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Entries in san francisco (34)

Thursday
Oct282010

Taking it to the Sweet: Making San Francisco Sweeter with CakeSpy Magnets

So, here's the thing: I kind of like to think of myself as a big sugar cube in the coffee cup that is life. 

And as such, I am constantly doing little things that I hope will make life just a little sweeter for people. I've left fake cupcakes around the city; I give people candy and cookies; I write little love notes. For no reason in particular, other than to bring joy and maybe a little everyday delight to the masses.

And on my recent trip to San Francisco, I employed sweet magnetism: I brought a stockpile of magnetic CakeSpy postcards, and stuck them to unsuspecting surfaces.

Each one had a sweet little note written on the back (I did this while on the plane). Wonder who found my sweet handiwork?

First, a sweet little note left on a post office box, just off of...you guessed it...TREAT STREET!

Then, after some reflection, I decided my art was museum-worthy, and so I stuck one to the sign at the Oakland Museum of California. My first solo exhibit!

Next, a sweet little offering on someone's entryway. What a sweet thing to come home to!

Howsabout finding one of these sweet little things on the side of your Vespa? (Note: there was a scratch on the side, so really, I was also providing a nice patch too).

But for those taking mass transit, I left this one on the Muni.

And then, in Santa Cruz, one was left like a prize on the espresso machine at Cafe Delmarette.

...and I also left one with Carolyn and Lindsey at the Twitter offices to do with as they pleased. 

All said and done? I believe I made San Francisco just a little sweeter with this gentle street art. If you found one, I hope it made your day just a little sweeter--either that, or that the cuteness made you projectile vomit. Either/or.

For past sweet operations, click here and here and here.

Sunday
May092010

What's That? An Introduction to the It's-It Ice Cream Treat

Photo used via Creative Commons License from Flickr user frozenfoodjournalCC BY-NC 2.0File under "How On Earth Did I Not Know About This": The It's-It. I am sad to say that I had no idea it existed before this week.

Have you heard of it? Well, shame on you for never having bought me one. But if you haven't, let me introduce you to my newest friend:

The glorious It's-It is comprised of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies, and then the whole delicious mass is enrobed in dark chocolate. I know, awesome, right?

Per the It's-It site, it was invented in 1928, when

George Whitney began what is now a San Francisco tradition. He placed a scoop of vanilla ice cream between two large old-fashioned oatmeal cookies and then dipped the sandwich into dark chocolate. On that very day, the It's It Ice Cream Sandwich was born. George Whitney sold the It's It exclusively in San Francisco's Playland-at-the-Beach for over four decades. 

As for the name? Well, as I learned from this great article on SFGate.com by Matt Villano, apparently upon concocting aforementioned masterpiece, inventor George Whitney knew he had a good thing:

"It's-It!" he exclaimed for all to hear, and a legend was born instantly.

Sadly, the Playland was demolished in the 1970s. While the It's-It disappeared for several years at this point, the public's appetite for the treat certainly did not decline, and in 1974 the treat was reborn in a small storefront. Business boomed, and the company grew into a wholesale operation with distribution first throughout California, and then stretching to 15 other states (apparently Washington is one of them, but I've never seen one in my local grocery store).

It's-It also has a roster of other frozen treats, including the "Big Daddy" (ice cream between two chocolate wafers), the "Super Sundae" (a fat chunk of ice cream dipped in chocolate and rolled in peanuts), and the "Super Cone" (basically, a bigger, badder and far awesomer-looking version of a Drumstick)--but the It's-It bar is their flagship and most beloved product.

My current goal? To get my hands on one of these sweeties ASAP, because in spite of what Rice A Roni might claim, I vote that these bars are a far sweeter San Francisco Treat!

It's-It Bars can be found at various locations, mostly on the west coast; however, they will also express ship their treats. 

