The tastiest way to end a meal is with something sweet, and whether you choose to go with a traditional wedding cake or a trendy dessert bar with an assortment of goodies, your guests will be excited to enjoy the sweet treats you’ve decided to serve at your wedding. There is only so much you can learn about a bakery from its website, so we decided to visit a few of the most popular wedding dessert shops and bakeries in San Francisco to learn a little bit more about them and see how good their cakes and goodies really are. We’ll be featuring four of the best San Francisco wedding dessert makers so that you can include their delicious confections and creations on your big day.
Sift Dessert Bar
Sift Dessert Bar creates gourmet cupcakes and specialty desserts in Northern California’s Wine Country and San Francisco Bay Area. Wedding dessert bars have shot to popularity in recent years thanks to the versatility and customizability of a dessert bar versus a traditional tiered wedding cake. Not only does Sift cater weddings and events, but they have five locations spread across the Bay Area and Napa and Sonoma Counties for those who want a sweet treat on a regular day. In 2011, Andrea Ballus and Corey Fanfa entered the Food Network’s television game show Cupcake Wars and won the competition, bringing national attention to Sift Dessert Bar. Whether you’re a cupcake person, or more into macarons or hand pies, there truly is something for everyone at Sift Dessert Bar. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Stephanie Crocker and Jordan Keith of Sift’s events and marketing team to learn a little bit more about Sift and their delicious desserts.
1. How long have you been in business?
We opened April 15th, 2008 so we’ve been in business almost 7 years. We started because Andrea, the owner, was getting married to Jeff and she has always loved fine food and she’s always been a huge foodie. While planning her 2007 wedding she realized there was a niche in the dessert market and she wanted to fill it. Our first location opened in Cotati, CA in April 2008.
2. How many weddings do you serve per year?
We can take multiple weddings per day. As of yesterday [September 23, 2014] we had 273 weddings on our books. By the end of the year, not including corporate orders, I’m projecting 325.
3. What are your most popular cupcake flavors?
Our most popular cupcake flavors are actually the ones that you tried, so the Pink Champagne, the Stud Muffin, The Sky Is Falling and the Ooh La La. For desserts for weddings and events the most popular ones are the mini whoopie cookies, the petite pies and our ice cream sammies. Oh, and our French macarons!
4. What does a typical dessert bar cost?
A typical wedding cupcake bar would cost between $500 and $700, depending on guest count of course. A typical dessert bar would be from $800 to $1,400, again depending on size. The full installations are in the $2,500 to $2,700 range, and this includes installation rentals, backdrops, setup and delivery. We’re starting to offer higher end packages where we do the full installation for you. We focus on what’s trending right now, so if you want the vintage look or the rustic look, or the classic all white with metallics, we’ll do it for you.
We never want to cookie cutter anything. We want our guests to be able to come in and tell us what they want. We’ll show our brides a few different high end packages that we offer to make everything a little bit easier. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be a cookie cutter package; everything will still be custom to them, but we can show them which pieces we’ll include and what furniture and rentals are included so they have an idea of what we can provide.
5. What is your best advice for a bride who is looking for her perfect wedding dessert?
Pick vendors you trust, and once you pick them, trust them! We know what we’re doing and you can rely on us. Give us the ideas and inspiration you want, and if you don’t like it, tell us and we’ll fix it. Trust us to know what we’re doing.
6. What qualities define a good cake?
The moistness, and not being too overwhelming with the flavors. Things should go together. We incorporate a lot of different flavors, but we make sure they all go together. Hitting all of those key points and also making sure it’s moist. Dry cake is not okay.
7. Do you have any tips for preservation?
With our brides, we never recommend to save the 6 inch cake. Come back to us on your anniversary and we will give you the cake you ordered. We have cute anniversary cards for you and we want you to not only come back for your anniversary, but we want to be part of your life celebrations. We want to grow with you. We want to be there for your baby shower, your baby’s birthday, for graduations – whatever the celebrations are we want to be included. We don’t want to be there for just that one day.
We were given quite the assortment of desserts and goodies to sample from Sift Dessert Bar, including their most popular cupcake flavors. The Stud Muffin is a brown sugar beer cake with a salted caramel frosting and cayenne peppered bacon. Originally brought on for Father’s Day, the Stud Muffin has Lagunitas beer, a local favorite, in it and bacon to create a sweet yet salty flavor. The Pink Champagne is a little twist on the Kir Royale cocktail and is a raspberry cake with a slightly effervescent buttercream made from Prosecco. The Sky Is Falling is a chocolate cake with a white chocolate mousse filling and chocolate buttercream – amazingly rich yet surprisingly not too sweet. It is also their most popular flavor for 6 and 8 inch cutting cakes for weddings. The Ooh La La is their famous red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, and is a traditional buttermilk cake with cocoa powder. Jordan and Stephanie encouraged us to try the raspberry cake with a bit of chocolate frosting, which turned out to be our favorite flavor combination. Their “secret menu” allows you to mix and match any flavor of cake with any flavor of filling or frosting – all you have to do is ask and they’ll make it for you!
We also sampled their salted caramel white chocolate cookie, which is what is typically used in their ice cream sandwiches and their whoopie cookies. Their ice cream sammies are made with Double Rainbow ice cream, another local favorite, and more and more brides are choosing to go with cold dessert bars this year.
Next we tried the cruffle, their unique invention that is “cake and frosting all mixed up and dipped into gourmet chocolate.” We tried The Sky Is Falling flavor and it was rich, creamy, sweet and highly indulgent. They offer 8 different flavors of cruffles.
Then we had the salted caramel apple petite pie, which is one of their more recent creations. Baked to perfection, these pies come in 9 inch full sizes, empanada-shaped hand pies and 3 inch round pies for weddings. In addition to salted caramel apple, they offer strawberry rhubarb, chocolate Kahlua and a seasonal pumpkin pie.
Finally, we were given their most popular French macaron flavors – blackberry lavender, earl grey and salted caramel. The blackberry lavender is fragrant and sweet and reminds us of Trix cereal. The earl grey flavor is made from real earl grey tea bags and tastes surprisingly like Froot Loops. These macarons are made expertly and have a crunchy outside with a soft, chewy center. We each got our own salted caramel macarons, which has a creamy texture in the middle because the caramel is a caramel mousseline rather than a flavored ganache. It was absolutely delicious.
Everything at Sift Dessert Bar’s five locations is baked daily in Santa Rosa and delivered fresh to their locations every morning. They take great pride in their delicious desserts and fantastic flavor combinations that are the product of much research and development. For wedding dessert bars, Sift offers all of their treats in mini form so that you can have a little bit of everything for your guests. They even offer favors for your guests to take home – an edible gift that your guests will be sure to love.
Sift Dessert Bar, San Francisco