Friday, April 29, 2011

happy springtime cupcakes

post-easter salvation for chocolate eggs everywhere

Nothing conjures up images of Easter quite like the ubiquitous egg.  This is not sacrilege, this is truth.  Forget the fact that eggs are a daily occurrence for most of us.  Much like turkey belongs to Thanksgiving, we are quick to disassociate the egg’s presence in daily life the moment post-Easter Monday rolls around.  Likewise, Easter candy after Easter requires immediate attention.  We do what any self-respecting person would do and promptly devour it, to destroy the evidence; and then we go back to eating eggs without fanfare.


I had every intention of sharing this recipe last week.  But spring break happened, a trip to Oregon to visit my mom, then a lice scare (fortunately, a false alarm).  I figured I could still make it happen on Saturday when, Easter plans be damned, my daughter came down with the flu.  Aside from obvious concern for my sick girl, this plaintive call to drop everything was a blessed relief. 

We passed over Easter finery in favor of loungewear and slippers, skipped church, popped jelly beans and chocolate eggs at regular intervals, and sang along with Deborah Kerr in ‘The King and I’, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  In other words, we broke from tradition and reveled in it. 

Aside from its obvious cuteness, the following recipe has a lot going for it.  Dense, buttery, vanilla bean-flecked cake boasts a thick layer of luscious buttercream with three candy coated chocolate eggs nestled atop toasted green coconut ‘grass’.  What’s not to love?

In everyday life, I devoutly shun artificial coloring and milk chocolate in favor of food au natural and dark chocolate in all its flavonoid-touted glory.  Easter affords me a temporary lapse into adolescent devil-may-care bliss and unless candy companies come up with a reasonable alternative, I intend to indulge my inner child as well as my actual child once a year, when spring rolls around.  Besides, it’s the last pit-stop before the holiday dry spell which is briefly intercepted by Independence Day and months later gives up the ghost with Halloween.

The nesting egg cupcake is not just for Easter, mind you.  Call it a spring confection and scoop up those discounted bags of Cadbury mini chocolate eggs before it’s too late.  Jelly beans and other candy coated eggs are suitable stand-ins; but those matte, speckled Cadbury eggs have an unmistakable ‘je ne sais quoi’ quality.  Paired with buttery vanilla cake, silky buttercream frosting and toasted coconut, the Cadbury eggs’ crackly sweet shell and creamy milk chocolate interior make for an irresistible pairing of flavors and textures. 

These cupcakes are a happy springtime tradition at our house.  I first baked them eight years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter.  They were especially appropriate that year, given I was in the final weeks of my pregnancy and doing some serious nesting of my own.  I have tried a few different cake recipes and settled on Alice Water’s 1-2-3-4 Cake.  It is foolproof and has served me well in both cupcake and cake form.  The buttercream frosting is simple and delicious and the coconut is toasted and yes, dyed green (because, why not live a little). 

Happy spring, happy baking!

nesting egg cupcakes



1 cup
unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar (I prefer bakers’s sugar, aka caster sugar)
3 cups sifted unbleached white flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean
1 cup milk


3 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon good quality vanilla extract
1 – 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt


coconut ‘grass’
1 – 1/2 cups sweetened coconut, fancy shred (preferred) or angel flake
green and blue food coloring

1 – 18 ounce bag (or 72) Cadbury mini eggs (substitute jellybeans, etc…)



Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut the butter into small pieces.  Place in a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until very light and fluffy.  Add the sugar and beat again until the mixture is light yellow and fluffy.  Next, add the egg yolks, beating just until combined.  Add the vanilla extract.  With a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the bowl.  Mix well. 

In two parts, add the flour and milk to the butter mixture.  First stir in about half of the sifted flour.  Pour in about half the milk and gently mix that into the batter.  Stir in the remaining flour and finally, pour in the rest of the milk, gently stirring to incorporate. 

In a metal bowl, beat the egg whites into soft peaks with a whisk or mixer.  Add a spoonful of egg white to the batter, stirring gently to lighten the batter.  Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites, preferably with a large rubber spatula, just until mixed in. 


