Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cookie Madness

Today was cookie delivery day for the most part and thinking back, the 2008 holiday season t'was truly the season to bake cookies: 100 to the senior citizens at the local church, 170 plus to Blair County Children & Youth, about 70 to take to a friend's party, 40 to the Humane Society volunteers & workers, 150 for Christmas baskets, and hundreds more for a cookie & egg nog party here at the house.

Adding that up makes about 800 decorated cookies, not including the chocolate chip cookies and Key Lime Pies. No wonder I feel like I've done nothing else during the evenings and on weekends.

The neighbor kids agreed to help me out with the extra broken and messed up cookies and they have been making out pretty well. So well that we finally had to establish a secret code to communicate: I hang a "Cookies!" sign in the dining room window to let them know when there are broken cookies and they stop by on weekends and after school to collect their paper lunch bags of goodies.

I'm gonna settle in for a loooong winter's nap.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Light Cookie Ingredients

We have had requests for the ingredient list for the Christmas Light Cookies.
While the exact recipe is Top Secret, I can tell what is NOT in them: additives, fillers and preservatives.
All of our cookies are lovingly made fresh from scratch with the purest ingredients right here in Blair County--just for you.
For example, we use real butter, not margarine, imitation butter, I Can't Believe this Crap's Not Butter or butter-flavored grease in a can. We also use real eggs, not imitation low cholesterol eggs. If your cholesterol is high, you shouldn't even be looking at cookies, let alone reading a blog about baking. Your cholesterol probably just rose 10 points the past 5 seconds.
Anyway, we believe that good old-fashioned ingredients not only taste better, but are healthier than all the imitation stuff on the shelves, which is why we stick to the basics: eggs, butter, flour and sugar--and this is why our cookies are as good as what Grandma used to make.

Sugar Cookie & Icing Ingredients

Sugar: regular and confectioner's
Baking Powder
Lemon Juice
Food Coloring
The Cookies are accented with purchased decorations such as non-pariels, Sparkling Sugar, jimmies and dragees.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Buy A Cookie, Be A Light

When a foster child is initially taken from their home, they often leave with nothing. This season, the Sugar Buzz Factory is helping Blair County Children & Youth raise money for their Special Fund which supplies these children who are spending the holidays away from their family with the extras in life, such as Christmas presents and warm winter coats.

As of today, all of our Christmas Light Cookies are being sold as a fundraiser. If you would like to purchase these cookies (pictured in the post below) all of the profit will go to the Blair County Children & Youth Special Fund, and your checks should be made out to them as well.

Individually wrapped cookie: $2.00
6 cookies in a gift box: $11.00
12 cookies in a gift box: $20.00

And yes, we know that's expensive, but it's for the kids.

Thank you in advance to all of the folks who are making this possible by volunteering their time, talents and commercial kitchens: Beth & Larry, David, Tessa, Nancy, my mother and anyone else I can talk into icing, wrapping, packing, selling and delivering cookies for this drive.

By baking zillions of cookies in the next couple of weeks (in our spare time) we hope to be able to make every Blair County child's Christmas merry & bright.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

T'was The Month Before Christmas

Three tiered cake covered in moss green fondant.
Covered in lights and poinsettas & ornaments & ribbon.
T'was the month before Christmas
And all through Blair County
People flocked to Peterman's
To see what's gonna matter
Christmas Light Cookies, Extra Cake & Cake Pops in the background.
The Christmas Light Cookies
Were strung up with care
On licorice wire
Eat some, if you dare.

Sugar Buzz Bites & Cookies, yum!
The Cake Bites were dipped
And displayed with aplomb
In hopes that Saint Nick
Would soon be along

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"Merry Christmas, Blair County!

And to all a good-night!"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

2009 Price List & Order Information

All baking is by special request, so be sure to ask if you don’t see what you want. I'll be glad to work with you to design a unique cake for your special occasion.

I'll work with you to design a fund raising package to suit your organization.

