When Leigh Sutton, one of several women who make up the Sugar Mama’s “Sweet Treats Team,” met me at the door of the bakery for this interview, I knew in an instant why she is known at the shop as the “Peanut Butter Queen.” The smell of freshly baked peanut butter cookies was nearly irresistible, made worse by the fact that it was supper time and I was hungry. It was, however, clearly a pleasant torture.
I reluctantly turned down her offer of one of the warm cookies, and chose a mini-cupcake that was sugar free. I know myself well enough to I realize that I “can’t eat just one,” and managed to stop at two. No harm, no foul.
Leigh, who is one of the co-owners, is the daughter of Sugar Mama’s owner Stephanie Sutton, and they come from several generations of bakers. Denise Bolen had worked for the previous owners as well as the bakery at Wal-Mart for 10 years. April Patten, who works nearby used to come by the shop and try her hand at making roses. It was through April that Stephanie came out from Huntsville to check out the shop, and Sugar Mama’s Sweet Treats was born in the Fall of 2010.
Leigh, a young mother who is heading toward a business degree and works on the weekends, has made peanut butter cookies a best seller. She tells of how much she loves to watch her mother “free hand” cake decorations, (i.e., just look at a picture and replicate it with frosting,) and the Sutton women use recipes that have been handed down for generations. Another of Sugar Mama’s most popular items is the cake truffle, a small flavored cake that is coated with frosting that makes it look just like a truffle. I know from a bridal shower I attended how yummy they are, and just recently Sugar Mama’s added new flavors to their cake truffle line up. Among them are Oreo cheesecake, orange Creamsicle, butter pecan, and hazelnut.
As we were discussing illustrations for the article, Leigh showed me a picture of a “popcorn cake.” When I first looked at it, I didn’t realize it was a cake and wondered why she was showing it to me. She laughed and told me that the “popcorn” is made out of cut up marshmallows, rolled around to shape them into “popped kernels,” and then slightly airbrushed, using yellow food coloring! Like so many bakers these days, Leigh is addicted to the TV program Cake Boss, and as a result of watching “the Boss,” has gotten so she can do some serious piping, which apparently “ain’t easy.” She agrees with me that Cake Boss has taken cake decorating to a whole new level and has forced bakers all over America to “bake outside the box.”
Leigh says she “likes to experiment with stuff,” and soon will be offering cake truffles that will look like bumblebees. Sugar Mama’s has also recently added pies to their venue. Great Grandma Sutton’s pecan pie is legendary, as are her cheese straws, and during the holidays there will be a number of seasonally flavored items from which to choose. Those flavors include pumpkin, Christmas mint and eggnog, with cake pops (cake truffles put on a popsicle stick) decorated to look like snowmen.
Custom work and being innovative is absolutely necessary if a cake shop is going to make it these days, and Leigh says they are “willing to try anything at least once.” A Tennessee fan had her snowman cake pops decorated with an orange jersey and the Tennessee T. Of course, Alabama and Auburn cakes are on display, and the same kind of “snowmen” are available for your favorite team.
Because Great grandmother Sutton lived through the Depression, some of her best and tastiest fare is known as “Depression cake.” I am wanting to try some, as anyone who can make a delicious dessert when times are tough and there is not much to choose from by way of ingredients, makes me curious. Depression cake, as it turns out, is also great for people with allergies. “We can work around just about any food allergy, and have some gluten free and sugar free recipes as well,” says Leigh. Recently they made some sugar free cupcakes for an event held at the Riviera gym.
“We also understand that there’s a recession on,” says Leigh, “and we try to work with people so they can get what they want at an affordable price.” Come and see what’s been cooked up at Sugar Mama’s, located on Hwy 31 in Athens, and I dare you to “eat just one.”
Sugar Mama’s Sweet Treats
616 Hwy 31, Suite D, Athens, AL, 35611
Hours: Mon-Fri 10 am-5pm, Sat 10am-2pm
email@example.com and facebook
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner