIRST home!! We're so excited - it's the perfect house for us and where we're at in our lives now. We just finished moving in. We're really stressed with the transition, but we're also super happy about our new home!
Can you describe your office (or where you work)? Our new Tiny Hands headquarters has hot pink walls, rainbow colored curtains and a large U-shaped white desk with pink chairs for us to make and ship our food jewelry across the world! What was once a boring built in cabinet, will be a really nice and neat storage space for all our materials and shipping supplies. We removed the doors and installed white curtains so our storage area looks really pretty too! We have some modular Ikea furniture for more organized space as well.
What quality do you most value in others? Kindness -- a year ago I was featured on local TV for the first time. We don't have TV at home so there was no way I could record the show. That weekend I was doing a craft show, and a really sweet older woman said she saw me on TV and had the recording. A few weeks later, I received the tape in the mail! This woman's kindness really touched me and I won't forget what she did for the rest of my life!
If you could instantly conjure up any dessert or sweet in the world at this moment, what would it be? French macarons! There aren't many french bakeries here in the Twin Cities, and I know making macarons can be super tedious!
One of my favorite things about your line is that it's all scented. Have you ever gotten mixed up and given one of your pieces of jewelry the wrong scent? Hmm... if I have I don't remember it! I have everything labeled so it's really hard to screw up!
How do you stay motivated? I love looking at pictures of real food! Pinterest is great for that. When I see a delicious looking cake, I just want to miniaturize it!
Cake for breakfast. Thoughts? Oh, heck yes! Cake for second breakfast too!
In your opinion, do people tend to gravitate toward the jewelry that reflects their food tastes, or do they just choose what they find cutest? I think people pick jewelry they've had a personal connection with. I had a grandma buy a chocolate chip cookie necklace for her granddaughter, who she nicknamed Cookie!

What's the product you're personally most excited about now? Ice cream cone and cupcake rings! Everyone keeps asking for them, and I'm stoked to put them up for sale!
What is a dream you'd love to see realized within the next 10 years? It would be awesome that in the next 10 years, I can open my own restaurant or bakery! I love food and know so many people do too, so I can't think of a better way to share that kind of experience with people.
If you want more info, or to go shopping, visit Tiny Hands online!
And as for that giveaway...want to enter? OK! It's easy. Here's how you enter.
  1. First, choose any item equal or lesser than $30 from the store.
  2. Next, post a link to it, and why you chose that piece, either in the comments section on this post (moderation is enabled!) or post your response on the CakeSpy facebook page.
We'll choose one lucky entrant at random one week from today, (end of day on Wednesday, June 5) and send them their chosen item! Because shipping rates overseas and abroad can be hefty, though, we have to ask that only US entrants participate. 
Good luck!

Batter Chatter: Interview with Baker-Author Gesine Bullock-Prado

Are you a baker? Do you think you're pretty cool? Well, think again. Because Gesine Bullock-Prado wrote the book on cool baking. Actually, she's written several: My Life from Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a TimeSugar Baby: Confections, Candies, Cakes & Other Delicious Recipes for Cooking with Sugar; Pie It Forward: Pies, Tarts, Tortes, Galettes, and Other Pastries Reinvented; and now, Bake It Like You Mean It: Gorgeous Cakes from Inside Out. I mean, seriously. You should take a few minutes here to buy all of them.

I baked something last week from the most recent book, and man, did it ever go over well. You'll have to wait a few days for that post, because I've been busy painting cupcakes and unicorns. But in the meantime I will show you a picture of one of the cakes from the book that my friend Peabody made. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing her picture, especially since I didn't ask. But seriously, isn't this amazing?Image: Peabody

Yes, this cake, baked by Peabody, is one of the recipes featured in Bake It Like You Mean It.

Now, if you, like me, are curious to know more about the baking prodigy behind this creative deliciousness, well, you're in luck. Because Gesine was kind enough to answer a few questions so we could all get to know her better. This should whet your appetite til I can post that recipe!

Interview with Gesine Bullock-Prado

What's the best thing to happen to you in the last 48 hours?  The Dartmouth Women's Tennis team sent me a long sleeved team t-shirt to thank me for making them a cake while they were on the road, competing in LA.  I was away from home too, baking in California for the Bake It publicity tour, and I was already in the groove so I pumped out a checkerboard cake to fuel them away from home.  I really wasn't doing it for the cozy t-shirt, I swear.

What are your thoughts on cake for breakfast?  My thoughts are,"yes please."  And let's not forget that muffins, everyone's favorite morning comestible, are really just cake in paper Spanx.

Can you suggest a polite way to extract myself from conversations with people once they've said "I don't like dessert"?  "I have the number of a wonderful therapist who can help you with that."

Do you have any superstitions?  They usually follow along the lines of the rules of "Fight Club."  So I can't talk about them.

Zombie apocalypse! You only have time to grab three objects from your home before running. What are they?  The husband (I often treat him as an object because he's so pretty), the dogs (they count as a single unit and I might stuff them when they pass, so I'm counting them as objects too) and my flock of chickens and water fowl (also counting them as a single unit and see my dog answer re stuffing).

WITHOUT GOOGLING IT: what is cream of tartar, anyway?  If it's a something to do with pastry AND wine, I'll likely know the answer.  Cream of tartar happens to be and acid derived from a sediment left over from delicious wine fermentation,   I also am a meringue fiend and am friends with all acids that help in denaturing egg whites.  Do I get some wine for knowing the answer?

What quality to you most admire in a person?  Kindness

What is your personal mission statement?  Bake it like you mean it.  I'm not kidding.  I've been using it as a mantra for a kagillion years and it took me that long to realize that I could recycle it for use as a book title.  

What is your favorite US city for eating?  Vermont.  I's not a city but our entire population doesn't match the census numbers in a NYC borough so I think it counts.  I think we should rename the state Cheese City.

If you could choose any person living or dead to bake a cake or treat for, who would it be and why?  Mark Twain.  He loved his pie.  While he was spending an extended period of time in the UK, he wrote fantastic letters to his housekeeper back in the states just listing all the pies he wanted to eat when he got back home.

What's the best gift you've ever given?  A Zojirushi Fuzzy Logic rice maker along with a bundle of Japanese Pub Food cookbooks to my husband.  This was a few years ago and I'm still getting great food out of him on a weekly basis.  

Since you live in Vermont...can you tell me a story about creemees? They are delicious and not meant for the lactose intolerant.  I tolerate lactose beautifully so my stories don't include any danger or hijinks.  

If you were able to go back in time and give your 13-year old self a message, what would it be?  Buy stock in Microsoft & Apple.  


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Don't you love her? Buy the book now: Bake It Like You Mean It: Gorgeous Cakes from Inside Out

Batter Chatter: Interview with Ashley Foxen of Reality Bites Cupcakes

Reality Bites Cupcakes

Reality Bites, but Cupcakes Are Sweet. Sounds like a wise proverb, but truthfully I just made it up to illustrate the fantastic sweetness with a humorous edge (see trompe l'oeil "pancake" cupcake, above) that goes on in the kitchen (which is then documented on the web) of Ashley Foxen, proprietress of Reality Bites Cupcakes. This sweet blog and small baking business is based in NYC, where Miss Foxen focuses on making the big apple just a little sweeter each day. 

Recently, we decided to learn a bit more about each other by conducting some e-mail interviews. Here is the link to her corresponding interview with me; and now, here are the scintillating questions I asked her, punctuated with images of her sweet cupcake creations:

Reality Bites Cupcakes

First things first. Who-what-where-when-why?

Who: Ashley Foxen

What: Reality Bites Cupcakes

When: Est. September 2012

Why: I found my artsy self in the corporate world, desperately trying to find a way to fulfill my creative needs while working a full time job. For fun, I began baking for coworkers' birthdays, and it all snow balled from there! I hadn't even thought of defining myself as a "food artist" until reading CakeSpy, but I think it's perfect. I have found a way to combine my art background with my deep desire to make people happy.

How: That is a wonderful question! I work out of my apartment, which you may realize cannot be all that big in NYC. But, I have found a way to make it work by both maximizing the use of the space I have (from the counters to the windowsills) and traveling to my family's home in the suburbs for bigger, more complicated projects. Which leads me to mention my sister and mother who have been incredible helps in this whole process. They are the brains and brawn of Reality Bites.

Reality Bites Cupcakes

What (in your opinion) is the finest trompe l'oeil cupcake you've ever made, and why? Hands down, it is the "bagel" cupcakes. They are an original idea, inspired by a food New York does best. These cupcakes even fool me, as I tend to crave the doughy goodness of a real bagel, when seconds earlier I was ready for dessert! They tease the taste buds more so than any other cupcake I have made.

