Featured Member

Debbie Gilliland (Crew Cakes)

 

My name is Debbie Gilliland and I live in a little fishing/farming village in County Down Northern Ireland. I am married to Barry and have 2 daughters 25 & 20 and a 4 yr old grandson who is the light of my life.

I worked as a teaching assistant with hearing impaired children for many years and then resigned to be a foster parent. I had a little girl for nearly 3 years until she was adopted by an amazing couple. We are still in touch and she is flourishing. I didn't have another child after her as it felt like she was ours and my hubby said he couldn't do that again, it was so hard when she left.

I then decided to look after some children for my cousins who worked so I had 3 from 3 different cousins and then my grandson came along so he was added to the mix. 4 little ones under 3, fun times!

When my grandson was being baptised my daughter ordered him a cake. When she brought it home she was nearly in tears, it was not great but I told her its was just a cake and it will be cut and eaten and not to dwell on it. Well it was inedible. It was burnt and dry and awful. I thought I could have done better myself as I had always baked but wasn't a decorator.

When his first birthday came around I asked her if she wanted me to give it a go. I had a rolling pin and a kitchen knife. No cutters, and no idea. I decided to draw out a Mickey Mouse head on parchment and make templates for the head, eyes, nose etc. I bought awful supermarket fondant and set to work. No idea about tylose of drying pieces first so needless to say it was a bit messy. I cut letters out with a knife. She loved it and it did at least taste good. She posted it on her Facebook page and lots of her friends asked me for cakes. I thought there must be an easier way to do this so signed up to a wee 3 hr cupcake topper class where I learned about tylose and that changed my life.  I still had all the kids and no time so I just did a few cakes now and then for home and family. I made a fireman Sam carved truck cake for one of my little guys that I minded and when Ollie's 2nd birthday came around it was a different story and I made him a 2 tier farm cake. That's when my daughter made me a Facebook page for the cakes and messages started flooding in for orders. I refused them as I wasn't registered with the council and only baked for friends and family who were aware I wasn't checked. Another local baker that I had become friends with then approached me about opening a shop and 2 months later we opened the doors and life as I knew it changed forever. My cake page was called Crew Cakes after the townland in the village where I live, my friends page was The Cakery. We called the shop The Cakery Crew.

As we had a coffee shop and were doing our cakes we never had a minute. We worked into the night most nights and our families never saw us. After about 9 months we decided when the lease ran out after a year we would go back home where we had more control over our time and the amount we wanted to work. We went back to our original names and I registered my kitchen with the EHO. I could do twice as many cakes if there were enough hours in the day but I can pick and choose when and how much I want to do as I don't have the bills that came with the shop. Another bonus of coming back home is that I get to mind my darling Ollie again. He will be 5 this November so I haven't been in this game very long. I use his cake each year to try out something new. Not sure what it will be this year.

My wedding cake orders have increased a lot this year and into next year so I will be cutting back on the birthday cakes to allow time for these. You can check out my page www.facebook/crewcakes I don't have a website yet but it's something I need to do.

 

 

A favourite recipe of mine is one for Fudge Scones


300g soda bread flour
70g butter
70g sugar
90g mini fudge pieces
1 egg cracked and made up to 200mls with buttermilk and whisked together.

Heat oven to 200C fan or 220C regular. Rub butter into the flour until well incorporated. Add in the sugar and fudge pieces. Make a well and add milk/egg liquid. Using a butter knife start in centre and stir until a dough is formed. Don't over work. Put a generous amount of soda bread flour on the work surface and tip out the dough. Using floured hands fold from outer edge into centre a few times and then flip it over. Use hands to round the shape out by pressing in and under around the edge, don't kneed like you would with bread. Scones need very little handling to keep them light and fluffy. Use a rolling pin or pat down with your hand to about 3/4" or slightly less. I'm not fussy but you don't want them too thin. Use a suitable circle cutter depending on what finished size you would like them to be. I use a fluted one. You can make them 2" to 4". Press down to cut but don't twist, give it a little wiggle, if you twist your scone will go out of shape when baking. Place on a greased baking sheet about an inch apart and bake for 10-12 mins. If your oven has a hot spot turn at 10 mins. If you cut them very big they may take a bit longer but they are done when nicely browned.
Eat on same day to enjoy them at their best.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Thank you, Debbie, for sharing your recipe and photos with us!
 
If you’d like to participate as our Featured Member, please submit a photo of yourself, your bio, your favorite recipe and a bit of history about it, as well as some photos of your work to featured@sugaredproductions.com.


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