Friday
Apr302010

Sweet Love: A Bakery Crush on American Cupcake, San Francisco

Don't get me wrong: there are many reasons why one should desire to be in San Francisco. It's cool, full of good burritos and fun people watching, and it's gorgeous. However, right now all of those reasons are being put to the side, because my wanderlust is fueled by one thing only: American Cupcake.

Per DailyCandy (where I discovered this wondrous place),

Despite the saccharine name, this is no kid’s birthday party venue. Decidedly 21-and-over fare includes pork sliders with Jack-and-Coke BBQ sauce and champagne cocktails with intriguing names like the Drunken Ballerina.

And if that didn't make you want to book a one-way ticket to the foggy city, let's just take a gander at the sweets menu (copied in its entirety below):

......................

Cupcakes

chocolate / vanilla / black & tan / tan & black / red velvet / lemon / coconut chocolate coconut / butterscotch / chocolate mint / bubblegum / cotton candy red hot / pixie stixTM / chocolate peanut butter / passion fruit

single | flight

Ice Cream or Old Fashioned Sundae

three twins chocolate, vanilla or coffee | all the fixins

Cupcake Split

cupcakes | ice cream | bananas | all the fixins

Mad Tea Party (serves 10) naked cupcakes loaded with ice cream, frosting, and all the fixins

Whoopie Pie

classic chocolate | vanilla | red velvet

Cotton Candy

cone or big bowl

Candy Apple

classic cherry red

Margarita Pie

frozen tequila lime| salted pretzel crust

“Snickers Bar”

soft chocolate cookie | caramel | salted peanuts

Red Velvet Bread Pudding

red velvet cake | housemade custard

Banana Nilla Pudding

banana pudding | nilla wafers | whipped cream

Root Beer Float

root beer | vanilla ice cream

Beer Float

coconut porter | vanilla ice cream

Fried Oreos

(no description necessary)

......................

Aren't you feeling the love, too? American Cupcake is located at 1919 Union Street in San Francisco, and will have its grand opening on May 1 at noon; find out more at americancupcake.com.

Monday
Jan182010

Sweet Love: A Bakery Crush on Hello Kookie, San Francisco

Love's sweet arrow (or was that the dentist's drill?) has struck CakeSpy's sweet tooth again--and its name is Hello Kookie.

Upon discovering their site through a DailyCandy Kids feature, an immediate sweet crush formed.

Hello Kookie was born when owner Dina couldn't find cute, simple and organic cookies for her son's birthday; teaming up with her buddy Wendy, they decided to create a cookie (or kookie, as they call it) which would be enjoyable for kids--but fun for parents too.

And to that point, their cookies are adorable without being too precious -- rendered in an anime style, these sweets are like beautiful graphics made edible.

But they also take taste seriously: their tagline is "cute...but not too cute to eat."

Currently these cookies are available via special order in the Bay Area; however, orders can also be shipped in the US. For more details, check out their FAQ page or keep updated on their progress via their blog!

 

Monday
Dec282009

Stick It: Chocolate Covered Brownie on a Stick from Hot Cookie, San Francisco

Brownie on a Stick, Hot Cookie, SF

What food isn't enhanced by being served on a stick?

While you mull over that question for the ages, let me present the most delicious thing consumed by a Cake Gumshoe recently: the chocolate covered brownie on a stick from Hot Cookie in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco.
Brownie on a Stick, Hot Cookie, SF
When you enter Hot Cookie, you'll notice a few things. First, the attractive and well-groomed fellas that man the store do not look like they eat many cookies. However, they are awfully friendly and cute, and serve them up with a sweet sense of humor--in addition to the expected chocolate chip, oatmeal, and peanut butter varieties, they also have a variety of bar cookies, including erotic varieties (which prompted one CitySearch reviewer to aptly dub it "sort of a younger, borderline lewd Mrs. Field's"), and--the star of this writeup--the chocolate covered brownie on a stick.

