Bite-sized fun

By Patrick Johnson
For Oregon.com

Driving down Highway 99W on your way to the Oregon Coast can be a real pain, especially if you pick the wrong time of day.

That’s why when I am heading to Lincoln City via 99W, I am always keeping an eye out for what I call “wait stations” – areas where I can sit, relax and try to avoid a fit of road rage.

On the way to the coast, I have several stops along the way, Dundee and the wine tasting rooms (just tasting!), McMinnville and Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum and a new locale that I recently found.

Called The Sweetest Thing, this shop located right along the highway in a historic yellow home, is the best way to relax and get a sugar high, while waiting for the one billion cars to clear through Newberg.

The shop has been open two and a half years, and it features some of the best cupcakes in the Willamette Valley if not Oregon.

“What we try to tell people is to call ahead if they want a specific type of cupcake,” said owner Ann Rhinehart, taking a break from baking a cake. “We have seasonal specials that are listed on our website, so people can call in and request us to save some.”

Rhinehart started the shop with her husband John when the economy took a turn for the worse. John, a Real Estate broker, also helps with the business.

“We make all of the cupcakes in the Newberg location and then take them to our second location at Bridgeport Village,” Ann said. “Our kitchen is pretty small, but we are making it work.”

But don’t think that the shop is a quick in-and-out affair, there is a pretty large dining area where you can enjoy coffee and eat as many cupcakes as you can.

Ann comes by her baking honestly, her grandfather owned a bakery back in Indiana when she was growing up.
“I’ve been around the bakery business my whole like,” she said. “The baking is my favorite part of the business.”

She says the bakery uses only local, high quality ingredients from Oregon, and they are all free of hormones, pesticides, hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and preservatives. In addition, they have an entire separate area for gluten-free products so they do not get contaminated.

“If people want specific gluten-free items they need to call ahead because we make a limited number,” she said.
Each season the Rhineharts change the menu, usually around the holidays, spring, summer and fall. Usually there are five cupcakes featured, with a special “baker’s choice” cupcake each day – which many times sell out.

Flavors are only limited by the Rhinehart’s imagination, and right now their “Salted Caramel” cupcake, made of chocolate cake with a caramel filing topped with ganache and a pinch of sea salt has me driving to Newberg more than I would like to admit.

Each weekday there is custom flavors offered, and they range from an Oreo cupcake to the banana-rama treat.
The couple is also starting to do special events with local wineries and even rent out their space for parties or other gatherings.

Unfortunately they do not ship the cupcakes, so get your fix while you are in town.

"Peanut butter cup and the salted caramel are our two most popular,” she said. “People love those two, but there are others who think our red velvet is the cat’s meow.”

About The Sweetest Thing (http://sweetestthingcupcakes.com/):When my mother was growing up my grandfather owned the local bakery in the small Indiana town they called home.  Everyday customers lined up to indulge in his decadent pastries, donuts, breads, and cakes he scratch baked daily.  Today, I am reviving the “family baking business” with the scratch bake cupcake bakery I began with my husband in Newberg, Oregon.

What to bring: Your appetite and a sweet tooth would help.

Tip: The bakery also has coffee and tea, so if you are staying in Newberg or just passing through, it’s a good place to enjoy some conversation or simply get out of the car for a bit. Also, don’t miss out on the “cake pops” which are lollipops with cake instead of pure sugar. They also offer mini-cupcakes for those of you who are watching your figure.

Season:  Open year-round.

Getting there: The bakery is on 99W near the north-end of Newberg at 2501 Portland Road Suite A, Newberg, OR.