Local Food Heroes - The Cake Maker
Nessa Robins Sunday, April 28, 2013
I love cakes, of any description. I must say that my cakes will always taste quite good, yet I tend to go for the more "rustic" look when it comes to decorating. I have never been that skilled in the decorating department. For me, it could be the fact that I need a little more patience, or indeed time, to give that celebratory cake that perfect look. However there are many highly skilled cake decorators emerging around the country. Sinead Gavin, from Moate is one such lady. Her business Flour Power Cakes is steadily growing, as her cakes not only look picture perfect but, most importantly, taste incredible. As part of my "Local Food Heroes" column, in The Westmeath Independent, I met Sinead for a chat about her business and how it all got started.
How did the idea come about for the Flour Power Cakes?
"To be honest it wasn't really an idea. I love to bake and for one of my daughter's birthdays she requested a three-tier-ladybird-cake. One of the parents at the party asked if I would make one for her daughter, then another parent requested one and little by little word got out that I was making cakes. The business just developed from there."
What is the best part of running a business from home?
"The main benefit for me is that I can earn money doing something I really love, while still being always available to do the school runs etc. for my daughter and having no need for childcare."
What would be your average work week?
"It all depends on what orders have come in for that particular week. Generally the beginning of the week is dedicated to working on quotes, planning the design of the cakes and then buying the needed ingredients. The work gets a whole lot busier nearer to the weekend. I always leave it as late as possible to bake and assemble a cake before delivery, so that the cake is of optimal freshness for the customer. It's not unusual for me to be decorating a cake at 3am and I could work through the night if I needed to perfect a cake with an intricate design. So the average working week all depends on the cakes ordered."
I find the quality of a baked good is only as good as the ingredients used. Your cakes are a taste sensation. How or where do you source your ingredients?
"All my ingredients are sourced locally. I certainly agree that you can taste the difference and that is why I use only the best for each cake. I always use real butter, good-quality chocolate and proper vanilla extract."
What has been your favourite cake to make?
"A 3D pint cake. The first one I ever made was for my Father and to see the delight on his face was priceless. It actually happens to be one of the easier cakes to make."
What has been your most challenging cake to make?
"Without a doubt a four tier traditional royal iced wedding cake. Royal icing can be a little trickier to work with in comparison to fondant. The cakes were really massive, so even transporting them was difficult and they had to be delivered to Cork. I enjoyed making it but it was a great task and easily took me over three days to ice and decorate."
Is there any particular cake that is most regularly requested by your customers?
"Any chocolate based cake is always a big hit. Both my chocolate biscuit cake and my rich chocolate sponges would be most regularly requested."
Baking can be a rather scientific process and precise recipes are a must. Which baker or celebrity chef's cake recipes do you find most accurate?
"I have never made a Nigel Slater recipe that hasn't worked, but Nigella's baking recipes would be my favourite. They always work out perfectly and taste amazing. Not a "celebrity chef" but I find Odlums’ recipes never fail either."
What would be your top-tip for inspiring cake makers?
"I suppose, just give it a go. You don't need expensive classes. There are so many on-line tutorials that will help with every step of cake making. Even on first attempts if it doesn't look the best, I'm sure it will still taste great. It just takes a little practice."
If you could bake a cake for anyone, who would it be and what would you bake?
"My daughter Chloe is a huge fan of Bressie. We met him at a signing recently and he was so lovely to her and chatted away about music and guitar playing. So for her sake, I'd love to make him a cake, as she had asked me to make one that day but I didn't have time. I would make him a chocolate cake in the shape of his judge’s chair from the 'Voice of Ireland', with a sugar paste model of himself on it."
Do you have any advice for passionate foodies who are considering starting their own business?
"There is so much advice on the FSA website about setting up a business. They can also be contacted by phone and I have found them to be most helpful. Really if you have a good product people will want to buy it. "
What are your future goals or plans for Flour Power Cakes?
"I love making the wedding cakes and feel it's wonderful to be a little part of someone's special day. I would like to focus more on building the wedding cake side of the business. So the next few months I will be busy with wedding fares. I would eventually like to open a little shop, but that's a while off yet."
Time and time again, on meeting with different triumphant food producers, the love of what they do is ever evident in their final product. With cakes that are as impressively tasteful as they are decorated, I can see ‘Flour Power Cakes’ being hugely successful. With such a passion for cake-making, that Sinead truly has, I wish her the very best of luck in the future.
Flour Power Cakes- Contact number: 086-1988844