Undoubtedly you'll take on the task of eating this sweet treat already liking it (it is on a stick, after all), but happily, you'll continue to enjoy it as the chocolatey taste hits. The chocolate coating is simply ingenious--not only does it ensure that the brownie stays planted on the popsicle stick, but it also keeps the brownie moist and offers an added hit of decadence. The brownie itself is fudgy and very chocolatey, not necessarily subtle, but around bite three or four you might just find yourself not caring about that very much.

(CakeSpy Note: Oh, and if you happen to have a four-legged friend with you, we found that the nearby Best in Show had a great variety of pup-cakes and treats).

Hot Cookie, 407 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA; (415) 621-2350‎.

Hot Cookie on Urbanspoon

Thursday
Aug202009

Cake Byte: The ClaireSquares Mini Debuts!

Custom ClaireSquares piece
As you probably know, me n' Mr. CakeSpy are pretty big fans of ClaireSquares, a San Francisco-based baking company which specializes in a sort of stylized take on Millionaire's Shortbread (they're able to ship them too--you can order here). But they've just introduced an adorable (and exceedingly decadent-sounding) new product: a chocolate-covered mini ClaireSquare! Here's the official announcement:

After six months in the test kitchen, our cutest addition to the Clairesquares family has finally arrived.

We created a bite size square made of Irish styled shortbread and caramel, then drenched it in Belgian chocolate.
The first image shows mini squares passing through a curtain of chocolate; the second image shows Clairesquares' Minis passing out of the chocolate enrober cooling tunnel, ready for eating!

 

Starting on Saturday the 22nd at the San Francisco Street Food Festival, you can sample the sweet treats people have been raving about.


Upcoming Tasting opportunities:

 

 

  • This Saturday, 11am to 7pm on Folsom Street in front of La Cocina
  • Saturday 29th, 10am to 1pm Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, La Cocina booth.
  • Available exclusively at Andronico's Markets starting in September.


For more information, visit clairesquares.com or follow them via Twitter!

 

Saturday
Jul252009

Cakewalk Special: Trip Log From A Long, Sweet Weekend in San Francisco

Miette's Old School Cupcake
Like, whoa. We weren't in San Francisco for long--just a long weekend to sell some CakeSpy artwork at the Renegade Craft Fair and visit Cake Gumshoe Bridget, our SF correspondent--but we certainly did get our sweet on during the long weekend. Here's a little log of some of the highlights and delicious discoveries from our trip:

Chocolate tart from La Boulange, San Francisco
Trip Log, Day 1: Shortly after we landed and dropped off our bags chez Cake Gumshoe Bridget in Cole Valley, we hightailed it to La Boulange. Apparently they are a mini-chain and have a few locations throughout the Bay Area, but Bridget assured us that this one was the best location--not only because it was the cutest but because the pastries for all the locations were baked here. We went for the most serious-looking tart in the case: The chocolate ganache. When you put this tart on the table, the aroma of chocolate is redolent in the air--and every bite is just as dreamy, silky and rich as we hoped it would be. Le sigh.

Macarons at Miette
Walking down to the Ferry building, we managed to find an appetite for Miette, the cutest little patisserie around--though it's now under new ownership, no major differences seem apparent as you walk in. We picked up the "Old fashioned" cupcake (pictured top), which is pretty as a picture and like a high-quality hostess cupcake riff.
Interesting cookies at Bluebottle coffeeCuppie on Octavia Street
In the Ferry Building we also saw some intriguing sweets at Bluebottle Coffee (absinthe cookies!) and Frog Hollow (where we tried a sample but didn't actually buy any of their gorgeous fruit pies, tarts or homemade pop-tart-like treats)--but believing in some modicum of moderation, we said "next time". We also had some fun on our walk leaving some sidewalk-chalk Cuppies in our wake.

The day got even awesomer though, when we dropped by the Foodbuzz offices for Friday Happy Hour with the awesome crew, who fixed us some very classy pinkies-out drinks consisting of champagne, fresh peach puree and basil. Yum.

