The Mystical and Magical Mazurka: The Story of a Seattle Baked Good Icon

Note: Here's a post from many years ago, near the start of CakeSpy, that I really thought was worth revisiting. Enjoy!

Mazurka Bar

(Mazurka pictured made by ace pastry chef Chris Jarchow)

Have you ever stopped to wonder why certain baked goods are popular in your area? 

For me, the discovery of a popular Seattle area treat, the fruit-and-oat bar, which is at times known by various names, started with this book:

The Baker's Apprentice

This is a book by Judith Ryan Hendricks, which I picked up at random at the library last year. Turns out, the novel, which is about a thirty-something woman who is finding herself as a breadmaker after a nasty divorce (which is actually the sequel to the writer's previous novel, Bread Alone) is set in Seattle, and fictional as it may be, the "Queen Street Bakery" featured in the book is inspired by an actual bakery (the McGraw Street Bakery--now Macrina Bakery). But even more than this fact, what caught our attention was one pastry in particular in the book, which turns out to be real as well: the Mazurka Bar.

In the book, the baked good is described as:

"locally world famous--a killer combination of thin, flaky crust, then your choice of lemon, chocolat-espresso, apple-raisin, or raspberry filling, and on the top the crumble layer with its habit-forming, sandy crunch".
Ladro Coffee, and a Mazurka bar from Great Harvest Bread

Reading this, we got a shiver of excitement. We had noticed the proliferation of this fruit-and-oat cookie bar format in the Seattle area--though known by several different names, nearly every coffee shop or bakery in the area has some variation (several are pictured throughout this writeup). Could this mysterious Mazurka hold the key to this particular bar cookie's popularity in Seattle? 

An obsession was born.

I started out by emailing the writer Judith herself, who pointed us in the right direction in our Mazurka hunt, which eventually led us to the Mazurka Maven herself--Jessica Reisman, former owner of the McGraw Street Bakery and the woman who introduced the Mazurka to Seattle. Though Jessica now lives in Beacon, NY (where she owns a different cafe, the charming-looking Homespun Foods), she was more than happy to share the story of the mysterious bar with us:

Macadamia caramel chocolate crumb bar, Seattle

The path to Mazurka monopoly began in 1983, when Jessica Reisman moved to back to Seattle (she had previously lived in the city in the 70's, but had moved around a bit in between) and helped start up Rainbow Foods, a business which has evolved but still exists on Capitol Hill. At the same time, she began making the bars, which were based on Maida Heatter's recipe for Polish Wedding Cakes (in Heatter's description in her cookbook, she notes that they are also sometimes known as Mazurkas). At first the operation was skirting the line of legality--she was making them in her own apartment, and selling them from the back of her car at various festivals and street fairs. Popularity caught on though, and soon enough she was baking from a commercial space in Ballard, where she made enormous batches of Mazurkas which were then sold to wholesale accounts. In retrospect, this was a pivotal time for the Mazurka, and it can be argued as a case of being in the right place at the right time: as a hearty, dense, oaty treat, it appealed to Seattle's outdoor sensibilities--it was the perfect accompaniment for long hikes or mountain climbs, and homey enough for the most gloomy and drizzly days. Timewise, it couldn't have come along at a better time: the Mazurka became a popular wholesale item just as the espresso cart revolution was getting started in Seattle--since new operations would look at the offerings that the existing ones had, the Mazurka just became part of the coffee shop parcel. 

It was at the commercial baking space where Jessica met Nancy Mattheiss, who ran a custom cakes business--though their paths took a few loops and turns, a few years later they paired up again, adding a third partner Sue Fenoglio, to open the Mcgraw Street Bakery, where the Mazurka was a consistent bestseller.


Reisman eventually assumed ownership of the bakery, but sold a few years later. The bakery itself was leased out to various different businesses before eventually housing 

Macrina Bakery's Queen Anne location. She continued with a wholesale baking business for a couple more years, but eventually sold that too (along with the Mazurka recipe), in favor of returning back East to be closer to her family. She mentions that she thinks the business had since been sold again; though I can't confirm this, I surmise that perhaps it was sold to or absorbed by Great Harvest Bread Company--they are the only retailer in Seattle that sells a fruit and oat bar specifically called the Mazurka Bar, and that seems awfully coincidental.

Cranberry Oat Bars, Three Sisters

Today, Jessica Reisman owns another bakery/cafe,

Homespun Foods, in the artistic community of Beacon, New York (about an hour outside of NYC). The Mazurka lives on at Homespun, but is called the Mt. Beacon Bar. Though it is still a popular item, it never quite took off the same way it did in Seattle. Perhaps this is due to the weather; perhaps the culture; perhaps they just have different tastes on the East Coast. 

It is my belief though, that the Mazurka was in its element in Seattle. It was in the right place at the right time--and even years later, will remain a delicious historical marker of our cultural past.

As for the Mazurka's place in Jessica's heart and appetite? Well, let's just say she's been making them a long time. "I never touch mazurkas anymore," she laughs over the phone, "though I do love the way they smell."


Want more lore?

