I’ve always been a creative type. At school art was my favourite subject, and I went on to Camberwell College of Arts to study graphic design, but I was lost there – I couldn’t seem to get my teeth into anything, and dropped out after my second year, fully believing that I’d lost my imagination! It wasn’t until I discovered baking and set up Crumbs & Doilies that I realized I’d found my creative outlet. It wasn’t painting or typography; but it was art, of sorts. I was a latecomer to baking. Sure, I’d baked a bit as a kid, but I was far more interested in eating cake than in figuring out how to make it. I used to watch my grandma baking, but it didn’t occur to me until I grew up just how magical and cool it was that she instinctively measured her ingredients without scales and yet still managed to make perfect, delicious cakes every time. My own first venture into baking-land was in Australia. I’d been staying with my best friend Marisa in Sydney and wanted to host a tea party to say goodbye – it seemed like the British thing to do! I borrowed a recipe book, bought ingredients, then mixed, whipped and beat until my arms were sore.
I produced some of the most inedible scones of all time, but other things came out perfectly, and to be honest, it was actually that process of turning some simple ingredients into something delicious which inspired me to carry on when I returned home. I wish I could say I was a natural baker, but I wasn’t; still, what I lacked in ability, I made up for in enthusiasm! If a recipe didn’t work the first time, I was positive that if I tweaked something here or there, I could improve the result.