 

A perfect croissant at Tartine
Trip Log, Day 2: We began with a trip to Tartine, a famous bakery about which we've never managed to hear a bad review. Happily, it lived up to all expectations, both on the sweet and savory side: the quiche was like no other I've ever tasted, almost custardy in texture. The croissant had perfect crispy edges which shattered when you bit into it, giving way to soft, buttery, flaky layers. Although the chocolate chip cookie (which was probably 6 inches across, by the way) was crispier than we both generally like, we both had to admit that the flavor--buttery, rich with brown sugar--was impressive.

Spending the morning vending at the Renegade Craft Fair started to give us a respectable appetite, so we were so pleased to have our booth right next to Cynically Delicious, a custom cupcake business; as mentioned in a previous post, they had some seriously sweet (and delightfully tongue-in-cheek), pop-culture reverent cupcakes. Yes.

Cookies N Cream from Frosting Bake Shop
But as anyone knows, three cupcakes are never enough, so we couldn't have been more delighted to receive a surprise visit from Karen Tripp, owner of Frosting Bake Shop in Mill Valley, who came by bearing boxes of delicious cupcakes. We'd sampled their cake bites in the past so it was exciting to graduate to full-sized cupcakes. What really haunted us about these cupcakes was the delicious frosting, which was generously applied but somehow had a lightness about it--the strawberry and cookies n' cream frosting were our favorites.
CakeSpy art at the Renegade Craft Fair
Trip Log, Day 3: After starting out with a very generous breakfast from Reverie, you might think our appetites for sweets might have been dampened, but you would be wrong. After a morning of selling some sweet CakeSpy art and getting a pick-me-up from Cynically Delicious, we explored the craft fair area for some other sweet treats (all the while also browsing some awesome artwork by Mati Rose, Lisa Congdon, Eleven Eleven Industries, Ugly Baby Shower Art and more!).

Date Bar from Greens, San Francisco
Nearby the craft show at the Fort Mason Pavilion Center is a cafe called Greens to Go, and as intensely unsexy as they might sound, their date bars are truly incredible: a firm crust topped with a thick slab of date puree (I know, just trust me on this one!) and all topped with a crumbly, oaty, slightly salted crumb. Not sure if these were made in house or from Artisan Bakers (per their website, some of the pastries do come from there). Once again, just trust me on it: they're good.

A delicious treat from Clairesquares, SF
The day got even better with a surprise visit from Claire Keane, proprietress of Clairesquares--who I have done artwork for many times in the past but never actually met. She's adorable and wonderful, and she came bearing Clairesquares--a decadent and completely addictive confection consisting of a shortbread crust, a thick layer of caramel, all topped with chocolate (she does both milk and dark chocolate). These are no common millionaire's shortbread--Clairesquares are really something else. Excitingly, they're adding to their offerings, too, with deep fried and chocolate covered squares. The original ones are available for purchase online.

Me n' LeighMe and Melisser
Can I also just pause to say that while it didn't involve cake, it was so fantastic to meet so many cool CakeSpy readers and other food writers at the show--including (but not limited to) Leah, Kimberly, Deanna of Occasional Sugar, Sarah, and Melisser of the Urban Housewife? (P.S. isn't that an awesome shirt she's wearing?)

Lemon Bar from La Boulange de Cole
Trip Log, Day 4: Once again we started at La Boulange, picking up some croissants and a most delicious lemon tart, which was sweet and tart at the same time.

 

Heading over to Berkeley, we took a walk through the Gourmet Ghetto, stopping to check out the Cheese Board and marvelling at the original Chez Panisse (kind of like a foodie's equivalent to seeing Mount Rushmore or something).