Tell me about a life changing cupcake you've eaten. Oddly enough, I don't think it was a cupcake, but an entire chocolate cake. It was my first birthday, and instead of having to share it with everyone, my mother put the whole cake in front of me. It was a yellow cake with chocolate frosting- plain and simple- and it was all mine. I have never looked so happy as I do in the photos from that day. There is cake everywhere, particularly all over my face, hands and in my hair, but the smile on my face is priceless. How can anything top that? Clearly, I found joy in baked goods at a very young age.

Reality Bites Cupcakes

If you went back 200 years in time, how would you describe the modern-day cupcake craze to our forefathers? This is a tough one. How do you explain to anyone of that time that people wait in line for hours for baked goods? I guess I would explain that the cupcake craze has caused wars in the future- go with a topic they may be familiar with. Claiming one's cupcake territory is important, and while no one has died, Cupcake Wars gets pretty intense!

Reality Bites Cupcakes

What are the biggest differences between the baked goods of NYC and Paris, another place you've lived? I studied abroad in Paris and made a valiant attempt to eat my way through the City of Light. From macaroons (which NYC has since imported) to chocolate croissants, to a crepe with Nutella, I taste tested everything- a few times. There is something about the baked goods of Paris that makes them unlike those anywhere else. Everything tastes so fresh that it somehow becomes guilt free (or so I told myself). Maybe it is because things don't appear to be as mass produced there, but the treats of Paris all feel as if they are made just for you- particularly the crepe vendors on every other street that make them in front of you.  

Reality Bites Cupcakes

What is your biggest dessert dream? A cup of frozen yogurt that does not melt, refills itself, and cannot give me brain freeze.

For more sweetness, visit the Reality Bites Cupcakes website; there's also a twitter feed!

Batter Chatter: Interview with Amy Dumas, Pro Wrestler

Have you heard of SugarSlam? If not, are you in for some amazing cake-filled awesomeness. It's a yearly event put on by Natalie of Bake & Destroy, where you can flex your baking muscles. This year, according to the websit, "there are two titles up for grabs: SugarSlam 2012 Champion and People’s Choice. Our panel of judges will choose the Champ: Zach LinderAmy Dumas & Justin Howard."

Just be sure to enter SOON, because the deadline is coming up on July 20!

And as part of the festivities, celebrity Amy Dumas (you may know her as the WWE's Lita or as the lead singer of the Luchagors, among other career highlights) agreed to be interviewed on a foodie blog of Natalie's choosing. Well, naturally as a site equally as awesome as her own she chose CakeSpy!

And so here comes the first ever interview with a professional wrestler. It involves cake, promise.

I hear you're a healthy eater. That's perfectly acceptable. But when you indulge, what baked goods or desserts do you enjoy best? I am a healthy eater, but it's only so I can enjoy sweets! Um, how do I narrow it down? What desserts? Yes. All of them. Ice cream, cupcakes, cookies, whatever. Mint chocolate anything, peanut butter chocolate, cinnamon, caramel, coconut, dark chocolate. I love trying out fancy food places in my travels, but I find sometimes fancy desserts miss the mark. You know, like hazelnut infused mango truffle glazed ganache? Fuck that. Give me a donut, or a cupcake or ice cream. 

You've traveled all over the world. Can you tell me about a country or city's food culture that particularly fascinates you? Some of my favorite places to go aren't real big on desserts. I love Central and South America and Japan, but I can't say my most fond memories there revolve around a tres leches cake or some green tea ice cream. Europe has the lock on yummy pastries. However, there is a bakery in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua that has the best cinnamon rolls.  I think they taste better because the bakery is owned by this couple from Chicago who moved to Nicaragua with a surf board and some recipes and made it happen. There are fulfilled dreams in those cinnamon rolls!

As an esteemed judge of SugarSlam, what are you looking for in a winner? The coolest Lita cake ever. Seriously, I am looking for something that looks like someone put some thought into.  If you are making a wrestling related baked good, I can already give you points for not taking yourself too seriously.  Just go for it. I can see voting for a failed experiment and a good write up because they tried. Although I am pretty impressed by the baking whizzes that can make food look like yeah, a Lita cake.... And bonus points if it's vegan. 

Goin Bananas-1

Here's a picture of last year's SugarSlam winner. What are your thoughts on the cake (image above)? BTW, it's entitled "Goin' Bananas" - banana cake filled with banana custard, topped with dark chocolate buttercream, covered in homemade fondant. (she made Gorilla Monsoon's glasses from poured sugar. ) That thing is awesome. First of all, it sounds like it would taste delicious and it's creative. There are not enough Gorilla Monsoon cakes in this world. 

Angry Avocado  

Tell me three foods you couldn't live without (sweet or savory). Wheatgrass (is that a food? I want four then), kale, avocado, and chocolate. 

If a you were ever to be surprised with a pie in the face, what kind of pie would you choose? I would choose a coconut cream pie.  I think it would be light and not as dense as say, a chocolate peanut butter pie, so it would not inflict as much damage and the clean up would be yum.

Pies Vs. Cakes

Dessert face-off: If cake were to have a wrestling match with pie, who would win? Cake is going to win.  It is more structurally sound. Let's just say cake was flinging itself at pie, pie has oozed all over before there was even any impact and then cake absorbed pie like The Blob! Suck it, pie. You have no chance. 

If you were having Pee-Wee herman and a crew of luchadores over for dessert, what would you serve? I am picturing a last supper type of image with Pee-Wee Herman where Jesus would sit (obviously). I think I would do a Smorgasbord, dessert buffet style with everyone of my favorites all over the table. That way, there is something for everyone AND adds variety to the ammunition when I yell FOOD FIGHT!!!!

If you ignore the "Jason", it's actually quite appropriate.

Want more? Here are the important sites to visit: Bake & Destroy, Amy Dumas, SugarSlam.

Batter Chatter: Interview with Carrie of Fields of Cake

Images: Fields of CakeIt's time to catch up with Fields of Cake. 

Carrie Fields, owner of Fields of Cake, a boutique cake and fudge custom order bakery, is an ace baker and an equally awesome person (I know this because I hung out with her in Maine and then again at the Wilton Headquarters). And recently she relocated from Maine to Montana, so it seemed like a good time to catch up on her sweet adventures and how her business is evolving in its new location. Read on:

Did you drive to Missoula from Maine? If so, did you have any sweet bakery discoveries along the way? We drove from Virginia to Montana after living on Crete for 3 months. We were trying to beat storms so we drove until we couldn't drive anymore then slept and drove some more. I would LOVE to make that trip again just for soul purpose of stuffing my face full of sweet delights from all over the country. Some day. Sigh.

How is Missoula different from Maine, in terms of the sweets scene? Missoula seems SO much more open to the awesomeness of baked goodness in the form of sugar, flour, eggs...There is such a sense of pride in local and scratch made. There are GREAT local chocolatiers here and SEVERAL bakeries I can't WAIT to check out.

Please tell me you've visited Bernice's Bakery, one of my favorites! Don't hate me....I have yet to visit Bernice's though my brother-in-law is planning on taking me on a bakery crawl after my crazy Valentines Day push. He is supposed to be the local expert on ALL the great bakeries. I can't WAIT!

Is Fields of Cake going to change scope at all in its new hometown? The biggest change for me is going to be renting a commercial kitchen. Other than that, it will be same as before, focusing on going beyond what the customer requests and making each order a WOW order. My ultimate goal is to have a store front. But I am patient and know that it will happen when it needs to. I am so excited about the possibilities here. People are so open to new and fun things and ready for what I have to offer. Missoula really is the best.

You are still fulfilling orders even though you are currently in a temporary home before moving on to a more full time place. How on earth are you making that happen? Haa haa. I AM fulfilling orders. I actually am booked through next month. Any person in their "right" mind would not have put out the call for orders but I have not been in my right mind for YEARS and that is what makes my stuff awesome and my life even more awesome. I'm a lucky gal.

What was the most popular treat on your valentine's day menu? Hmmmm, The most ordered this year aside from the combo pack was the Chocolate Dipped Espresso Fudge. Oh Jessie, YOU WILL LOVE IT! Second to that was the Blueberry Pancake Fudge.

What sweet from your menu did YOU enjoy most on Valentine's Day? My Raspberry Truffles are always on my personal menu. Actually ALL of my items. I can't help myself. Maybe I'll make a cake decorated with the left overs!! Ooooo! Yeah, that's it! Wanna come join me?

