New & Notable

Winners of ‘Cupcake Wars’ come to California Street

Photo: courtesy Bread & Butter Public Relations

You may have thought the cupcake trend had slowed down, or at the very least thought, they can’t possibly open another cupcake shop in San Francisco. You would be wrong. The latest sweet addition is Sift Cupcake + Dessert Bar on California Street off Fillmore, and it’s a winner in more ways than one. Last year its owners competed and won a battle on the popular television show Cupcake Wars, and were the only Bay Area bakers to do so. They have also appeared on the Food Network’s Cupcake Champions.

Sift, an adorable pink-and-white shop enhanced by a whimsical, white beaded chandelier and polka-dot walls, was born in the North Bay in 2008. Its founder, Andrea Ballus, grew up in a baking household where her mother made every birthday cake from scratch, and her dad experimented with fresh-baked breads. When Ballus was looking for unique and delicious cupcakes for her own wedding, she came up short, and the idea for Sift was born. Along with her childhood friend, Corey Fanfa, Ballus opened cupcake shops in Napa and Santa Rosa before finally opening the California Street location in August.

Moist and tasty Sift cupcakes come in the usual flavors: chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, and carrot cake, but Ballus and Fanfa have made their mark with creative concoctions like Pink Champagne, raspberry cake topped with Champagne butter cream; the Battle Royale, almond cake with a blueberry tequila filling topped with acai berry cream cheese frosting; and Knock Your Sox Off, vanilla cake with Bavarian cream filling dipped in chocolate ganache.

In addition to cupcakes, Sift offers French macaroons that are naturally gluten free, whoopie cookies sandwiched together with loads of frosting; ice cream sandwiches; and even frosting shots — any frosting flavor swirled in a souvenir shot glass. You can also sample a cake shake with your favorite cupcake blended into a cold milkshake, or crispy cakes made with rice cereal and Sift’s house-made frosting.

Custom products really make this cupcake haven stand out from the crowd. Every Wednesday it offers gluten-free cupcakes in all of its basic flavors topped with any frosting you choose. There are also several vegan options. And if you are searching for special, customized treats for a party, wedding or other event, look no farther than Sift. They even have a big pink “mobile dessert bar,” otherwise known as a food truck. Sift will also create gift cards, custom t-shirts, and even teach a cupcake decorating class.

Swing by Sift to pick up goodies for home, school or a party, and you’ll walk out with a grey-and-white box with a pink sticker printed with the words, “Bite Me.” Super cute.

Sift Cupcake + Dessert Bar: 2411 California Street (at Fillmore), 415-580-3030,; Sunday–Thursday 10 a.m.–10 p.m., Friday–Saturday 10 a.m.–10:30 p.m.

Correction Oct. 12, 2012:
Hours of operation

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