The Ottumwa Courier

Food

November 29, 2006

Baking a friendship

Blakesburg women excel at cakes

BLAKESBURG — Susan Harter and Joanne Ruby have been swapping recipes and ingredients for nearly 35 years.

But the two Blakesburg women have been baking long before they became friends.

Harter started baking when she was very young. With a specialty in cakes, she learned her skills from her father who was a baker.

“I started decorating cakes in 1964,” she said.

Spending a lot of time at her dad’s store, Katie’s Bakery, she learned to make the icing roses when she was about 10 years old. A couple years later she started working for her father decorating cakes.

“I just do it for friends and family mainly now,” she said.

Ruby also began baking when she was young. She said her skills came from her mother, who was always good in the kitchen. Her specialty is her rolls, which she said she makes quite a few. She was a senior in high school when she learned how to bake and decorate cakes.

“I actually made the cakes for my graduation party,” she said.

Recently the two traveled to an international cake decorating seminar that was held in Grapevine, Texas.

Over the years they said they have had requests for all types of specialty cakes and baked goods.

“The most unique cake I’ve ever made was a strawberry cake in red with black roses,” Ruby said.

Harter said while baking can be very stressful at times, it is a way to express yourself.

“It is something that people can do and be creative with it,” she said.

Ruby said it is rewarding to see the reaction she gets from people who are impressed with something she made.

“Sometimes after I bake a cake for people they tell me they can’t cut it because it looks too pretty,” Harter said.

“We both sort of grew up learning how to bake,” Ruby said. “It is something we have in common.”

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