Sweet Sandy B. Bakes

If we are ever to enjoy life, now is the time. Not tomorrow or next year... Today should always be our most wonderful day...

So, let's eat cake!

Notes on my adventure as a mom and baker and life as Sweet Sandy B...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dumped... again...

Thankfully, I'm not dating. And there really is no dumping going on... Unless you count my tattoo artist who doesn't speak to me anymore because his Baby Mama might wail on his behind if he does. Dang...

anyhow I was trolling on Bakerella looking for something creative this week. There were some 'ailments' in my house so I have been home w/ the kiddies up at all odd hours of the day and night w/ them. And then I can't get back to sleep and then I'm on the internet. I figure baking sites are better than FB stalking or some such nonsense.

and I found this nice surprise... a prettier and fancier version of the Dump Cake. Courtesy of Bakerella- although she doesn't like the sound of Dump Cake so she came up w/ a prettier name. Hey- it is what it is. Wear it!
Lets go:

You will need: 2 cans of sliced peaches, 1/2 cup to 1 cup of diced nuts (I used Pecans), 1 box cake mix- Yellow or White is fine, 1 stick of butter (or a little more if your PHAT like me), 1 cup of brown sugar.

Pre-heat oven to 350

Then we start the dumping..

Peaches, in you go. (this is a live and learn comment. take it from me. Use the liquid from only ONE of the cans. Dump the juice from the other can OUT)

Then dump the cake mix on top and spread it out evenly.

Next comes butter, cut into little pieces (sound familiar? we've done this already..)

Here is where the rubber meets the road. Dump the cup of brown sugar on top of the butter. I LOVE brown sugar. Brown sugar and butter... It makes me want to do the ice cream and cake dance.

Then, top THAT with the chopped up nuts and spread about.

Finally we throw in the oven for at least 40 minutes. If you use the juice from 2 cans and use 1 1/4 sticks of butter it will take longer. Trust me.. So, be a good reader and use only the juice of one can and 1 stick of butter.

Then you can get started on this.....

Yup, I went and did it. I made HOMEMADE ice cream. FROM SCRATCH. WITHOUT A MACHINE.
I felt so Oregon Trail... and am kind of proud (really proud) of myself. Plus I used y egg yolks up... genius.

WARNING: this took an extremely long time. Like, up all night anyhow w/ sick kids and what the heck, since I'm up may as well check on this ice cream EVERY HALF HOUR for SEVEN HOURS. not kidding. wish I was.

Here is what you need:
FIRST- a fresh out of the oven Peach Cobbler Dump Cake-

yum, huh?

Then you need these ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream, 1 1/4 cup sugar, 2 cups buttermilk, pinch of salt (1/8 tsp), 2 tsps vanilla, 6-12 egg yolks (depending on how many you have around)

Scald the heavy cream and 1 cup sugar. Meanwhile, mix up the egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar.

Then, sloooooooooowly add the cream to the egg mixture. Once combined and hopefully you havent scrambled the yolks, pour back into the sauce pan and heat on low until you can coat the back of the spoon. (will someone PLEASE give me an estimate of how long this should take? I swear I sit there stirring for at least a half hour)

OK, once you have that spoon coated, pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a metal bowl in an ice bath. Give it a good mix w/ your kitchen aid w/ a whisk attachment, then put in the freezer for 45 minutes.

Whisk it up and then put back in the freezer for another 30 minutes. You are going to keep doing this until the ice cream sets up. I thought this would take 2 MAYBE 3 hours. Not seven. I don't know if it's because I used the Kitchen Aid bowl and it's deep... But seriously it was a mission.

Once you are either fed up or feel like the ice cream is hard enough- take it out, scoop some out and enjoy! Put on top of your favorite Dump Cake, eat it alone, or with some caramel sauce... oh, like that sauce from that Peanut Butter Chocolate Caramel cake! oh wait... I didn't show you that one, did I? next time, next time...

So, will I make ice cream from scratch again? yeah, BUT WITH A MACHINE. This took way too much babysitting. I felt like I had a newborn again and had to feed it every half hour.
But the taste...oh the taste. It was delightful. I wasn't sure about using buttermilk- but it gave it that little tang and for sure tasted homemade. Next time I'm adding different flavors. Strawberry seems to be high on the list today. Strawberries and cream.

I'm off to my friends wedding, hopefully I am feeling better tomorrow and the kids are in tip top shape w/o me for a couple of days.
Have fun w/ this recipe and if you have any other ideas for Dump Cake or ice cream recipes, hook a girl up.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

and the hits keep coming...