The Sugar Buzz Factory will only book one large order--such as a multi-layer wedding cake or a major fund raiser--per month in addition to smaller requests.
Large orders and Multi-layer cakes require $200.00 deposit to hold the date, and the balance is due in full two weeks before the event.
All other baking is done on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Cash or check only. Sorry, I do not accept credit.
Multi-layer cake delivery and assembly is included in the price of the cake within Blair County. There is a mandatory transportation charge outside the county. Small orders will have to be picked up.
COOKIES Chocolate Chip Cookies $0.50 ea. Chocolate Chip Cookies with Black Walnuts $ 0.75 ea. Decorated Sugar $ 1.00 ea. and up, depending on size & decoration, Min. order 3 dozen, Individuallly wrapped, add $.25 each.

CAKE BITES regular $ 1.00 each, Fruit stuffed $1.25 ea. Min. order 3 dozen, individually wrapped, add $.25.

CAKE Fondant Covered Wedding / Event $ 4.00 per slice & up
CAKE Butter cream, $ 2.00 per slice & up
CAKE Additional decoration, Butter cream, Gum paste & Fondant: Quotes on an individual basis
CAKE TASTING $40.00, by appointment only

KEY LIME PIE: Best pie north of Key Largo! graham cracker crust, $10.00 ea. Add your own whipped topping
KEY LIME PIE: Macadamia & Cashew Chocolate Graham Crust $15.00 ea. Add your own whipped topping

FLOWER POT CAKE a real flower pot with a real cake baked inside, topped with gum paste flowers $30.00 ea, Limited quantity-Check for availability
FLOWER POT CAKE REFRESHER $10.00 ea, “Re-pot” your cake Cupcakes: Plain Butter cream Swirl $10.00/ doz., Min. order 3 dozen
CUPCAKES with butter cream swirl $10.00/doz., Min. order 3 doz.
CUPCAKES with Basic Fondant or Gum paste Decoration $20.00/ doz., Min. order 3 dozen
CUPCAKES Stuffed Add $5.00/ doz, Min. order 3 dozen
CUPCAKES Fresh Fruit Stuffed Cupcakes with Key Lime Glaze Market Price, Min. order 3 dozen

Peterman's Open House

Catch The Sugar Buzz Factory on Sunday afternoon, November 16 at Peterman's Florist Open House in Juniata, PA--located on Chestnut Avenue, a.k.a. 4th Avenue--just north of the Juniata Sheetz.

We'll have a stunning holiday cake on display and we'll be serving up cookies, cake and cake pops.

And we'll post pictures of the event RIGHT HERE as soon as possible.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Sugar Buzz Christmas

(See above for photos of actual event.) Maybe its because we're on a sugar buzz high here at The Factory, but we kinda see things differently than most.

We believe that pink is the new red for the holiday so instead of the traditional red & green this year, we are celebrating with a holiday cake done in mint green fondant with silk mint green poinsettas and trimmed with real pink ornaments.

Because this cake is going to be way too beautiful to hack up, we're serving little pink & mint green christmas ornaments made of cake, and pink & mint green sugar cookies cut into christmas lights.

And there you have it: all of the ingredients for a Sugar Buzz Holiday!

Monday, October 27, 2008

My All Time Favorite is . . .

Home baked chocolate chip cookies with loads of black walnuts mixed in. I made up a double batch of these yummy goodies and sent them to my friend's house Saturday night.
And I saved a plate for me. Ha!

Friday, October 24, 2008

I Know! I Know! I Know!

I know that I've been lax with my postings and haven't kept you up to date with all the latest Altoona, PA baking news. But I'm back! And I brought pictures of the yummies direct from our new hand-crafted stone patio.

This picture just makes me want to break out the cider and bob for apples.
Where have I been the past month? In the garden & in the woods, getting inspired. Do you see that pumpkin and gourds pictured above? Well, we grew them.
The Sugar Buzz Gang has been doing a lot of hiking out in the woods, particularly on the old railroad beds on Wopsy & Blandburg Mountains and I have been getting a lot of inspiration for fall cookies from Mother Nature as we stroll under the canopies of brilliantly diverse colors.
In the vegetable garden it was harvest time for the gourds & sunflower heads & we have been pulling down the corn shocks to put the garden to bed for the winter--which is right around the corner!