What's next? That's the great part about life. You never can be certain what is next. I am hoping to be rolling in sugar for a very long time to come. I have job hunting to do to sustain until I get the business going strong. I can't wait to show Missoula what I have to offer.

For more, including recipes for some of the items pictured in this interview, visit!

Batter Chatter: Interview with Kristin of Meringue Bake Shop, Orange County

What's a "Whacky Cake"? Read on.In the modern world, it seems like just about every other person has some sort of a baking business, be it their bread and butter or a little something on the side.

Sadly, a lot of businesses like this fizzle out. But Meringue Bake Shop, located in Orange County, CA and run by baker Kristin Ausk and her husband Lyle, is an inspiring exception. While they don't have a retail storefront (yet), they've been going for four years and have a loyal following at farmer's markets in the area; as they put it, "While our name may have 'shop' in it, we are currently a catering business working out of a commercial kitchen in Fullerton. But we have our eyes set on the future and so our name reflects that."

Until that sweet day, let's learn more about what keeps them going strong, shall we? (Hint: it may or may not include buttered and toasted Pop-Tarts):

How has Meringue Bake Shop changed since you established it four years ago? Hmmm. I honestly don't feel like much has changed. I'm sure a lot has, like we are now at farmers markets and are consistently busy instead of having one or two orders a month but I guess it just feels like business as usual. We have received some great press and accolades from industry experts so that has helped us grow. Occasionally someone will come up to me and be excited to meet me and that kinda freaks me out, but in a good way. That certainly wouldn't have happened a few years ago.

Your world-famous PushCakes seem to have inspired some...for lack of a better word...copycats. How do you deal with people who are a little too "inspired" by your business? Ha well.... I am going to be honest and say that it is challenging for me to deal with. And I am trying to learn to let go and just accept that it's a great idea and so of course people are going to want to make it their own. Look at Bakerella! But it does upset me when someone talks about it as if they came up with pushcakes or use the name I invented and tell me they had no idea. Or purposefully go around and try to "steal my thunder" so to speak by following my press around the internet to tout their version. That's just not nice. And I was bummed when I found out someone is publishing a book about the very idea, someone who isn't even in the business and ultimately will get all the credit for it. But I digress! I really owe its wide spread popularity to you, for doing the first official post about PushCakes here on Cakespy!

Shucks! I'm blushing. OK, so...PushCakes were one of the items that brought your business to the public eye in a big way. How big a part of your business are they today? Right now pushcakes are probably 40% of my business. I'd like to get that to at least 75%. I am working on an online storefront so I can spread the pushcake love all over the states. But since I only do this part time, and a lot on my own, it's going to take longer than I'd like. Plus it's just me and my husband baking, creating and assembling these and we've only got 4 hands between us!

Tell me more about your "whacky cake", that lovely thing with a funny name pictured at the top of this post. The whacky cake is based off an idea I saw in a Donna Hay magazine a year or so ago. My friend Sharon from Cupcakes and Cutlery showed me the cake and told me that I just had to make it my own. I found a company in Australia that is making something with a chocolate mold in the shape of a cake that you break open with a hammer. I believe they call them smash cakes. What makes mine different is that underneath that chocolate dome and layer of delicious candy, you'll find our yummy cake and buttercream. So after eating some sugar, you can eat more sugar! Everyone's happy! So far I've just been making them for kids parties but they would great for marriage proposals, gender reveal parties, milestone birthdays or even for graduations. We can put anything inside the cake as long as it's small.

What flavor would your last-meal cake be? It would have to be a slice of Le Bete Noire. It's a cake made at Extraordinary Desserts in San Diego. The cake is comprised of layers of a creamy semi-sweet chocolate mousse, vanilla crème brûlée, chocolate ganache, dark chocolate cakes and moistened with Madagascar vanilla bean syrup.

Pop Tart Vs. Toaster Strudel

Pop-tarts or toaster strudel? DUH! Pop-tarts baby! I eat mine toasted with salted butter and cut into fourths. shhhh

What is, in your opinion, the ideal cake-to-frosting ratio on a cupcake? I personally prefer 1/3 buttercream to 2/3 cake.

Can you name some bakers who truly inspire you? Oh yes. Elisa Strauss, Karen Krasne, Kari Haskell, Carrie Fields, Julie Desmeules, Rosie from Sweetapolita, and you!

If money were no object, what would you love to do next with your business? Open a real shop! One with a case full of cupcakes, cookies, diner cakes, bars and puddings. A pink and white checked floor, tinsel lampshades, turquoise vinyl booths, a cakespy mural in my kitchen, a glitter toilet (yea you heard me!), a space for parties and a retro jukebox playing daft punk, madonna, rodrigo y gabriel, abba, squeeze, and zz top (among others). ;)

For more awesome, visit the Meringue Bake Shop website or find them on Facebook.

Batter Chatter: Interview with Marin Turner of Sugar Girl Creations

Marin Turner has a dream. A sweet dream.

She's currently raising money to create a mobile bakery featuring the sweets she bakes under the name of "Sugar Girl Creations" in Idaho. Sweet fancy! That's my kind of dream.

Let's learn more about the lady behind the mixer, shall we? This is an interesting source of information for anyone interested in opening a small baking business--including the ups and downs, and all the sweet moments that go into caking it--er, making it--happen.

So...who are you are and how did you got into the business of baking? My name is Marin Turner and I am the baker/owner of Sugar Girl Creations. My journey to baking was a long one filled with so many different jobs that I can't even count. But through it all, you could always find me in the kitchen making something yummy. I heard the suggestion that I write a cookbook so often that I decided to try it. Starting with the dessert section (cake in particular), I spent a few weeks trying out new recipes. I tried to move on to the other sections, but I was always coming up with another cake that I wanted to try. I think at that point I just realized that, " I love cake and I don't want to make anything else." I started bringing everyone I knew cupcakes to test for me. One person was my spinning instructor. She dubbed me her "Sugar Girl". After that, starting the company seemed like a no brainer. I named my husband Chief Tasting Officer and we were off.

You're in the process of raising money to open a mobile bakery. Can you tell me more about how you're going about it?  The fundraising process is not an easy one. After some research on different ways to raise capitol, we decided to use the crowd funding website as our clearing house. Getting the word out that we are crowd funding really is an amazing process though. I am doing interviews on radio and the web, we are on Twitter @sugargirlidaho, and facebook too. I spend a lot of time just calling and emailing people to have them spread the word. IE... Harassing them. I am pretty sure that my family is hiding all of my posts on facebook at this point.

What has been the hardest part so far about trying to start up a business? - Idaho doesn't have cottage laws on the books, so in order to start we had to go through the health department and find a commercial kitchen to bake in. This can be an extremely cost prohibitive process. Some kitchens charge upwards of $20 an hour to work there and for a small business such as ours, that can eat your profit margin pretty quickly. Add to that the fact that you have to schedule a time to come in and bake and it makes it really hard to operate. Thats why we decided to branch out and build ourselves a mobile bakery.

As for the baked goods... Do you have a signature sweet or service? If so, what is it? - I would have to say that we don't have a signature service or sweet, but I definitely pride myself on my vegan cupcakes. We take part in a local vegetarian potluck once a month and I always try to come up with a new goodie to bring with us. I have tasted some vegan recipes that are just awful. And I really think that there is no excuse for that. I love it when people come up to me and have to ask me multiple times, " are you sure that was vegan?" It makes me smile, because I know they truly enjoyed it.

Hey! What flavor is "Jerry Cake"--this item on your menu intrigued me! - A Jerry Cake can be any flavor of cake that is light in color. I dye the batter to make it tye-dye in honor of Jerry Garcia. This cupcake is kind of a nod to my mother. She is my creative inspiration and one of the biggest "Dead Heads" I know.

What sweet do you suggest from your menu for Valentine's Day?  Really there are two that just say valentine to me. On the sweet and innocent side there is the Angel's Kiss. Its a pink champagne cake filled with an orange pastry cream and topped with our fresh strawberry and champagne buttercream. For the darker side of love, our MHC cupcake is super decadent and absolutely sexy. We start with with a dark chocolate cinnamon cake and we fill it with a cayenne dark chocolate ganache. The cupcake is also topped with a cinnamon whipped cream and a sprinkle of cayenne.

What's the secret to perfectly delicious frosting?   I have learned that patience is a virtue in baking. Don't rush the process. You really have to take your time beating the butter before you start adding sugar. I'll just turn the mixer on high and do something else for a while. Close to 6 or 7 minutes. This really gives me the texture I want. When I add the sugar, it cuts in nicely and gives me frosting that is fluffy and creamy all at the same time.