The following ladies are just ONE reason why my weekend rocked

Just wanted to let you know that my dreams are coming true right in front of my eyes.
This weekend I had plans to go to Chicago for an old college roommates 30th birthday party and since I was going to be there, I made a thousand plans to do other things in the span of 48 hours.
Usually, this never works and you barely even get to do the FIRST thing you had planned to do.

But, apparently I have super human strengths (even though the cloning hasn't yet worked and damn, the teletransporting is not quite up to speed yet) and I was able to do IT ALL.
Some things I can't talk about yet because it's still super secret.
Other things… well, Yeah I'm gonna share because I brain dump on here and it involves sugar and bakeries and I have to tell you everything.

(BTW, I promise I'm putting up a new recipe here shortly.. and this might be short because I'm doing this after driving home for 4.5 hours)

Friday- lisa, Lisa and MORE LISA. food.
Saturday- meet a guy named Aaron for some secret stuff, go on a bakery tour, bake cookies, EAT dinner and talk shop at the first annual Tits N Tats Sweet and Savory Jamboree and meet new friends, Alissa's bday party, crash
Sunday- EAT, toy store, meet Aaron again, new shoes, home.

So, Friday- I meet Lisa (@thebutcherbaker… my NY friend- you know her, I talk about her) for dinner. She is a night owl to the 10th degree... I am a mom therefore AM NOT. I tried to rally and stay up with her but passed out (I gave it a good go- I think I was up 'til like TWO. I know, I party hard. But first we watched Cupcake Wars which features Natalie (@bakeanddestroy), the lady that owns Sweet Lady Janes and the woman that owns Sprinkles. I knew I was going to meet Natalie and taste one of her confections the next night and I had already tasted the goods of the other two women, so I was feeling pretty awesome. Like- dude, check me out- hobnobbing w/ the 'big people'.
and guess what. Lis has a TON of these:

(these are mine actually. well, mine because she GIFTED all but 2 of them to me. she loves me. but i think it's because I give her cookies)

Then Saturday. I wake up to have a true-to-life LEGIT BOMBSHELL , dark haired Jessica Rabbit walking in my living room. My hair is a mess, I have morning breath and here is Shannon (@slashanddine) looking every bit as glamorous as she does on the internet, with PILES OF FOOD. By piles I mean tray after tray AFTER TRAY of bite sized appetizers. WTF? dude, I was just planning on doing cookies for that nights festivities. I felt inept. I felt mom-ish. I needed to brush my teeth.

fast forward to the bakery tour..
Here is a little taste- one of the places I visited...THREE TIMES

At this point in the day I believe I'm super human and also find out that I'm slightly awesome. To at least one person. UNA LAMARCHE. ok, ok… not me, my cookies. But whatever- I made them so that makes me kind of awesome too. (BTW, I'm doing the Chicago bakery tour on another post, so hold your horses. Like you care, really. just wait a day or so. I love you)

GO HERE NOW and read:

I stopped in the middle of a street GIGGLING like a certified insane asylum escapee. I'd like to say I stopped traffic with my good looks, but really cars were honking at me because I wouldn't move. I was transfixed on my Crackberry in my hands reading her blog in teeny tiny print (yes, I got a new Crackberry on Friday because the other one officially died).

When I realized I was in a death like situation, I showed them THIS and they stopped honking, because I get respect:

(this is my brass knuckes zipper pull thing from KidRobot I spoke about before. isn't this awesome? told you you would want one)

My day continued to get better, as did my night.. Here is me eating totally vegetarian food and ENJOYING it. I had 'not chicken and waffles'. I had fakin' wrapped figs. I had PRETZEL M&M's. (side note- if you knew about these delightful candies and you didn't tell me about them, we aren't friends as of Saturday night).

as did TODAY. Great weekend.
I even had time to buy THESE

and I feel so official...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

a better zebra...

My beautiful Libby asked me to make a cake for her sister-in-laws 18th birthday. She was so on it- gave me the color scheme and even gave me some sample ideas. It helped A LOT. I put a few different ideas together and drew this cake for her:

She approved and off I went....

I didn't do the fondant ribbon on the bottom as I had hoped I would (per my initial sketch) because it just didn't look good. I went w/ my old stand-by of the dotted border. I also just used the buttercream as the outside frosting on both layers. Initially I was thinking of covering the 2nd tier w/ fondant, but I was able to get the buttercream really smooth and didn't need to use fondant.

another fun cake, a BETTER way to do zebra stripes than when I did the cake for my friend O.G.'s 30th bday cake. I liked the color scheme and was pleased with the outcome.