I spoke to a little old lady from the 28th Street Church of the Brethren today who requested a Key Lime pie & fall sugar cookies for the bake sale table at their fundraiser on Election Day a.k.a. MY birthday.
No problem. Mother.
The cool weather makes my mouth water for warm chocolate chip cookies made with black walnuts anyway, so while I'm at it . . .

Stay tuned for more pictures of Fall Sugar Cookies as the batches just keep coming this fall. I am truely amazed at how brilliant the fall colors really are.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Patriotic Cake, Country Style

Here is the same cake design with the colors and some details slightly changed for a country effect.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Patriotic Cake Design

Here's a design for a Fourth of July or Election Day celebration.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fabulous Birthday Cake Design

This is a two-tiered, fondant covered cake. It is dressed with 2-3 different sized pearls, topped with crystals & surrounded with white roses.
A variation on this in white fondant with red roses would be great for a wedding, Valentines Day or Christmas.

Cake Cutting / Ordering Guide

This guide shows how to cut popular shaped wedding tiers into pieces approximately 1 in. x 2 in. by two layers high (about 4 in.). Even if a larger serving size is desired, the order of cutting is still the same.

The first step in cutting is to remove the top tier, and then begin the cutting with the 2nd tier followed by the 3rd, 4th and so on. The top tier is usually saved for the first anniversary, so it is not calculated into the serving amount.


Square Tiers: Move in 2 in. from the outer edge and cut across. Then slice 1 in. pieces of cake. Now move in another 2 in. and slice again until the entire tier is cut.
8 inch for 32 servings
10 inch for 40 servings
12 inch for 72 servings
14 inch for 98 servings
16 inch for 128 servings


Round Tiers: Move in two inches from the tier's outer edge; cut a circle and then slice 1 in. pieces within the circle. Now move in another 2 in., cut another circle, slice 1 in. pieces and so on until the tier is completely cut. The center core of each tier and the small top tier can be cut into 3rds, 4ths, and 6ths, depending on size.

8 inches for 24 servings
10 inches for 38 servings
12 inches for 56 servings
14 inches for 88 servings
16 inches for 10 servings
18 inches for 146 servings


Divide the tiers vertically into 1/2ths, 4ths, 6ths and 8ths. Within rows, slice 1 in. pieces of cake.

10 inches for 36 servings * 12 inches for 54 servings *16 inches for 94 servings


Cut similar to round tiers as diagram shows.

9 inches for 18 servings * 12 inches for 40 servings * 15 inches for 64 servings


Move in 2 in. from the outer edge and cut across. Then slice 1 in. pieces of cake. Now move in another 2 in. and slice again until the entire tier is cut.

10 inch for 26 servings * 13 inch for 45 servings * 16 inch for 70 servings


Move in 2 in. from the outer edge and cut across. Slice and serve 1 in. pieces of cake, similar to oval tiers as diagram shows. Now move in another 2 in., repeat process until the entire tier is cut.

About 25 servings

Monday, August 18, 2008

Drape and Pearl Cake

I'm getting married in the morning
Ding, dong the bells are gonna chime . . .

This ended up being one of the more elaborate and larger cakes I have made, and it turned out beautiful. The bride was happy, the groom was happy and I was happy.

For your sake, we were a more diligent taking pictures of the process of building this cake so I could share the process with you in pictures, but we skipped some of the obvious steps to save time and space.

The Body

Again, we're starting with a white cake with raspberry filling. The plan was four layers: 12" base, 10", 8", and a 6" topper. Each layer was composed of two cakes, each of which was split horizontal for another layer of filling. So, each cake tier had three layers of filling and was covered with buttercream icing. The bottom two large tiers were filled with raspberry filling and I simply used icing as filling for the top two tiers.