Definitely start out by reading the chock-full-of-carbohydrate novels

Bread Alone


The Baker's Apprentice


Judith Ryan Hendricks

Heck, while you're at it, go ahead and read her other novel (unrelated to the others but still food-filled),

Isabel's Daughter

Also, for an artifact we unearthed along the way, check out this 1992 article from the

Seattle Times, about Jessica's Mazurkas!

Want to make the Mazurka?

We located the original recipe in

Maida Heatter's Book of Great Cookies; though Jessica admits to having taken some liberties and tried out different fillings, this is where you should start to master the mysterious treat:


These are called Mazurka in Polish. There are many versions, all rich and moist. This one has a crunchy crust and a tart apricot filling. 

Makes 16 2-inch squares 

Apricot Filling

  • 4 ounces (about 24 halves) dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  1. Bring the apricots and the water to a boil, uncovered, in a small, heavy saucepan with a tight cover over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer until the apricots are very tender, about half an hour, depending on the apricots. The fruit should be very soft and the water should be partially but not completely absorbed.
  2. Press the apricots with a potato masher or stir and mash vigorously with a fork. The mixture should be very thick. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Cool to room temperature. If you wish, this filling may be made ahead of time and refrigerated.

Polish Pastry 

Note: this is not like American pastry. It will resemble a crumb mixture.

  • 1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 3/4 ounces (1/2 cup, firmly packed) shredded coconut
  • 3/4 old fashioned or quick cooking (not "instant") oatmeal
  • 2 ounces (generous 1/2 cup) walnuts, cut medium fine
  1. Adjust an oven rack one-third up from the bottom and preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place the Flour, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl. With a pastry blender cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the coconut, oatmeal, and walnuts.
  3. Place half (3 cups) of the mixture in an unbuttered 8-inch-square cake pan. Press it evenly with your fingertips. Cover with a piece of wax paper and with the palm of your hand press against the paper to make a smooth, compact layer. Remove the wax paper.
  4. Spread the apricot filling smoothly over the pastry, staying 1/4 to 1/2 inch away from the edges. Sprinkle the remaining pastry evenly over the filling and repeat the directions for covering with wax paper and pressing smooth. Remove the wax paper.
  5. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes until the top is barely semifirm to the touch. (note: Personally I find that Maida's bake time is long. I prefer more like 25-30).
  6. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes or so; be sure to cut around the sides to loosen from the pan before cutting and serving.

Thank you to Judith Ryan Hendricks, Jessica Reisman, and Nancy Mattheiss for their help with this story.

Delicious Mazurka

Ten Sweets I Crave in Seattle

Nanaimo Bar

It's a funny thing about moving away from a place. Sometimes, you're surprised by the things you miss once you leave.

Listen. I lived in, and loved sweets in Seattle for eight years. Eight years! During my time living in the Emerald City, I pretty much knew every bakery and wandered the streets trying to find new ones--constantly. 

As such, it would have been impossible to declare favorites when I lived in Seattle, because I was so constantly trying new things. But since moving away, I actively miss some desserts...these ones rise surface as the things I wish I could have again, and which I actively seek out when I am back in town.

So this is in no way a "best of" list, or a comprehensive one. It's just a loving ode to some of the sweets I find myself thinking about most. Enjoy!

Biscuits from Wandering Goose Cafe

The Wandering Goose Cafe opened after I moved away, but it is now it is one of my favorite places not only in Seattle, but on earth. And my favorite thing there? The biscuits. I am not sure how to explain the glory of these biscuits to you, other than to say that they're craggy, somewhat scone-like, and just about as full of butter as a foodstuff can possibly be. You can get the biscuits split with butter and jam, or gussied up in any number of ways. The best of the bunch, in my opinion, is the "Big Trouble", which is composed of a toasted biscuit topped with peanut butter, banana slices, and honey. Heaven on a plate. On my last trip to Seattle, I had it for breakfast 4 out of the 5 days I visited.

Biscuits from Macrina


 Yep, I am a biscuit lover. And Seattle is home to so many biscuits I miss. I love Macrina's. Somewhat fluffier in texture and less craggy in appearance than the Wandering goose version, they're different but equally delicious. They have a sweet version, with a thumbprint of jam in the middle (strawberry or marionberry) or a savory ham and cheese one. Deciding which one is better is decidedly difficult. I miss these biscuits when I'm away.

Chocolate drop cookies, Three Girls Bakery, Pike Place Market


This is sort of like a Berger Cookie, if you've ever tasted one. The chocolate drop is a crumbly cookie topped with a huge dollop of rich fudgy topping. It's not necessarily a fancy cookie, but it does it for me. The cookie melts, with just the right amount of salt, and the fudge keeps you coming back for more bites. I love this cookie.

Top Pot Doughnuts

Pink Feather Boa Doughnut from Top Pot

I love Top Pot Doughnuts. The cafes are always stylish, and the doughnuts are always good. Listen. I rarely bother with yeast doughnuts, so I can't tell you much about the ones at Top Pot. But I can tell you that the cake doughnuts are pleasingly hefty and with a perfectly crispy exterior which leads to a soft, feathery interior. They're fancy-ish, but still accessible to those who prefer an old school, no-frills doughnut. They just make me happy. 

