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About Cake Bites

As summer is winding down and we’re heading into a new season in a few weeks, I wanted to take a few moments to say thank you to our fans and customers. Thank you for all of your help with the feedback on the development of “Cake Bites!” We couldn’t have done it without you!

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The experience of developing Cake Bites has really been eye opening and beneficial. For those of you not as familiar with what we’ve been spending a lot of our time on over the past 6 months, we’ve developed fantastic combinations of cake and cream cheese icings in four-ounce jars that will be sold not only at CakeLove, but at local grocers in and around the metro area.

The idea hatched in late February after a fun collaboration in Silver Spring with Cap Mac in which we experimented with the idea of flavoring and selling flavored cream cheese icing.   I thought just dropping cubes of cake and caramel into the icing would be enough to make a compelling product , but months of focus groups and tastings showed us the flavors and combos of cake & icing that you prefer. Your input shaped the development of Cake Bites –from the cake to frosting ratio all the way to the name! We couldn’t have done it without you– thank you for enthusiastic support!

As an added bonus, all of the time and feedback listening to your comments about the recipes, buttercream and CakeLove in general were really helpful.

Look for fully labeled jars of Cake Bites at CakeLove starting in mid-September! And even more exciting – look for Cake Bites launching at local area gourmet grocery stores in late September. We’ll send out a full list of where Cake Bites will debut in the coming weeks.

Stores Opening

You may have heard, we’re excited to be opening a kiosk location at National Airport in mid-September, Terminal B. It will be past security, so you’ll be able to grab a Cake Bite, cookie, or pack of mini-cupcakes before your flight. It’s a mini-version of CakeLove so not all of the regular items will be available—just those that are suited for grab & go.

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Pie Classes coming up…

As I’m sure you already know, I don’t blog much.  I try, but running the day-to-day of business takes up mega-loads of time and I don’t want waste your valuable time with updates that aren’t all that meaningful. I guess I hope that this one is meaningful enough to qualify as time well spent!

I just wanted to express how much I really appreciated the great interest and enthusiasm from all of the students at the Summer Cupcake class series hosted by Living Social at 918 F St. We had a blast! Vic Harris (CakeLove’s Social Media guru extraordinaire) nearly simulcast one of the classes with live tweets, which went a long way to show how much fun it was.  You all were great students – patient, curious and open to new ideas. I loved helping troubleshoot why cakes weren’t rising for your favorite home recipes, giving suggestions on equipment to purchase, and just talking about recipes and ingredients. I don’t get to talk about the food nearly as much as I’d like to, but with the class series it’s pretty much just that and I love it.

So we’re coming back with more classes this fall on the art of making pies! My latest book PieLove will publish on October 1st and I’m psyched to partner again with Living Social to hold a class on pies in October and November – visit LivingSocial.com or https://reservations.livingsocial.com/events to find available class dates.

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On my locks—where did they go?

Yes, I cut my hair. It’s not that big of a deal! At least I didn’t think it would be. But a lot of people have asked, so I figure I better comment on it.

I cut my locks off in the Fall of 2011. I needed a change and I have two young girls, so I need as much time as I can get when I’m at home. All of the parents out there know where I’m coming from. More of it was leaving me prematurely than I care to mention, too. And I swim a lot so being bald or nearly hairless on top is very easy going in and out of the pool. Plus, it’s just a lot easier with a close cut when you’re in the kitchen. So thanks for all of the nods of support. If you’re out there and riding the fence about letting it all go, give it a shot… it feels good.

About Updated Recipes

Starting in December 2012 I began reformulating the recipes at CakeLove. Each cake recipe went under the microscope for an evaluation of the ingredients and methods used. I’ve thought a lot about why I did this and what it means. Here’s what it means to me.

Baking is art and science. Both are disciplines that can improve with time as long as you’re open to change and willing to reflect on what is already out there. I started baking in 1999 because of a deep interest in the dynamics of baking ingredients and what they mean to one another when mixed up on the counter then baked off in the oven. How kinetic and thermal energy change the nature of X, Y, and Z ingredients drove me to leave practicing law and start a cake business. I’m still driven by that relentless pursuit for understanding the dynamics of the ingredients.

After 14 years of baking, eleven years of operating CakeLove, and four cookbooks, and feedback from across the spectrum, it was time to take a close look at the recipes, the base ingredients and the logic of the method. In my experience in the food business, recipes are updated all of the time.

To me, being an artist is about being open to learning more about the craft. When I began baking, I dabbled in lots of different styles– American butter cakes, shortening-based cakes, French gateaux, chiffon sponge—and I found the format and group of recipes that worked for me. Before CakeLove, my cakes were mostly expressions of genoise sponge, French buttercreams and custard-based mousse. They came straight from the pages my favorite authors and were ridiculously good. But they weren’t all right for an American audience. A cake business needs to listen to its market, so I adapted recipes to respond to what our customers were looking for.

Well, that’s the same course that I took starting last winter. It was informed by what I learned over the years, specifically with writing PieLove. Pie crusts are a big part of my next cookbook and I didn’t hold back on experimenting with unusual shortenings in the dough. Any source of fat is called “shortening” in baking, so I tried all kinds: cocoa butter, palm kernel oil, vegetable shortening, coconut oil, and of course butter. The texture that resulted from blending different fats was compelling and I extended it over to cakes. It’s that age-old debate of what makes a better crust: an all-butter crust or a shortening-and-butter blend?

What do I like? With regard to pies, both types work really well, but I prefer the taste and texture of an all-butter crust. For cakes, I find the texture achieved by working in blends just fascinating—and it seems it’s working well based on your feedback! I think that flavors and textures in the cake work out to be better with the right blend. We’re blending starches (wheat flours), fats (vegetable fats and butter), liquid dairy ingredients (milk and cream) every day. Maybe I’ve gone off the deep end when it comes to blending but, to me, baking is the never ending pursuit of balancing the dynamics of the ingredients. Based on your feedback on the improvements over the past 9 months, I think we’re onto something good.

Thanks for your support!

Warren Brown

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