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LE MARS, Iowa | For 48 years, Betty Van Der Weide has used a spare room in her Maurice, Iowa, house to make award-winning wedding and special occasion cakes.

Now, Betty's Cakes has a brand-new location inside of Habitue Coffeehouse & Bakery, 108 Central Ave. NE.

"(Habitue owner) Cheryl Wells invited me to set up shop here in September," Van Der Weide explained. "It's been wonderful having more space to make my cakes."

While Habitue customers can continue to sip their espresso, cappuccino and smoothies with a mouth-watering assortment of Wells' scones, cookies and muffins, they will also be able to sample Van Der Weide's artistically inspired cakes and cupcakes.

"Betty and I make a pretty good team," Wells said. "We'll have some of her baked goods alongside some of Habitue's."

Yet Wells will always yield to Van Der Weide's expertise when it comes to specialty cakes.

Indeed, Wells has donated her former office at the Living Center, next door at 108 Central Ave. NE, to be used exclusively for one-stop shopping for prospective brides.

"Brides can look at gowns and decorations while sampling Habitue's coffees and Betty's wonderful cakes," Wells said, adding that she has personally used Van Der Weide's services for wedding and special occasion cakes long before their partnership.

Over the years, Van Der Weide has made "thousands and thousands of cakes," yet the first one came as a special request.

"A good friend of mine asked me to do her wedding cake back in 1966," Van Der Weide remembered. "I wasn't married, had never decorated a cake before and, apparently, had no fear because I said yes."

This initial cake proved to be successful and so did the marriage.

"They're still married and they're still talking to me," the modest Van Der Weide said with a laugh. "Guess it turned out all right."



Things are more than all right for Van Der Weide, since Betty's Cakes has earned first place honors from such organizations as the Iowa Bakers Association and Minneapolis' Midwest Bakers Association.

Yet Van Der Weide also credited her husband Rod Van Der Weide for a lot of her success.

"Rod drives me from bridal show to bridal show as well as helps me deliver the cakes to my clients," she said. "I don't call him 'Hot Rod' for nothing."

One aspect that Rod Van Der Weide doesn't assist his wife is taste testing.

"Even though Betty's been making cakes out of our home for years, I've never developed much of a sweet tooth," he admitted.

That's also true for Van Der Weide, who said she likes making frosting more than eating it.

"I'm one of those people who eats the cake but leaves the frosting," she said. "Don't get me wrong. I love frosting but a little goes a long way."

Wells said she's delighted having Van Der Weide on board. Yet she has long-term goals for Habitue.

"I'd love to see Habitue sustain itself in a way that it could operate without me on board," she said. "Plus I'm sure that Betty would like to train the next Betty-in-the-making."

What, Betty's Cake without "Betty"?

While Van Der Weide said this might be true, she still plans on making cakes for the foreseeable future.

"I love cakes," she stated simply. "No matter how many cakes I make, it's still fun to see the oohs and awes they produce."

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Food and Lifestyles reporter

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