Lynda and Danielle O’Day
Our primary mission at Sweet Dee’s Bakeshop is to deliver an extraordinary experience. This mission is designed to reach every part of the services we offer. From a pastry case with novelty treats containing ingredients you may have never heard of or tasted prior to coming in the shop, going above and beyond with custom orders, whether it’s a wedding or a special birthday or celebration. Novelty beverages that simply beg you to take their photo, and a brunch menu filled with made-from-scratch provisions. There is something for absolutely everybody at the bakeshop.
I began baking using alternative flours and ingredients, therefore our gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan assortment is quite large. Our loyal customers come to us for gluten-free treats, custom cakes and one of our most popular products, ‘Dee’s Nuts’, miniature baked donuts that primarily consist of almond flour, honey and eggs. Along with our allergy friendly options, we are also very trendy when it comes to holidays, album and movie releases, or other fun themes that we are able to draw inspiration from. This includes our giant chocolate break-open Santa filled with house-made Christmas cookies to mousse cakes that could be mistaken for an actual green apple you’d find at the store. Without a doubt, every time someone walks in the shop, their eyes get wide and a big smile spreads across their face when they look at our pastry case.
One of my favorite tips to offer is cross utilizing things we make for custom orders for our everyday pastry case. For example, if there is an apple pie cake that is going out on a Friday morning, we will have either apple pie stuffed croissants or apple pie macarons made from that same filling for the weekend. By doing this we are able to reduce storage space in our refrigerators that could get pretty crowded if we kept every single cake filling and each pastry in our case. Additionally, our case is able to continually stay fresh and in season, as our cake flavors also change with the season! A few bonus tips to reduce food waste include: using cake leveling scraps for cake pops! We also turn leftover sugar cookies into our house sugar cookie syrup, and my favorite way of repurposing involves our bread pudding – we take all of our leftover brioche doughnuts (fried fresh daily), cinnamon rolls and croissants and cube them up and bake with a rotating seasonal custard. A fan favorite for sure!
I may be on par with just about every baker out there when I say that my stand mixer is my number one must have! I spend so much time with her, it would be devastating to my every day job without her support. The mixer is on 90% of the day. Cake batters, doughs, macaron batters, frostings, creams, glazes, you name it! Not only would it take so much more time to do these things by hand, but my strength is simply not capable of getting the creaminess, air, or dough kneading that our pastries need. I would have some insane muscle mass if they didn’t exist though! Haha! Another item in my tool belt is a culinary torch. I use it every single day. I find that heating up a metal cake scraper allows for a stunningly smooth finish. I also use it on our crème brûlée doughnut and toasted marshmallow latte every day.
Secret of Success
One of the biggest things that kept our doors open during COVID, as well as through these unprecedented times, has been staying up on trends, or in some cases, starting them. While doing this, it’s also important to make sure that your demographic is as widespread as possible. For example, allergy friendly treats for a specific crowd, old school bakery items that appeal to an older demographic, French pastry techniques that you cannot find in Arizona bakeries very often, and, of course, the younger, social media inclined demographic for those super trendy desserts and drinks. Along with staying up on trends, I think it’s extremely important to make as much as you possibly can from scratch. Not only does this save cost, but it allows for that organic growth in your own recipe development and makes your product different and stand out on its own. I’ve learned over the past five years of our doors being open to the public, that not only do our customers notice, but they will keep coming back for it over and over again!
Success now and in the future relies strictly on adapting and evolving, and that is one of my favorite parts of this business! While our pastry case is ever changing with the seasons, holidays and new recipe development, my mom and I often dream what a second location would look like. I envision a Sweet Dee’s Bistro that would include a full breakfast, lunch and dinner service. Perhaps that’s not so far off into the future. As for now, we are gearing up for a delicious holiday season and I’ve began my own magazine! XO, Sweet Dee is a publication filled with recipes, inspiration, musings and more.
For more info, visit https://www.sweetdees.com/
(This article appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)