I have a few cakes coming up in the next few weeks...actually, SIX cake orders in the next 3 weeks! wow... I'm going to be a busy girl...so I better get some rest. Good Night!

The Cupcake Fiasco

Drive to LA
cupcakes, cake, treats, macarons, eat eat EAT

First Stop: Sweet Lady Janes

This spot is on Melrose. The (unofficial) Cupcake Tour was to begin at 10:30 a.m w/ breakfast at Sweet Lady Janes so that I could hit Johnny Cupcakes at 11 a.m. when they opened. But, I left late (after NOT running) and there was L.A. traffic on a Saturday a.m. wtf... So, I was late. And this store is tucked away and kind of hard to find- you could walk right by it and never know it's there.
Let see... The decor = ok. The service= ok to bad. The food= hm... Well the tiramisu was piled high in this coffee cup. It was not 'pretty' by any means, but it was tasty. Could completely taste the espresso. My friends chocolate cake was HUGE. It was served really cold so the ganache was not at all creamy. It was good, but not great. I also got a red velvet cupcake which I didn't taste until later and it was dry.
SO, overall the BEST thing I liked was the sticker on the cupcake to-go box. I like their logo.

Next, walked to Johnny Cupcakes (www.johnnycupcakes.com). Let me take the time here to say it was the most beautiful day. Perfect temperature, not a cloud in the sky. Slight breeze and the best weather for a white dress.
Here is the shop:

The store was smaller than I thought. And it was right next door to Agent Provocateur. So, got to check out some racy items as I walked past. As I had anticipated, the decor was awesome and the staff VERY friendly. The same girl from the Suitcase Tour was working and she was actually talking about the tour to another employee. She had just returned 2 days prior and said she was still wiped.

I bought the dark grey hoodie I've been eyeing, a shirt for #1 and some stickers. Happy girl... Then, we went to KidRobot (www.kidrobot.com). That was the toy store I talked about in the earlier post. Loved!! And I want to get more of those mini-Dunny's and some zipper pulls. In case anyone wants to buy some for me. ;)

Next, drive over to Beverly Hills. There was an art fair going on right off Santa Monica so there was MAD traffic. BUT- as I was driving by out of the corner of my eye I see this grouping of paintings. My heart skipped a beat. I yelled out in glee- I LOVE THOSE PAINTINGS!!! I had seen 2 of them at a gallery in San Diego last summer. They were gorgeous- huge canvas paintings of these womens faces with this deep dark black hair... Oh my... Breathtaking. I WISH I knew who the artist was. ..
ok- back on track- Valet Park the car right off Rodeo (lol, the cheapest car by far) and walked to Crumbs www.crumbs.com :

They have some charity cuppies for Oprah and Tony Hawk. I have a similar idea for a cupcake- but that will wait until later ;) They also had a sampler pack so we got that and one GIANT cupcake and saddled up outside for a taste test.

Liked the sign outside a lot- didn't like the mini cupcakes. Again, they were really dry and the frosting was overpowering. The ding dong cupcake was particularly disappointing because we thought that it would have a cream filling. It didnt :(

Then, walked down the street to Sprinkles (www.sprinkles.com). We were warned that there would be a line. Seriously? Yeah, serious. We waited in line for about a half hour to get in.

I loved the clean lines of the store and they do an EXCELLENT job of branding. I mean, their forks and knives had their logo heat pressed in! insane... So were the prices. $4/cupcake. BUT, they did taste good. Better than Crumbs.

Off we went with bags of cupcakes and headed towards the Regent Beverly Wilshire and Paulette (www.paulettemacarons.com). Paulette was the only place I found in the area that was selling Macarons ONLY. I don't think the trend has taken off in LA yet.
It was tucked away on a little side street right off of Beverly.

The Macarons were beautifully displayed and I had a hard time choosing which ones to buy for the 'rents. I also got a salted caramel one to taste myself. I have to preface the taste test by saying I haven't had many Macarons in my time. So I'm not expert. But this one tasted just OK. I wasn't blown away.

As we were walking back to car, an unfortunate accident occurred. I spied Famous Cupcakes right across the street! How did I not find this in my google searches?? Hm.. Well, we had to try it out. Famous Cupcakes uses the Kardashians to hoc their goods. (www.famouscupcakes.com)

The store was VERY bright and airy. But empty. No customers. It had the most seating of any bakery we had been to thus far, and it had the ability to be great. But it just fell short. Seriously it was almost painful to even think about ingesting ANOTHER cupcake, but we had to. So we ordered one- the plain vanilla.