Divide the batter between 24 muffin cups, each about 2/3 full.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cakes are very lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  Frost generously with buttercream frosting and decorate, as desired.


buttercream frosting
In a large bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter, vanilla and salt.  Beat at medium speed until smooth, about 5 minutes.

coconut ‘grass’
Place coconut in sealable gallon-size plastic bag.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, mix 3 –4 drops green and 1 – 2 drops blue food coloring with 1 tablespoon water.  Stir to combine.  Sprinkle the food coloring mixture over the coconut, seal the bag and shake to incorporate.  Add more diluted food coloring, as desired. 

Spread the coconut evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Toast on low-broil, stirring every minute or two, until some pieces are lightly browned, 5 – 10 minutes.  Monitor closely to prevent burning.  Cool on foil until needed.

When the cupcakes have cooled, frost immediately using an offset metal spatula or spreader (without a serrated edge).  Place a large dollop in the center of each cupcake, working outward in a circular motion.  Position three chocolate eggs in the center.  Sprinkle the surrounding frosting with toasted coconut.  As a rule, cupcakes are best the same day, but these keep well overnight, once frosted.   

Cake recipe adapted from Alice Waters’ 1-2-3-4 cake recipe, found in ‘Birthday Cakes’ by Kathryn Kleinman.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

big bowl of love

As luck would have it, I recently stumbled upon a warm and welcoming community of like-minded food-lovers, all equally bent on bolstering Seattle’s burgeoning food scene.  Rallying these food troops is an effortlessly chic, passionate and generous woman by the name of Myra Kohn.  No one brings food and its ardent admirers together with more verve, more joie de vivre than the remarkable Myra.  An accomplished food photographer and respected local food authority, Ms. Kohn relishes in connecting chefs and published cookbook authors with local food writers, photographers, bloggers and passionate eaters.

This food-focused crowd was as eager as I to relinquish their Friday evening in the company of one exceedingly lovely and talented model turned cookbook author, Cristina Ferrare.  Among her many credits, Ms. Ferrare has graced the covers of countless fashion magazines, appeared in several television shows and now hosts her own cooking show on the Oprah Network.  Ferrare’s new cookbook, ‘Big Bowl of Love’, is brimming with recipes reflecting her Italian heritage and knack for entertaining. 


Myra, our hostess extraordinaire, graciously introduced Ms. Ferrare, employing equal parts exhilaration and admiration.  With a familial tone and easy manner, Ferrare jumped right in, describing her transition from model to cookbook author, the influence of her food-centric upbringing, the cookbook’s emphasis on foods her Italian grandmother once prepared and the sense of homecoming she’s found in doing something she loves.  “I’m not a chef, said Ferrare, I’m a cook,” a sentiment shared by many in attendance. 


An array of tantalizing recipes from the cookbook were on hand to sample, made more alluring against the backdrop of a sun-dappled kitchen; its countertops adorned with lush spring flowers and twinkling votives. 

After answering questions, Ferrare assembled a big, beautiful Caesar salad tossed with traditional dressing and studded with homemade garlic croutons.  “It’s not a Caesar without anchovies,” she sagely opined.  The salad, touted as ‘light’, was fresh, balanced and full of bright, sunny flavors.  It is more than likely the first recipe I will try at home.

Other items from the cookbook included Mediterranean-inspired lamb meatballs with a refreshing tzatziki sauce, creamy lemon-infused white bean puree and sinful deviled eggs garnished with red radish slivers.

Sharing the same counter space was a swoon-worthy rhubarb pie, nestled primly in its charming basket.  The luscious pie was a gift to Ms. Ferrare, compliments of pie maven Kate McDermott of Art of the Pie


Following the demonstration, Ferrare personally served guests her Caesar salad, mingled easily and signed cookbooks, all the while exuding genuine warmth and a sincere interest in each person she encountered.

In line with title of her book, Cristina Ferrare is full of love and it shows.  Her new cookbook is filled with mouthwatering, unfussy comfort food, big on flavor and best shared with the ones we love.  


Friday, April 15, 2011

nanaimo bars are my kryptonite

I grew up on a small island in Southeast Alaska, where proximity to Canada was most prevalent on the shelves of our local grocery stores.  The brands were the same but labeling was often printed in both English and French; a typical case of Alaska and Canada being glommed together by way of association.  This bilingual packaging went relatively unnoticed until years later when I returned for a visit and picked up on the fact that peanut butter sounded a whole lot more exotic in French; as did graham crackers, tubes of toothpaste and pretty much everything else.  Who knows, maybe all that unintentional immersion gave me the upper hand in French class, mais oui…?