Excuse me...but please, tell me...what's a cookie mug? A cookie mug is everything you need to really enjoy a wonderful cookie. Our Hot Chocolate on a stick (to be melted into the mug filled with warm milk), Marshmallows, and a few of our yummy cookies (flavor varies and we do have vegan options)

What's next?  Right now we are puting all of our energy into opening the Sugar Shack, but in the future I would like to change our town's view on food trucks. Right now the town that we live in does not allow food trucks to park and sell. We will actually opperate out of a neighboring town. But there is a large lot here in town surrounded by trees that has been vacant for years. I would love to work with the owner of this lot to turn it into a food truck pod. There are so many wonderful chefs in our area and I think that this could really bring further growth to North Idaho.

For more, visit the Sugar Girl Creations website!

Batter Chatter: Interview with Christy Beaver, Co-Author of Mini Pies

Mini Empire Bakery pies

Curious about the life of a pie-maker and cookbook writer? Here's an interview with Christy Beaver, co-author of Mini Pies: Adorable and Delicious Recipes for Your Favorite Treats (you can find a recipe from the book here!):

So. Your book is out. How does it feel? It's surreal. I can't imagine how new parents feel, because I was totally overwhlemed with joy holding a cookbook.

What was the hardest part about developing recipes for a book? once you get past the standard flavors, developing creative flavors that push the boundries (just enough but not too much) was a fun challenge.

I have a friend (really, I do) who doesn't like Pumpkin Pie. I know, I know. What other pies might you suggest for Thanksgiving? I agree with Morgan (read her interview here). And the savory sweet potato might work for them.

What is your personal favorite recipe in the book? Aunt Jimma's chocolate pie. Its SO freakin' good and totally worth the effort. My second favorite is Verry Berry.

If your partner, Morgan, is expanding Mini Empire to the east coast, and you have a book now, does that mean it's a Maxi-Empire now? It will always be mini and adorbale. That way no one will see it coming when we take over the world.

Any advice for people who want to pitch / write a cookbook, now that you've had the experience? It's a lot of work, and totally worth it. You have to find a balance between being emotionally invested in your project and not bursting into tears once the editor gets ahold of it and changes everything.

What's next? More cookbooks, hopefully. :) We want to write one for mini cupcakes and one for scookies.

Batter Chatter: Interview with Morgan Greeseth, Co-Author of Mini Pies

Mini Empire Bakery pies

Curious about the life of a pie-maker and cookbook writer? Here's an interview with Morgan Greenseth, co-author of Mini Pies: Adorable and Delicious Recipes for Your Favorite Treats (you can find a recipe from the book here!):

So. Your book is out. How does it feel? It feels amazing and surreal to finally hold the book in my own hands.

What was the hardest part about developing recipes for a book? Not gaining 10 lbs from testing all the pies! Luckily we had many volunteers to sample our batches and give feedback.

I have a friend (really, I do) who doesn't like Pumpkin Pie. I know, I know. What other pies might you suggest for Thanksgiving? Bourbon pecan works wonders, and many have stated that they haven't liked Bourbon Pecan until they tried ours. Sweet potato is a good alternate as well. Otherwise, chocolate pie because chocolate is delicious at any occasion.

What is your personal favorite recipe in the book? Very berry, hands down. The first time I tried it, I exclaimed "Holy crap this is good!" Well, more like "hum mum mmm mm uh mmd " because my mouth was full, but I had to let it out.

How did Susanne become such an expert on lemon meringue? I'm intrigued by the recipe intro. Susanne is my mother, and as they say, mothers know best. I grew up with this pie and it was the only pie I liked for years.

If Morgan is expanding Mini Empire to the east coast, and you have a book now, does that mean it's a Maxi-Empire? Although our empire has reached a vast audience, our operation is still as bite-sized as our treats ;)

Any advice for people who want to pitch / write a cookbook, now that you've had the experience? We were fortunate enough to have been asked to write the cookbook, so we don't have experience with pitching. But for those who want to write, I'd say three tips: 1. Make sure you have friends who'll test your treats. 2. Failed recipes are good things. They're help you create an even better recipe. 3. Mothers and grandmothers give some of the best baking advice.

What's next? We have a few secret things in the works and possibly a mini pie kit. 

Buy the book: Mini Pies: Adorable and Delicious Recipes for Your Favorite Treats.

Batter Chatter: Interview with Julie Winer of Splurge Bakery, Millburn NJ

Splurge: verb. Definitions:

1. to indulge oneself in some luxury or pleasure, especially acostly one: They splurged on a trip to Europe.
2. to show off.

Well, I'd gladly engage in all of the above when it comes to baked goods, especially when they're as sweet and cute as the ones at Splurge Bakery in Millburn, NJ. But what's the bigger story behind the bakery? So glad you asked. And to answer, why don't I share this sweet q+a I shared with owner Julie Winer:

Splurge...please, tell me how you decided on your delicious bakery name. When we first came up with the idea for Splurge Bakery, we envisioned a place where you could come and really enjoy fresh-baked treats made from the finest ingredients.  It would be a great way to literally treat yourself and your family and your co-workers to something delicious; to really indulge in something and forget about your worries for a little bit.  Splurge just seemed a great way to represent that feeling!

You offer custom photo cookies. Do cookies taste better with loved ones' faces on them? Of course!  Everything tastes better when you're thinking about someone you love!  Our photo cookies are such a great item for 1st birthday parties, landmark anniversaries, weddings, and more - people just adore our homemade shortbread cookies, and topping them off with a photo of a friend or relative (or even a business card) is just an added bonus!

You have an event called "Whoopie Pie Weekend". Sounds like the best weekend ever, what happens during it? It is the best weekend ever! During Splurge Bakery's Whoopie Pie Weekend, we set up a Whoopie Pie bar where you can make your own Whoopie Pies, mix and match different cake tops and bottoms, and fill with delicious creamy icing.  We also have all of our unique Whoopie Pies available for sale, including traditional ones as well as Red Velvet, S'mores, German Chocolate, and – believe it or not — Pina Colada.  We'll be hosting our next Whoopie Pie weekend in January 2012, and we can't wait!S'mores whoopie pie

What cupcake flavor excites you most now that fall is in full swing? We're so excited about our new Caramel Apple Cupcakes for the fall.  They're made with our delicious spice cake, homemade caramel, and fresh apples.  They are the perfect cupcake for fall and apple season.

Tell me the truth. What kind of magic powers will I develop after I eat your Apple Magic Bar, which is made of everything that is delicious: Chopped pecans, butterscotch, coconut, apples and semi-sweet chocolate? Well, I wish I could tell you that you’ll be able to wave your fairy wand and grant 7 layers of rainbows and sunshine on everyone you meet!  But, I can say that you’ll just be really super happy and you’ll have a magic smile on your face when you’re done eating one.

I feel like rugelach is often an overlooked cookie, so I was happy to see it on your menu. Can you say a few words about why it ought to be loved? I love rugelach!  It’s just such a delicious cookie with lots of tradition built in to its flaky goodness.  We actually hand roll, fill with our home-made apricot or raspberry mixture, and then cut each rugelach, unlike many mass-produced varieties you see today.

What is the ideal frosting-to-cake ratio on a cupcake, in your opinion? In my opinion, a perfect cupcake will be 2/3 cake and 1/3 frosting, but I respect everyone’s own feelings about this. I know it’s a very personal preference!

When you have a day off from baking, what do you like to do? I don’t ever have a day off from baking, but if I did I’d go to New York City and see a Broadway show and go out for a nice dinner, maybe go to a museum if there was enough time!

What kind of treat do you crave on YOUR birthday? For my birthday this year, I had our own Luscious Lemon Cake with lemon curd, but next time I’ll have our cheesecake, which is amazing, if I don’t say so myself! 

What's next for Splurge? What’s next for all of us at Splurge is lots of birthday parties for kids of all ages in our prep kitchen, many corporate gift orders for the holidays, and tons of yummy treats, cakes, and pies for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Chanukah.  We’re also hosting a fundraiser on November 18th for the landmark St. Stephen’s Church down the street from us here in Millburn, New Jersey which was badly damaged by Hurricane Irene. 

For more, visit the Splurge Bakery website.

