A cake by Kathy Kaneps with a person wearing glasses, lobsters, a sleeping pig, bacon, and a van on top of itBy Tanushree Sow Mondal ’24

Kathy Kaneps has a passion for baking cakes.

An elegant Kathy Kaneps white wedding cake with frosting flowers of red and white on the side

She has loved to bake since she was young, and about one and a half years ago, she turned her hobby into a full-fledged enterprise at the urging of her daughter-in-law. Since then, she has been operating mostly by herself with her daughter-in-law managing the pricing of cakes and her sister-in-law and niece occasionally helping with decorations.

A cake by Kathy Kaneps with frosting decorations on top of a person wearing a New York Giants shirt and sitting on a chair watching the lottery numbers on channel 69 news and frosting playing cards on the sides

“When I’m doing a big cake, when I’m putting it together, I’m a wreck, and they are my voice of reason and patience, and they help me design the cake,” says Kathy, executive assistant to the president. “I have all the figurines and the flowers, but then they just help me with placement and design.”

Known among her clients for her realistic gum paste flowers, Kathy is drawn to the creative aspect of her work, her area of interest being fancy cakes rather than bakery ones. All of her works are personalized.

Kathy Kaneps cake in the likeness of an Easter basket with two chocolate bunnies inside, flowers of different colors, and a yellow butterfly

“My brother recently turned a big milestone, and I made a figurine of him sitting in his easy chair with his remote control watching TV, with cards decorated and hand painted all around it because he likes to play cards,” says Kathy.

Another time, a friend asked for a cake to help celebrate a significant anniversary with her husband. Rejecting the idea of a sheet cake that was initially requested, Kathy eventually created a two-tiered round cake with flowers in her friend’s favorite colors cascading down it.

A Kathy Kaneps cake made to look like a New York Giants helmet on top of a football field

“I’m told, although I wasn’t here when she picked it up, she was blown away. It’s important to me that people really are awed about it,” Kathy says.

Using only homemade icings and fillings to decorate freshly baked cakes, Kathy notes the key to a great cake is its flavor.

“If my cakes look good, I want them to taste just as good,” she says.

A Kathy Kaneps white cake with a Christmas sleigh in frosting on the side and a few ornaments on top

Juggling baking good cakes with her demanding job at the College is no easy task. With the responsibility of managing correspondence for President Byerly, Commencement, and other special occasions at the College, which requires her constant attention, she has to control the number of orders she accepts.

“When I know I’ll have to work a lot, I don’t take on anything because I feel like one of them is going to get cheated, and my first priority is my job and supporting the president,” Kathy says.

A Kathy Kaneps cake that looks like a pumpkin

She is thrilled to be supported and appreciated by her colleagues. President’s Office teammates Aimee Torrisi, Melissa Starace, and Amir Tejani, and President Byerly and her husband, Steve Jensen, are always happy to receive pictures of her cakes.

Kathy has thoughts about opening a café or bakery in the future, something that she and her mom often have talked about. For now those are just “pipe dreams.”

A Kathy Kaneps cake with a happy birthday pink ribbon made of icing on top

“And I’m getting too old for that. So right now, I have to be happy with what this is,” she says.

“My hope is that my cakes and candies make people happy!”

A Kathy Kaneps white cake with frosting flowers of different colors on it

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