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By Michael Fagans / The Californian
BY JENNIFER SELF Californian lifestyles editor firstname.lastname@example.org
One word from Oprah Winfrey and books become best-sellers, oddball products become must-haves and creative entrepreneurs stand to make serious bank.
Now popular Bakersfield bakery Sweet Surrender is about to learn first-hand just how much Oprah's seal of approval is worth. The March issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, on newsstands Friday, features the bakery's lemon white chocolate cake on its O list, a rundown of the staff's latest hot finds.
A rave for the cake
Sweet Surrender sent a lemon white chocolate cake to The Californian so that we render our own verdict. In a matter of minutes, there wasn't a crumb left. Assistant Lifestyles Editor Stefani Dias shares her review:
With many fruit cakes, the flavor is artificial, but this cake highlights the best taste of lemon: bright, fresh, citrusy. With melt-in-your-mouth white chocolate shavings and a light frosting, the cake presented itself like spring on a plate.
Sweet Surrender open house
What: Free samples of lemon white chocolate cake featured in O, The Oprah Magazine
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Sweet Surrender, 6439 Ming Ave.
About O, The Oprah Magazine: The feature on Sweet Surrender reportedly will be on newsstands Friday and costs $4.50.
And it couldn't happen to a more deserving cake -- or press-shy baker.
"(The O staff) called and asked us if we would send them cakes, so we shipped several cakes to New York," said bakery owner Kim Fiorini, who admitted to being a little embarrassed by all the fuss. "We sent the Matterhorn, the lemon white chocolate and the Oreo cakes."
The last time Sweet Surrender captured national attention was in 2010 when Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis featured the Matterhorn cake -- the No. 1 seller at Sweet Surrender -- on the television program "The Best Thing I Ever Ate."
In fact, it was the exposure the bakery got from De Laurentiis that led to the recent endorsement in O.
"Jennifer Koppelman Hutt, who lives in New York, saw the episode and she called and ordered a cake and loved it and became a friend on Facebook and through ordering our products; she's just darling," Fiorini said.
"She shared our bakery with Adam Glassman, creative director at the magazine, and he told Oprah."
Though Fiorini isn't sure the media mogul herself ever tasted the cake, she has it on authority that Winfrey's closest friend, Gayle King -- literally the next best thing -- did try it. Fiorini speculates that the light but decadent dessert was chosen from the contenders because it's a perfect fit for spring.
"It's a moist lemon cake with lemon juice in it. The creme de la creme is the buttercream frosting, which has fresh lemon zest and white chocolate."
Fiorini and her crew, including manager Traci Carlon, who is celebrating 20 years at the bakery, expect the attention to boost the mail-order business, begun after the Food Network exposure.
"People order from as far away as New York and Boston, and we got a lot of people who want to try what (De Laurentiis) was talking about," Fiorini said.
"People will be going down the 99 and stop off because they have the store on their GPS system. The Food Network has an app or something, so we get people from all over."
To celebrate the mention in O, Sweet Surrender is hosting an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday under a tent outside the store.
"Everybody can come by and try the lemon cake. It's free, and I'm thinking people will be curious who have never tried the lemon.
"People get predictable and have their favorites and don't want to deviate, but maybe they'll try something different."