As I type, my daughter has just produced a tray of dribble worthy brownies she’s whipped up, and whilst I devour one, I show her the latest incredible creation on Instagram from Horsham bakery, The Beaubrey Bakery – a brownie stack.
This isn’t just brownies. This is the stuff of dreams. It’s a tumbling mass of chocolate gooeyness, decorated with gold leaf and chocolate bars. It’s this grown up’s ultimate birthday cake. And, it turns out, my daughter’s. She’s taken note of the inspiration, having disappeared somewhere into the cupboard to find sprinkles and gold spray to make her own stack before I’ve even licked my fingers. I applaud her efforts, but Shanice from Beaubrey may just have the edge – at least for now – as this talented lady has been baking stunning biscuits, cakes (and brownies) for the past few years. She turned her hobby into a business that suited family life and hasn’t looked back since.
A quick glance on Instagram and you know Shanice isn’t creating something you can buy off a shelf. The main focus of Shanice’s business is biscuits. But these aren’t your run of the mill digestives (not that we’ve anything against those of course) these are sugar cookies decorated to such a painstaking level that the idea of eating them is almost too much. Many of her pieces are like mini works of art, which is understandable given that Shanice has been known to spend up to an hour decorating one cookie. Something she occasionally gets grief over from the family.
She said, “I bake through the night – from about 7ish and sometimes a single cookie can take me 45 mins – hour to decorate but that’s because everything I do I want to “wow” people with. I want them to know it’s been made for them, and although my family will sometimes say I should make life easier for myself my brain won’t allow me to simplify it.”
Christmas is of course a busy time of year for many bakers, and it’s no exception for Horsham based Shanice. “I’ll be baking every night throughout November and December to keep up with the orders, but when you’re doing something you love it’s not really like work. This year I’ll be doing biscuit boxes in all sorts of different sizes from individual boxes to cookie pots, Elf on the Shelf sets, Christmas table favours, boxed festive favours, present tag favours, a Christmas box for grown-ups, a deluxe one and a paint your own box.”
With prices ranging from £5 – £50, when you consider the time and effort, not to mention the quality of the products, Shanice’s products are incredibly good value and this year she’ll also be offering cupcakes and chocolate products. Now The Beaubrey Bakery has moved to Horsham, = Shanice is mainly offering a click and collect option for local customers, something which she’s really excited about, and posting only the small items.
“It’s great because I’ll get to meet my customers. When I started I mainly did work for friends and family, it’s amazing for me that my work is requested by other people now and I love to meet those people.”
Shanice’s work speaks for itself, which is why she only takes orders via an email address with no need for a website, to keep business to a level she can manage. But with something as competitive as baking, how does she keep herself unique? Where does she get her ideas from?
“That’s a big question, but I love art and I just want to make something creative. The people I work for give me the creativity to make what I like and although it’s hard to be unique when there’s so much out there, when I stopped making things I thought others would like, and instead made what I would like to receive, that’s when things really began happening for me.” She added, “I tend to find I can get overwhelmed by what I see online, so I don’t go there for inspiration. I prefer to look at other areas for inspiration. For example there’s a fashion illustrator I’m a big fan of, I love their Parisian elegance, and I’m inspired by them. I find inspiration in fashion, nature, art. Anything can spark an idea.”
As I hear a clatter coming from my own kitchen, I ask Shanice whether she’s a baker who uses a lot of gadgets and she laughs. “I have so many tools, I have a billion tools but have about six I’d be lost without. I use this one lady who makes everything for me, all the cutters, embossers for particular designs, but really you could mention any possible tool and I’ve probably got it. I have a drawer of ribbons and three drawers of sprinkles, it doesn’t leave much room for food.”
I reply who needs food when you can eat cake? Shanice laughs again. “I believe in celebrating anything. Life is so short, we should just celebrate. Eat the cake. Have the party, that’s definitely how I like to live my life.”
As my daughter brings her own stack of brownies over to the table, layered with luminous sprinkles and leftover Halloween treats with a huge grin on her face on a fairly low-key Tuesday, I can’t help but agree that celebrating any time is a good mantra for life. If you need something beautifully baked for a celebration of any sort or want to get your Christmas presents sorted, contact Shanice by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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Contributed by Lisa Brace