The Flavors of Spring

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77 degrees.  Yes, that was the temperature this week in Durham.  We are profoundly grateful at the bakery that we have a large window that faces the Duke University East Campus “wall.”  The counter we serve customers from faces this view, and it is a spectacular view.  Mountains?  No.  Forest?  No.  Definitely not a beach view!  We get to see the changes in the huge trees across the street, the grass greening, and most importantly, humanity coming to life!

When you have a week of weather like we have just experienced, hibernating people come out…they come out like you’ve never seen.  Lucky dogs get that first LONG walk since winter started, children run around the open field and hide behind the tree trunks several sizes bigger than them, and runners and walkers fill the wall’s cinder path.  Happiness seems to prevail among us all.  It is warm, the sun is out, the trees are starting to flower a magnificent pink, and new beginnings feel like they are just around the corner.

At our Cake Lounge we are venturing into new beginnings.  We are hoping to add enthusiastic new staff while the old staff members create businesses of their own.  New staff brings new energy and drive to succeed, not to mention, perhaps an occasional GREAT idea.<wink, wink>

We are also introducing new spring flavors to our scrumptious line-up…Vanilla Blueberry Lavender, and Strawberry Rose Cake Balls.  We work tirelessly to develop new layer cake flavors, too.  Maybe you have a suggestion?  We love to hear from our gracious customers!  

WEDDINGS.  Wow, the calls we have been receiving for wedding cakes!  We are truly honored at the fact that so many new brides/grooms are opting for REALLY TASTY cakes versus fancy, fondant creations!  If it’s an amazing tasting cake you want for your wedding we truly fit the bill.  And did I mention how much we love to do it?!

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Personally, at the bakery, each of us is on the cusp of change and hope.  We have been dealing with challenging, sometimes, heart-wrenching “stuff,” but we support each other, come to work to focus on that which we have direct impact, and most importantly, we are reminded every day that the dawn of spring is absolutely glorious in the pursuit of newness.

The flavors of spring are plentiful.  Don’t miss the opportunity to savor each and everyone…Every cake ball, cake, beautiful sight, new beginning, or different chapter.

The start of something beautiful

It was a NC hot and humid summer day.  Kristen enthusiastically greeted customers under her Big Bundts hot pink and white tent at the Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market, and encouraged passerbys to sample her yummy baked treats.  She confidently knew if she could just get people to taste her product, they would purchase time and time again.

I’m baaaaaackkkkk!

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Like a Phoenix, I arose out of the oven and onto a cooling rack.  It’s so good to be back!  Customers have always LOVED me and never gave up hope for my return.  They begged, they huffed, they puffed, heck, some even used an occasional swear word when a Cake Lounge employee told them, “We are focusing on all the cakes and cake balls right now…”  But this brownie, yep, me, knew they all could not live without me!  

I was born from Kristen’s son’s idea, “Mom, I have an idea.  You need to make a really good brownie for your business.”  Little did he know I wouldn’t just be a really, good brownie, but the most incredibly fudgy, decadent chocolate treat that would become THEE best-selling baked good my owner would sell!  My gooey batter was poured into this thing called a “mini bundt pan,” and I would bake into what Kristen called a Brownie Bite.  I felt so special.  Customer after customer would seek me out at the Chapel Hill Farmer’s market and would say such lovely things about ME!  “That Brownie Bite...To. Die. For.”  “What on earth is in that Brownie Bite?  Never had a brownie that addictive!”  “Honestly, I can’t wait to get my Brownie Bites every Saturday!”

For years, I was such a superstar.  If Kristen ever ran out of me, which happened on occasion, crowds would riot...ok, maybe not that extreme, but everyone would be disappointed, like they really could not handle the fact that they would not be able to use me to soothe their sorrows, or alleviate their broken heart, or celebrate a job well done!  I was so proud of myself.  I had the ability to really make someone’s day better.

Then came the day Kristen and her staff broke up with me.  They said, “Honestly, you’re so so good, it’s not you, it’s us.  We just can’t focus on you right now...we have other things that need our attention.”  I was so devastated.  What?!!!!  Your money maker for YEARS, your tried and true product that everyone loves?  You are going to just toss me like trash?  I was angry.  I really didn’t ever hear the saying, “If you love something set it free, if it comes back to you it was meant to be.”  But I think that’s exactly what happened here.

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Apparently the story is...Kristen couldn’t find a way to make me - she was DONE with those bundt bite pans.  Also, her “new” creation, those snarky cake balls became the superstars, and she was all starry-eyed for them the way she used to be for me.  And then, just a couple of days ago, Kristen told her staff, “I need to make and send my son some brownies.”  Her staff perked up, “Brownies?  Yum….!!”  So she nostalgically worked on me, and she was happy.  She loved how I smelled in the oven, and all the customers who came in while I was baking were salivating.  

So back to the beginning.  I cooled on the rack while Kristen and the staff patiently waited to taste and marvel at my delicious personality.  And when they did, magic happened...they LOVED me again.  And they decided to never let me go.  I’m not in that “bundt bite” form anymore...they now serve me, cut from a pan, and I’m okay with it!  It’s just so good to be back!  Like a lost love set free, they came back to me.  And now I understand that saying!!  I can’t wait to see all my favorite customers again, and some new ones, too.  I know they will soon come to LOVE me the way my people at the, now called, Cake Lounge do.  It’s good to be back!

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I’m baaaaaackkkkk! Brownies

I was born from Kristen’s son’s idea, “Mom, I have an idea. You need to make a really good brownie for your business.” Little did he know I wouldn’t just be a really, good brownie, but the most incredibly fudgy, decadent chocolate treat that would become thee best-selling baked good my owner would sell!

Ingredients:
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon powdered instant coffee granules
  • 11 ounces granulated sugar
  • 1 ounce unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees. Butter and flour a baking pan of your choice (brownie bundt pan, square, rectangle, round, etc). Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a double boiler on moderate heat, combine butter, chocolates, and coffee granules. Melt & stir until smooth. Remove from heat. Set aside.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together sugar and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, combine eggs and vanilla. Set aside.
  5. In a small mixing bowl, sift together flour and salt. Set aside.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, add melted butter/chocolate mixture.
  7. On medium-low speed, add sugar/cocoa mixture. Mix until combined, about 1 minute.
  8. On low speed, add egg/vanilla mixture. Mix medium speed until thick and glossy, about 1 minute.
  9. On low speed, add flour/salt mixture. Mix until everything is well blended together.
  10. Remove mixing bowl and hand mix mixture with a spatula to incorporate all ingredients that have settled on the bottom of bowl.
  11. Spoon batter all over the prepared pan of your choice and smooth top.
  12. Bake brownies until some crumbs remain on toothpick when tested. Do not overbake.
  13. 9 x 13 x 2-inch Pan: bake about 35 minutes. Bundt Bite Pan: bake about 18-22 minutes.

What the h$ll to do on a snow day?

What the h$ll to do on a snow day?

It happens often in North Carolina.  The threat of impending snow.  Most of the time the “blizzard” ends up being a light dusting of what looks like confectionary sugar (we are bakers, you know), or some icy roads.  Residents who are from the north or Midwest often laugh at the “stock up on bread and milk,” chaos…we know better!