Another revelation came in the form of a highly addictive three layer confection known as the Nanaimo bar.  A staple of my childhood, those irresistible bars were on regular rotation at church potlucks, dinner parties and school bake sales, alike.  Little did I know, but the popular treat originated in British Columbia and was equally revered by my Canadian neighbors to the east.  What I knew too well was that I could inhale those bars with alarming ease; a weakness I harbor to this day.


Discovering the birthplace of Nanaimo bars came about as an epiphany of sorts.  My soon-to-be husband and I were planning a destination wedding in Sooke, British Columbia, a charming town on the outskirts of Victoria, on Vancouver Island.  We must have traveled back and forth more than half a dozen times in the course of planning our 2002 summer nuptials.  This required a 2 – 1/2 hour drive from Seattle to Tsawwassen, just south of Vancouver, where we boarded a ferry which deposited us on the eastern coast of the island.

On one such trek, we found ourselves famished enough to venture into the ship’s self-serve cafeteria where a glassed-in cooler housed metal shelves lined with a myriad of the usual suspects: pudding parfaits, cold sandwiches, pasta salad and tidy squares of sheet cake.  Amid the selection, I spied one strangely familiar apparition.  Nestled amongst a sea of cake was what appeared by all accounts to be a Nanaimo bar.   It had been so long since I’d eaten one; but there it was, beckoning me from within its shiny transparent receptacle.  Though I could hardly expect this ferry specimen to pass the muster, I decided to take a gamble. 

As I sunk my teeth into dense chocolate ganache, rich custardy buttercream filling and on through to the toothsome coconut-chocolate-graham crust, it was clear this was a far cry from the ferry-caliber dessert I had anticipated.  How, I wondered, did something this delicious end up in a ferry boat cafeteria?  My wise husband-to-be soon solved the matter when he pointed out that our approaching destination was none other than Nanaimo, British Columbia; a fact I had somehow managed to overlook during prior sailings.

Nanaimo is more than just a catchy name, it’s an actual city in Canada.  More accurately, it’s a  coastal town on the eastern shores of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.  As the story goes, Nanaimo bars were the creation of a 195o’s housewife, Mabel Jenkins, of Cowichan Bay.  They were popularized through a local cookbook, sold in surrounding coffee shops and eventually caught on in the States, due to tourism.  Other sources claim the bars existed under other names long before Mrs. Jenkins took credit for them.  Hearsay notwithstanding,  their ongoing popularity has landed them in baked goods cases at Starbucks and they were humorously referenced in the 2003 film, ‘A Mighty Wind’. 

My Nanaimo bars are loosely based on a recipe given to me by a real Canadian.  Over time, I have tweaked the measurements and ingredients to mimic that famed ferry boat version.  Whether or not it resembles the original is inconsequential as there are far too many versions to pinpoint a top contender.  What I do know is this: everyone who tries these bars loves them, speaks of them in hushed tones of reverence, requests them by name and begs for an encore appearance. 

The secret behind the bars lies in the source of their pale yellow filling, Bird’s custard powder, which comes from the UK and lends the center layer its unique flavor and texture.  It is worth the effort to track down this product, either in a specialty store or online, as the bars are better for it.  In a pinch, vanilla pudding powder is a reasonable substitute.  Even haters of coconut (you know who you are) are fans of Nanaimo bars.  I attribute this to the use of unsweetened coconut shred rather than those cloyingly sweet, soggy flakes whose resemblance to actual coconut is questionable.  Unsweetened coconut is all about texture with a flavor that is surprisingly understated. 

Though it will strike some as odd, the recipe (which is chilled, not baked) calls for one egg.  That’s right, the no-bake crust contains raw egg.  This necessary egg acts as a binding agent, neatly holding the crust together.  I am vigilant in relaying this information to all who partake of the bars, yet the appalling detail has yet to deter a single recipient.  Apparently, we Americans aren’t as uptight as they make us out to be.  Just be sure to keep the bars cool and store them in the refrigerator. 