Batter Chatter: Interview with Heather Barranco of Dreamcakes, NY and NJ

Cakes are generally dreamy, but Dreamcakes are especially daydream-worthy: gorgeous confections that taste as good as they look, baked and designed by artist and product designer-turned baker Heather Barranco, who creates these cakes for custom clients and sells through the six locations of metro-NYC area gourmet grocer Eden Marketplace and Garden of Eden. Want to learn more about these sweet treats? Read on:

Tell me about the most recent dessert that impressed you (made by you or someone else). The most recent dessert to impress me? How can I pick just one? I'm impressed by the design of elaborate blown sugar work. It reminds me of when I experimented in glass blowing. I would like to learn sugar blowing. For taste, the most amazing dessert is Italian lobster tails with French cream; it's flaky on the outside and creamy on the inside. Like the food critic in the movie Ratatouille, I love any dessert that takes me back to my childhood. As a kid, my favorite cake was a chocolate cake with banana cream and whipped cream. Now, I make this unique cake combination called Chocolate Bananas Foster. It's a grown up, gourmet version of my childhood favorite with fresh bananas and caramel.

You went to Parsons School of Design. What about cake appeals to you as artistic medium? As an artist, I love experimenting in different mediums. An artist feels the need to express one self visually. I find the multiple senses exciting; taste, smell, texture or touch and of course, sight. I've always been obsessed with desserts from a young age. This medium suits me. I find it also appeals to many people because of the various senses involved. It's almost like you are becoming one with the "beauty" of the cake when you taste it. Along with the senses, I love being a part of my clients' joyous occasions. My favorite subject at Parsons outside of design courses was art history. I love being able to incorporate my clients cultural background into the design and flavor of the cake. Being able to design directly for my clients excites me.

When I worked as a product designer, we were always asked to invent new product concepts for a corporation's marketing team. My designs would be sold all over the world but, I would rarely come in contact with the consumer using my design.

What is Dreamcakes' involvement or relationship with Eden Marketplace / Garden of Eden? Eden Marketplace/ Garden of Eden is a chain of 6 gourmet stores in New York/New Jersey. When I approached one of the owners to sub-lease space in their store, he asked to have my products in all their stores. For a number of years, the owners were actually looking for someone to make gourmet specialty cakes and wedding cakes for their customers. Even though I am the owner of Heather Barranco Dreamcakes, I'm definitely a part of their family. My team and I work 4 out of 5 days in the South Orange flagship bakery of Eden Marketplace. One day a week, I meet with clients in the the NYC corporate office. I love working in their store and being able to build my brand as a part of their gourmet offerings.

Why do wedding cakes always taste different than birthday cake, even if they're the same flavor? Wedding cakes generally taste different from the average cake for two reasons. Many wedding cake designers make the cake as a pound cake because it makes the cake more stable; less likely to fall apart when stacked in tiers or during transport. Birthday cakes are made of lighter, airy cakes. Sometimes they are made with whipped cream--a big no-no for a tiered cakes. I've tested so many recipes to get the perfect balance of light and tasty with stable structure. I have actually received many clients commenting on our taste as being more flavorful and moist then other wedding cakes. I won't compromise taste for design, it's all one in the same. The taste, texture and flavors need to be designed as well as the visual beauty.

Your flavor menu is incredibly eclectic. What plays into you deciding to add a new flavor to the menu? I add so many flavors because I want my flavors to appeal to different ethic groups, and various people. My husband is Indian and I've really embraced his culture as well as the Indian style of cooking. This may help to understand some of my flavor choices. I wouldn't be interested in just offering vanilla and chocolate. Like I said, earlier, I like to design the flavor as well as the visual style of the cake. I want people to be able to experiment and try something they've never tasted.

Tell me more about DreamBoxes. Are they like Pandora's box, but opening up a new world of cake deliciousness? DreamBoxes were inspired by print making and lithography. I liked the idea of having uniquely designed cookies that could be collected or gifted. The design would be numbered and then retired.

Tell me the truth. Do you have any junk food guilty pleasures? Sweet or savory? I have so many junk food guilty pleasures that you wouldn't have space in your blog ;) here's a few, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies from Eden Gourmet, German chocolate cake ice cream at Cold Stone as well as Mint Chocolate Chip, ladyfinger blueberry cheesecake, and weird but true, I crave black licorice every time I enter a drug store. My favorite savory foods are Alaskan King Crab, lobster, oysters and my grandmother's tomato salad. I can't stand greasy food.

You have been called a "renowned party-giver". Sweet! Tell me about a memorable party (including the cake). This may surprise you but the best parties I've thrown are all about enjoying the people. When we have big parties for Christmas, baptism, etc. all of my husband's extended family comes from Canada for the weekend at our house. We've had over 35 people sleeping in our house for a party. We stay up late into the night singing, dancing, and playing the tabla (Indian drum). We sleep everywhere in the house, including the screened in porch. As a family, we cook together elaborate meals. I'm around cake all the time lately so I usually want to make other unique desserts for my family functions. Seeing my children happy with their loved ones is important. I like lots of people surrounding me. This is fun to me. 

The day after an event, you have some slightly stale but mostly still good cake. What do you do with the leftovers? If I had a really delicious, day old cake...I would never throw away good food unless it is spoiled or processed junky cake. You can warm stale cake in the microwave to bring back some if it's flavor and moistness. I always have lots of people around. Serve it with some tea and coffee.

What's next? With my background in product design and manufacturing, I would like to eventually build our own line of unique designer kitchen products. We also have some really interesting projects and media in the works, which I can't discuss. I will keep you updated as projects solidify.

Want more? Visit

Batter Chatter: Interview with Tracy of Simply Sweet Cake Pops

Cake Pops, are like, so in. There are amazing books about them, and they're doing extremely well in bakeries. So when I met Tracy, a totally sweet cake pop maker based in Kansas City, MO, with a custom-order cake pop business called Simply Sweet Cake Pops, I was excited to get the sweet scoop on her business:

True or false: Everything tastes better on a stick. I'd have to say true! Not only is cake on a stick yummier, corn dogs aren't too bad either.

What got you started in the illustrious world of cake-pop making? Back in 2006 I had a cake bite for the first time at a church Christmas dinner. It was love at first bite. I got the recipe and began making them for family and friends. At first I was more interested in creating different flavor combinations but after a while I jumped on the cake pop band wagon and began placing sticks in my cake bites. That opened up a whole new world of opportunities.

What, or who, keeps you inspired? I love to create. I really enjoy the challenge of making cake pops with my own hands. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. It is so rewarding to see the smile on a customers face when they see the cake pops they ordered for the first time. My boys (ages 1 and 3) are cake pop addicts. I enjoy making cake pops for them too but someday we will probably have to start a cake pops anonymous group.

You live in Kansas City, MO. What are some of the sweet treats that can't be missed for travelers passing through your great town? That's an easy one. The Corner Cafe. They have these amazing cinnamon rolls that are big enough to feed four people (or just me at four different meals -so good I won't share!) I hear they have great pecan sticky buns too.

Why do you think cake pops are so popular right now? First of all, cake pops are delicious. Second of all, cake pops are so versatile. You see cake pops at children's parties but you also see cake pops at weddings. Of course, they are one of the newest trends to hit bakeries but I think they'll remain popular for a long time.

What exactly is cherry chip cake? I feel like I don't see that one on too many menus, but it's on yours. A cherry chip cake starts out like a classic white cake... but chopped maraschino cherries are added to the batter. Just a bit of the cherry juice is added as well to give it that extra dash of flavor.

What is your personal favorite of your flavors? I really like my Chocolate Caramel Bliss. It's a rich chocolate cake with swirls of caramel, dipped in chocolate.

You also make some "risque" cake pops. Are these a big part of your business? Not until recently actually and I've only have a few orders for them. They've kind of been a secret but I guess the secret is out now!

On that note, I've got to ask. Your "boob cake" pops are extremely...ah, realistic. How do you attain the perfect nipple-texture? Well, thank you. Without giving away all of my's all chocolate. I "painted" them on in multiple layers.

What is your next big goal or hope for your business? I would love to open a store front. As of right now I offer nationwide shipping and local pick up only.

For more, visit the Simply Sweet Cake Pops website!

