Prior to going part-time in her job at a local school, a day in the life of cake-baker extraordinaire Gemma Catterall consisted of a 10-hour shift in the classroom before heading over to her shop to get baking until around 11pm.
Somewhat less gruelling now that she finishes at school by noon and only has her apron on until 6pm, Gemma’s busy schedule is nevertheless still something of a labour of love.
But then again, they don’t call her The Cake Lady round these parts for nothing.
The Cake Lady Ltd, Gemma’s charming shop packed to the rafter with mouth-watering goodies, opened on December 1st last year and in the intervening 10 months has sold more cupcakes then Paul Hollywood could shake a breadstick at.
Specialising in their ever-popular tray-bakes, oozing brownies topped with myriad delights, countless cupcakes, and decadent celebration cakes, The Cake Lady is a haven for those with a sweet-tooth.
“I really enjoy it, it’s hard work but I love it,” said Gemma, 36. “I baked from home for four or five years before opening and everyone was saying ‘get a shop’, so I took the leap.
“I’m so glad I’ve done it - I just needed to get it out my system and do it. At the moment, it’s a success and while it’s hard going, it’s worth it.
“When it’s a passion, you enjoy it, and when it’s yours, you don’t mind working hard,” added Gemma, who is from Penwortham. “I’ve always baked, I grew up with it. My mum didn’t sell anything, but she always did bits and bobs.”
Located on Liverpool Road in Hutton, Preston, The Cake Lady is also far more than just a run-of-the-mill cake shop.
Developing into a warm community hub, the shop hosts coffee mornings, taster evenings, and ladies’ nights, as well as children’s parties on weekends at which kids get to bake and decorate six of their very own cupcakes to take home in their own box. The Cake Lady is even guiding the next generation of bakers.
“It’s nice where we are, we have a little garden to the side, which is great in summer, and we’ve got seating inside for the winter months,” said Gemma of the shop. “Not to sound big-headed, but people say that they’ve heard nothing but good things and we get good reviews.
“There’s a lot of pride in that: it’s a scary thing to be in the public eye,” she added. “But I’m glad I’m pleasing everyone at the moment.”
At The Cake Lady, Gemma is helped by Joanna Lough and Jayne Ashton with the three of them making up the cake-making dream-team.
“We’re still a relatively new business but we’re building a fan-base,” said Joanna, who calls Gemma a ‘genius’ in the kitchen. “Me and Gemma have been friends for over 10 years.
“It was her dream to have a shop, so as a friend I encouraged her and I wanted to help and it’s grown from there,” she added. “She’s done really well.
“It’s so nice to be involved in it,” explained Joanna of her time working at The Cake Lady. “When people come in and have a coffee and a chat it’s lovely, and it’s good to have all the mums come in with their babies. It’s a great shop.”
Loving the hustle and bustle of working in what is proving to be such a popular local spot, Joanna says that the kids parties that they hold on Saturdays are a personal highlight.
“The children make cupcakes and have a drink and a biscuit before doing some crafts and icing their cakes,” said Joanna, who is also from Penwortham and works at the same school as Gemma. “Then at the end they get to take home six decorated cupcakes in their boxes. They love it.”
Teamwork makes the dream work, as the saying goes, and Gemma can’t speak highly enough of the work both Joanna and Jayne put in.
“They’re both great, I wouldn’t be able to do it without them,” she said. “I’m just The Cake Lady: I’m like the Stig, the hidden face behind the operation.”