Cupakes are a tie, so this is in two parts:

Pink frosted cupcakes from Cupcake Royale

Dance party with Holly Hobbie at Cupcake Royale, Capitol Hill

Cupcake Royale does something magical to create their cake, which is spongey but also dense at the same time, so it has a certain delicate nature but a satisfying weight and a flavor which satisfies. I've never tried a cake with quite this texture before. It's even better, of course, when you top it with a crack-filled buttercream and call it "Dance Party with Holly Hobbie", which is the cupcake's proper name. It is a food that always makes me smile, and I miss it like a friend.

Hummingbird cupcakes from Trophy Cupcakes

Hummingbird Cupcakes, Trophy Cupcakes

At Trophy Cupcakes, purveyor of pinkies-out cupcakes in the Emerald City, the variety I always hope to find is the Hummingbird. The banana cake should not be confused with banana bread--it's more delicate, with a finer crumb, though it's still very banana in flavor. Plus, I've never seen banana bread so awesome as to have a huge dollop of cream cheese icing on top like these little cakes. 

Hummingbird cake from Kingfish Cafe There's Cake in there, I promise!

Kingfish Cafe is famous for its Red Velvet cake, but once I tried the Hummingbird there, I was hooked. It's huge--about the size of your head, and covered in whipped cream and caramel and strawberries to the point where you wonder where the cake is. Dig through the toppings, because while they don't hurt, the real treasure is to be found in the cake, scented with banana and delicately sandwiched between generous layers of cream cheese frosting. I'd be lying if I told you I couldn't finish a slice by myself, as huge as it is. Whenever a friend asks where I'd like to go for dinner in Seattle, I suggest this establishment--mostly so I can order dessert. I hope they never stop making these cakes, though it's been a while since I visited (boo).

Panna cotta gelato from Bottega Italiano

I don't know if Bottega Italiano actually offers other flavors, because rarely have I even looked. The panna cotta is where it's at when you visit this tiny gelateria on the First Avenue side of the Pike Place Market. It's so creamy, so dreamy, so perfect, that I never crave much else. A secondary flavor is mere formality.

Nanaimo bars

Nanaimo Bar

True, Nanaimo bars are actually from Canada. But Seattle is close enough that you'll see them somewhat frequently (at least, more often than most other American cities, I'd warrant a guess). I love Nanaimo bars so hard. I think that they are a perfect food. If you want to learn more about them, or learn how to make them, you can search this site or check out my tutorial on Craftsy. 

Pink frosted cookies

Pink Frosted Cookie

Truthfully, this is an odd choice to put on the list because when it comes down to it, I don't enjoy eating the commercial variety of the pink frosted cookies all that much. I love bakery versions, which are all sort of riffs on the commercial ones. But what I really miss (I'm getting to it, promise) is seeing these cookies everywhere. They're ubiquitous in Seattle, and you can find them in grocery stores and gas station mini marts and unexpected places. They're very special, and have a sweet place in my heart. 

Coconut cream pie from Tom Douglas

Le Famous Coconut Cream Pie

I like to tell people that even if coconut cream pie isn't their #1 choice, Tom Douglas' version (available at the Dahlia Bakery and several of his restaurants) might be the one to make them a believer. It's coconut through and through, with the creamy stuff in the crust, cream, topping, and flaked as garnish. And it's the good stuff, fat flakes which are clearly well-sourced because they're just so, so tasty. Try it--this pie is legendary in Seattle, and for good reason.

Bonus: Old School custard

Birthday Cake Custard, Old School Custard, Seattle

Oh, I love custard! Old School Custard will top it in all sorts of ways, but my favorite is the vanilla version, with rainbow sprinkles. Really, this custard is perfect: unbelievably creamy, like you're licking the top of a pail of milk where cream has risen to the surface. Well, if that pail also had sugar inside of it and optional sprinkles as garnish, I suppose. Anyhow. I miss Old School Custard! 

What sweets do you miss when you're away from your hometown, or someplace you lived?

Sweet Discovery: Pampeana Empanadas, Seattle

Photos via Pampeana Empanadas

Repeat after me: dessert empanadas with homemade dulce de leche

I ask you to repeat after me, because I want to work on this infusion through repetition thing. If everybody starts chanting that, maybe dessert empanadas will become the next thing, and dulce de leche will accompany them on their rise to the top. 

Of course, instead of trying to convince you of the merits of the humble empanada, I could suggest that those in the Seattle area give Pampeana Empanadas a sample.

I had the good pleasure of meeting the mother and daughter team behind this empanada business in Seattle, when they were feeding the hungry masses with their wares at the Urban Craft Uprising. My friend Jameson also pointed me in their direction, noting that these empanadas were characterized by a particularly spectacular crust. 

Well, that's about all I needed to hear. 

Pampeana Empanadas has a cute story: "Alexis met Leandro Torres in the Argentine ski town of San Martín de Los Andes in 2005. Fairly soon thereafter, Leandro, a schooled Argentine chef, showed up in Seattle and wow-ed everyone with his batches of homemade empanadas.

We loved that his baked empanadas were a much healthier alternative to the usual deep or pan-fried empanadas to be found in the local restaurants and stores. It was decided that not only did we need to have constant access to these, but so did the rest of the Seattle area!"