Batter Chatter: Interview with Courtney of Bananappeal, San Francisco

Images c/o BananappealEverybody has a story, but some are more interesting than others. For instance...a baking business centered on the deliciousness of bananas, that all started when the proprietress slipped on a banana peel? Yup, believe it. I was able to catch up with Courtney, the talented and hilarious banana-whisperer behind the San Francisco-based boutique baking business Bananappeal, who dished on her sweet story:

Tell me, baby, what's your story? I have been a baker ever since I was a little girl growing up in the suburbs of Chicago. In high school I started my own catering company with my best friend. We worked weekends and employed our friends to help out for bigger events and actually had a pretty great following for 4 years. After high school, I attended Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration in Ithaca, NY. Although Cornell gave me a hospitality business background, I still wanted to go to pastry school and I enrolled in Napa Valley's Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. Afterwards, I was homesick for my college friends who mostly all ended up in NYC working in restaurants. I moved to NYC and took a job working the pastry line at Danny Meyers' restaurant, Eleven Madison Park. Needless to say, I quickly got burnt out working the line there and found myself missing California, specifically Napa. I moved back to Napa in 2008 and took a position as concierge at a boutique luxury resort called Auberge Du Soleil. I actually got paid to drink wine and eat out so I could acquire knowledge to share with hotel guests. After a year and a half, I left Napa to take a job working for Food Network's Tyler Florence and moved to San Francisco, where I currently reside. It was not long before I got the itch to bake again and I decided to start my own company.

I've got to ask, even though everyone else probably does (sorry). Why bananas? Soon after moving to San Francisco, I was walking my shaggy Old English Sheepdog, Wrigley, through Golden Gate Park when I slipped on a banana really, when I decided to start my own baking business, I knew I had to differentiate myself from other competitors. I have always loved bananas and whenever I dined out, I always found myself saying "This dessert would be so much better if it had bananas in it!" Also, I feel as though bananas are very under-appreciated. After all, they are available year round, they are inexpensive, and for the most part, they are thought of as unglamorous fruit! I want to change that with Bananappeal. Bananas are delicious and they marry well with so many other flavors. Bananas deserve more credit. RESPECT THE BANANA!

Have you ever tried a banana flavor combination that didn't work out? Honestly, I have yet to encounter a flavor combination that hasn't worked well with bananas. If you think it will taste well with bananas, I find that it most often does.

What is your most popular product so far? There is something about the Banana Salted Caramel Frosted Cake that keeps people coming back for seconds, thirds, fourths...

What is the difference between banana bread and banana cake? I think that experts will provide varying answers to this one, but I can speak based on my recipe for my banana cake only. In my experience, banana bread is typically denser and has a firmer crumb while banana cake is more tender (usually because banana breads use flour that has a higher protein content). Also, there is the obvious difference in that banana bread is typically baked in a loaf pan while MY banana cakes are all baked in vintage inspired mason jars.

Do you ever listen to Bananarama while baking? Duh! "Cruel Summer" plays on repeat on my playlist while I bake dressed in my banana suit and I have dance parties in my kitchen. Sometimes my baking gets interrupted though because I have to take a call on my banana phone.

One of your taglines is "giving bananas the credit they deserve." Do you feel that bananas are under-appreciated? Hell yes! See above.

Tell me your thoughts on plantains, because they look like bananas. The only plantains I eat are fried (commonly called tostones) and come alongside mofongo. Spoiler Alert: plantains are NOT a substitute for bananas, especially in baking applications.

If a banana-genie appeared and was prepared to grant three wishes for your business, what would they be right now? 1. A rotating banana for the roof of my delivery van (a.k.a. the Banana Van). This was originally in my business plan, but I had to let go of the dream because it didn't fit in my tiny start-up budget! 2. A pair of elves with tiny, tiny hands to help me *hand tie* all of the twine around my jars. Yes, I spend a LOT of time tying twine. Say that 10 times fast. 3. For Oprah Winfrey to start her show up again, try my cakes, and shreek, "I love Bananappeeeeeeeaaaaaaallllll!!!!!!" and then watch as her guests squeal from excitement as Oprah employees distribute samples throughout the audience. Best. Day. Ever.

Want more? The website,, is still in the oven baking! In the meantime, please find them on Facebook.

Batter Chatter: Cake Pop Chat With Freeport Bakery of Sacramento

Cake Pops: they're so hot right now. But what does the trend look like from a bakery owner's point of view? I found out by chatting to Marlene of Sacramento's famous Freeport Bakery, a longtime bakery owner who has found adding the pops to be a sweet surprise, business-wise:

What made you decide to offer cake pops? Did you know that the original cake pops have been made for hundreds of years in bakeries all over the world? They were called rum balls. The bakers would use fresh cake scraps, add a little frosting to get them to stick together and a dash of rum. The weren't called cake pops, of course. That didn't happen until someone thought to put a stick in them. What a great idea! It's a cake pop. We toyed with the idea for a while. When our sales staff got excited about them, we gave it the green light. Good decision!

Were you initially hesitant to offer them? A little. We usually are not trend jumpers. We stay current but don't hop from one thing to the next. When realized that we could be really creative with flavors we decided to jump in.

To make your cake pops, do you use cake scraps from layer cakes, or do you bake cake specifically for the pops? What began as a use for cake scraps, has become our "custard croissant" gift. We started using day old croissants, filling them with custard and almond slivers. Then we re-baked them (doesn't work right with fresh croissants, too soft). They got so popular we were baking more and more of them to make the custard croissants. So yes, we are now baking more cakes for cake pops.

Has the response to cake pops in your retail bakery been surprising to you? Yes and no. I didn't think they would be this popular. But if you can get great flavors at a reasonable price point, how could they not be so popular?

Who is buying cake pops? Individuals just buying one or two, or larger orders for parties, etc? Everyone! We are selling them for birthdays, bridal showers, and just ones and twos while people are picking up something else. We were lucky enough to get asked by the west coast promoters of the new Harry Potter movie to do a tie in with a contest. We made BertieBott's Firepops. A chocolate cake pop with red chili powder rolled in chocolate and Graham cracker "dirt." We had facebook contests running for about a week. It was a huge success. The mint chip and tiramisu seem to be the best selling ones this week.

Do you see them as a growing part of your bakery's business? For now. I think they are hot, a good price point and fun. So as long as we can come up with great flavors and our customers buy them, it's good.

For more information on Freeport Bakery, find them online here.

Batter Chatter: Interview with Diane of Dainty Cakes Bakery, Nevada

There are few things I like better than discovering a new bakery. So when I received an email from Diane of Dainty Cakes Bakery in Henderson, Nevada, saying she enjoyed the site and hoped I'd drop by if I happened to find myself in the area, it was my greatest sadness that I couldn't hop a plane and visit that very day.

However, I was able to learn more of the story behind her sweet little bakeshop; let's learn together, shall we?

Since we can't be at your bakery right now (boo!) would you be kind enough to describe: what do you hope people experience when walking in your bakery? We have tried to keep the atmosphere warm and inviting, much like that of a French bakery. Our customers come in and spend a lot of time here, meeting with friends, conducting an interview, or getting a little work done. We try to convey the message that it's not just about the money.

Are you formally trained as a baker? I am not formally trained in baking, but have spent a lot of time studying technique on my own and perfecting the recipes that I have developed. As you may know, Las Vegas is home to a lot of professionally trained chefs. Many have visited our little shop, and return with their families for the breads, or the Red Velvet Cupcakes, etc. I was even asked by one of them to join a Freech Chef's Association. He wasn't discouraged when I informed him that I was neither French, nor a professionall-trained chef. All kidding aside, I spent two years fine-tuning recipes while we were searching for a suitable location.

What made you decide to take the leap into opening a retail bakery? I am a college graduate and worked as an Insurance Adjuster for 25 year. It was a terrible, high-stress field where I dealt on a daily basis with unhappy, dishonest people. Even though it payed well, I grew to hate it! I felt like I needed a change. Baking had always been a way for me to release stress, and something I enjoyed. So, I decided to take the next step.

How did you decide on the bakery's name? We had a pretty good idea for the type of atmosphere we wanted to create for our bakery. Next, we needed a name that reflected that atmoshere ant the type of product we wanted to produce. Initially, we wanted to offer primarily cupcakes. We very soon realized that our clientele wanted a full service bakery, so we gave them what they were asking for. Dainty Cakes was a name that had not been reserved (several have since appeared in other states since our establishment), and was well-suited for cupcakes. Our specialty has become a variety of small dainty 4" cakes ideal for a light desert or small birthday celebration. The name also has an air of elegance.

Do you still enjoy baking at home, or does it seem like "work"? I do most of the baking in our bakery myself, even though I have a small staff. While I still enjoy baking, I do' have a lot of free time for baking at home.

What menu items tend to be most popular during the hot summer months? Our customers love the pastries- Eclairs, Napoleons, Creme Puffs, and our special fruit tarts. Fruit tarts are definitly a favorite! Our signature lemon or our chocolate chip cookies are also very popular.