The Undergarments

After the layers are filled and assembled, the cake is covered with buttercream icing on the sides and top as a base for the fondant icing that will be it's final covering.

It is of utmost importance that this icing be as straight and smooth as possible, with right angles and level tops.

To acheive this, an abundance of icing is applied, and the extra scraped off. The remaining icing is smoothed out to finish this step.

Now, it is ready for the fondant.

The Dress
Fondant is a beautiful smooth finish for a cake. The lack of texture is a classically simple matte background for whatever you are going to do to dress it up with. Think of fondant as a "little black dress" for cakes.

The fondant is rolled out and then placed over the iced cake. It is then coached down the sides to a smooth finish before the extra is trimmed.

I trim twice. On the first trim, I trim the heavy majority and leave 1/4 inch in case the fondant was stretched and wants to spring back up the side a little once the weight is removed. After I see that all is well, the final 1/4 inch is removed and overall smoothing begins.

Every dress has a hem, and I like to put something around the bottom for a finished look. In this case, I am using ivory colored grosgrain ribbon to match the cake. I wanted it to blend as much as possible with the cake and not call attention to itself because of all the other decor that will go on it eventually.

Then, we inserted dowels into each cake and stacked them up to take a look.
As the layers are stacked (with the exception of the largest bottom layer as it is more difficult to move) the ribbons are adjusted down to fill any space between the layers. The ribbons are just wrapped around the cakes and attached to themselves with scotch tape.


The bride wanted pearls that looked like they were cascading down the cake like a waterfall. She is an artist, but I am not. I was particularly nervous about how to create something she would be happy with, but was really pleased with the results. Each individual pearl was applied by hand.

Here is a close-up picture of the detal work on the two bottom layers.

Using this design as inspiration, I would like to make a Pearl Cake in the future.

Because of the nature of the finish on this cake, it had to be assembled and finished at the reception site.

Therefore, the four layers were plated and anchored in my trunk on rubber gloves so they wouldn't slide around.

There are no pictures of the trip because I had my eyes shut the entire time, praying that the cakes would make it without incident, and without loosing too many pearls.

Accessorize, Accessorize, Accesssorize

At the reception site, the cakes were unpacked and restacked with pearls and ribbons intact. Yeah! We made it!

Next, I found myself a workspace and rolled out fondant for the drape. David and toothpicks held the drape on the cake while the piping gel dried to make it permanent.

After fondant drapes were made for each side, I realized that this cake was not pushed up against a wall like at most weddings, but was displayed in the center of the room so there was a 360 view of it. Even worse, the bride and groom had a view of the back! I was going to have to put some sort of last minute decoration on the back, no matter how last minute or lame.

With the fondant drapes finally applied, the fresh flower topper was placed and individual flowers were scattered around the fondant drapes for final decoration.

This is a picture of the finished left side of the cake.

And this is a picture of the finished right side of the cake.

The small fondant drape and flowers on the back of the cake were enough to give it a finished look, without pretending there were two fronts to the cake.

And they ate cake happily ever after.

Grab a Quickie

It was the beginning of August and we had a birthday in the office. Since it was a coon's age since I've drug any of my creations into the office, it was time to whip up a celebratory cake.

Of course, I was busy freezing corn and picking green beans at the time, which is also why I'm writing this after the fact. I was simply busier than a spring bunny in heat.

Which is why this turned into a simple cake.

This birthday cake was a white cake with raspberry filling--which after chocolate filled with crushed Oreos--is everyone’s favorite.

Anyway, I had a wedding cake to make for August 16 and wanted to practice, because the bride also wanted white cake with raspberry filling.

This cake is covered with buttercream icing, tinted tan because the upcoming wedding cake is going to be ivory instead of stark white.

And, instead of an elaborate decoration, I simply snipped a morning-fresh hydrangea head out of the garden and popped it onto the top with minimal decoration.