Talk about sweet ambassadors.

Oh, and in case you are curious about the name, their website addresses it: "Pampeana describes anything "from the Pampas", the region in Argentina where empanadas originated."

What a delightful find! All of these empanadas are made by hand, with a secret ingredient of love, I assume. Pampeana makes savory offerings and sweet, but you can tell which empanada is which with their handy "how to identify your empanada" illustration (I love it!).

Their sweet offerings include apple and dulce de leche, guava, pumpkin and dulce de leche in the fall, and "red, white, and blueberry" (strawberry, cream cheese, and blueberry) in the summer months.

Pumpkin dulce de leche. Don't you love it already?

They also offer empanada dough for sale, so you can choose your own adventure! As they say, "Our empanada dough is available for sale, frozen and ready for you to make your own empanadas at home. Each package comes with pre-made discs layered with wax paper for easy separation. With the dough as your canvas, you get to be creative with your own fillings!". 

And yes, they also sell that dulce de leche that is used for the sweet fillings--but, you know, If at this moment I had an empanada with dulce de leche inside of it, I wouldn't be above dipping it in some more dulce de leche.

If you are in the Seattle area, rejoice! You can get these empanadas by special order. Find them online here.

Sweet Story: Strawberry Sour Cream Sundae from Molly Moon's

CakeSpy Note: You know that I'm a sucker for a sweet story, especially when it pertains to the secret life of something sweet! So when I received this sweet story behind the Strawberry Sour Cream Sundae at Seattle's famous Molly Moon's Ice Cream, I had to share! 

When Molly was a kid in Idaho, her Grandma Angie introduced her to a delicious summer treat: dipping strawberries in sour cream and brown sugar. Grandma Angie holds a special place in Molly's heart partly because of her passion for politics. Molly remembers her grandmother as an energetic leader who was often working in political offices or on campaigns. When campaign volunteers were working late into the night, Grandma Angie would run out for strawberries, sour cream and brown sugar so her hardworking crew could have a special treat.

In honor of Grandma Angie, and the awesomeness of Washington strawberries, we’ve created a new sundae that is at once crunchy, creamy and cool.

We had a lot of fun making this sundae. We started with a scoop of our strawberry sour cream ice cream – a  simple combination of Remlinger Farms strawberries and sour cream - to make a richer, creamier flavor with just the tiniest bit of zing. Then we added some fresh, organic strawberries, a lightly sweetened sour cream and crunchy, golden Demerara sugar. A sundae isn't a sundae without whipped cream and a cherry on top, so we went ahead and added those too! The result is pretty to look at (all red, white, pink and sparkly) and a treat to eat.

We like to think Grandma Angie would approve.

Sorry! I don't have a recipe to share, but you can buy one of these sweet treats at all Molly Moon's locations in Seattle!

Sweet Treats: Semolina Sesame Cookies

Have I ever told you that one of my favorite bakeries, not only in Seattle, but in the world, is Macrina Bakery? From their biscuits to their morning rolls to their cookies, I can't get enough of their sweet treats. Every month they share a recipe via their newsletter, and I in turn enjoy to share with you. 

This month it's Semolina Sesame Cookies. As the headnote says, "These cookies are inspired by acclaimed baker Carol Field, who gathered a collection of wonderful regional recipes from bakers, grandmothers, and chefs on her travels through Italy. The essence of this recipe came from one of her books (I have them all!), and is so typically Italian. The semolina, a coarsely ground wheat flour used widely for making pasta, lends a beautiful crisp texture, and the sesame seeds make them a classic accompaniment to a sweetened shot of espresso. Buttery annd not too sweet, they'll totally satisfy the 4 p.m. nosh need!"

Makes 18 3-inch cookies

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon semolina flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds


  1. Position 2 racks in the center of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Sift together the flours and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Start on low speed and increase to medium for a total of 5 to 8 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. The mixture will be light, fluffy, and pale. Add the egg and mix on low speed until fully incorporated, then scrape the bowl down again. Gradually add the dry ingredients mixing until they're just incorporated and the dough is smooth, about 1 minute. Be careful not to overmix: the cookies may become tough.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide it into 4 equal pieces, then roll each piece into a 1/2-inch-wide rope. Use a ruler to measure and then cut the rope into 5-inch segments. Each segment will become a cookie. If the dough is too soft, chill for 10 minutes to make it easier to handle.
  5. Lay each rope in an S shape, 1 inch apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Tuck the ends under and compress slightly. Chill the sheets in the freezer for 20 minutes to help the cookies hold their shape while baking. (You may also freeze the cookies at this point, covered tightly, for up to 1 week. Let them thaw for about 20 minutes before baking.)
  6. Brush each cookie with a little bit of water and top with the sesame seeds. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden brown. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, these cookies keep their great flavor for at least 1 week. 

Ice Cream at Cupcake Royale

Having been away from Seattle for about six months, a lot has changed here. They now charge for bags at the grocery store; the bus is more expensive; the old Center House at the Seattle Center is now a gourmet foodie destination (or trying to be). 