I was impressed by the number of bundt cakes on your menu; you rarely see them on bakery menus in Seattle. Would you say bundt cakes are popular regionally, or is that a specialty of yours? We are constantly experimenting with our recipes. There are business in the area that sell only bundt cakes, and are very successful. We focus on making the freshest, most flavorful bundt cakes available. Bundt cakes are very popular during the holidays as gifts. We make a lot of them.

What advice might you give people who have dreams of opening a retail bakery one day? This is not a profession for the faint of heart. As with any small business, it is a huge amount of work a bakery business is also very physically challenging- long hours, strenuous work, a very demanding clientele, and a lot of competition. They should make sure that they are willing to make the commitment and stick with it.

What's your personal favorite dessert or baked good? I am not a huge sugar person. I really like the fruit tarts, though- short-bread crust, a light vanilla custard, and topped with fresh colorful seasonal fruit (strawberries, kiwi, raspberries, and blackberries). Not too sweet! We make an 8" version too.

What's next for Dainty Cakes? We really focus on becoming a local favorite without the negativity that comes with competitive atmosphere created by some of the other local bakeries. We feel that our product speaks for itself. The reputation is largely "word-of-mouth" and will follow. We have already enjoyed a surprising amount of notariety. I think we were the only business offering King Cakes for Mardi Gras, and the local media spotlighted our product.

Thank you for looking into our business. We hope that if you are ever in the Las Vegas area you will stop in and see us!!!

For more information, visit!

Batter Chatter: Interview with Katy Acheson of Mesdames Des Macarons

Mesdames des Macarons. With a name like that, you are probably halfway in love with the Cape Cod-based boutique (custom-order) bakery already, but you'll fall even deeper in love when you discover their sweet treats--macarons in creative colors, flavors, and formulations (consider the Macadeiro, a mashup of a macaron and Brigadeiro!). Want to find out more? Here's an interview with one of the owners, Katy Acheson:

What dessert do you think is overrated? Jell-o is an acceptable lunch dessert when you're in 3rd grade, but it doesn't cut it for an after dinner treat in my book (no matter how much cool whip you put on it).

What's your favorite non-sweet food? Scallops, bacon, filet mignon... scallops and filet mignon wrapped in bacon!

What's your favorite non-macaron sweet treat? Definitely jelly beans.

Don't you hate the question "are macarons the new cupcake"? Where I am, not enough people know what a macaron is to be asking that question yet. I'm sure someday I will grow to hate the question though.

Um...Are macarons the new cupcake? In my house they are. In the rest of America? I think the future is in small, single-serving desserts, in which case both macarons and cupcakes can share the throne.

What is your favorite flavor on your menu? I make a Rose and White Chocolate macaron that I adore. But I think the one flavor I can't control myself around is the Matcha (Green Tea) macaron.

Is it just me or are macarons extremely fussy to make? Very fussy. In particular, the French method of making the batter, although less complicated, is less reliable than the Italian method of boiling sugar to mix with the almond and egg whites. I prefer the texture of the French method, so I put up with making adjustments for things like humidity and the quality of my eggs. Every batch is a new learning experience, and I never stop researching other bakers'efforts to gain a better understanding of these little delights.

What are your favorite famous French macarons? You know, I haven't had that many macarons that weren't made in my own kitchen. I've been to a few places in New York, one place in Philly, and a little shop in York (the old one in England). Paris is still on my must-visit list, but out of the two biggies -- Laduree and Pierre Herme -- I like the look of the Laduree macarons and try to emulate their look in my own product.

If you were faced with only a vending machine for food, what would you choose to snack on? I usually go for Swedish fish or Pop-tarts, kinda gross, but a girl's gotta eat.

If a genie appeared and you could choose any direction or future for your business, what would it be right this instant? What I want right now is a little shop where people passing by can come in and experience something completely new and delicious, and fans of the macaron can rely on a good fix--a place to be supplied with their special events. It's asking a bit much of this one-wish genie too, but can I also have a cute little apron with macarons all over it?

Find Mesdames des Macarons online here, and on Facebook here.

Batter Chatter: Interview With Jennifer Morin of Cupcake D'Lish

Problem: you are near, but not in, Seattle, and want a cupcake. STAT! Well, instead of driving all the way to Seattle like a jerk, you can now pick up a dozen cupcakes right on your home turf via Cupcake D'Lish, a new custom-order cupcakery. But since everything tastes better with a backstory, let's have a little interviewsy with the baker who makes the magic, Jennifer Morin:

Cupcake D'Lish. Tell me baby, what's your story? It all just came to me one day out of the blue that I really needed to find a useful outlet to vent my artistic talent through! I tried different things and baking just seemed to stick! Honestly I was excited about baking because I would be able to decorate. The cake part would come with time.

Cake or Pie? Definitely cake.

Pants or Skirt? Skirt (steak) that is!

Yes or No? Always yes. I only use no on my kiddos!

Vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry? Vanilla……it just goes with everything! Don’t let my husband read that.

Tell me about how you and your husband are working together on this business: what do both of you (respectively) bring to the table? My husband and I work very differently towards Cupcake D’ Lish. I am the artist and baker; he is my #1 taster.

What is the last delicious thing you ate? The last delicious thing I ate was my organic vanilla stuffed vanilla cookie.

Any plans to open a retail location? We plan to open a retail cupcakery in the near future. Definitely on the Eastside.

Please, tell us something I might not know about or expect of you. Surprise us. I don’t like chocolate. (CS Note: But kindly, she will make it for the rest of us.)

What is next for you and your business? Our business has been growing by leaps and bounds with larger catering requests and the addition of another Farmer’s Market in North Bend. We are working our way towards opening a retail location.

Find Cupcake D'Lish online here and on Facebook here.

Batter Chatter: A Sweet Mother's Day Interview with SpyMom Margie Moore

A collaboration done by SpyMom and MeYeah, it's mother's day. And as such, I thought it would be fun for you to learn more about how my super-famous and awesome mom, Margie Moore, and her influence on my cake-obsessed life (not to mention her influence on my deep distrust of muffins, which are really just ugly cake). Here goes:

A book illustrated by SpyMomMost people know you as Margie Moore, children's book illustrator, but I know you as Margie Moore, baker extraordinaire. And in honor of Mother's Day, I'd like to share your sweeter side. 

To start, please, can you tell the story of my first word as a baby?

You were a smart little girl so it was not that much of a surprise that during that time when you were trying to formulate words, the first truly recognizable word that came out was....."chaaalllle". Why we knew you meant chocolate was because we were having a family dinner party and of course there was a nice big chocolate cake ready in the kitchen.

You have a heartbreaking story of losing the perfect cake slice at a childhood birthday party. Can you tell us that story?

Even now, the memory of that moment still pains me! Let’s put it this way, my mother was not a baker. But for my 7th birthday party, she got it into her head to make a sheet cake that looked like a big flying saucer. That is the old Jersey term for a Black & White. Well, my mother nailed this one. All I wanted to get to was the cake that day. So after the Happy Birthday song, my mother carefully cut my chosen perfect piece from the center side of the cake. White cake with a clear line of half chocolate buttercream frosting and half vanilla buttercream....I can still remember my surprise that she even agreed to cut me such a big piece in the first place! And I can still see it on my plate in front of me. Pure bliss. But for some unremembered reason, I got up from the table holding my plate with the piece of cake to throw something in the trash, and all I can think is I must have been in a hurry to get back to the table, which is why not only did the intended item go in the trash, but my coveted piece of cake toppled over into the trash too. Gone. No chance of salvage. Painful. Next I remember my mother showing me there was still another piece with the same half chocolate half vanilla combination, but it was not the same. It did not have the perfect creamy peaks of snow like white frosting and rich chocolate next to it....just not the same.

When you truly want to treat yourself, what sweet treat do you indulge in?

The top treat in my world is good chocolates.

A cake with SpyMom's artwork on it!You are someone who appreciates both the taste and the visual of a wonderful cake. Tell me, what are some of your favorite treats to look at? Do you also like to eat them?

There is no match for a beautiful cake with buttercream flowers. And then well done pastries and hand dipped chocolates. And yes, I love to eat them.

What baked good (or flavor) could you just live without? Why?

Muffins. Enough said.

Who are some of the people, cookbooks, or bakeries that inspire your baking?

