Sweetology: Edible entertainment takes the cake

News-DemocratJuly 6, 2014 

— You'll get a lot more than a spoonful of sugar at Sweetology.

Think of the business as one small part bakery/coffee/wine shop and the rest a kind of Build-A-Bear concept with the tagline: "Where Fun Takes the Cake."

It's a simple idea: Come in the door of the pink and green shop on Clayton Road, order up an undecorated cake (or cupcakes or cookies), sit down with family, friends, a date or even co-workers and go to town decorating.

It's the brainchild of Kara Newmark and DeAnn Bingaman, who opened the store in March.

Acknowledging the success of businesses like Build-A-Bear and Paint-Me-Pottery, the two St. Louis women created an edible entertaining activity for adults and children that doesn't require great talent or cleanup.

"We came up with the idea two years ago," said Kara, who put aside being an attorney to delve into turning anyone with a spatula into a cake decorator for an hour.

"We both had hobbies decorating (cakes) when we were kids," said DeAnn, whose background is in e-commerce.

All supplies and utensils, from aprons to spatulas, are included, as well as plenty of space at white marble-topped tables for adults or downsized for kids.

It helps, too, that you get your own trained helper -- called a Sweetologist, naturally. She will not only show you how to make a tiny fondant rowboat (if you need one), but will guide you through your choices of frosting, fondant, sprinkles and sugary accessories that range from edible wrap-around sheets in stripes and animal prints to gummy bears or lemon drops from a Willy Wonka-like wall of dispensers.

Eat some. Add some to cake. Eat some more ... You get the idea.

Don't want to decorate? There's a case at the front of the shop filled with dressed-up cakes ready to take home ($48 and $68). The baked products are made in St. Louis by The Cup or The Cakery and delivered undressed.

Or, sit in The Drinkery -- with a chandelier overhead -- and order a cupcake and a chocolate martini (or drinking chocolate and more) and relax.

Who has been stopping by?

"We've had book clubs, board meetings, a retirement party, a mom's night out, birthdays, dads coming for Mother's Day and moms bringing kids to make cakes for Father's Day," said DeAnn. Her favorite moment so far?

"It must have been a first date. This couple came in and they bought a cupcake and decorated it together. It was so sweet!"

The Sweet Loft upstairs is for private parties of eight or more, with room for 20 to decorate at the table and more to watch the fun.

The two tried to keep away from a too-feminine decor.

"We wanted it to appeal to a wide range of people," said DeAnn. "You can walk in, but it's great if you want to reserve the products you want ahead of time, too."

With 20 Sweetologists on hand, you're never without a helping hand, she added.

But, "We're here to coach, not to do it for you."

And that's the fun. Sweetologists Sinti Reyes and Emily Lamb helped the Goldfarb sisters, Kylie, 11, and Macy, 9, and friend Noah Coen, 7, create a birthday cake for the girls' grandmother. The theme was the beach, so frosting was two-tone blue and blue-gray mixed with help from Sinti. A tiny figure created out of fondant by Kylie (with help from Emily) sat in a little brown rowboat on top. Candy flip-flops decorated the sides and chocolate fondant rocks were strewn on the "beach" top.

Mom Emily Coen brought her son and the sisters because she thought it would be a unique surprise for the birthday celebration.

"This is the fourth time here; we did cupcakes before," she said. "They're frequent fliers."

Each cake arrives with a crumb coat on it: a thin layer of white icing that will prevent crumbs from getting into the next layer of frosting.

Customers can choose from a 6- or 9-inch cake. Gluten-free is available, too.

"All of the cakes have a buttercream filling," said DeAnn. The 6-inch, which is taller than most two-layer cakes and serves 8 to 10, is the most popular size.

Discuss the theme you want to create with your Sweetologist, then put together a package of buttercream frosting or fondant. You can tint it to your favorite hue and flavor. Add an accent frosting, then choose your sprinkles. Cost? About $48, plus extra for any additional decorations or frosting or candy.

Decorate a cupcake for $10; four for $24. Do up six big sugar cookies for $22.50.

These prices include the $10-an-hour studio fee.

You can also buy Take Home Kits that include, for example, a 6-inch cake and decorations, plus pastry bags, tips and instructions, for $38.

Sweetology also offers kids summer cake-decorating classes. See the schedule as well as other information at sweetology.com

Sweetology

9214 Clayton Road, Ladue, Mo.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday;10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Information: 314-736-4800 or sweetology.com and on Facebook

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