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Aberdeen baker Danielle Smith left her job during lockdown to focus on Sweet Toots Cakery full time

Danielle Smith offers a range of cakes, cupcakes and other treats
Danielle Smith offers a range of cakes, cupcakes and other treats

Discovering her love for baking in New York, Danielle Smith has been creating stunning cakes for more than a decade.

But it’s hard to believe the talented baker only started focusing on her baking venture full time in October last year. Danielle, who worked in the oil and gas industry, set up Sweet Toots Cakery just over 10 years ago.

And since then, the popular Newburgh-based baker has created everything from lovely Valentine’s Day munchie boxes, Scottish tablet and cupcakes to celebration cakes from her purpose-built cake kitchen.

We caught up with Danielle to find out more about her small business, why she thinks coronavirus affected it positively and what her plans are for years to come.

So, tell us, what motivated you to set up your sweet business? Is this your full-time job just now?

I have been baking for around 10 years, but around six years ago my job was at risk in the oil and gas industry, so I started up Sweet Toots Cakery part-time as a fall back in case I did lose my job. I recently just left the industry in October 2020 to start my business full-time. Life in lockdown made me realise I need to start focusing on what makes me happy, so I took the leap and went full-time and it’s been going great. I am so thankful for all my loyal customers.

When did you discover your passion for baking and cooking? What do you enjoy most about it?

I have always loved art and I’ve always been crafty, but it was mainly when I was at university on my placement in New York that I found my love of cakes and baking – I was just in awe of what could be created out of sponge and buttercream. I love this job so much and I just love making people happy. During lockdown, I was making a lot of deliveries and there were some happy tears shed when people got a surprise gift from their family or friends – it just makes my job so worthwhile.

What would you like everyone to know about your business? What’s at the heart of everything you do?

I think my USP (unique selling point) is genuinely how much I care. When I bake cakes or cupcakes for birthdays or celebrations, it’s not just about the product, it’s also about the importance of what they represent as a thoughtful gift. So I always make the effort to produce something super nice.

That sounds lovely. What kind of cakes do you specialise in?

I do design and make a wide range of cakes, but at the moment, buttercream cakes are super popular and I love making them as any theme can be incorporated into them and they really let me be creative.

You’ve created a wide variety of cakes over the years. Could you pick three designs that you really loved working on?

Oh now this is a hard one! But I would say my “Still Game” cake I made during lockdown for someone’s 21st birthday was very special. I just absolutely love Still Game – I was laughing to myself making it, thinking about different scenes in the programme. The figures are handmade from modelling paste and a Rice Krispie Treat formed the sofa that Jack and Victor are sitting on.

My next favourite would be my Barbie drip cake that I recently made for a little girl’s sixth birthday. I was a massive Barbie fan growing up and it’s just so girly. The cake is a vanilla buttercream with a white chocolate drip and topped off with a mini balloon and a handmade topper.

And my third favourite one would be my rainbow sweetie cake because it is just so much fun and I am a massive sweetie fan. It’s a four-layer sponge cake with a rainbow buttercream and it’s all topped off with huge lollipops and a mountain of sweets and marshmallows.

Can you tell us more about your Valentine’s Day boxes? What about your “giant heartbreaker”?

This has to be my favourite trend at the moment! My giant heartbreaker is made out of white chocolate and inside, there is 1.5kg of Valentine’s-themed sweets. The box will come beautifully presented and it includes four tasty brownie pops.

I’m sure they’re delicious. Do you also offer cupcake boxes?

Cupcakes are my favourite thing to make as they are what started my business, really. The cupcakes come in boxes of six or 12, but custom sizes can be requested. I offer the toppers completely personalised as I make these myself. I also like to top the cupcakes with geometric brownie hearts or mini brownie pops. I do different themes and flavours every week.

Do you work with any north-east producers? If so, which ones?

I make sure to buy all my eggs from our local farm in Newburgh, but most of our items for baking have to be bought in bulk from the wholesaler – either Costco or Batleys. I use other small local businesses for my graphic design work and material packaging – Blue Wasp Creative and Vinyl Edition respectively. I also use other small businesses from Etsy for other bits and bobs I need.

Prior to coronavirus, would you attend any local fairs or markets?

Yes, and I miss attending these so much. Most of my year is normally booked up with galas, farmers’ markets, food shows and Highland shows. I can’t wait until all these start again. I miss speaking and yapping to folk, seeing people tasting my products and just the buzz of the markets. These also let me use my converted beautiful pink cupcake trailer, which used to be a horse box, that I love working from.

How did coronavirus affect your business?

It affected it in a good way – thankfully, I was able to make contactless deliveries to people throughout Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. It was great to cheer people up and give them something to look forward to at the weekend. It has also made me busier during the week with home birthdays and celebrations and people just seem to be thinking of their friends and family more, which is nice!

That’s wonderful. Do your customers tend to come back and order more cakes or cupcakes once they’ve sampled your bakes?

Yes, absolutely. I have customers who are still ordering from day one. I am so thankful and grateful that people continue to support my small business. At my stalls, I always have my regular customers who come to see me, even further afield, and they will travel just to buy cupcakes and tablet.

And where do you see your business in a few years’ time?

Well, I am always looking to grow and diversify my business into other areas to expand on the current menu, which includes cakes, cupcakes and Scottish tablet. My aim is to add a second cake trailer, provide some local employment and continue to offer a unique service to my customers.

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