With their trifecta of layered goodness, Nanaimo bars are oh-so-easy to love (and by love I mean overindulge).  So much so that unless you possess superhuman willpower, I suggest making them for an occasion or sharing them with friends (or with strangers who will become your friends after trying one). 

Be warned: Nanaimo bars are near impossible to resist.  Heed this advice or consider buying a bigger pair of pants.

nanaimo bars

yields about 20 bars


2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (such as Scharffenberger) 
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs or about 12 sheets
1 – 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut shred
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt 
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg, lightly fork beaten


1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons Bird’s custard powder (substitute: vanilla pudding mix)
3 cups powdered sugar 
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
4 – 6 tablespoons unsalted butter



Melt the chocolate and butter on in a saucepan over low heat.  Alternately, place butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring at 30-second increments until just melted.  Cool slightly.  In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until they are reduced to fine crumbs.  Add the coconut and sugar.  Pulse until combined.  Leave the mixture in the bowl of the food processor until needed.

Add the beaten egg to the chocolate mixture, whisking briskly to emulsify.  The egg acts as a binding agent, to hold the base together.  Stir in the vanilla.  In a steady stream, pour the chocolate-egg mixture into bowl of the food processor.  Pulse until combined. 

Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of a waxed paper lined 9” x 13” baking dish or rimmed baking sheet.  Chill for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator or freezer.


While the base is chills,  use a handheld electric mixer to blend the butter, milk and custard until well combined.  On low speed, add the powdered sugar, raising to medium speed once incorporated.  Add the vanilla.  Beat on medium high, scraping the sides of the bowl, as needed, until the mixture is silky and smooth. 

With a large rubber spatula, spread the filling evenly over the chilled base.  Chill for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator or freezer.


The final layer requires proper timing, so be sure to start the ganache once the custard layer is firm.  Place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat, whisking until melted.  The consistency should be slightly thicker than chocolate syrup.  If the mixture is too thick, add additional butter, as needed.

Pour the melted chocolate mixture over the custard layer and, using a rubber spatula, work quickly to spread the chocolate evenly over the top, extending all the way to the edges of the baking dish.


Chill for another 20 – 30 minutes in the refrigerator or freezer.  Allow the pan to sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes before cutting into bars.  Using the tip of a sharp knife, carefully cut 2-1/2” x 3” bars.  Remove bars from the pan with a small offset metal spatula.  The first bar is always the hardest to remove.  For best results, serve cool but not fully chilled.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. DO NOT store at room temperature due to raw egg in the crust.

For more on the history of Nanaimo bars, plus recipes for both traditional and off-the-wall versions, check out this post by the lovely Jessie Oleson of Cakespy.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

reluctantly, spring


Not long ago, I accepted an invitation to meet a new friend for afternoon tea and cherry pie in the communal kitchen of her high rise apartment building.  Joining the impromptu tea party were several women whom I had never met and, because my friend is well connected within the local food writing scene, I was eager to put my best foot forward.

In our correspondence prior to the tea, I conveyed my limited availability due to a later engagement and inquired as to what I might bring.  My friend replied that my timeframe was perfect as she had plans to attend a movie afterward; and then one word, ‘Poetry’.  Well, this certainly upped the ante.  I supposed it wasn’t all that unusual given the literary bent of the aforementioned crowd.  I could bring poetry.  How utterly quaint, no?

Because her request fell shortly before the proposed meeting time, I chose to cover my bases rather than press for more information.  As I scanned the bookshelves in search of good candidate, my gaze landed upon a blush pink tome filled with love poems by Neruda.  Romance could prove awkward I surmised, moving on.  Then I saw it, an anthology purchased back in high school titled, ‘Six American Poets’.  This soft bound book contained a careful selection of poetry from the likes Whitman, Dickinson, Frost and my personal favorite, William Carlos Williams. 

Then the thought occurred to me, what if I were expected to produce a specimen of my own crafting?  Seeing as I hadn’t written a stitch of poetry since 10th grade English, I managed, somewhat miraculously, to dig up a tattered blue pouch containing the culminated works of  four years’ high school poetry.  God forbid anyone ask me to recite a few lines.  I haven’t a clue what possessed me to unearth this relic of my writing past.  Fear of inadequacy would never hold a candle to the potential for embarrassment bound up in that folder like Pandora’s box waiting to sabotage my newfound credibility.  Still, I reasoned, it might be good for a laugh.