But of all the changes, one of the most exciting is that there appears to have been an ice cream explosion in the city. Highlights: Cupcake Royale and Top Pot Doughnuts are branching out to now offer ice cream; Lick Ice Cream opened its doors on Pine Street. And though not ice cream, it's related: D'ambrosio Gelato opened a second location in Capitol Hill.

The first one I have had the pleasure to sample so far is the ice cream at Cupcake Royale (where you can also buy my cards, btw).

Now, when CCR started offering ice cream, I was intrigued--because while it certainly was branching out from the cupcake theme, it definitely seemed like a natural progression. And a good combo. 

As I learned from Seattle Met, it further makes sense because owner Jody Hall "happens to be close friends with Kim Malek, founder of crazy good Portland ice creamery Salt and Straw …a convenient liaison, indeed. Hall says Malek lent considerable time and assistance in developing her program, and Cupcake Royale ice cream maven Nicki Kerbs and “head churner” James Lowell both went down to Portland for some training."

CakeSpy Note: I have known and loved Salt and Straw, too!

They offer two categories of flavors: "Cupcakes n cream" which are inspired by (and include bits of) their cupcake flavors, including Red Velvet (Cream cheese, buttermilk ice cream with chunks of Red Velvet cupcakes), and Dance Party with Holly Hobbie (Triple vanilla ice cream with chunks of Dance Party cupcakes).

The second category is "Bakeshop Inspired" which feature the "just what it sounds like"--Oregon Hill Strawberry or Royale Extra Dark Chocolate, for instance, as well as some more exotic, like Washington Hazelnut Brittle with Salted Ganache (Vanilla ice cream with chunks of house made salted ganache and hazelnut brittle) or Whiskey Maple Bacon Crack (Real maple ice cream with a hint of Woodinville Whiskey loaded with house-made bacon crack (aka brittle).

But you can see the entire flavor list here.

So. After pining over the flavor list for a while, I finally got to go and try it! I went with my buddies Nicole and Ramon. I've eaten ice cream with them before, in multiple countries.

After sampling the Red Velvet, I had a sort of reaction where I wanted to do a happy dance to praise the heavens for this tangy, cakey, creamy "oh my god how quickly can I eat a vat of it" ice cream. It's really, really good.

But since I was really craving an ice cream sandwich, I decided to go with a different flavor for the main event. I went with the Washington Hazelnut Brittle with Salted Ganache, because really, what part of that is wrong? I got it between two "bacon crack" cookies. 

The cookies, sweet and caramelly and then with a big, salty, bacon-y bite, had a very assertive flavor. As a stand-alone cookie it might not be for the feint of heart. But when used as bookends for this ice cream, I don't think I am exaggerating when I say they approach perfection. The creaminess of the ice cream itself worked nicely with the salty bacon-y flavor--and it was a really, really good ice cream all by itself. I was highly impressed by the creamy vanilla base which was studded with bits of nutty, caramelly brittle and salted chocolate ribboned throughout. It was a Ben & Jerry's style ice cream in that it was really packed with the fillings, but a more intimately delicious version in that I know this stuff is lovingly made in smaller batches. 

Highly enchanted by this experience, I returned the next day for the Red Velvet Ice cream, which was, as I remembered from my taste of it the night before, totally effing delicious.

Cupcake Royale's ice cream not only met my expectations, but exceeded them. They have managed to find a perfect balance: the flavors are not only attention-grabbing, but they are actually delicious. I'm really proud of this gem of a local business for being able to bravely expand in a way that makes sense, and to do it so tastefully and toothsomely.

Other things I should mention: they also have ice cream sandwiches bookended with cake (yum); they also have Red Velvet Waffle cones. Red Velvet Waffle Cones! Yeah!

So, in case you hadn't gotten the message yet: CakeSpy gives a big thumbs up to Cupcake Royale's ice cream.

Cupcake Royale ice cream, scooped fresh at Ballard, Bellevue, 108 Pine, and the Capitol Hill locations; there are pints and sandwiches at ALL locations. GO GET SOME. DO IT. Online here.

Cakewalk: A Day of Cake Eating With Molly Allen and Joy the Baker


Last week, something incredible happened.

I got to eat a ton of cake.

But unlike most days that I eat a ton of cake, on one very special day (March 17, in fact) I got to eat cake all day with Molly Allen, who runs the website and is a contributor for Best Friends for Frosting, and with Joy the Baker, overall Big Important Foodie Person and a sweet fan of CakeSpy Shop. She had won an all expenses paid trip to Seattle after the "So You Wanna be a CakeSpy?" contest!

It was a contest to support my amazing book.

Now, I should say thanks in advance to Molly because some of the photos below are hers. Thanks!


I had solicted some suggestions for where to take Molly, but I also had a few favorites in mind--especially considering that she is a fan of red velvet cake.

I can sense that you're getting bored of all of these words and starting to wonder where the cake is, so why don't I tell you what we ate now, ok?


First, since it was St. Patrick's day, we stopped at Nielsen's Bakery in Queen Anne. This little gem is the home of the snitter, fine cinnamon rolls, and most notably, something called the Potato. As Molly put it, "A sweet potato. A pastry puff filled with custard and whip cream, then topped with marzipan and cocoa powder." NOM!