Salted Caramel cone from Bi-Rite, San Francisco
In the mood for ice cream now, we headed back to the city and over to Bi-Rite; we had heard that either this spot or Humphry Slocombe were the places to hit (alas we did not have time for both!). Bi-Rite actually reminded us a lot of Seattle-based Molly Moon's; they had a lot of the same flavors including Salted Caramel and Strawberry Balsamic. The salted caramel at Bi-Rite was just as it should be: creamy, smooth, and salty-sweet; we also picked up a chocolate chip cookie (just 75 cents!) which was respectable too--once again, a little crispier than we generally prefer but flavorful and delicious. Curiously, they also had a confection for sale called chikki--got to try that next time!
Chocolate chip cookie from Bi-Rite, SF
Heading over to the airport and back to Seattle, we may or may not have indulged in another Clairesquare--but arriving home, little bellies taut with delicious treats, we were happy to reflect that this trip was utterly, completely, totally sweet.

Places Mentioned:

Bi-Rite Creamery, 3692 18th Street, San Francisco, (415)626-5600; online at biritecreamery.com.
Bluebottle Coffee, multiple locations; online at bluebottlecoffee.net.
Clairesquares, available at the following Bay Area retailers or via their online shop.

Cheeseboard Collective, 1512 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; online at cheeseboardcollective.coop.
Cynically Delicious, by custom order; online at cynicallydelicious.com.
Frog Hollow, Ferry Building; online at froghollow.com.
Frosting Bake Shop, 7 E. Blithedale Ave., Mill Valley (415)888-8027; online at frostingbakeshop.com.
Greens to Go, Fort Mason Center; online at greensrestaurant.com.
Humphry Slocombe, 2790 Harrison Street; online at humphryslocombe.com.
La Boulange, multiple locations (we visited 1000 Parnassus Street in Cole Valley); online at laboulangebakery.com.
Miette Patisserie, multiple locations (we visited the one in the Ferry Building); online at miettecakes.com.
Tartine, 600 Guerrero Street, San Francisco (415)487-2600; online at tartinebakery.com.

 

Tuesday
Jul212009

Tongue in Cheek Sweets: Cupcakes by Cynically Delicious

Cynically Delicious Cupcakes
Now, it shouldn't surprise you that on our recent San Francisco trip, our sightseeing didn't involve Alcatraz, the Fisherman's Wharf or the Golden Gate bridge--it was more of the cookie, cake, ice cream and pie variety.

One of our favorite discoveries? SF-based special-order cupcakery Cynically Delicious, who serendipitously happened to be seated next to us at the Renegade Craft Fair.

Their mission statement is fun:

she's got great taste in shoes...

no offense to your mom, but we probably don't bake like her.

cynically delicious is a boutique cupcakery that combines the joys of food with the fun of art. we don't take ourselves too seriously, but we do use serious ingredients.


Cynically Delicious Flavors
But their cupcakes, wrought with pop-culture references, are even funner. At the show they were serving the "MJ" Michael Jackson tribute (chocolate on the inside, vanilla outside, ordained with his black shoes and white socks); the "Crap Cake" (ghiradelli chocolate cake with cayenne cinnamon frosting with marzipan flies buzzing on top); the "Fuzzy Navel" (peach cake with champagne frosting); and the "Slumdog Selleck" (chai cake with cardamom cream cheese frosting, topped with a Selleck-inspired moustache).


Cynically Delicious Cupcakes
And at just $2 a pop, they were an easy sell. I tried the Slumdog; and while the spicy cake was pleasingly moist and gorgeously complemented by the rich cream cheese frosting, it would be a lie if I didn't admit that it was really the chocolate moustache that "made" the cake. Mr. Spy went for the MJ (after all he's a musician) and raved about the rich chocolate cake, but ultimately got jealous of my mustachioed cake and had to get a Slumdog for himself, and declared it the better flavor.


MJ Cupcakes by Cynically Delicious
The attitude that surrounds these cupcakes is very fun, and it makes the cupcakes a pleasure to eat--we're so glad to have discovered you, Cynically Delicious.
"Crap Cake" by Cynically Delicious
For more information (or if you're in the Bay Area and want to place an order), visit cynicallydelicious.com.