I sped into the city, casting an occasional sideways glance at the hapless stack of poetry strewn across the passenger seat.  Perhaps it would fare better to show up empty handed, I considered, but  instead spent stop lights quickly thumbing through pages in search of one or two hopefuls.

I met my friend in her stylish lobby where greetings were exchanged as she led the way to the shared kitchen space which doubled as a meeting place.  Introductions took place between forkfuls of pie and sips of green tea.  As conversation progressed beyond formalities, it was increasingly apparent that no one else had received the poetry memo.  I said a silent prayer of gratitude and carried on as though the book and folder were irrelevant and altogether invisible.   

One guest inquired as to which film our hostess would see after our gathering.  It was a foreign drama about an aging woman in modern day Korea, she explained.  The film had already received a fair amount of cinematic praise and she was very much looking forward to seeing it.  What was the title of the movie, wondered another guest.  ‘Poetry’, she replied.  Aha.  The name of the film was ‘Poetry’.  Hello, flashing light bulb overhead.  So much for the good old fashioned poetry reading.  How utterly Elizabethan of me. 

I liked these women.  They were passionate about food.  Maybe even more passionate than me.  They were writers.  They were welcoming.  They made time for pie and tea in the afternoon.  Where had they been all my life?  I owed it to them to divulge my amusing faux pas.  I owed it to myself to eschew my perfectionist tendencies in exchange for a good laugh.

So, I came out with it.  They laughed and I laughed.  We all agreed it was a story destined to be told and retold.  Someone mentioned writing about it.  I wasn’t so sure about that.  Then, the inevitable.  Would I read a poem after all?  Reaching for the anthology, I spoke of the works of William Carlos Williams and agreed to read my favorite of his poems.  My gracious new friends did not request I suffer the indignity of sharing my own poetic leanings.  Yet another good reason to favor this lovely crowd.

The poem I chose, ‘The Pink Locust’, is a metaphor in which the author compares himself to a persistent pink weed masquerading as a flower.  The vein of the piece is at once introspective, self-deprecating, and indignant.  “Who will deny me my place?” is the closing line and it seemed in the moments following my reading, that this sentiment was keenly felt.

By sharing the poem, I resurrected my foible, wrapped in pretty pink paper and presented to a willing audience in hopes that I, like Williams, would not be denied my place.  The warm reception which followed was all the proof I needed.

In keeping with the pink flower theme and because it is trying to be Spring outside, I can think of no more appropriate recipe to accompany this story than these delightful pink cookies.  Not long ago, I baked them batch for the national Bakesale for Japan and they were a big hit.  Like the pink locust, these cookies are persistent.  They beg to be eaten and I find it rather difficult to deny them their place (in my waiting belly).

pink cookies

This recipe is a slight adaptation of one found in ‘A Homemade Life’ by local author, Molly Wizenberg.  They taste best the second day, after the frosting has had a chance to seep into the top layer of the shortbread-style cookie.  Trust me on this one.  Be warned, they are highly addictive, particularly when chilled.  Their secret weapon is a touch of almond extract in the cream cheese frosting.  Wizenberg’s version calls for kirsch or cherry extract and I imagine it would be just as good but I do love the way the hint of almond flavor plays off of the tangy cream cheese.  Whether you opt for almond or cherry, the flavoring truly adds that je ne sais quoi and these cookies wouldn’t be the same without it. 

yields approximately 24 cookies


1 – 1/2 cups ( 3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted after measuring
3 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt, rounded
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted after measuring
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 pinch salt
a touch of red or pink food coloring



In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla and mix well. 

In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt until well combined.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating until the flour is incorporated.  

Place the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap.  It should be a bit crumbly but not dry.  Shape the dough into a disc and wrap well.  Refrigerate for 1 hour. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

On a floured sheet of parchment paper, roll out the dough to just under 1/4” thick.  Cut out either rounds, hearts or flowers, depending on preference.  Really, any shape will do.  Work quickly as the dough is difficult to handle as it softens.  If the dough becomes too soft, wrap it in plastic and return it to the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.


