Wildlife rehab is icing on the cake

Patty Rutland of Ballston Spa, owner of the Patty-Cake Shoppe (which, she will have you know, is trademarked) and a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, has a list of accomplishments and interests that could make up a 500-page biography. Currently, it seems, cakes and animals in need of some TLC top that list of interests.

Rutland has baked cakes for Mario Cuomo and George Pataki and has nursed as many as 20 baby squirrels to health at one time.

Where to begin? It all happened because Rutland wanted to be an art teacher.

I went to work at Samaritan Hospital in Troy to get enough money to go to SUNY Albany, and they talked me into going into nursing, said Rutland.

She decided to enter a nursing program at Albany Medical Center.

"Then I met my husband as a nurse, and I worked as a nurse and got married and voila! And then my kids came along, and I started doing cakes for my kids, and I realized it was something I really enjoyed," said Rutland, who is a self-taught baker.

For the first 10 years of her baking career, she taught herself "how to do everything."

She then started taking courses from the experts, including Betty van Norstrand and Colette Peters.

"I never stop learning, and you can learn something from everyone. A beginner can teach me something so it's really being open to sharing your ideas," said Rutland.

Her shop, which is attached to her home in Ballston Spa, is filled with examples of her work, which range from wedding cakes to inauguration cakes to a cake she made of a gumball machine (that partially worked), which contained someone's engagement ring " long story.

"I don't let anyone touch my cakes but me," said Rutland. "I'm not a bakery. I do custom cakes so I'm really limited."

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