 

Monday
Feb022009

Batter Chatter: Interview with Chelsea of Kingdom Cake

Kingdom Cake
It's true: cupcake businesses keep on opening...and we keep loving them. Especially when they have awesome names, as in the case of the Bay Area based custom-order cupcakery Kingdom Cake. Of course, a creative menu doesn't hurt--in addition to the usual chocolate and vanilla suspects, theirs also has more adventurous choices like Thai Tea, Pancakes and Bacon and Orange Nutella, plus vegan options--and, curiously enough, a few savories too. We recently caught up with proprietress Chelsea Mead--read on to learn her thoughts on the dark and light sides of cake:

 Cakespy: Where did you get the idea to start Kingdom Cake?
Chelsea Mead: The short answer is: everyone loves cupcakes. They sell themselves. I love watching how happy people get when cupcakes arrive to their occasion, or when they take their first bite. I am in the business of making people happy, and that makes me smile. It never gets old. The realization that I could start a business with cupcakes came after several requests for special orders from friends and coworkers. I started thinking of one fun flavor after another and it slowly became an addiction to perfect more and more recipes. I truly look at it as an art form. Designing new cupcakes makes my heart beat faster. I'd always rather be in the kitchen.
Photo c/o Kingdom CakePhoto c/o Kingdom Cake
CS: Be honest. If we order from Kingdom Cake, will our order be delivered by a knight in shining armor?
CM: Hilarious! I would just love that...I think my customers would adore the dedication to the "Kingdom" theme! Until I can round up all my Knights and purchase a charming carriage with horses, I will be doing most deliveries myself (how boring after all that!).

 

Photo c/o Kingdom Cake
CS: What makes cupcakes so special to you?
CM: How much time do you have? You see, I am into all things art. I am a woman with way too many hobbies. I love to paint and mosaic mostly. I have an art room overflowing with all sorts of unfinished projects. I am so busy moving on to the next thing it's hard to stop and finish a piece of work (especially when I'm juggling the cupcakes). When I started baking, I approached each flavor and each cupcake as an art form. What can I do to make this cupcake look the most fabulous? Making a cupcake look "cute" doesnt always do it for me, the design and placement of toppers really makes it right. Next comes the photo shoot. After the cupcakes are looking divine, then I get to use my fun Sony Cybershot and take really cool photos (my new favorite is a concept is cupcake shadows/silhouettes). Then to top it all off, I get to watch people completely indulge and go into their happy place when it's time to eat. It's the ultimate creative outlet.

CS: We see that you have a flavor called "pancakes and bacon". Can you elaborate a bit about what makes up this cupcake?
CM: The pancakes and bacon theme seems to be pretty popular nowadays so I am looking to redirect the concept of this cupcake. Currently the cupcake is a simple pancake base, with maple frosting, bacon toppers, and a salty maple filling. This is a great cupcake for breakfast (although all cupcakes are suitable for breakfast if you ask me). I am working on a french toast cupcake that I might combine with this, to make more of a "breakfast" theme.
Photo c/o Kingdom Cake
CS: We notice some savory options on your menu. Do you see savory cupcakes as a new and thriving branch of the cupcake phenomenon?
CM: Absolutely. In this cupcake-obsessed world we live in, we are constantly being challenged to do the next coolest thing. The natural progression has lead us to savory cupcakes. People in the business are aware of all of this, then I talk to some of my friends and they aren't even aware that cupcakes are taking over the world! I try mentioning ingredients to them like: bacon, basil, or chili and they say WTF? Keeping up with the trends is part of any business. I am lucky I'm in a business where this just makes it all more fun.

CS: What is your favorite type of cake?
CM: Currently it's a tie between Thai Tea and Basil Lemon Blueberry. Thai Tea frosting is like crack.

Photo c/o Kingdom Cake
CS: Which term do you use: Icing or frosting?
CM: FROSTING, all the way.

CS: Imagine this: you walk in on a loved eating a mass-produced prepackaged cupcake. What do you say to them?
CM: "(SIGH) I am so disappointed."

