Do you want to know a secret? {book review & birthday cake}

The secret is…I have the biggest crush on CakeSpy aka Jessie Oleson-Moore or is it Jessie Oleson-Moore aka CakeSpy? Either way I think I am in love. Okay that’s not the real secret…actually we’re really here to find out what sort of secrets baked goods have. Not that it makes the first statement any less true.

I have been an admirer of the CakeSpy site and the author Jessie for a few years now and was super excited when her self titled book CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life was published in 2011; then I was super duper excited when I learned that there would be a second book The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Sweet Stories & Recipes for America’s Favorite Desserts; but I was super super duper excited when I was sent a copy to review!

No baked good’s secret is safe as we learn about the who, what, when, where, and how, in the introductions that precede every recipe in this book. There is even more truth to be had in the recipes. Recipes don’t lie. Ever wonder why we put candles on a birthday cake or the difference between a blondie and a brownie? Maybe there are answers to something you didn't even know to ask like why is the pecan pie more American then the traditional apple pie? Not only is this book a wealth of information, but it also includes a recipe for each baked good discussed, so you can see what all the fuss is about.

The Secret Lives of Baked Goods is a very thoughtful and in depth look at the baked goods that everyone knows and loves and maybe even a few you didn't know about. Usually I make a list of stuff I want to bake from the book I am discussing, but all the recipes included are classics, so if I haven't tried them I must do at some point.

I was happy to see that this book wasn't short of Jessie’s lovely illustrations! It’s one of the reasons I visit her site so often, besides the super sweet treats she shares with us. Maybe I can talk her into letting Cuppie visit me here at United Cakedom. I think Cuppie would enjoy being a royal. :0)

If you read my blog or follow me on twitter you’ll know I haven’t shut up about my birthday (May 16th) as it’s the big 3-0 and I have a lot planned to celebrate! So, I thought I would start early and make the birthday cake for myself.

Yellow Birthday Cake
2 ¼ cups sifted cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 228g) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup whole or 2% milk

Preheat the oven 350F/180C and grease and flour two 8 or 9 inch round baking pans and line with baking parchment.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Cream the butter for a couple of minutes before adding the sugars, continue mixing until light and fluffy.
Add the egg yolks one at a time ensuring they are completely mixed in before adding the next. Add the vanilla.
Alternate the dry ingredients with the sour cream at a lower speed make sure each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the milk.
In a very clean bowl and with very clean beaters beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth it over with a spatula. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes before releasing from the pan. Let them cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Rich Chocolate Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks or 228g) unsalted butter, softened
½ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 to 4 cups confectioners’ or icing sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup heavy cream or double cream

Cream the butter until smooth, about 1 minute, before stirring in the salt and vanilla. Sift the sugar and cocoa powder together, and add to the butter mixture in 2 or 3 additions, beat at a low speed or you will be covered in icing sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go along. Add the cream, then increase the speed to medium and beat until very very fluffy. Add the remaining sugar until it reaches your desired spreading consistency.

giveaway: And last but not least, Sasquatch Books have kindly agreed to give one of my Northern American readers a chance to win a copy of their very own! So, if you have a valid USA or Canadian address please leave a comment below telling us of your secret sweet pleasure. My secret pleasure is a spoon of peanut butter dotted with M n M's, even better if they are peanut butter M n M's. So, what's yours?? Or if you really honestly don't have a secret sweet pleasure please tell me what your dream birthday cake is! Giveaway is know closed!

The Winner is: C & C Cakery 
please email me the address you would like the book sent too at unitedcakedom(@)gmail(dot)com 
please do so as soon as possible, if I don't hear back in 48 hours I will pick a new winner! 
PS: I didn't count wrong I included the one entry on Facebook as number 30.

A BIG Thank you to:
Especially Jessie @Cake Spy
 (check out her site for tour dates she may be in a city near you!)
For re-tweeting, facebook-ing, and pinning this giveaway on their sites! 
It is very much appreciated! 

update: I was contacted by someone saying they had trouble leaving a comment so, if you are having trouble leaving a comment on this post please answer the question on my Facebook page or answer the question on Twitter using the hash tag #secretlives or do all three! (links to my pages are under the header on the side bar)

notes: The Secret Lives of Baked Goods is out today! Also if you haven’t got a copy of CakeSpy PresentsSweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life then you should treat yourself to that one too. You can use my birthday as an excuse if you must. You might also want to book an appointment with your dentist. Check out
How to Make Cake Flour (for UK readers).

giveaway terms and conditions: Winner will be chosen at random from the comments in the comment section, the deadline is midnight (Pacific Time Zone) Tuesday, May 14th.
Open to US and Canadian residents only, if a valid US or Canadian address cannot be provided a new winner will be chosen at random.
Winner will be announced on this post the following day, May 15th. The winner will need to contact me with their details within 48hrs or another winner will be chosen at random.
The winners details will be passed on to the publishing company for their prize to be sent out. Please see my contact/policy page tab for further information. 