Place the cookies 1 – 1/2” apart on parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake one sheet at a time for 16 – 20 minutes or until edges are very lightly colored.  Chill the other sheet of cookies in the refrigerator until ready to bake.  Carefully transfer the baked cookies, still on parchment, to a wire rack to cool.


In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed, until fully combined.  Add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed, until incorporated.  Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until satiny smooth and free of lumps, scraping down the bowl, as needed.  Add almond flavoring and 1 or 2 drops of food coloring.  Add more color as desired.  I prefer a very light pink, reminiscent of a cherry blossom.


Once the cookies have fully cooled, spread the tops with a generous layer of frosting; the thicker, the better.  Allow the frosting to set for about an hour before storing, to prevent smudging.  The cookies keep for up to three days in the refrigerator or for several months in the freezer. 

Adapted from the recipe for Jimmy’s Pink Cookies in ‘A Homemade Life’ by Molly Wizenberg.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

bakesale for japan - seattle

When it comes to baking for a good cause, Seattle’s baking community has been known to show up en force; and last Saturday, April 2, was no exception.  On that date, a host of local pastry chefs and talented home bakers joined forces with like-minded individuals across the United States to put on Bakesale for Japan, a simultaneous national fundraiser to benefit victims of Japan’s recent earthquake and tsunami. 


Bakers throughout the city impressively rose to the challenge, as was evidenced by the sheer volume of delectable cookies, cakes, breads, and other sweet treats teetering on several tables positioned upstairs, downstairs and outside the entrance of local art gallery Cakespy, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.  Careful attention to detail was present in each and every precious cupcake, golden pie crust and thoughtfully packaged confection.  The combined creativity, generosity and sheer love of baking culminated in a sugar-coated trifecta of bakesale perfection.


Featured baked goods included brightly hued miniature cupcakes nestled cozily in egg cartons, compliments of Sugar Rush Baking; ‘Jars of Stars’ filled with itty bitty star shaped spice cookies from noted food blogger, Not Martha; decadent chocolate hazelnut tarts and caracolillos (a.k.a. ‘buns of love’) from the kitchen of esteemed restaurateur, Carolin Messier of The Harvest Vine; and from The Sated Palate (that’s me!), pink cherry blossom cookies, Nanaimo bars and nesting egg cupcakes.


Bleary-eyed  bakers exchanged tales of late night kitchen escapades spent up to their elbows in varying ratios of flour, sugar and butter.  Event organizer, Courtney Keen managed the influx of baked goods, volunteers and a steady stream of customers with relative calm and a cheery disposition.  Cakespy proprietress, Jessie Oleson, graciously hosted the bakesale in her cute as a button art gallery and was on hand to greet customers, answer questions and basically revel in the ‘eau de sweetness’ emanating from a sea of sugary temptations.


My contribution to the bakesale involved a solid eighteen hour shift spent baking, packaging and photographing 42 cookies, 36 nanaimo bars and 12 surviving cupcakes from a batch of 24.  The other 12 inexplicably burnt on the bottom, despite baking side by side with the surviving cupcakes.  This peek into the world of mass production did much to quell my (previously) secret dream of someday opening a bakery of my own.  


My bakesale items were as follows:

Pink cherry blossom cookiesdensely soft shortbread blanketed under a generous layer of cream cheese frosting with a hint of almond flavor (almond flavoring tastes a lot like cherry). 

Nesting egg cupcakes – buttery vanilla bean fragranced cake topped with luscious vanilla buttercream, toasted coconut and a trio of Cadbury mini chocolate eggs. 

Nanaimo bars - chewy coconut-chocolate-graham crust, silky buttercream custard filling and an unctuous layer of rich chocolate ganache. 


In conjunction with the bakesale, volunteers demonstrated how to fold origami paper cranes with the goal of sending 1000 cranes to our friends in Japan; a gesture intended to convey good wishes and world peace. 

When all was said and done, the Seattle branch of Bakesale for Japan raised an impressive $3,100 to benefit Peace Winds Japan, where 100% of the money goes toward ground relief for items such as medical and sanitary supplies, blankets and clothing, and when possible, long-term reconstruction. 

Nicely done Seattle.  Way to get your bake on for a good cause!

This just in: The national total for the bakesale was a whopping $120,254.38!!!