Photo c/o Kingdom CakePhoto c/o Kingdom Cake
CS: What is next for Kingdom Cake?
CM: My next business venture is vending at the local Bay Area Farmers Markets. Right now I am in the approval process, you should see me popping up slowly in the next month or so. The ultimate goal for Kingdom Cake this year is to open a storefront in the Bay Area. I am also looking into the Seattle Farmers Markets, however this will take a bit more time to work out. I lived in Seattle for 5 years and I look forward to branching out there.

 

Want More? Visit Kingdomcake.com. Even if you're not in the Bay Area though, you can enjoy their cupcakes via Flickr!

Tuesday
Sep232008

Batter Chatter: Interview with Melisser of Sugar Beat Sweets

Batter Chatter with Sugar Beat Sweets
At Cakespy, we're constantly impressed with the leaps and bounds being made in the world of vegan baking. What was once a category of brick-dense, vaguely healthy-tasting fare has really come a long way, what with groundbreaking cookbooks and recipes by the likes of Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, Hannah Kaminsky, and inspiring sites like Have Cake Will Travel, Veggie Girl and Walking the Vegan Line. Whether going dairy-free for ethical or health reasons (or both), there's a stunning array of baked goods out there which will satisfy nonvegan appetites as well. And for residents of San Francisco, there's a huge reason to get excited about vegan baked goods: Melissa Elliott, who many of you know as Melisser from her blog, The Urban Housewife, has started a wholesale (check out retail locations here) and special order baking business called Sugar Beat Sweets, which focuses on providing locally sourced, organic, vegan baked goods. Swoon. Here's what she has to say about the new business:

Cakespy: First off, we hear that some refer to you as "San Francisco's Sexiest Vegan". (OK, by "some" we mean ourselves, though we, like, know everyone else is thinking it too). What is your response to this?
Sugar Beat Sweets: Ooh geez, well.. thank you? I can think of some damn sexy vegans out there (Morrissey, Joaquin Phoenix, Chrissie Hynde, my husband!), so I'm honored to even be considered in the ranks.

Photo c/o Sugar Beat Sweets for Cakespy InterviewPhoto c/o Sugar Beat Sweets for Cakespy Interview
CS: You've been active in the food community through your blog, The Urban Housewife for a while now--what made you want to take the step toward opening your own retail/wholesale business?
SBS: It's no secret, I love to bake. I've always taken pleasure in baking for others & I found myself disillusioned with my career, daydreaming about being in a kitchen instead. I started making custom cakes for people & a local cafe while I weighed my options, then decided to go for it. Additionally, I wasn't happy with the lack of vegan dessert options in San Francisco. I wanted to give local vegans more choices & show people in general that vegan baked goods can be high quality, artisan treats that anyone can enjoy.

Photo c/o Sugar Beat Sweets for Cakespy InterviewPhoto c/o Sugar Beat Sweets for Cakespy Interview 

CS: How did you decide on the name Sugar Beat Sweets?
SBS: It's so tough to name a bakery, I think I annoyed everyone I know with names! I like sugar, of course & I'm also inspired by music, so I came up with "beat", which can represent music & something you do in cake making, somehow it all came together & "Sugar Beat Sweets" was born.

 

CS: How has running a commercial bakery as opposed to baking from your own kitchen changed your attitude toward baking?
SBS: I'm not sure my attitude towards baking has changed. I still want to produce desserts that you'd never know were vegan with a focus on high quality, organic, & local ingredients. I just have to approach things a bit differently, as I'm now working in large scale with the recipes I've developed & I don't get to eat the results!

Photo c/o Sugar Beat Sweets for Cakespy InterviewPhoto c/o Sugar Beat Sweets for Cakespy Interview
CS: It looks like you're primarily offering cupcakes and cakes for the moment. Do you or will you be offering any other choices?
SBS: I'm considering expanding my offerings in the future. For festivals & events, I'll have whoopie pies & other goodies, but the main focus is cupcakes & cakes right now.

