During a three-and-a-half-hour drive south of Kansas City to deliver a wedding cake last summer, master cake artist Rebecca Sutterby watched her car’s outside temperature gauge rise to 106 degrees. “I had the air conditioning turned on all the way and I was bundled up in three jackets,” she says. “I was so worried the cake was going to fall apart!” Luckily, only small repairs were required when she delivered the cake to its happy recipients.
Rebecca, who owns Sugar Creations in Uniontown, Kansas, is accustomed to these kinds of challenges. She’s baked since childhood, but didn’t start decorating cakes until 1998, when her oldest son, now 12, was a baby. A few months later her soon-to-be sister-in-law asked her to make her wedding cake. At that point Rebecca thought it would be a good idea to get some instruction, so she enrolled at a local hobby store in her first (and last) cake-decorating class. Soon requests for wedding cakes started coming in from people she didn’t even know. “In 2001, I entered the Oklahoma Sugar Art show for the first time,” she recalls. “That was a big wake-up call for me. I saw how much more there was to learn, and I’ve been tackling that challenge ever since.”
“Tackling” is a bit of an understatement. Since 2001 Rebecca has competed on TLC’s “Ultimate Cake Off” and on “Food Network Challenge,” demonstrated cake art on local and national TV shows, and taught cake-decorating classes at baking competitions. She’s won many prestigious cake-decorating contests, including first place at the Oklahoma Sugar Arts Show National Wedding Cake Competition in 2008. Her work has been featured in numerous baking publications, including People and Brides. Meanwhile, she continues to create imaginative, one-of-a-kind cakes for her family and for her customers at Sugar Creations. (For photographic evidence, see Rebecca’s Flickr stream.)
Rebecca tells aspiring cake decorators to visualize a design and draw it before attempting to make it. Some training—or at least an artistic inclination—is helpful, she adds: she herself studied commercial graphics at Pittsburg State University in Kansas. And, she says, it’s essential to use high-quality ingredients like C&H Pure Cane Sugar to maintain the color and consistency of all cake components.
Though she stays relatively close to home for competitions, and takes only as many Sugar Creations cake orders as she can handle, Rebecca is busier than ever. In the works: the first Sugar Creations retail store, possibly by the end of 2012. Rebecca and her husband have already bought the building, which will need “a lot of work” before it’s ready for business, she says.
In the meantime, if you’re lucky enough to live in southeastern Kansas, you can order a Rebecca Sutterby original—delivery is free within a 50-mile radius of Uniontown. The decoration is always original, but customers definitely have a preference about the cake itself: chocolate fudge with caramel nut filling is a perennial favorite.
To learn more about Rebecca and to see her impressive work, visit the Sugar Creations website.