It was only hours after St. Patrick’s Day and the gears were already shifting inside Oh So Sweet, a bakery on Main Street in Davenport.
Gone were the pounds of green icing and sprinkles, the treats named after leprechauns and gold treasures.
They were swapped out for the layers of pastels, bunny-themed cupcake toppings and egg-shaped cookie cutters. Almost overnight, the focus had turned to Easter.
“As soon as one thing is done, your state of mind changes,” says owner Tiphanie Cannon. All week, they’ll be making coconut cakes, frosted cookies, carrot cakes, Easter-bunny cakes and macaroons that look like ducklings — plus anything else a customer might order ahead of Easter Sunday.
“We’re always, always thinking in seasons — with ingredients or ideas.”
It makes for a busy kitchen, Cannon says, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I work probably 80 hours a week, but it’s worth it,” she said. “If I didn’t love it, I’d probably have a lot of panic attacks.”
For Cannon, the bakery actually came on the heels of other panic attacks — when her supposedly small in-home business of baking turned into an overwhelming mess of orders and deliveries.
She was a stay-at-home mom, teaching fitness classes and training for marathons, and decided to start selling baked goods at farmers markets. And then, it got so busy she could barely keep up.
“I was always baking something, and my house was a revolving door of people and orders,” she said. “I just couldn’t do it anymore — it was a definite fork in the road.”
Instead of quitting, the former elementary school teacher opened Oh So Sweet in May 2014, enlisting a team of local bakers, her top-selling recipes and a specific interior design.
“A lot of bakeries are pink and flowery and have chandeliers and stuff,” she said. “I didn’t want that. I didn’t want it to be like grandma’s kitchen.”
The result is an urban, up-scale feel that sees a wide mix of customers, she says. And there's plenty of personality to be seen.
On any given day, the cupcake special might be called A Hot Mess (made with pretzel crust and peanut butter filling) BFF (made with Nielsen Massey vanilla cake) or Better Than a Boyfriend (made with Valhrona chocolate cake and chocolate mousse filling).
“I flip it around and I think ‘what would I want to try or what would I want to do,’” she said. “This place hopefully has it.”
Recently, she hosted a cupcake-making tournament akin to Food Network’s "Cupcake Wars" with Quad-Citians. She plans on throwing more events, like wedding cake tastings, in the future.
What’s her favorite thing to bake? “Anything I haven’t done before, anything that’s new,” Cannon said.
She comes up with new recipe ideas via cooking shows and blogs, and follows bakeries from other cities on Instagram and borrows books from the library.
With an ever-changing menu, she compares the busy weekend hours to an intense scene from a show like "Cake Boss" — except less scripted and more organized. A morning baker arrives just after 3:30 a.m. to start the donuts, cinnamon rolls, scones, muffins and some cupcakes. Others, like Emma Fritz, come in throughout the day to prepare the long list of other sweets, plus homemade breads and soups.
After working as a baker at Oh So Sweet, Fritz, 20, says she’ll never make dessert from a box again.
“You can really taste the time and effort that we put in,” she said. “We put a twist on classic things, like ding dongs or donuts.”
Frtiz, who is taking classes at Scott Community College, says the bakery’s downtown location and friendly inside vibe has kept business strong — plus the treats are always deliciously different.
“Cupcakes are very chic right now,” she said. “Baking is very much a trendy thing right now.”
That’s why Cannon is also serious about keeping the baking process in view of the public. There’s no window or wall blocking the kitchen off, so it’s like a real-life cooking show, she says.
Even as the stress of Easter-themed orders mounts, Cannon says she’s glad she didn’t quit baking.
Ask her if she likes her job and she can barely wait to answer.
“Oh my god, I love this job. This is just an idea I had and people really like it,” she said. "People like the homemade thing we're doing."
And you know what else?
"I've learned that people can always, always could go for something sweet," she said.