No one has more fun than the famous cake lady |

No one has more fun than the famous cake lady

Kay Vasilakis
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” It all started when Sue Keith was a doughnut fryer at the Glenwood Springs City Market in 1975. The cake decorator quit, and then-bakery-manager Richard Scranton asked her if she would like to become the new cake decorator.

Her cake-decorating career was launched, and she’s made custom cakes for every election, prom and graduation, and wedding cakes spectacular enough to make you cry.

Her work station is piled high with icing bags of bright colors; cake-topper novelties such as Shrek, Darth Vader and pirate characters; containers full of confetti decorations; glitter made of gelatin; and tools of the trade such as an airbrush and a flower-making tool.

Cakes of different sizes and shapes are placed on a turntable, and she creates cakes for every possible request. “Generally, we’ll find a way, we’ll figure it out and make it work,” said Sue. “The cakes just sort of evolve.”

She gets into a rhythm, spinning the cake around, applying icing and color, spinning it around again and getting more inspiration for whatever cake she is creating.

Usually, a custom cake takes about half an hour for the expert cake-decorator to complete.

“You could spend hours and hours on a cake,” Sue said. “You’ve got to just stop and say, ‘Enough is enough,’ and put your icing bag down.”

Customers can expect to be asked to give 48 hours of notice for a custom cake. Sue has wedding cake order reservations for various weekends from now through August. She recommends calling early, to make sure customers can reserve her creative time.

Sue decorates an average of six special-order cakes per day in the winter, up to 16 per day in the summer, and from 20 to 25 per day on summer weekends.

Sue loves decorating cakes and has had fun every minute of the day for more than 34 years.

“When I first started, I shook so bad. It took me a long time to learn, because there was no one here to teach me. I’m pretty much self-taught.”

Customers search her out from Aspen and Vail, Parachute and out-of-state. She made a wedding cake for a couple in Las Vegas, and has done many cakes for weddings held at the Redstone Castle and the Hotel Colorado.

Elaborate wedding cakes naturally require more of Sue’s time. One of her most recent wedding cakes was a six-layer cake. Sue spent four hours icing the layers the day before. She arrived at work at 4 a.m. the next day to place the flowers on the cake, spending an additional four hours on it.

Her husband contributed a plywood tray to support the cake, and the City Market manager and assistant manager delivered the cake to Buffalo Valley. The picture of the cake is one of Sue’s treasures.

During a January afternoon, she was decorating a cake for a customer who likes to garden. The finished cake had a water feature; a garden with cute, detailed cabbages, carrots, onions and tomatoes; and a generous helping of flowers.

All this cake decorating doesn’t come without some amusing stories. One story began when a double-layer wedding cake was ready to be picked up and was sitting on the bakery counter. Someone came by with a cart and accidentally flipped it upside down on the floor.

Sue immediately started on a duplicate cake. She had several people helping her, getting whatever she needed. They got it done in half an hour, and the second cake was waiting for the customer to take it to the wedding.

She’s even decorated a wedding cake for a celebration of the “marriage” of a couple of dogs, complete with dog bones made of icing.

Cake decorating has become high-tech with picture cakes. Customers bring in a photo, and Sue scans it in a special scanner, which prints out an image on edible paper. The images turn out comparable to the original photo, Sue said.

Margaret Franz, one of Sue’s delighted cake recipients for several different occasions, said, “I just smile, thinking about all the celebrations Sue has participated in for 34 years. She made my son’s 18th and 25th birthdays delightful experiences. Her creativity and passion for her work is amazing.”

Franz’s son, Derek, is a copy editor for the Post Independent.

Margaret said, “Sue did not know me at the time when I requested a particular cake to surprise my son. She packed it securely enough for me to ski in to Willy’s Hut (near Sunlight Mountain Resort) in the dark. We still laugh about that cake.”

City Market store manager Kevin Flohr gives this impressive testimonial about Sue: “She’s the most amazing cake decorator I’ve ever met, and I’ve worked in many, many City Markets. I’ve never seen her not be able to take on a challenge of a customer’s request for something unusual on their cake.

“I’ve had her make me cakes all the time. I don’t think there’s anyone in town she hasn’t made a cake for. She brings a lot of knowledge and she shares it with all the people here, and she enjoys it. I just think she’s the best, and we’re lucky to have her here.”

“One thing about it, nobody has more fun than me,” Sue said.

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