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Happy Monday! (Yes, I think even Monday can be happy if you frame it the right way!) Today I’m going to share some pictures an interview with the lovely Liana Stevens, who runs Star Bakery, Swirls Bakery (with her partner in cake amazingness), and can now be found sharing her extensive baking knowledge at Sweet Success in Nottingham. She makes super incredible cakes like these –

She even found time recently to stop by City WI to show us how to pipe the perfect swirly swirl and rose swirl on a cupcake

A couple of weeks ago I made my way to Hucknall to visit the kitchen ‘what where the magic happens’ and bake up a storm with Helen and Liana for a fellow Cake Eater’s wedding. While I was there, I asked her some questions!

How did your passion for baking get started?

My passion from baking stems from my Mum’s side of the family – my Nana is an amazing cook and baker and she used to collect the old Wilton Cake Decorating annuals which my Mum ‘acquired’ to feed her love of cake decorating. I then grew up flicking through the pages of those annuals amazed at all the beautiful creations you could make with patience…and lots of icing!

What gives you inspiration for the amazing cakes you create?

I get inspiration from everything that surrounds me! I once made a cake based on a bib I’d bought for my son which was brightly coloured and covered in a rainbow of polka dots – inspiration can hit at any time and as I’m drawn to bright colours so I love looking at fabric websites, Etsy, Pinterest etc. I have a doodle pad which I’ll use to make notes or create drawings detailing my thoughts. I do wake up at 2am with cake ideas and I often find those are the best ones!

What do you enjoy most about baking?

It’s funny, I LOVE baking but I detest cooking and the main difference I see is that baking is very controlled. You have to follow most recipes exactly to ensure they work and I like these restrictions as I can just set myself up with a recipe and know what the end product should look like. As I get busier with work the baking can become a chore but then a client will come along with a new flavour request or wanting something a bit different and I get to enjoy all the fun of creative baking again.

How did you make the leap from marketing to full time small business owner, both with Star Bakery and Swirls Bakery?

Baking is in my blood but I didn’t really start to bake seriously until I had my first son nearly 8yrs ago. At the same time I was rediscovering baking, I was undertaking a Marketing qualification and it was my peers who were encouraging me to think about a part time business as I’d bring treats along to our classes and they’d rave about them! I never would have had the confidence to start my own business if it hadn’t of been for that course as I wouldn’t have met the people I did and also gained the skills that I needed to start my own business. My Marketing background has been fundamental in the success of my business today and going forward with my new bakery venture Swirls Bakery.

As a baker, what’s the next big challenge you’d like to conquer?

The next big challenge for me is Swirls Bakery! I’m now one half of a team so I finally have another cake expert to team up with and we’re focusing our efforts on bespoke designed tiered cakes so the challenge will lie in growing the business to the successful heights that we’ve enjoyed with our seperate businesses over the years.

What’s your favourite cake, cookie or other baked good when it comes to what you want to eat?

Millionaire’s shortbread! It’s the one item that I don’t bake very often for fear of gorging on it 🙂

What advice would you give to someone just getting started in baking?

The internet is full of resources nowadays and there is soooo much information at your fingertips. I get lots of enquiries every week from people asking how I make this and where do I find that and I always advise them to look online. I have a few staple books that I refer to again and again and once you find a great basic recipe book then the baking world is your oyster!

Thanks Liana!! I also snapped some photos of the stock required to run a bakery out of your kitchen…. check out these baking supplies!!

Have you ever seen a box of sugar that big!!! And a lovely red Kitchenaid *swoon*

 While at Liana’s enbarking on a baking marathon…. I created pink strawberry rice crispie treats and cookie dough topped brownies. I’ll share the recipe for the rice crispie treats today and bring you the brownies another time. I also helped Helen pipe nutella onto some of her amazing almondy biscuits – they were fantastic! Here are some pictures

Strawberry rice crispie treats – you’ll need

  • 1 jar strawberry marshmallow fluff (thanks Mum) or 32 average sized marshmallows (go for pink ones and add some strawberry flavouring – Silver Spoon do a good one. You’ll have to eat the white ones I guess)
  • 30g very soft unsalted butter
  • 500g rice crispies (use your judgement and add more if the mix is very wet)

First, stir your very soft (almost melted) butter and your marshmallow fluff together. If you’re using regular marshmallows just melt your butter in a pan then add the marshmallows and stir as they melt. Combine with your crispies.

 Line a baking tray (at least 1cm deep) with parchment or greaseproof paper. Spoon your rice crispie mix into the tin and flatten flatten flatten – Liana recommended wrapping your hand in cling film or a latex glove and pushing the crispies down firmly (I added some mini marshmallows too for cuteness).

Slice and enjoy! These would be really cute with multicoloured sprinkles, or even coloured layers!