Cookbooks from the 1930’s and 40’s have great basic recipes and even better presentation photos of baked goods, the newer cookbooks have better information on how to be successful with baking. My most worn out cookbook is my Fanny Farmer Cookbook that I bought in a candy shop 36 years ago. The recipes in that book reminded me the old fashioned Sunday dinner meals and desserts and I love to recreate that feeling. The flavors of the finished recipes are very pleasing too.

A cake baked and decorated by SpyMomTell me one of your proudest baking moments.

The first time I made a three tier cake, decorated with buttercream roses and decorative swags. Heaven!

More art by SpyMomAnd, since it seems to be the subject of the moment: pie or cake?


SpyMom and CakeSpyFor more Margie Moore awesome, visit her website here, or shop for books she's illustrated here. Her artwork is also featured on the cover of BabyBug Magazine (on Newsstands everywhere!) this month!

Batter Chatter: Interview with Jana Rosenlieb of The Cake Diva

Dude, that's a cake! Photo: Barbie Hull PhotographyLast week at CupcakeCamp Seattle 2011, I met a new friend: Jana Rosenlieb, aka The Cake Diva. She impressed me instantly in two ways: number one, she was adorable (see pictures below if you don't believe me), and number two, she was toting the most intricately constructed Fremont Troll inspired cupcake masterpiece. I loved her already, and so will you, after reading this interview:

So. Cake Diva. Tell me baby, what's your story? I grew up helping my Grandma Yancey (My Mom’s Mom). She made extra money Baking cakes, and catering. I was her helper. I licked beaters and grabbed eggs from the fridge. My Grandma was born and raised Amish. Everyone loved her cakes, and… well all of her cooking!
When she was finished baking, and cleaning up.  She would let me mix up crazy concoctions. I would mix eggs, flour, and sugar, salt and pepper. You name it! I would always try to get my Papa to eat it but he would refuse. He’d always ask “you trying to kill me girl?” My Grandma Yancey, my Mom and my Grandma Phifer (my Dad’s Mom) all taught me what I know. My Grandma Phifer was born and raised in Mississippi. She and my Grandpa also had their own catering business in Ohio before I was born.

I love baking and always have. My First apartment did not even have a stove or an oven. I had a hot plate and sunbeam fry skillet. But I had this great floor to ceiling tiled bathroom that steamed up better than any sauna. So I made coffee cake. I scrubbed my tub and filled it with hot water and filled this large bowl up with water so it wouldn’t float away and took my bread dough in to let it rise shut the door. I then baked the coffee cake in my sunbeam fry skillet. If you place a small rack inside and turn up the heat it acts like a tiny oven. Who knew tight? When it was finished that coffee cake was the fluffiest, and flakey coffee cake I had ever had. My Mom and Dad still talk about it.

About a year ago I was laid off. So I started rethinking what I was going to do next. So I decided to try cake baking for extra money like my Grandma. I started spreading the word that I bake. I bake for friends and friends of friends for “donation” for supplies.

I also entered last years “Cupcake Camp Seattle” and placed 2nd in the ‘Healthiest category’ with my “Vegan White Chocolate Mocha Cupcake”. In a vegan white chocolate Starbuck’s like cup.

Cake or pie? Cake always but then again I have never been known to turn down a great slice of pie!

Pants or skirts? Skirts! My sweet and very handsome husband is all REI and granola… and I am all Diva and skirts. He rolls his eyes at me and just says I love you!

Yes or no? Yes most likely….

Vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry? Hmmm...Chocolate covered Strawberries!

What aspect of cake makes you channel your inner diva? Ohh man so many aspects. The smooth velvety texture, the sweet yummy melt in your mouth goodness. There are endless possibilities, all the different recipes, and the artistry. I think quite possibly Congress could settle many debates, if only cake was served at the meetings. Cake indicates fun and parties. Who can argue while eating something so delectable? Perhaps it is because they did not have “Cake Diva Cake”!

What is the last delicious thing you ate? I ate one of my Vegan Gluten-free Chocolate Stout cupcakes. They had a whiskey ganache filling and were topped with a homemade Vegan Bailey’s style Irish Cream, butter cream frosting.  (That sounds a bit pompous huh…sorry) but I had not had the chance to taste it before leaving for Cupcake Camp. Well not this particular batch anyway. So when I got home. I was cleaning and grabbed one and was like this is awesome HAHAH.
Seriously though. We went to Vegas in February. I ate gnocchi with a marinara/ bolognese (which is marinara and fettuccini alfredo love child) sauce made with a white wine reduction, and imported Italian mascarpone cheese and it was topped with baby arugula. The flavors just danced in your mouth!  Man I am getting hungry!

Any plans to open a retail location? Yes, eventually! I would love to have a retail location or café style dessert place! I want to build clientele but it’s hard when you don’t have a commercial kitchen. Yet you need a commercial kitchen to build clientele but with out the clientele you cannot afford the commercial kitchen…AHHH… catch 22!

Please, tell us something I might not know about or expect of you. Surprise us. My son and I wrote 2 children’s books. It was something we did just to pass the time during the summer. I illustrated them, and he and I co-authored them. They are called “The Adventures of Angel and Mr. Kitty” depicted after our own crazy cats. They are available on or our website-

What is next for you and your business? I want to continue growing my clientele and get a commercial kitchen space. I want to be a household name. Maybe I will even have my own cooking show someday. I want people to dream about the Cake Diva! You know that song “Georgia on My Mind” and the lyrics say-

I said Georgia,
Ooh Georgia, no peace I find
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind

Well I want those lyrics to go something like this.

I said Cake Diva,
Ohhh Cake Diva, one piece I find
Just a sweet, sweet slice keeps Cake Diva on my mind

...but before the music fades out, be sure to visit The Cake Diva online here! And on Facebook here!

Batter Chatter: Interview with Sweet Artist Phuong Diep

So, you already know Cake Gumshoe Phuong as an ace reporter on the ways of sweet things to eat in Boston--she's reported on several Beantown bakeries in the past.
But what you might not know is that she's an artist too--a photographer specializing in photos that reflect her love of dessert, travel, and all things sweet and cute, under the name Little Random Happiness (there's a blog, btw). Want to hear more? Thought so. Interview time:
So, Little Random Happiness. Tell me baby, what's your story? I’ve always wanted to start my own business but can never pinpoint on what it should be. I love too many things…photography, baking, making jewelry, and anything else that might be striking my fancy. After working as a Marketing Project Manager for a few years, I decided to save up, quit my job, and travel before taking the plunge at starting a business. I really wanted to open a small bakery but had no experience in that field so I decided to work for one. I was fortunate enough to work for Joanne Chang at Flour Bakery. (Btw, if you haven’t bought her book yet, please do! It’s awesome!) I learned so much by working there. It really helped me understand the business. Unfortunately the right location hasn’t showed up yet so my bakery plan is on hold.

In the meantime, I finally started a blog this year and really love being able to share all the photos I’ve taken over the years. My photos really reflect my love for traveling, desserts, and cute things. They always make me smile. On a whim, I decided to apply to sell my photos at Boston’s SoWa open market this year and was accepted! I’m so thrilled! I used to go there and thought how wonderful it is to be able to do what you love and at the same time make a little bit of income. This will keep me busy for now :)

Cake or pie? Definitely cake! I can never resist a slice of cake. Plus, they get to dress up in pretty frosting.

Pants or skirts? Pants are so much more versatile.

Yes or no? Maybe? It’s nice to have a little bit of time to think before giving a definite answer!

Vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry? Vanilla…sometimes the simplest flavor is the hardest to execute and get right because it’s so subtle. That or I’m just trying to cover up how boring I am...

What product in your store are you most excited about right now? I love all of my photos but my absolute favorite right now has to be Mr. Mustachio and his tourist friend. I took it when I was in Paris last year and love how it came out. It’s almost too cute to look at.

What is the last delicious thing you ate? I’ve been obsessed with macarons every since my first trip to Paris. I seek them out everywhere. Recently I decided to try and make them myself. After a few batches, I’m proud to say that I no longer need to buy macarons until I go to Paris again :)

Any plans to start selling in stores? Not yet but I would love to if the right opportunity arises.

Please, tell us something I might not know about or expect of you. Surprise us. I am known for my sweet tooth but sometimes I do lose it. It doesn’t happen a lot but I could go for months without having a sweet treat (gasp!). When it comes back though, it comes back with a vengeance.

What is next for you and your business? I will be at SoWa open market throughout the summer. Please stop by if you are in Boston. It’s such a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon; browsing and looking at all the wonderful things being sold by different talented vendors. My photos are also on sale at etsy. I will continue to search for a bakery location and promise to let you know if there is any good news!


Find Phuong's blog here.