Next, we hit up Pinkabella Cupcakes in Queen Anne. This store has gone through some management changes (it used to be Wink Cupcakes) but it had been highly suggested by a Sasquatch Staffer as a great place for Red Velvet. I took a moment to ask Molly what makes a great red velvet cake:


Oh, and I should assure you: of course we brought our magical ponies.


The Pinkabella cake was highly respectable: a great cake-crumb, moist and flavorful, and a surprisingly light frosting--though I like a thicker and weightier frosting personally, the flavor was very good.

Next, I took her to Trophy Cupcakes. After all, Molly clearly needed a Neapolitan cupcake after her winning recipe, and it's overall a magical place to visit. So we got a few flavors, including the Neapolitan and a "green velvet", the St. Patrick's day version of Red Velvet.

I should also tell you, we brought our ponies here.

As usual, Trophy was delicious. If you've never been there, I have a question: what's wrong with you? 

They were super-sweet at Trophy, and knowing that Molly and I would be hanging out with Joy the Baker soon, they sent us on our way with a cupcake for her, too! AND some to share with the guests. Thanks, Trophy!

Next, we went over to Ballard and picked up some gelato at D'ambrosio. This time, I tried the caramel-fig and the nougat. It did not disappoint--this place is awesome.

Next, we made a quick drive-by at Bakery Nouveau, where the floors are paved in butter and the walls are made of sugar. Not really, but I hope that gave you the idea that this palace of pastry is stuffed with delicious. We got a few sweets including a croissant, and cheated a bit and got some savories too. But we had to get going quick, because it was time for...Joy The Baker!

Joy was passing through town on book tour and stopped at CakeSpy Shop. It was packed--naturally! Here we are together, looking cute. Hey, how'd they get so tall?OK. So after hanging out at the signing for a while, we headed up to our final destination for the day of the pastry: Cupcake Royale. Also made of magic, we picked up a Tiramisu, Red Velvet, and Lemon Pistachio. Yum.

And, you might be wondering: how awesome are we? About this awesome:

At this point, we declared "oink oink" and gave up for the day - but oh, what a MAGICAL day it was.

So, as you may have noticed, Molly tasted a lot of Red Velvet on this glorious, sugar-filled day. At the end of the day, she said that she had a favorite. Can you guess what it was, based on the pictures above? Here's a quick roundup of tasting notes:

Red Velvet Tasting

  • Pinkabella: A standout cake, a lighter than expected but very good frosting.
  • Trophy: A delicate cocoa flavor, lovely frosting, cute decorations.
  • Cupcake Royale: A firmer and less moist cake style, decadent and denser frosting.

If you've been to these shops, which is your favorite? I'll do another post to let you know which one she chose in the next day or two!

Cake Byte: Cupcake Royale Brings Back the Deathcake Royale!

Image: Cupcake RoyaleIt's that time of year again. That beautiful time of year when Cupcake Royale brings the Deathcake Royale back to the masses, for a limited time only.

As they put it:

DEATHCAKE IS HERE - Seattle's most lovingly lethal cupcake is back – reformulated in a sharable babysize.

In a laboratory explosion of sheer genius, the Cupcake Royale scientists created the cult fave Deathcake Royale: Theo Chocolate decadence fused with Stumptown Espresso Ganache and accessorized with a pinch of fleur de sel.

Personally, while I loved the scale of the big version, the smaller version is still crazy delicious, and probably better for your health. I'll just eat three to make up for the dainty size, ok?

For more, visit the Cupcake Royale website!

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

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

Where: Seattle, Washington

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

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

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

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

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

Washington Blackberry Pie

Whole Wheat Crust Ingredients

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


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

Blackberry Filling Ingredients

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


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

Pastry Profiles: Nutella Brioche from Macrina Bakery, Seattle

Let's take a moment (it won't take long, I promise) to talk about the Nutella Brioche from Macrina Bakery in Seattle.

Now, I'm pretty sure that Nutella was invented on the principle that chocolate-and-hazelnut-make-everything-better. And based on this logic, it would follow that an already-awesome thing (Brioche) would be rendered even awesomer by adding Nutella. I know I just got pretty mathematical-scientific there, so pause for a moment and re-read that if you need to.

But joking aside, this Nutella Brioche is seriously delicious. Feathery-yet-buttery brioche gets a sweet upgrade from pearly sugar on top, and a rich-and-sweet delight awaits you as eater in form of a Nutella filling. The whole package is a wonderful way to breakfast, and pairs beautifully with coffee.

Nutella Brioche, available at Macrina Bakery; for locations and hours, visit

Cake Byte: Cupcake Royale Debuts the Pumpkin Cardamom Cupcake for October

Photo: Cupcake RoyaleThe month of Huckleberry and Peanut Butter and Jelly cupcakes at Cupcake Royale is over.

But don't cry, because there's a new cupcake in town for October: Pumpkin Cardamom!

Per the sweet folks at Cupcake Royale (did I mention I am having a book signing event there on October 15 in Capitol Hill, and October 17 in Bellevue?):

Our dense pumpkin cake is loaded with pureed pumpkin, locally sourced from Stahlbush Islands Farms. We top each cake with a generous swirl of cardamom cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with tiny, autumn leaves of sugar. It tastes almost like a pumpkin pie. 