  1. (I've not posted on a blog before, so I'm still trying to figure this out!) I can't share a sweet secret, because it's no secret that I love anything sweet, or anything with chocolate! The best birthday cake ever: fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate chips, layered with chocolate frosting, and topped with dark chocolate ganache!

  2. Let's see ... a sweet secret pleasure - probably would be my stash of M&Ms in the cabinet, tucked where my husband and kids can't find it!

  3. I also like a spoonful of peanut butter with M & Ms shoved in it....but I also like GirlScout cookies, mint kind, frozen...then you take two and put peanut butter in the middle and bam, delightful.

  4. I love, love, love honey and salted sunflower seeds. That SHOULD go on yogurt, but... :)

  5. I too love a spoonful of pb with some chocolate chunks baked in. I also love single serving mug deserts, like brownies or muffins. I have little to no self control, so tiny batches are best :)

  6. A spoonful of Nutella, topped with a couple dabs of PB - that's heaven!

  7. Cheesecake topped with cool whip! Thanks for the giveaway!

    Rachael Henzman

  8. Well... don't tell but on a bad day I take half a handful of chocolate chips (dark if I have them) and half a handful of dried cranberries, mix them together and eat them on the fly. YUM!

  9. My sweet pleasure is meringue cookies.. so satisfying!

  10. My secret stash is usually M&M's hidden in the kitchen cabinet where only I put things away! :)

  11. a secret sweet pleasure is a homemade chocolate chip cake which is a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe. It is so good especially hot from the oven.

  12. My dream birthday cake is German Chocolate cake with the traditional coconut pecan icing. Must be from scratch, which is why it's normally just a dream! Can't wait to check these books out. Many thanks!

  13. Hmmm, a secret sweet pleasure...I could honestly eat an infinite number of chocolate covered strawberries...just the thought is making me crave them now, lol

  14. I love dipping Hershey bars in creamy peanut butter!

  15. My secret pleasure is honestly a slice of apple pie with melted cheddar cheese on top. OMG it is so good.

  16. my secret pleasure is triple chocolate mousse cake, love it!!

  17. My gulity pleasure is lindt white chocolate truffles!!! And my birthday cake has to be an angel food cake..thats what we grew up with for all our birthdays and to have any other kind of cake seems wrong!!! :)

  18. My secret pleasure is toasting a waffle, spreading peanut butter on and sprinkling with chocolate chips.

  19. I love a spoonful of peanut butter, add on some marshmallow fluff and a bunch of chocolate chips, oh yum!

  20. Anything cake batter....even just a spoonful of the dry cake batter will do in a pinch. (Did I really just share that with the world???)

  21. I love a good texas sheet cake!!! Is there anything better!?

  22. Guilty pleasure is Zebra cakes- love those chemical-filled goodies!

  23. I have a stash of Frosting Shots that I get from a Cupcake Bakery. I love them!

  24. None of my sweet pleasures are secret, everyone knows them haha! so my dream birthday cake would probably be a combination of my 2 favourite things - coconut and oreos! A rich chocolate sponge studded with crushed up coconut oreos and lashings of creamy coconut frosting finished off with shredded coconut and more crushed up oreos. Oh man, I really want to go make that now! haha! There's quite a lot of cakespy stuff up here in the Northwest and I saw tons in Seattle too, would love to win that book!

  25. My sweet pleasures are many! But the pairing of lemon with sweetness in a dessert is my favorite! Lemon bars with a buttery shortbread crust topped with tangy lemon goodness is my irresistible pleasure.

  26. One banana + Heaping spoonful of peanut butter + drizzle of hot honey. Oh. My God.

  27. Soft serve ice cream every day of the week.

  28. Melted chocolate chips, graham crackers, glass of cold skim milk...commence dipping!


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