Photo c/o Sugar Beat Sweets for Cakespy Interview
CS: In our experience, a lot of non-vegans approach vegan baked goods warily, or with the attitude that they won't like them because they're "different". Do you have any response to this?
SBS: There's definitely a stigma attached to vegan baked goods. People seem to think it's going to taste "healthy", be dry & flavorless, or have tofu & sprouts hidden in it. While the vegan baked goods of 10+ years ago may have left a bit to be desired, now there's plenty of sweets & treats that taste just like their dairy counterparts, but without the use of animal products! We've come a long way, baby! Just look at "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero, I know a lot of non- vegans who own & love the book. I see a lot of cupcake blogs singing its praises.

CS: On your site, your cakes are listed as being frosted with "buttercream". But it's all vegan--what is vegan buttercream?
SBS: Well, "butter-substitute-cream" doesn't sound so hot! I use a soybean oil based butter substitute that functions just like butter, so you have the same fluffy frosting that everyone else is making, without the cholesterol!

Photo c/o Sugar Beat Sweets for Cakespy Interview
CS: Are there any developments or products you'd love to see in the world of vegan baking?
SBS: Easy to make marshmallows, meringue, & angel food cake would be nice. That being said, the vegan world has made leaps & bounds, especially in recent years, so I don't feel deprived in any way, shape, or form. There's amazing, motivated vegan chefs & foodies who are working to develop vegan versions of just about any treat you can think of, so I have faith that we'll have all those things shortly. In fact, I know of a few people on the verge of all three of those things!

CS: What sites, books, restaurants/cafes or people keep you inspired?
SBS: I read a lot of vegan blogs, there's so many great ones out there, people are really working to get veganism to the masses & they're making mouthwatering food, so it's always inspiring. I browse Flickr a bit & the typical cupcake compilation sites to see what's new & hot in the baking world. Cakespy is on my blog feed & is always teaching me about new pastries! (Cakespy Note: We did not bribe Melisser in any way to say that. Like, seriously.) I love Bake & Destroy, of course! Natalie is a dreamboat & her hoodie is in my daily wardrobe. Restaurants using local produce, organic ingredients, & vegan fine dining spots inspire me, like Millennium in San Francisco & Candle 79 in New York City. Basically, people who are passionate about what they are doing, especially those who are doing what's best for the animals & the world!

CS: You're based in San Francisco, and you know how we're interested in regional specialties. What are some of the best in your area--i.e, the things you can only find there, or that you miss when you're away?
SBS: Sourdough bread! I love a good loaf of freshly baked bread with a crusty exterior & tender center. In all my travels, I buy the local bread & I'm always wishing I was eating San Francisco Sourdough instead!

Photo c/o Sugar Beat Sweets for Cakespy InterviewPhoto c/o Sugar Beat Sweets for Cakespy Interview
CS: What's next?
SBS: Well, one never knows, but my current plan is to keep blogging at theUrbanHousewife.com, churning out Sugar Beat Sweets artisan cupcakes & cakes for the people of the San Francisco Bay Area, & maybe doing some more video segments, like the one I did for Everyday Dish! I feel very blessed to have a fun & ever changing life, so I'm willing to see where it takes me!

Are you in the San Francisco area? Place your order today (do it!) at sugarbeatsweets.com.

 

Or, find them at these retail locations:

Rainbow Grocery- 1745 Folsom @ 14th Street / Other Avenues- 3930 Judah Street @ 44th Avenue / Real Food Co.- 2140 Polk @ Broadway / Urban Bread- 3901 18th St @ Sanchez / Mojo Bicycle Cafe- 639-A Divisadero St @ Hayes / Harvest Urban Market- 191 8th St @ Howard

Even if you're not in the area, enjoy the photos here and keep up with Melisser's adventures via theurbanhousewife.com!

 

 

 

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