Member Feature - Catherine Shaw Cakes
Catherine Shaw is a cake designer who creates bespoke celebration cakes from her home Saxilby using locally sourced oil, flour, jams, eggs and other British ingredients. She also only uses Fairtrade Cocoa products.
She began her cake making adventures in 2009 when she challenged herself to bake her own cake, due to not being able to find what she was looking for.
Her efforts paid off, and as a result, she got roped into decorating many family wedding cakes. Which then cultivated her her idea of running her own cake business.
“I’m from a family where we made cakes rather than buying them, so I’ve always had the confidence to try out new recipes and experiment a bit."
Select Lincolnshire caught up with Catherine Shaw to chat all things cake. We were also lucky enough to taste a delicious Christmas cake which Catherine brought along, and we must say, it was absolutely amazing. Everyone in the office wanted a piece.
So Catherine, many people will want to know how you got started, as it’s such a big deal and commitment to start your own business so tell us your story?
“I thrive on creating beautiful things, and I recently left teaching science full time at a secondary school to follow my cake passion and also, to spend more time with my young family. I love seeing the look on people’s face when they first look at a realty intricate cake I’ve made for them”.
I started in April 2016 where I was creating smaller birthday cakes for friends, and now it has grown and I’m working on much bigger orders and I’m excited to say I have some really exciting and creative wedding cakes commissioned for 2017. It’s still early days for Catherine Shaw Cakes, and there is still so much more to come.
What was/has been the most challenging part of it all?
“Taking the leap of faith and leaving a steady wage to take a risk and go it alone”.
Is it just you in the kitchen then?
“Just me, and I have to give credit to my husband and family who help me to balance everything. I also have some wonderfully encouraging and supportive friends”.
So, how does the business operate on a daily basis?
“I’m always thinking about cakes, but I can only really create in the evenings when the children are asleep. Most of my commissions so far have been through word of mouth. I usually start by discussing ideas with the client, then I draw a design, and once this has been approved I then get started”.
Can you explain what the challenges are when creating your products?
Co-ordinating time. I don’t have a separate premise and I’m always in ‘mummy mode’, so if I’m disturbed I could end up working through the night until the early hours to ensure the order is finished”.
How do you create them? What’s your process?
All cakes are baked fresh. Any sugar decorations are made in advance ready for cake assembly - usually the day before collection. That way, the cake is as fresh as possible. I'm selling a premium product, so it has to taste wonderful.
What is it you enjoy most about your day to day job?
Meeting local producers and suppliers from across the county. Everyone has been so helpful. Even direct competitors are so encouraging and give great advice.
How do you source ingredients/components of your product?
Through recommendations from my foodie friends, local displays in shop and of course the Select Lincolnshire listing.
Tell us which local producers you use and why?
Ownsworth’s Oil – it bakes a great moist sponge. I don’t use butter in any of my sponges at the moment.
Fairburns or Primrose eggs – I was attracted to their higher welfare eggs.
Kirton Lindsey Mount Pleasant Windmill flour – our most local mill.
Jenny’s Jams – I was recommended to try Jenny’s Jam and bought a jar of raspberry jam, and I’ve never looked back. I recently tried the lemon curd too. Amazing!
What does Lincolnshire mean to you?
“I’m not a native. I’m from County Durham but I’ve lived here since 2001, got married and had a family here. It’s definitely home now and I have relatives in the Lincolnshire farming industry so I’m very comfortable in the countryside”.
How does it feel to be part of Lincolnshire’s wide and varied food and drink sector?
Great. It’s a wonderful community and I’d love to meet more members.
Do you currently engage with any other groups/businesses in the community?
I would like to host cake making classes in the local community but as of yet I haven't managed to engage much with other community groups. But I am community minded and hope to contribute with craft classes and charity events soon.
What drives you and keeps you going?
I love being creative. It can be stressful when creating a complex design but it’s all worth it. I love the problem solving and overcoming structural hiccups. It is very satisfying.
What are your main products?
Chocolate fudge cake with chocolate ganache buttercream, and lemon drizzle with lemon curd buttercream are the most popular flavours at the moment.
What has been the greatest moment in your business so far?
Getting booked to create an amazingly complex Game of Thrones wedding cake. This came about purely through advertising rather than word of mouth so it was great to know that the client loved my previous work and trusts me with such an important cake. There’s a dragon involved …
What is your ultimate goal?
To be a well-established ‘must have’ wedding cake designer in Lincolnshire.