Postcards from the Road: January 2015

What in the world has CakeSpy been up to? Well, my friends, quite a bit. In the past few months, I have visited many places, seen many things, and tasted many, many desserts. Let's take a quick tour of the recent past, shall we?

November started very nicely with a trip to Nashville for the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Not only did I get to see some old friends and meet some new, but I got to reunite with my boyfriend, the Pillsbury Doughboy! Since I love the photo, I will just show it again, OK?

When I got back, I finished up an article I wrote for New Mexico Magazine, featuring some original dessert recipes. It was awesome to write for a glossy magazine and such a pleasure to work with Candace Walsh, a writer and editor who is also sort of a hero to me. I can't wait for you to see it in print in February. Here's a mysterious little sneak peek:

Photo via Doug Merriam

Doug Merriam, a totally awesome photographer with whom I worked on the story, turned out to be a Very Good Person to meet. We decided to do a swap: photo tips for me, social media tips for him. I've already seen an improvement in my photos, such as this one of microwave fudge...

and I hope you'll enjoy the new photos I take, with not only my new photo skills but also my new camera!! That's right, after 7 years of using a $40 point and shoot for all my photos, I've upgraded to a real camera. It was a big deal to me, as I had never spent more than $40 on a digital camera. I got this one used, and in total with accessories it came to nearly $200. I realize many bloggers may laugh at this, but for me it was a pretty big deal. 

I got involved with my etsy store in a big way, adding new prints. While alas, right now the shop is shut for the month, check it out in February for some awesome new prints and artwork, including this illustration which was comissioned by the James Beard Foundation.

I was hired by a longtime customer to do a new painting for the holidays. The first painting I ever did for her was of a cupcake, a banana, and a John Deere Tractor. Yes, for real.

Custom order

In this painting, the couple is reunited with their Scotland. This was a very fun painting to do.

With the holidays drawing close, I started to get all sorts of sweet treats in the mail. I received some dried plums in the mail--apparently, they are not prunes anymore. Names aside, these made some awesome bar cookies when I used them instead of raisins to make the award-winning "H-Bars" recipe from the new book Holiday Cookies: Prize-Winning Family Recipes from the Chicago Tribune for Cookies, Bars, Brownies and More.

This isn't necessarily cake related, but Porkchop the pug got the good news that he had lost five pounds. That little boy was getting sort of fat but he's in good shape now! Here is a picture of me and Porkchop in case you needed some cuteness.

I also got to see several recipes I created for Peanut Butter and Company go live--a delicious salty caramel pie...

and to-die-for peanut butter snowballs. Serious love for these addictive morsels!

I also did my first recipe for Colavita, which came out great: lemon pistachio olive oil tuiles. Pinkies out!


I quickly followed it up with a second recipe for chocolate babka made with olive oil, which also came out splendidly. 

Chocolate babka

I taught a class for kids in Santa Fe, on the important subject of holiday cookie baking. Here's a snapshot from those several hours of adorableness. 

Oh, and I painted my yoga mat. 

As Christmas grew closer, me and my sweetie packed up our bags and headed east. We drove from New Mexico to Connecticut, which meant that I could add a few more states to my map of states where I've done yoga. Here are the US states in which I've done yoga so far:


Oh, by the way. In Lawrence, where I stopped to do yoga, I also got to re-visit Sylas and Maddy's in Lawrence, Kansas, which I had previously visited in August on my massive road trip. This is a place worth visiting.

We got to go to the Uprise Bakery in Columbia, MO, and were delightfully surprised by their offerings. From rolls to a cappuccino brownie that looked like a Nanaimo bar to awesome coffee, this place was a wonderful spot.

I need to tell you, though, the big hit of the trip was Terre Haute, IN. We stopped there for the night, and in the morning, we knew we simply had to check out a place called Square Donuts we found online. I mean, how could you not?

Square Donuts

The donuts were a treat, and yes, they were square.

Square Donuts

But even bigger treat was a few blocks away, where we happened upon the Clabber Girl factory! Clabber Girl

I hadn't known they were based in Terre Haute so this was a real surprise. But as we went in, the surprise blossomed into pure delight. They have not only a factory but a full-fledged MUSEUM going on!

Clabber girl

We toured the museum, and then settled in for breakfast in their cafe. They had really awesome biscuits and sweet baked goods, such as the below almond chocolate croissant, which was PACKED with filling. This place was a real treasure and I highly suggest it.

Clabber girl

We powered on through to Connecticut, arriving Christmas eve. I didn't take a picture, but my sweetie's sister in law made a bûche de nöel. Since she is French, like, as in born and raised in France, it was amazing. As you might expect.

The next night we had a quiet dinner with some cakes from the Cheesecake Factory for dessert. Do you believe I've never had one of their desserts? I actually really enjoyed them, especially the key lime cheesecake, yummmmm.

After that, I took the train down to NYC for some time with friends. Me and my friend James watched "Christmas Icetastrophe" which was as terrible as it sounds, and then ate bagels, which were better than anywhere else because they were from NYC. I also got pizza, which is always necessary.


