Wedding cake and desserts are one of the wedding day traditions that almost every guest looks forward to. The traditional tiered wedding cake beautifully decorated with fondant and sugar flowers is the centerpiece of the entire wedding reception, and you’ll want to have one that is not only pretty to look at but delicious to eat too. In part two of our series, we’re featuring A Spoonful of Sugar Cakes – one of San Francisco’s finest wedding cake makers.
A Spoonful of Sugar Cakes
A Spoonful of Sugar Cakes is a unique specialty cake and dessert shop founded by Kathleen DeManti, a former pastry chef assistant who combined her creativity with her passion for cakes to start her very own bakery. She individually designs each cake according to the customer’s requests, tastes and personality so that no two wedding cakes are ever the same. Based out of the Marla Bakery Kitchen Communal in the Mission, A Spoonful of Sugar Cake’s pop up shop sells tasty cupcakes and donuts in addition to their fabulous wedding cakes. We were fortunate enough to sit down with Kathleen herself to learn more about her one-woman show and taste her creations.
1. How long have you been in business?
This is my third season in the city now as A Spoonful of Sugar Cakes. I’ve been doing cakes for about 7 to 8 years, but the other business I did before did a lot of other things too, like wholesale accounts and some storefronts, so wedding cakes was just something we had on the side. I’d love to just do wedding cakes now but I also do donuts and cupcake orders for the front too.
2. How many weddings do you serve per year?
Every season I do probably like 25 to 30. I’m definitely looking to expand more. The most I’ll take on is three in a week and that would be a busy week. I don’t bake anything until the week of the wedding.
It takes about three full days for a wedding cake, from baking the cakes, letting them cool, then assembling them and frosting them and doing all the decorations.
3. What are your most popular flavors?
Lemon with marionberry is very popular. Vanilla with thyme buttercream and apricot jam is also very popular. It varies – sometimes I get a lot of people who really like the carrot cake, which is something that I started doing this season that people like a lot. I also do a chocolate bourbon espresso that people like a lot too.
Most of the time I work with people to make what they want. Fresh whipped cream is one thing I won’t do just because it stays out for 5, 6 hours not including the time I’m decorating it and it tends to break down. I don’t think I’ve had any crazy flavor combination requests, like, no one’s asked for pepperoni in their cake! But if they want it, I’ll do it.
4. What does a typical wedding cake cost?
Prices start at $8 per serving, so it just depends on where you want to go from there. So if they have 100 people, which is average, then it’s usually about $900 including delivery and any extras. I will deliver and set up to 1.5 to 2 hours away from San Francisco. I love making sugar flowers, and those would be extra. Back before we had YouTube tutorials or anything like that I went to Chicago and took a weeklong class to learn how to do sugar flowers. Depending on how intricate they are they can take up to a couple hours, but they’ll last for a long time if they’re not in the sun or anything like that. I also rent cake stands for $20.
I’m pretty flexible with customizability and I include three flavors in the pricing so if you want to have more than one flavor you can. This way clients don’t feel like they’re limited to just one flavor.
I do vegan and gluten-free versions of almost every single one of my cakes, and those would be about a dollar or two more per serving because I wouldn’t be able to use it for anything else. For example if I have some leftover buttercream from a cake I can use it on cupcakes the next week, but for vegan stuff it’s all especially made just for that.
5. What is your best advice for a bride who is looking for her perfect wedding cake?
Pick what you like and go with it. Try to not care too much about what the 100+ guests want. I try to push people a little bit to make their cakes more individual; not so much that you have a crazy cake but enough so that it reflects you a little bit.
6. What qualities define a good cake?
I think it all comes down to personal preference because sometimes you might think you made the best cake but someone likes the way a Costco cake tastes. Or how frosting with butter and powdered sugar tastes as opposed to buttercream. It definitely comes down to personal preference. I like to have the flavors shine for each of those and not have something be muted. So I do add a lot of vanilla bean or cocoa powder. Even if it’s not a super chocolaty cake I still like people to be able to taste the chocolate. Definitely have your cake be moist and have a good crumb on it. I think there’s a lot of dry and bland cakes. Salt is important.
7. Do you have any tips for preservation?
A lot of tight plastic wrap helps if you do want to freeze your cake. I do offer a complimentary year cake on your anniversary. I never have freezer space let alone have space for a cake that I’m supposed to not eat for a whole year!
Kathleen gave us six beautiful cupcakes to taste, including a couple of her most popular flavors. The marionberry with Meyer lemon curd was beautifully bright and the flavor contrast of the tart lemon with the sweet berry was perfect. Next we sampled another popular flavor: the vanilla cake with thyme buttercream and apricot jam. The apricot jam was a delicious topping to the otherwise simple flavor of the cake. The vanilla cake with salted caramel was outstanding and was almost too pretty to eat.
After trying the vanilla-based cakes, we moved onto the richer cakes. Although coconut is not either of our favorite flavors, the chocolate cake with coconut chips turned out to be a tasty combination. The coconut chips had a nice crunch to them before dissolving beautifully in our mouths. We then tried Kathleen’s carrot cake with pecans, topped with a vanilla bean buttercream. This cake was a nice break from all the other sweeter varieties we had sampled thus far, and the pecans added a great texture. Finally, we tried the mint and chip with chocolate cake, which turned out to be our favorite. The minty flavors were definitely present and tasted exactly like mint chip ice cream.
Kathleen’s cakes were just as she described: each individual flavor shines on its own and none of them are muted, creating a beautiful combination of flavors for each cake. Her ornate sugar flowers are so beautiful and delicate and are the perfect addition to any wedding cake. In addition to a variety of sugar flowers, Kathleen is able to decorate your wedding cake with any color and design that you want so that your personalities can truly shine on your big day.