- Jennifer DeBarros
Sweet Dreams owner and baker Susie Bowen is in the middle of a surfboard, the woman at the counter tells me. She’s not catching a wave at some tropical locale, but rather making an edible surfboard from fondant for an upcoming wedding. Tomorrow Bowen might find herself crafting dozens of Despicable Me minion-shaped cupcakes for an elementary school party.
She’s a perfectionist, to a point, and won’t let any confection leave her bakery unless it’s something she would eat herself. This self-confessed “ingredient snob” uses only real vanilla, real sugar and whatever other non-artificial ingredients the recipes call for at her Division Street bakery.
Scratch-made lemon curd — Bowen hand-squeezes about 15 lemons per week in the making of this egg, sugar and butter based custard — is the essential ingredient for lemon cakes, bars, cupcakes and frosting. One bite of the cake’s sugar-infused lemon peel flavor will cause you to want one more.
The coconut frosting shot (yes, shot glasses full of frosting are available for purchase in the cupcake lounge) contains shreds of coconut saturated in the creamy flavor of coconut milk. The macaroons have a toasty sweet outer edge and a light, fluffy interior. Deep, resonant chocolate frosting tops delicate chocolate cupcakes. And the pink champagne cupcakes — it’s as if a glass of champagne morphed into a cupcake without losing any essential portion of itself. You can practically feel the bubbles pop on your tongue.
But don’t let the lemon bars, cupcakes, biscotti or cookies ($2-$3) distract you from the bakery’s raison d’etre: wedding cakes ($4.25/serving). The light, slightly sweet cake is a good way to top off an otherwise indulgent reception.
Bowen’s shop has a boutique quality. She strives to create flavors and designs unique to each wedding. Bowen’s most prized wedding cake was a seven-tiered feather cake that required her to hand cut, from rice paper, the delicate, pure-white feathers draping each layer. The cake’s only non-edible feature was the LED lights along the tiered edges. Never having created a cake like that, Bowen worked off a photograph shown to her by the bride.
This attention to detail means that Bowen requires four months of advance notice for each of her bake-to-order nuptial confections.
In the meantime, she’s got plenty of other sweets in which you can indulge.
Sweet Dreams Bakery • 3131 N. Division St. (in Pounder’s Jewelry Store) • Mon, 10 am-2 pm; Tue-Fri, 10 am-5 pm; Sat, 10 am-2 pm • sweetdreamsbakeryspokane.com • 747-6900