I spent part of the next day with my friend Phil, and even picked up one of these at Whole Foods:

...before heading down the shore to my parents' house in NJ. In NJ, I snacked on Shazaam cookies from Nature's Corner...

Shazaam cookie

and took yoga classes at YouNique Yoga in Belmar. Then I got sick and all I could eat for a day was ice cream from Hoffman's (pictured top of post). Actually, can I get sick more often? That was kind of great.

We then packed up our bags again and headed toward Asheville, North Carolina, where I will be spending this month doing a yoga immersion at the Asheville Yoga Center. I'm staying in a cute little log cabin!

So far, Asheville is simply amazing. We had a great first meal at Homegrown, a great follow up breakfast at Green Sage Cafe, and then went back to Homegrown because it was that great.

We've also sampled the goods at French Broad Chocolates and City Bakery...more to come on those. But suffice it to say that this cake pop I stuck in my mouth was very tasty. 

We've hit up a few grocery stores, because for me, there isn't much finer than exploring a new grocery store (not kidding). I got a "brown cow" cheesecake at Fresh Market, and enjoyed it in a no-frills kind of way.


We also got a bunch of other goodies at Fresh Market and Harris Tweeter, the local grocery chains. What can I say, I love grocery store bakeries. So yes, this happened:

Dessert time

...and this:


I can't wait to see what comes next in 2015!

Happy New Year!

CakeSpy Undercover: Federhofer's Bakery, St. Louis Area


It's a funny thing about bakeries. These days, a more boutique-y, spare sort of display is favored. And that's just great. I love it.

But sometimes, I just have a craving for an old-school bakery that is totally packed with pastries of every sort, cookies by the pound, cakes, pies, and bars; you know, the type where you take a number and they call when you're up. 


If you love this kind of bakery, I promise--I absolutely promise--that you will adore Federhofer's Bakery, on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri.

It's been there roughly forever (ok, since 1966). Per their website:

 Federhofer's Bakery was  established in 1966 by Bill Federhofer with a vision for success and a taste of  perfection. Federhofer's has built a reputation for providing the freshest and highest quality of baked goods for over 46 years. We have been using the same recipes over the decades to ensure our customers a wide variety of  baked goods and the same great taste.

Well, they've certainly honed their art. It's a bustling, good-smelling bakery, and they have all sorts of interesting pastries. Can I tell you about them?

Some of their specialties are stollen and danish.

Pecan stollen, Federhofer's

They have cakes and bars galore. Federhofer's

Sticky buns and cinnamon rolls. Federhofer's Federhofer's

and lots, lots more!


So after my number was up, the friendly employee walked me through their entire menu, and here's what I chose. 


First, a plain doughnut. A good litmus test of any bakery. And in this case, a fine specimen: soft and cakey and just enough oiliness to let you know it was, indeed, fried. A gentle, lightly sweet flavor. Nice.

Gooey butter cake, Federhofer's, St Louis

and of course, a gooey butter cake. To the uninitiated, this buttery cake--made of a soft, cakey crust topped with, well, a gooey butter mixture. It's said to have been invented when a baker made a mistake baking a cake and ended up with this delicious thing. It was an instant classic. It's quite similar to Philadelphia Butter Cake, but the St. Louis version is more likely to include cream cheese. Like Philadelphia butter cake, in St. Louis, the cake is generally sold by the 8-or-9 inch pan rather than by individual slices, and is more a morning coffee cake than an after-dinner dessert.

And the gooey butteriness has pervaded other areas of the menu--behold, a gooey butter danish!! It was sweetness overload, in the best way possible. Gooey butter danish, Federhofer's, St Louis

I also got a taste of a St. Louis specialty--coconut toast! Interestingly, it seems to be a sweet treat that has faded in popularity, because even some residents I asked didn't even know what it was. But I found it at good ol' Federhofers! Basically a use for day-old bread, it's (to the best of my knowledge) brushed with sweetened condensed milk and coconut, and toasted. That's it. Simple, but oh so good. 

Coconut toast, Federhofer's, St Louis

So, after having had a wonderful experience at Federhofer's, I urge you to visit them if you find yourself in St. Louis. They've been doing it since 1966, and based on what I tasted, they have been doing it right. 

Federhofer's Bakery, 9005 Gravois Road, Affton MO; online here. 

CakeSpy Undercover: Grandma's Cookies, St Charles MO

Grandma's cookies

I need to tell you about a place called Grandma's Cookies.

At this magical place in a charming suburb of St Louis, MO, they specialize in--well, cookies.

But here's the thing. The cookies are only about 60 cents each! Well, less than 70 cents each. I forget exactly how much. And they're a pretty good size. In a world where cookies are regularly up to and sometimes even exceed $3.00, this made me like them from the get-go.

Grandma's cookies

And after reviewing the offerings, the unique formation of the chocolate chip cookies made me like them even more. The chocolate chip cookies almost looked like little sun hats: A cookie base, with a cookie lump on top. Oddly, none of the other cookie flavors shared this formation, they were just kind of flat cookies. I'm sure they were good but I zeroed in on the cool (and more bulky) looking chocolate chip cookie. 

