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.