Meet The Cake Culprit
Words: Paul Chapman
Need a freshly baked lemon drizzle cake for the weekend to impress friends? Or planning a special occasion or wedding? Then the Cake Culprit can create something truly bespoke for you. Claire Morris is the brains, baker and buttercream maker behind the business. “The Cake Culprit offers ‘a slice of rustic luxury’”, she says. But how's she got here?
Baking wasn’t Claire’s first career. “I studied International Fashion Marketing at University, I loved the creative side of this and graduated after 4 years with a First-Class Honours degree.”
After this Claire started working in marketing for a large catalogue business, which she enjoyed, but it did not entirely satisfy her creative streak. “Whilst working in this job, my cake journey began, completely by accident as I started baking for everyone in the office, from birthday cakes to just a Friday afternoon treat to keep up morale. I began to love baking; it became infectious as I could see how happy it made people.”
I’ve developed recipes to suit gluten and dairy free diets as well as vegans, all of which are very popular at the moment. Approximately half of my business is made up of special dietary cakes, with the other half good old conventional ones.”
After realising this was more than just a hobby, Claire took the plunge and went back to college in Sheffield to do an NVQ Level 3 in patisserie and confectionery. She worked in cafes and baked cakes for family and friends whilst at college to get by. “I was busy, and it was hard to juggle everything, but I was learning the trade firsthand, so I knew that once I’d qualified I would have the confidence and experience to set up my own business.” Claire’s first opportunity came when some friends of a friend were opening a café in Matlock.
“They asked me to supply their cakes and also to work for them in the café. This was a great opportunity as it enabled me to see for myself customers responses to what I was creating.”
Why the name The Cake Culprit? Claire says this came from wanting something unique, that stood out. “It was an amalgamation of the main product offered being cake and the idea of being ‘guilty’ of creating something wonderful that’s a bit naughty.”
Small independent businesses have always been a part of Claire’s life from being a small child - her dad is Ian Morris of Ian Morris Antiques and her mum is Libby Morris, owner of Libby’s on Chatsworth Road. Starting her own business seemed inevitable. Supporting local people and small businesses has always been something Claire has been passionate about, “All my branding has been lovingly created by local illustrator Sally Anderson (IG - @sallygingerillustration), and I have fabulous creative assistance from one of my best friends I’ve known since school, Jessica Webster-Gray (IG – @livingonthebrook).”
After struggling with allergies for most of her life Claire experimented with alternative ingredients in baking after undertaking various exclusion diets herself. “This experimentation gave me the understanding of the needs of today’s complex dietary environment. I’ve developed recipes to suit gluten and dairy free diets as well as vegans, all of which are very popular at the moment. Approximately half of my business is made up of special dietary cakes, with the other half good old conventional ones.”
All the cakes that leave Cake Culprit HQ are baked from scratch with quality ingredients. Flavour is something Claire is passionate about. “I try and develop new flavours on a monthly basis, but sometimes you just can’t beat the traditional flavours with a twist.” Over the last year, Claire has broadened her business to create celebration cakes including wedding, christening and birthday cakes. “There is nothing more satisfying than receiving photos of a happy bride and groom or birthday boy or girl tucking into one of my cakes.”
Claire’s cakes are getting rave reviews and her approach of quality over quantity is paying off, so demand is already high. Drop Claire an email if you need a cake for an up and coming celebration but get in there quick….
If she needs anyone to try The Cake Culprit’s cakes, for quality control purposes… I’m always up for that role.
The Cake Culprit