Grandma's Cookies, St Charles MO

Look at how it looks in my hand!

Grandma's cookies

Alternate view!

Grandma's cookies

And look how it looks bitten into!

Grandma's cookies

Dude, this cookie was good. And not just "good for 60 cents" good. It was genuinely good. The unique formation gave it a particularly chewy and nearly gooey center, but the edges were crispy. The chocolate chips were ably met by the brown sugary buttery cookie base, and when they came together in my mouth, I felt a moment of pure magic.

A very good cookie indeed. If you find yourself in this charming part of the world, please go there. And buy a baker's dozen of these cookies. It won't even cost that much!

Grandma's Cookies, 401 S. Main Street, St. Charles MO; online here.

P.S. Like the pictures in this post? I took them on my new Intuition phone, part of the Midwest Savvy Gourmets program from Verizon!  Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Midwest Savvy Gourmets program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.

Coming up Flours: Bloom Baking Company, Kansas City MO

PB Krispie chocolate bar

Recently I found myself in Kansas City, MO, for about an hour. What to do? Go to a bakery, natch!

So after asking around, I learned that a fantastic one stop wonder of a place to get food, both sweet and savory, and maybe pick up a unicorn figurine, would be the historic City Market (est. 1857). OK! 

Bloom baking co

Nestled in the market was Bloom Baking Company. I was so glad to see them. I spent a long time ogling their cases. They had homemade bread, which was fantastic, but unfortunately I didn't think it would travel well.

Bloom baking co

Nor did I think their specialty--bread pudding--would. Although I got to sample it and it was very good.

Bloom baking co

So after being tempted by many goodies, including a pecan cranberry tart, pumpkin roll, macarons, cupcakes, lovely croissants and frenchy things, cookies, and so on, I settled on two items.

PB Krispie chocolate bar

First up: the chocolate peanut butter crispy treat. I had to get this, as it reminded me of another favorite Midwest treat, the Special K Bar. Gosh, was this thing good. The peanut butter and chocolate were the dominant flavors, and they were done very well. The crispiness of the treat mixture below made it almost alarmingly addictive. I wanted to eat my weight in it. Like a candy bar, but fancier and better. Such a good treat that embraces fancy and lowbrow all at once.

Bloom baking co

Next up: the flourless chocolate cake. When bought by the slice, it's made even better by being coated in chocolate, a brilliant trick which both makes it more decadent and keeps the cake moist. It was a very chocolatey treat. One of those ones that coats your mouth with chocolate. You might want to smack me for saying it, but probably of the two treats this was my lesser favorite. There is a personal preference that plays into this, though. When it comes to chocolate desserts, I generally prefer them as chocolate with another flavor. The traveling buddy I was with, however, is a choco-choco-choco sort, so it was perfect. So there you have it: if you're a chocolate blackout sort, this one is perfect for you. 

Chocolate covered cake

All in all, I found this a most pleasing stop during my hour in Kansas City (alas, the vendors did not have any unicorn figurines); I spent the rest of my hour eating, looking at vendors, driving by the Hallmark Headquarters...and then I was gone!

Bloom baking co

Bloom Baking Company, 15 e. 3rd Street, Kansas City; online here.

Guest Post: Bakery Suggestions for Springfield, MO from Emma Chapman of Red Velvet Sweet Shoppe

CakeSpy Note: I have to admit, I am always curious to hear what bakeries are beloved by bakery owners. Happily, I recently received a great list of bakery suggestions from Emma Chapman, co-owner of Springfield, Mo-based Red Velvet Sweet Shoppe. Here's the lowdown on Red Velvet, an obvious must-visit if you're in the well as other suggestions for delicious sweets in the area! Images all provided courtesy Float Away Studios.

Red Velvet Sweet Shoppe is new in town. The entire store is actually owned by two sisters, one who bakes cupcakes and makes bubble tea, and one who loves handmade and vintage. Daily cupcake flavors include (but
are not limited to): Salted Caramel, Red Velvet, Snickerdoodle Cookie, Birthday Cake, Peanut Butter Monster and Cookies and Cream. The sweet shoppe also offers bubble tea in variety of flavors on a rotating basis. 211 East Commercial Street in Springfield, MO 65803; online at

But the sweetness doesn't stop there. Where else do the owners of Red Velvet suggest stopping in for a sweet? Why not try one of these places suggested by co-owner Emma:

  • The Cup ( tons of yummy cupcakes and coffee drinks. My favorite is the tuxedo flavor:)
  • The Pie Box ( charming place to get sweet or savory pies to go. My personal favorite is the fancy peach, although I really NEED to try the old fashion buttermilk pie soon.
  • Amy Cakes ( located downtown and is probably Springfield's longest running cupcake and confections bakery. My favorite is the mini red velvet cupcakes. 

You can learn more about Emma and her bakery Red Velvet Sweet Shoppe here, and keep up on her adventures via her blog here.