Written by Melanie May
From cakes to Covid to coaching, we chat with Cat L Walsh and catch up on life since The Cake Cuppery.
Cat L Walsh is an award-winning baker and wedding cake designer from Castleknock in Dublin. Her bespoke cake business, ‘The Cake Cuppery‘ was a sweet success pre-pandemic. However, once the first lockdown hit, Cat, like many others, reevaluated her life and what makes her happy.
So, she closed her business, relocated to Wexford and rediscovered her love of nutrition and fitness. Nowadays, she posts her fabulous baking creations and recipes to her growing following on Instagram alongside plenty of fitness and health tips, too. Now that’s what we call balance.
We caught up with Cat to find out what she has been up to since she left Dublin and what exciting plans she has in the works.
Take us back to the beginning. How did you get started in baking?
My earliest memories of baking are with my Mam. I’m the eldest of four girls and I had five years of undivided attention before my first sister arrived, so we would spend a lot of time baking together at weekends. I absolutely loved it! We loved making gingerbread men, Madeira buns, jam puffs and Eve’s apple pudding. After finishing a degree in Psychology in 2009, I went in a completely different direction and decided to turn my hobby and love of baking into a business in 2010.
What were you doing before the pandemic?
I ran my own cake business ‘The Cake Cuppery’ for 10 years. So, before Covid hit, I would spend most of my time making cakes for customers; wedding cakes, christening cakes, baby showers, birthdays, you name it! I was on the go 24/7, burnt out, working all hours, weekends too. From the outside looking in you assume running a cake business is a piece of cake (excuse the pun!), but it can be incredibly stressful and exhausting at times, leaving very little time for a life of your own.
My business just became a huge burden on my shoulders, which was weighing me down physically and mentally. The pandemic allowed me the time to reflect and think about what I really wanted. I really just want to love my job and have a good work/life balance, I think that’s what most people want at the end of the day.
What made you decide to close your business and relocate to Wexford?
We had a lot of personal family stuff going on and we were actually planning to buy a new build in Dublin or Kildare. The opportunity came about to move to Gorey (Wexford) where we’ve had a family holiday home for 11 years, so we just decided to go for it.
To be honest a big change was badly needed! I was already considering closing my business during the first lockdown, so leaving my old kitchen behind made it possible to let go of that part of my life without feeling guilty about wanting to do something different. I will be fulfilling any outstanding wedding cake orders anyway, I wouldn’t let anyone down.
If you had asked me before lockdown if I thought I’d ever leave Dublin, I would have said absolutely not but it’s been the best decision we’ve ever made. I now live beside the sea and Green’s Berry Farm so I’m a very happy girl!
What have you been doing during the pandemic?
I spent most of my time cooking, baking and exercising during the lockdown, trying to figure out my next move career-wise. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do so badly when I realised the answer was pretty much right in front of my face! Nutrition and fitness are what I absolutely love, it’s what makes me truly happy. So I’m hoping I can help others embrace a more carefree, balanced, healthy lifestyle as I have done.
Did you learn any new skills or take up any new hobbies during lockdown?
I decided to do an online nutrition coaching course which led me to do a personal training course as well, so I’m keeping busy and I really loving learning again.
I’ve become more experimental and confident with my cooking and baking too, which I’m really enjoying. I put together new recipes every week so I’m constantly excited about food and baking possibilities! It’s great 🙂
What lessons have you learned over the last year?
The pandemic really thought me a huge life lesson; to slow down and to enjoy the little things in life. You know yourself, there were days when nothing was happening and the highlights would be getting a takeaway coffee, going for a long walk and heading home to make a delicious meal.
I think before Covid hit, life was so manic and a bit overwhelming for everyone, I know it was for me. I never had any time to myself. Now I’ll only do things that make me happy and add value to my life. Yes, life is short but it’s also too long to live if you’re not happy.
Any new projects in the pipeline?
I do have a possible exciting side project in the pipeline, but I don’t want to give too much away at this point! Yes, it is baking/cake related but not in the way I was doing previously; think of a balance of healthy and more indulgent treats! That’s all I’m saying for the moment!
What are your top baking tips for people following recipes at home?
Try out everything! Even if you’re not that confident with baking, only practise will make you better. It doesn’t matter how many tutorials you watch or classes you go to, real-world trial and error is the best learning process. I’ve made every mistake known to man over the years but that is when I’ve learnt the most.
When they say baking is a science, it’s not a lie. It’s so temperamental, even if you measure ingredients out perfectly, your kitchen could be too humid, or oven temperature inconsistent, so those macarons aren’t going to work out! Patience is key, and if at first you don’t succeed, make a cuppa, take a deep breath and try again.
Good quality ingredients make all the difference, especially when it comes to chocolate. Belgian chocolate is the absolute best to use for baking. Leave the cooking chocolate for the Rice Krispies buns!
And always use real butter! Irish butter is amazing so it would be terrible to destroy your buttercream with margarine! Trust me, your friends and family will thank you for it.
What is your favourite thing to bake?
That’s a tricky one! I have so many favourites but I’d say my absolute number ones are sticky toffee pudding, cinnamon rolls and a nice pavlova topped with fresh cream and Wexford strawberries! Starving now!
What three ingredients do you always have at home?
Oooh, that’s a good one! Can I have three for savoury and three for sweet?
My sweet ingredients would have to be; icing sugar, vanilla extract and white chocolate.
Savoury would be; tomatoes, garlic and pasta — the dream combo!
If we were to snoop in your cupboards or fridge what guilty pleasure or quirky things might we find?
I’m absolutely addicted to cinnamon and raisin bagels so you’re always sure to find them in my cupboards with my stable toppings; peanut butter and raspberry jam! I also love caramel Rice Krispies Squares, they’re always around if I want them.
Lastly, I don’t think I’d be Irish if I didn’t absolutely love a sneaky cheese and onion crisp sambo with some butter!
Follow Cat’s adventures and she what she get up to next over on Instagram @wildcat.life.