But don't take our word for it. Here's what Seattle Weekly had to say in last year's poll for Best Fall Cupcake Frosting Flavors. “Everyone who tried this independently gave the review "Hands down, the winner." (No really, everyone said "hands down." This cupcake is just that good.)” - Seattle Weekly

Dense and creamy; sweet and spicy—this cupcake is the perfect way to welcome autumn.

These sweet treats will be available all October long at Cupcake Royale locations; for directions and more info, visit their website.

Cake Byte: Trophy Cupcakes Debuts Caramel Apple Cupcakes for October

Image: Trophy Cupcakes

Fall in Washington state can be a depressing prospect: the start of our annual 9 months of rainy winter.

But at least the apples are top-notch. And for the month of October, Trophy Cupcakes and Party is going to be offering up a delicious addition to their menu: Caramel Apple Cupcakes!

Per their most recent email,

More importantly, this new Trophy confection is the perfect dessert for all fall parties, including National Caramel Apple Day on Oct. 21. Imagine the smiles on little ones’ faces when these cupcakes are unveiled at their Halloween or harvest celebrations!

Trophy’s newest cake boasts chopped, organic Granny Smith apples from Washington, warm fall spices, organic cane sugar, and of course, local dairy and eggs. The spiced-apple cake is topped with Trophy’s house-made caramel infused buttercream, and is edged in toasted pecans, and finished with a drizzle of more homemade caramel sauce, a pretzel stem and a green wafer leaf.

“Caramel apples are a childhood favorite of mine and I knew the only way I would be happy with it as a cupcake was if I could really taste both the crisp, tart apples and the buttery caramel,” said Trophy Cupcakes and Party owner, Jennifer Shea. “By hand chopping the apples and making our caramel from scratch, we nailed it! This cupcake is my new favorite and I hope everyone who tries it loves it as much as I do!”

Caramel Apple cupcakes debut tomorrow, Sat., Oct 1, at Trophy Cupcakes and Party retail locations at Wallingford Center, University Village and The Bravern, and will be available for purchase for $4 throughout the month of October. To order Trophy’s Caramel Apple cupcakes, please call 206.632.7020; for locations, visit the Trophy Cupcakes website. 

Sweet September: Cupcake Royale Debuts New Flavors for the Month

Say goodbye to summer, but don't say goodbye to delicious: Cupcake Royale has just debuted its September flavors, just in time for Back To School (or, you know, thursday). Here's the 411 on the new flavors:

Huckleberry Cupcakes! This baby starts with local huckleberries (fresh, as in they were picked this past weekend) folded into into their vanilla cupcake and top it with a huckleberry buttercream frosting. This cupcake brings all the bears to the yard. CCR has partnered with local farm Foraged & Found Edibles to provide them with their huckleberry crop this year. In case you don’t know what a huckleberry is, think of it as the little brother to a blueberry but with even more flavor.

Peanut Butter and Jam, sitting in a tree. This classic combo has our vanilla cupcake, filled with fresh local strawberry jam (fresh, as in they made it last week) topped with a super fluffy, salty peanut butter buttercream. Sprinkled with chopped peanuts and a coarse sugar and sea salt.

Now through September 30th at all five of their cafes. For locations and hours, visit

Oh Darling: Cake Darling Sweets, Seattle

You know what rules? 

Getting a surprise delivery of free cupcakes. 

And--surprise--these ones, from CakeSpy Shop geographical neighbor Cake Darling Sweets, a special-order bakery (no retail storefront) in Seattle, were also gluten-and-dairy free.

But as devoid of the usual suspects of delicious as these treats might have been, they did not taste like deprivation. In fact, they tasted downright dreamy: we enjoyed the chocolate creme and lemon custard varieties. The chocolate was dense and had a lovely crumb (sometimes chocolate vegan cakes can be crumbly, have you noticed this?); the lemon was substantial, with an unexpected but nice lightly nutty-tasting cake, and yet refreshing, with a healthy dose of sweet frosting.

And the baker, Chelsea Lauren, is adorable and a dreamer, per her site:

I've got a few secret dreams written on tiny pieces of paper kept in my pockets or in various notebooks around the house. I have a stash of super secret recipes that I have spent hours upon hours in the kitchen perfecting.

I hope to, one by one, be able to share every vegan, gluten-free cupcake and donut and cookie dream that I have hiding up my sleeve! Thanks for checking out Cake Darling - I would love to hear from you sometime!

...but these sweet dreams can be yours if you're in Seattle or beyond -- she ships! Check out the website here, and the Etsy page here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Seeking Sweetness: Behind the Scenes with This Charming Candy

So, if you've ever seen my store (CakeSpy Shop, conveniently located at 415 East Pine Street in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood), you're probably already familiar with the wares of This Charming Candy, a Seattle-based purveyor of creative and delicious lollipops.

When you come to the shop, you'll see something like this:

But in case you've ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes, I'll give you a sneak peek.

