Cakes, breads, candies, pies…
By Lynn Volkens
Savvy Gilpin County residents have long known of Ardetta Robertson’s baking talents. “Ardetta” cakes have been the centerpiece of many special events-graduations, birthdays, anniversaries and banquets. A resident in the county since 1979, Robertson has been providing specialty cakes (favorite flavors are golden vanilla, chocolate and butter pecan) for more than two decades.
Robertson said she first began doing cakes “years ago,” because she felt there was a need in the community that she didn’t think was being met very well by the metro-area grocery stores. Her first fancy cake was a “Wilton Tree House Cake” that she made for her son’s fifth birthday. She was a stay-at-home mom at the time and, after successfully baking and decorating that cake, thought she’d try her hand at others. She’d found her niche. Her cakes were so in demand that she added a second kitchen at her home just for the baking business. It’s better business practice not to co-mingle ingredients, she said, and, “Cake decorating is messy.” The separate kitchen helps Robertson keep her personal kitchen available for family needs.
At the beginning of 2013, said Robertson, she decided to expand her product line to meet more of the community’s baking needs. That’s when she started “Pie in the Sky,” and began developing a product list of delectables like Mississippi Mud brownies (her favorite), quick breads, yeast breads, pies, cookies, maple sweet potato sticky buns and various candies. The home-based business suits her for two main reasons; she can do it in her spare time and, “I enjoy baking a lot,” she admitted. She also sees Pie in the Sky as something to do when she retires from her regular jobs (driving school bus and cooking at Eagles Nest Early Learning Childcare Center). “I don’t want to sit around twiddling my thumbs,” she explained. That appears to be an unlikely worry. It could be that she’ll get so busy baking, she’ll have to quit one of those jobs.
Robertson said she’d been busy baking for people ever since June, when she’d rented a booth at the Flea Market, displayed containers of sweets and wrapped loaves of homemade French bread (among others) and offered bite-sized samples to everyone around. She brought even more baked goodies to the Gilpin County Fair where she easily sold loaves of focaccia bread, batches of Mississippi Mud brownies, pies, zucchini and banana breads and sold out of chocolate chip cookies and candy. “Please tell me you have caramels left,” one young man pleaded the final day of the fair. He got the last box. (She’s really enjoying making candy, Robertson confessed.)
Pie in the Sky is a person-to-person venture. “I enjoy meeting people and baking for them,” said Robertson. Her customer base is expanding beyond Gilpin County as word spreads to former Gilpinites living down below, and word-of-mouth reaches current customers’ friends and extended family members. “It’s perfect for the elderly who don’t like to shop or bake,” Robertson noted. She has an extensive line of pies, breads, cakes, tarts, bars, cookies, quick breads and candies, and hopes to add gluten-free and sugar-free items in the future. For the complete list, or to order Pie in the Sky items, call 303-582-5206 or email PieInTheSky-Ardetta@gmail.com. Robertson recommends calling a few days ahead. She’ll make the items as soon as possible and arrange for drop-off or delivery. Small orders are fine and she’s still baking cakes of all sizes, including sheet cakes for large events. Elaborate wedding cakes, however, are now reserved only for friends and family. Those just take too much time; time that could be spent baking dozens of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, lemon bars, frosted cinnamon rolls and almond rocha. Mmmm.