Since it's just you and me talking here, I'll tell you the truth:
I was late for work--again--and I shoved that purty flower into the top of the cake, right after I slapped some swirls around the sides. Then I crammed the whole shee-bang into my handy-dandy carrier and whisked it off to the office where it was a hit with birthday and non-birthday celebrants alike.

And that's the truth.

Monday, June 23, 2008


As Time Goes By, I feel more and more confident about my Flower Pot Cakes. Pictured above is one I made for a friend who had a (and I'm not going to tell you how old she is) who had an extremely significant, half-century birthday today.

This one has an open rose in the middle surrounded by 6 rose buds, a plethora of leaves and small white generic flowers. I like the balance, I like the color combination and I like the size. I believe the perfect one will have 5 rosebuds with one center open rose. Stay tuned for that.

What is different about these roses from previous flowers are that the middles are done in a burgundy color and the petals in a light pink that is under-mixed, creating a slight marbling effect that gives depth and a tad more authenticity to each flower. The leaves are likewise slightly marbleized.

Of course, I have no idea what the little white fake flowers around the edge are representative of, but I can tell you that they're staying.

My special birthday friend, Joanie, also received a Macadamia Nut Crusted Key Lime Pie. Who said getting older wasn't sweet?

Happy Birthday to YOU!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Garden Party

Summertime is picnic time here in the mountains of Central PA and I had a request to make a dessert for a coworker for her neighborhood picnic. We looked at some pictures and she was drawn to the teal/white theme. Cupcakes are the latest rage and easier to eat standing up, so I decided to do both a small cake and cupcakes to match.

The cake and cupcakes are lemon with buttercream icing. The cake was then covered with fondant and sugar gum paste daisys and the cupcakes all received a daisy, leaf and some some dragees just for fun.

Above is a close up of one of the flowers on the cake. I painted a little pearl luster on the flower petals to make them stand out.
The cupcakes were both adorable and yummy.
This order was accompanied by a signature Flower Pot cake with hand-painted rose buds that looked much better in person than we could capture on film.

Big thanks to Linda for her ID stakes. I hot-glued one of my business cards on one so everyone at the picnic would know where the amazing confections originated.

Garden Party

I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends

A chance to share old memories and play our songs again

When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name

No one recognized me, I didn't look the same


But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well.

You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself


Someone opened up a closet door and out stepped Johnny B. Goode

Playing guitar like a-ringin' a bell and lookin' like he should

If you gotta play at garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck

But if memories were all I sang, I rather drive a truck


But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well.

You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

Going to Pot

Sorry it has been so long since I have written but the end of May begins gardening season here in Central PA. My friend, Linda, has been sharing her wonderful perennials with us this spring as we build new flower beds here at the house and I was pleased to learn that she would have use for some cute little cakes as Thank You gifts and Birthday Remembrances, so I got to experiment hoping to be able to reciprocate a little. Of course, being two gardeners in early summer, I felt compelled to stick to the theme.

Call me Dr. Frankenstein, but I was a mad woman (as if that's different for me) in the kitchen one night baking cakes in real flower pots after failing to make a fondant flower pot. Live and learn. Even I have my share of dismal failures but this particular one led to a wonderful discovery of a new line of items--my new unique flower pot cakes.

Now, I have to warn you that the flower pots are real, the cakes inside are real and the flowers are made with sugar gum paste, but I wouldn't eat the pot or the flowers as they would be waaaaay too crunchy. You can eat the cake but these little pots are so cute, how could anyone rip them apart for a snack? It would break my heart.

Linda received three pots to give out as gifts: One pot had rose buds, the second had open roses with a "fantasy flower" and the final pot had sugar gum paste daisys with blue forget-me-nots and (in true gardener fashion) a token worm. I weighed the appetizing factor against the cuteness factor before adding the worm and they cancelled themselves out to a neutral on the Gross-Me-Out Meter. The worm stayed.

As a finishing touch, Linda added gardening ID tags to her pots and wrote her messages of Thank You and Happy Birthday on them.

Yeah, I am now a pot(s) pusher.