February 1, 2021 at 1:23 a.m.
“My grandma Evelyn was very dear to me,” Kliebenstein said. “She lived just down the road, so I spent a lot of time at her house. She took cake decorating classes and then made all kinds of birthday, graduation and wedding cakes for people.”
Kliebenstein recalls the birthday cakes her grandmother made for family members, including a Barbie cake she counts among her favorites and one she was able to recreate for her own daughter’s birthday using her grandmother’s cake pan.
In addition to her grandmother’s pans, Kliebenstein has a photo album of the cakes her grandmother made and decorated.
Kliebenstein and her husband, Nate, milk 220 cows on their dairy farm in Darlington where they raise their daughters, Evelyn, 7, and Edith, 5. In addition to the farm and the in-home bakery, Kliebenstein also works remotely at a full-time job.
“I made my first decorated cake about 11 years ago when I was dating my husband,” Kliebenstein said. “I was trying to impress him. It must have worked, and it just sort of grew from there.”
Having grown up spending time in her grandmother’s kitchen, baking has always been an activity Kliebenstein has enjoyed, and she likes honing the craft.
“I like trying out new recipes and taking on new challenges,” Kliebenstein said.
When she baked, Kliebenstein posted the finished product on social media, and that led to some friends and family enlisting her for their decorated cake needs. The frequency of those requests has grown to an average of a couple of cakes, cupcakes or similar baked goods each week.
Until this past fall, space has been a limiting factor to Kliebenstein’s baking hobby. Recently the family built a new house on the farm with a spacious kitchen.
“This new kitchen is like a dream for me and has really allowed me to enjoy baking again,” Kliebenstein said.
Kliebenstein does not necessarily advertise her services, but instead relies on social media and word of mouth to create the orders she takes on.
“It has gotten to the point that I have had to turn down some orders,” Kliebenstein said. “I don’t want it to become something that is overwhelming or interferes with my work or family time. One thing that people sometimes don’t think about when placing orders is the amount of time and planning that might be involved in creating it. Instead, they’ll ask for something to be done the next day, which typically is not possible.”
Kliebenstein said depending on the type of cake and the complexity of the decorating, it can take as much as 10 hours to complete one cake, including baking, leveling, filling, frosting and decorating.
As the bakery business has grown, Kliebenstein has branched out from birthday cakes and cupcakes into the world of wedding cakes and has completed cakes for events.
In addition to working with traditional buttercream frosting, Kliebenstein has found a liking for working with fondant.
“Fondant is not something that the previous generations have done, but it allows for a whole other element for creating and decorating,” Kliebenstein said. “It is like grown-up play dough; you can model it and cut it into so many different shapes.”
Searching for new recipes, flavor combinations and things to try is a part of baking that Kliebenstein enjoys, and she often tests those on her family and friends. That led her to trying her hand at making and selling holiday truffles.
This past Christmas marked the third year Kliebenstein has offered holiday truffles. Since her initial offering, she has taken orders for the holiday treats, and this year made nearly 1,500 truffles in six varieties.
“I limit the orders to what I can accomplish in a weekend,” Kliebenstein said. “This year, it took about 20 hours to make them. I have one stand-by flavor that I make every year, and then I add in other flavors.”
Kliebenstein’s clientele is local, allowing for ease of pick up or delivery of her baked goods, and she laughed as she shared that many of her truffle orders came from other members of her gym.
Because she has had so many inquiries about having truffles available at Valentine’s Day, she is considering offering boxes of special goodies for the holiday.
Like her grandmother did with her, Kliebenstein shares her love of baking with her daughters.
“I try to do most of my client baking when the house is quiet, but the girls love to help bake; their favorite is to help me bake banana bread,” Kliebenstein said. “They also love cake scraps, the pieces that are left after leveling. I let them decorate with and play with leftover buttercream and fondant.”
Kliebenstein hopes these times help create special memories for her daughters and is a way to allow her grandmother’s spirit to live on.
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