From what I recall, it was good, but not great. The frosting had SO MUCH powdered sugar in it. It was too much. But I got a lot of great ideas for displaying cupcakes and I REALLY liked the super bright colors of the frosting. Although I didn't want to even imagine what it would do to your teeth.

Last 2 stops were in Santa Monica. I was about done here. I was tired, didn't want to sit in traffic and really didn't want to eat any more cupcakes. But, I had the most anticipated store left- Vanilla (www.vanillabakeshop.com).

I love their website and their whole motif. I'm a sucker for the damask I guess and the color scheme... it's so elegant and chic. The store didn't fail me:

At first, I was somewhat let down that there wasn't a huge selection of pastry/cupcakes available. Then I realized it was about 3pm and that there SHOULDN'T be a selection at this point.
They had some cakes on display- nothing huge and fancy like on their website, but you could get their jist. We got 3 mini cupcakes and ate 2. They were definitely good. Right amount of frosting, not too sweet and the cake was still moist. The carrot cake was MUCH better than the carrot cake at Crumbs. This shop got my thumbs up FOR SURE.

We rolled ourselves out of the store and called it a day. I was beyond full and so sugared out.
Final verdicts:
Vanilla had the best tasting cupcakes overall. Sprinkles was also REALLY good. The cake was moist, the frosting a bit much- but I loved their branding. All the other places- not really worth the $4/cupcake.

Wow... reliving it is exhausting! Especially after being baking NINE cakes tonight, along with a dozen cupcakes, 4 batches of cookie dough and one batch of Creme Anglaise. I'm BEAT.

So now you know- Sweet Sandy B's Cupcake Tour of LA is done and I saved you all the leg work. I hear that Orange County has some awesome bakeries too. We'll see if I'm up for it next time I'm home.... but right now, the thought is disgusting

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Just wanted to let you know I'm back and missing you, dearest blog, so much.
I did a wonderful thing while in California for the wedding (besides seeing the family and friends). I went on a "cupcake tour" of L.A.
In true dork fashion, I googled a ton of bakeries, plotted them on a map complete with highlights, phone numbers, hours of operation... yeah I'm gonna save SOME face not go into other details of my preparation (it includes a change purse for parking meters and maybe some lamination)

I barely got back yesterday a.m., and sleep was more important to me than uploading my pictures from the trip and the cupcake extravaganza. I have one on my phone and I thought it would be good to give you a little tease:

This is one of the cupcakes I ate from Crumbs bakery in Beverly Hills. Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup.

I promise this week I will post an entry about my trip and all the ideas that resulted, along with a boat load of pictures. The decadence of them will truly give you a toothache from just looking at them.

-I sent some cookies to my fav non-food blogger, Una. The Sassy Curmudgeon... You know her, I talk about her, she cracks me up. Guess what? She liked them! I got an email from her while I was in CA and it was my happy ending at work today. Seriously.

-I think I'm going to start a side project blog. One where I can get personal and pretty much just b*tch about whatever comes to mind. I don't want this blog to get too personal.

-I love toys. Went to Johnny Cupcakes shop on Melrose, snapped up everything in sight and then stopped at KidRobot down the street. I fell in love with Dunny's. I want them all. and hoodie zipper pulls?! how come I didn't know about these? wtf?! I'm re-thinking my choice of friends for never telling me about these wondrous bits of happiness. The anticipation of openining the wrapper to see which one I'd find and then it being the one I wanted! I die! I'm now the proud owner of some brass knuckles... I will post a pic too, just you wait and you will want one too.

I think that's all. Ok, me signing out (I need to come up w/ a sign off...)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Last minute awesomeness

This is what kept me up all night... I had a last minute request to do an engagement cake on Tuesday evening. I can't turn down a job at this point, ESPECIALLY when it's a type of cake design I haven't done before. Because I already had square cake baked AND because I had 2 nights to get it ready (Wednesday and Thursday) I said sure.

