It all started nearly 40 years ago, with two books.
Before I go any further I must add that I hadn’t actually realised this until, listening to Aleena Naylor discussing old cookery books on BBC Radio Derby a few months back, I suddenly realised that my cookie obsession had started as a toddler, with those two books. So thanks Aleena, for making me understand where Quirky Cookies really began!
I had always loved baking as a little girl, and was usually to be found in the kitchen with my Nan when we visited. Mum was always baking too, and whereas my Nan taught me to bake scones and cakes I can trace my obsession with unusually shaped biscuits back to rainy days in the kitchen with my Mum, and those books.
Many years later my love of baking had remained and I made my first wedding cake for my own wedding in 1991. I was all set for a career in education policy when in 1997, aged just 27 and with an 8 month old baby, our world came crashing down when I was seriously injured in a car crash. For many years I was unable to do very much at all, and at one stage I was told I would never work again, but with the support of my friends & family I never gave up. Eventually, following a change of treatment when we moved to Derbyshire in 2007, I started to get better, and that’s when the idea of Quirky Cookies and Cakes started to form in my mind.
Although I’d always done well in any cake competition I had entered, (winning my first prize as a child in 1979) the turning point came in June 2008. I was quite nervous about my first entry in a WI Home Economics competition since in the weeks running up to Derbyshire County Show I had received dire warnings about the super-high judging standards from my WI friends!
First prizes for both my cupcakes and iced biscuits (which were part of our co-operative display, above) gave me a huge boost in my confidence and I decided then and there that I would try to make a living from baking.
It took another year of researching suppliers and testing out my recipes before I felt ready to launch the business at the end of June 2009. Here’s me at our first event – Duffield Carnival – our village fête and still one of my favourite events.
Our cookies and cakes are still homemade with a huge amount of care and attention to detail, and the whole family are now involved in the business. My chemist husband Jason is fabulous at precision mixing royal icing colours. Hannah is great at making cupcakes & rocky road and is an expert packer, and young Emily helps with sticking labels onto bags and boxes. Even my parents and my Aunt & Uncle have been known to help out when we are attending the larger and busier events such as the recent fabulousplaces Christmas Market.
We’ve come a long way already, and are looking forward to another exciting year in 2011. First though, is a rather exciting snippet of news……we can’t say too much, but why not watch Market Kitchen’s Big Adventure on the Good Food Channel (Sky 249, Sky HD 283 Virgin 260) – 7pm every day this week….you never know who might pop onto your screens!