Kimberly Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero have traveled the country to find America’s best sugary recipes, and the stories behind them, for their new book, “Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has A Story.”
Known as the “Sugar Mommas,” these two are an unlikely pair: Reiner is a fudge queen, while Sanz-Agero is a bona-fide rock star (she’s the lead singer of the female rock group Vixen). But these self-proclaimed “sugar floozies” share a love for baking, tasting and sharing sweet treats!
Reiner started baking as a child, making fudge with her mother at Christmas to give to family and friends. Later, she turned her family tradition into a thriving business with her company, Momma Reiner’s Fudge.
When her company began to take off (it was one of Oprah’s favorite things in the April 2007 issue of O Magazine, and she appeared in the Martha Stewart Show the following Christmas), Reiner found herself doing some serious traveling.
She noticed that wherever she went, people would mention their own traditional family desserts. “And so the seed was planted to write a book that collected all these heirloom family recipes,” she says.
Along the way, they found some interesting stories. For example, “Everything but the Hummingbird Cake,” submitted by Irene Mangum was originally made by her Aunt Barbara who called it Hummingbird Cake. But by the time she was old enough to ask about the cake’s name, her aunt had passed away – leaving the mystery behind. Now, when people ask Irene about the unusual name, she simply says, “It has everything in it but a Hummingbird!”
In addition to preserving stories like this, the Sugar Mommas also wanted to give people a way to create new traditions. The back pages of the book have instructions on how readers can create their own family recipe legacy, and a worksheet to get them started. Reiner says, “we want people to read our book and say, ‘I love that, I want to do that.'”
Check out our interview with Momma Reiner below:
How did you and Jenna get all these recipes?
It was really a word-of mouth project. I had started collecting pieces of paper while I was traveling, asking people who talked to me to give me their info because I wanted to hear more about their family recipe. So I had all these names and numbers and recipes. We decided to write the book, and I told everyone I know what I was going to do. Every single person I came in contact with, from people at the vets office to people at trade shows. Friends, family, everyone.
And some people would always say that they didn’t cook. And I would say, you might not cook, but your family still has a recipe.
Did you update them for the book?
Of course! We updated and modernized all the recipes. For example, we got rid of all the lard, because most old recipes use lard as an ingredient. We went through hundreds and hundreds of recipes, and cut the list down to about 100. Each recipe was tested at least three times and even went to a professional recipe tester. We added:>
Sugar Mommas notes – These are tips & tricks for each recipe.
Old School – Where we say how it was originally made in case you want to go “old school”
Modern Variation – How we “make-over” a recipe using our magic wands akin to upgrading from an 8-track to an MP3
Carpool Crunch -We offer ways to “cheat” – we are mom’s running out the door to the parent-teacher conference!
Sass It Up – Like adding pearls to a basic black dress, we splash color here and there, sprinkled some crunch on top and in between, and tossed in a few sprigs of flora where we could to create some PIZZAZZ. Here we turn up the notch on the WOW factor!
We’ve made these recipes simple enough that anyone can do them and best of all, you can buy all of your ingredients at the local supermarket.
What’s your favorite recipe in the book?
One that I make often is called Oatmeal Carmelitas. It’s a recipe for these oatmeal bars with caramel, and they just make my knees woozy. I usually eat half the pan right out of the oven before it even has time to set.
What are five must-have kitchen tools for any new dessert baker?
1. Medium or large glass bowl
2. Mixing spoons
3. Whisk – It’s the kitchen tool I use the most, because we don’t believe in sifting. There is no sifting in our book.
4. Parchment paper – You use it for everything. Once you have it in your house, you can’t live without it.
5. Baking sheet – I like the kind with a rim.
Also, two must-have ingredients are unsalted butter and our secret weapon – good vanilla. The easiest way to improve any recipe is to use good vanilla – if you’re going to splurge on one thing, splurge on this.
After the interview, Momma Reiner shared the recipe for her favorite Oatmeal Carmelitas – you can check it out here: The Sugar Mommas Oatmeal Carmelitas Recipe