ST. GEORGE, Utah — Wedding cakes are the bread and butter of Karen Phillips' business, but this time of year, there is demand for one of her other specialties: football helmet cakes.
If you're looking for a unique dessert for your Super Bowl party, Sweet Cakes by Karen might have the answer. Maybe you want a 49ers cake. Or perhaps your party calls for a Ravens cake. Phillips can even represent both teams, splitting the "helmet" down the middle if you're not ready to take sides or if fans of both teams will be at the party.
"You can do any team," she says.
Whatever design you choose, just remember Phillips makes wedding cakes. These aren't your typical supermarket party cakes. That means you'll have to be prepared for the price that comes with quality. The football helmet cakes typically cost between $500 and $600, depending on color and design, but they do feed about 100 people.
For Super Bowl weekend, Phillips is offering a $100 discount on the football helmet cakes.
Phillips traveled to Dallas last year to learn how to make the helmet cakes and become certified in the techniques used. For the course, she made a helmet with the logo of Brigham Young University and then managed to bring the large cake home on an airplane — an endeavor that she simply says is a "long story."
The helmet cakes are not the only sports-related cakes Phillips has crafted. She's made cakes in the shapes of footballs themselves, basketballs and even rugby balls.
"You can make a cake to look like anything," she says.
For proof, take a look at the gallery for novelty cakes on her website, www.sweetcakesbykaren.com. Among those featured is a cake she made for the dedication of the new Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons building at Dixie State College. That massive cake, crafted to look like the building itself, fed 700 people and even featured working lights.
A growing genre within the specialty cake industry is the demand for groom cakes, though Phillips says they tend to be more popular outside of Utah. Rather than focusing on the elegant beauty of the primary wedding cake, a groom cake might instead be humorous (a "roasted pig" complete with an "apple" in its mouth) or depict something important to the groom (an Xbox cake, for example).
Still, the more traditional wedding cakes remain a large part of Phillips' business. She spent almost a week creating 16 cakes for the Southern Utah Bridal Showcase that was held Jan. 26 at the Dixie Center.
Phillips bakes the cakes herself, but her daughter Felicia Jones helps her run the business. In addition to helping with the cakes, Jones handles the public relations, social media and consultation aspects of the business, freeing up her mother to focus on the cakes.
Although they have only used the Sweet Cakes by Karen name for about five years, Phillips has been baking and decorating cakes for many years.
"She's been doing cakes my whole life and I'm 25," Jones says.
Phillips started baking cakes for 4-H during high school. Her first wedding cake was for a cousin about 20 years ago. As the mother of six, her children and grandchildren have had quite a few exotic birthday cakes through the years as Phillips' skills increased.
Aside from her own family, though, Phillips rarely makes birthday cakes because her price level, which starts at $100, is often more than people plan to spend for a birthday cake.
"You can go to any bakery and get a birthday cake," Phillips says.
Phillips says she places and emphasis on both design and flavor when it comes to her cakes. She even created her own fondant, the icing-like substance used for decorating and sculpting cakes, because she didn't like the taste and texture of others commonly used.
Also, in addition to about 10 different flavors of cake, she offers a variety of fillings, including chocolate fudge, lemon curd, raspberry fruit, cream cheese, butter cream, cheesecake and hazelnut.