PLUS, the customer was a fan via Facebook (YIPPEE!) and a referral from my beautiful photographer Libby. There was no way I could turn this down.
She sent me an idea of what she was looking for, then I did some research of other ideas, sketched out an idea and she loved it. This is the sketch:

I had ideas in my head of HOW I was going to create the ring band and thankfully at Michael's I found everything I needed (sigh of relief) and I felt pretty prepared for Thursday night when I actually started to decorate. It took me about 3.5 hours from start to finish (not including re-whipping the frosting). This is what it looked like when it was all done:

I also had to make oatmeal raisin cookies for an order. I haven't made this type of cookie in years. I like it way too much- more than chocolate chip cookies (I know, blasphemy) and I could just eat the dough in a bowl and be happy. NO need to bake. I had intents to make the dough on Wednesday night when I was making the frosting and buttercream for the cake, but I didn't have enough oatmeal or raisins. Needless to say I was up all night until the a.m. today. I'm tired... But happy with how the cake turned out. I'm like a mother when I pass the cakes off for delivery. I hover and worry, but also get to the point where I'm like- ok the stress is NOW YOURS during transportation. I won't be there when she picks it up this afternoon, so I will be sitting here anxiety ridden until I hear she gets it home OK.

So, congrats Anna & Dan- hope you enjoy your cake

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"The Best Ever" recipes

Tuesday a.m. I woke up and realized I didn't have anything pressing to bake. A cake MAYBE for Thursday night (but not a decorated one) and another small 'presentation' cake for Saturday night. I hadn't baked anything for the co-workers this week or had anything planned so it was as good a time as any to try out "The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake You Have EVER Had"... I thought I had all the ingredients in the house anyhow so I was set on it.

Alright- got the recipe from ye Ol' Pioneer Woman a while back and thus far her recipes have treated me well.. (except the Pound Cake FAIL from before.. see "Beautiful Disaster")
After work, after dinner but before outdoor play time I did THIS:

The Mise En Place (boiling water, melted butter w/ cocoa powder, 2 beaten eggs, 'buttermilk' (I didn't have any so I used half and half, shhhh), vanilla and baking soda):

butter melts w/ cocoa powder, mix.. add 1 cup of boiling water, boil for 30 seconds:

Pour hot mixture into bowl of flour, salt and sugar and mix... the hot chocolate steamed up my lense, SORRY! and I had to show off my new sticker on the Kitchen Aid. Like? I love...

At this point you want to mix the 'buttermilk' with the 2 eggs, vanilla and baking soda. once that is combined, pour it into the chocolate flour batter. Mix that up and then pour into whatever baking dish you choose. Cupcakes, sheet pan, Pyrex, Bundt- your choice here. I went w/ a Pyrex because I knew I was going to be frosting and taking into work and I just like it this way. Notice I buttered and floured the Pyrex. Do it, do it, DO IT. It makes it come out easy and then you can frost all sides. Just Do IT.

OK, I let it cool off and then turned it over onto my big rectangle platter. And then I made the frosting.. Which ALSO was called "The BEST Frosting You Have Ever Had". It's an odd little recipe. Uses regular sugar (NOT POWDERED) and Flour. Yeah.. Flour. The flour tripped me up a bit. Basically, because I'M an IMPATIENT Sweet Sandy B, the flour got lumpy in the half and half...um, yeah... Well the kiddies wanted to go out and play and so did I, so whatever.

I had to let the frosting come to room temp, so it cooled as did the cake while we played. When we came back in, I dumped the frosting on top, smoothed it out as best I could. There were definite lumps in the frosting. ugh... I scooped out what I could, the frosting did taste good, but... Best Ever?? Not sure. No close ups due to the clumping.

SO, bathtime, bed time and I went for a run. It was at this point that I realized my CrackBerry died. Not like battery dead, re-charge. Like dead, dunzo DONE and Done. damn. More on that later... read a random thought- I will wax nostalgic there.. Anyhow, on the run I was like- well I guess I could give the cake to Mr. Papers for his employees. They won't care. But I really want to taste the cake! What to do... and I had already told my assistant at work I was bringing chocolate cake.... Lightbulb! Crush up some Oreo's and dump them on top. Who doesn't love an Oreo?? And, the crunch will mask the lumps in the frosting. Evil Genius Plan hatched... SEE- running DOES help w/ creative ideas.

And there you have it! I didnt' taste the cake until this a.m. and it was good. Best Ever?? I'm not gonna go that far. I just can't... It isn't as rich and chocolatey as I like my chocolate cake. I want super moist, super dark chocolate. And frosting.. well..... I am no expert on frosting and I haven't ever been big on it. It's ok. The co-workers like it and someone said the frosting was light and fluffy. hm...

I'll have to try it again when I have more patience and don't clump up the flour. But I could taste the granules of sugar and it threw me off...
you decide- I can't say run out and bake it tonight- but if you get the urge, get the complete recipe on Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen site. or you can message me, I'll share ;)