Recently, I went to their culinary studio in North Seattle, and they allowed me to take a few shots of the sweet process. Well. I was too late to see the candy mixture being mixed, but I did get there in time to see it gently cooling and hardening in molds:

...but you should know that as with any art, there are always the leftover bits--like an artist's palette littered with little bits of this and that color, here's a small rainbow of cast-off sugar:

...and once the lollipops are at the right consistency, they're ready to be packaged with sleeves and ties, on deck:

...and then we'll have packaged lollipops!

...and now, if you head on over to CakeSpy Shop at 415 E. Pine Street in Seattle, you can buy a fistful for yourself. Or call us at 206.605.3589 - we do mail order too!

For more about This Charming Candy, visit their website. 

Sweet News: Ice Cream Social at Seattle's Palace Kitchen

Wow, isn't that some cute ice cream artwork?

Well, it gets even better: I created the art for a very special event: the Ice Cream Social Happy Hour, coming up on August 31st at the Palace Ballroom in Seattle!

Here are the details:

Date: Wednesday, August 31st

Time: 5:30-7:30 pm

Location: The Palace Ballroom, 2100 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

Join us at the Palace Ballroom to sample some of the best ice cream that Seattle has to offer!  On hand will be delicious cold treats from ice cream superstars like:

·         Bluebird Homemade Ice Cream

·         Parfait

·         Full Tilt

·         D’Ambrosia Gelateria Arigianale

·         Old School Frozen Custard

·         Fainting Goat Gelato

·         Procopio

As well as a treat from the Tom Douglas pastry kitchen!

The cost of admission gets you a sample from every vendor, entertainment and access to a full bar.  We’ll also have a specialty ice cream cocktail available for purchase for those who want a little bit of booze with their chilly treat (for 21 and over folks only of course)!

Tickets are $15 (tax included); learn more and buy tickets online here.

CakeSpy Undercover: Gelato from Bottega Italiana, Seattle

This is what happiness looks like on a (rare) sunny day in Seattle. It is two scoops of gelato from Bottega Italiana in the Pike Place Market. It is (for me) generally devoured slowly, with a tiny spoon, while leaning against my car, which is illegally parked in the three-minute load zone just outside of this small establishment.

I have an answer prepared if a traffic cop ever comes up and busts me, by the way. It goes something like "the spoon is tiny, dude, this cannot be rushed." I'm pretty sure he or she would not give me a ticket, because this is very sound logic.

Of course, tiny spoon aside, there is another very valid reason why Bottega Italiana gelato ought not be rushed: the stuff is good.

Now, I say this with the slightest tinge of hesitation, because they also specialize in sorbetto, but in my opinion, we (as a human race of dessert lovers) ought not waste too much on sorbetto when gelato is on hand.

Sorbetto (gelato's fruit-based, generally fat-free cousin) is just fine when paired with gelato--for instance, a scoop of raspberry sorbetto with gianduja gelato, or a scoop of strawberry sorbetto paired with rich French Vanilla gelato--but on its own, it's vaguely virtuous and doesn't hold my personal attention for too long.

In my opinion, the real reason to visit the Bottega is the Panna Cotta ("cooked cream") gelato. It's unbelievably smooth, rich, and creamy, and is made even better with a second scoop of something equally rich and creamy--say, hazelnut or gianduja or--if they have it on the day in question--salted caramel gelato. What will happen is this: you will take a taste, you will let it melt on your tongue, you will close your eyes which are already rolling back inside of your skull a little bit, and then you will re-open your eyes to make sure you are getting a good sized scoop with that mini spoon, and you will repeat until your little flower-shaped cup is empty.

And if nobody is looking, you'll tilt that cup skyward so that you can sip the last melty bits when you're nearing the end.

Yup: that is indeed what happiness looks like, sweeties.

Bottega Italiana, various locations (go to the Market one, it's my favorite); online here.

Bottega Italiana on Urbanspoon

Cake Byte: Cupcake Royale's Gay Cupcakes Raise Money For a Sweet Cause

Yo, sweeties! Remember a while back how I posted about Cupcake Royale's totally gay cupcake for a totally sweet cause? Well, I have an update from the Royale folks:

During the prideful month of June, we wanted to use our super powers for good and we set a goal to raise $5,000 for the It Gets Better Project. Turns out the community went wild for the idea and gobbled up The Gay cupcake so we decided to double our donation.

This Thursday, we'd like to invite you to come celebrate with us as Cupcake Royale founder Jody Hall presents Dan Savage with a check for $10,000 for the It Gets Better Project. Jody, Dan and a Pride Foundation scholar will all say a few words about the personal importance of this project. And if you didn't get a chance to sample The Gay during the month of June, it will be making a limited reappearance for this event.

If you want more information on this effort, please give Amanda a call (206-883-7656) and she can tell you all about it. Jody and company are super proud of the effort and our ability to rally the community around this to make a difference for our young LGBT people.

Here are the details:

Thursday, July 14th at 4:30pm

Cupcake Royale, 1111 E Pike Street

What to expect:


  • Welcome and brief remarks
  • Jody Hall speaks
  • Dan Savage speaks
  • Pride Foundation scholar speaks
  • Presentation of check
  • Q & A


And after, since it is Art Walk night, stick around to enjoy the art of Benjamin Blackletter.

Sweet Chill: Gelatiamo, Downtown Seattle

Hello, Gelatiamo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gelatiamo on Urbanspoon