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...

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