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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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Goggles and gas mask are tools of trade for Cumbrian cake maker

Maria Ross knows first-hand how difficult it is to cater for people with allergies.

Judi Bakes photo
Daryl Ross, owner Marie Ross and apprentice Shana Callister

And that’s why the nut intolerant mother-of-four kits herself out in goggles and a gas mask to decorate her homemade cakes with almond-based marzipan.

But thankfully this doesn’t happen on a daily basis as 85 per cent of the cakes she makes to order are made from sponge.

Maria and her husband Frazer’s thriving cake company Judi Bakes – named after Frazer’s grandmother– provides dairy free, nut free and gluten free cakes along with traditional fruit and sponge.

With business booming at the moment Maria has gone from making one or two cakes a week in the kitchen of her Ennerdale Road home, to four a day.

And the Maryport couple will be adding another slice of success to the business when they open a town centre shop tomorrow.

It’s hard to believe that Maria only started making cakes professionally two years ago, as she has became a star in the town for her bizarre designs.

Customers will be given the choice of traditional wedding, anniversary and Christening cakes, alongside rather explicit over-18s designs and novelty themes.

“I’m a bit mad and am getting a reputation for doing weird and wacky cakes,” said Maria.

But Maria hasn’t always been known for her novelty cakes.

Although she started working in catering when she was only 14-years-old, she changed direction later in life and turned to tutoring children.

But a few years ago when the “work dried up” she left her job in education and started working at the town’s Victoria Cottage Hospital as a cook.

It was two years ago when Maria made the life-changing decision to set up her own cake making business. Although she says she “must be mad” to follow this dream, she hasn’t looked back as she’s watched the businesses snowball.

“I have always made cakes for my children – my eldest son is 32 this year – and thought I was quite good at it,” said Maria.

“People were always asking me to make cakes for them so I decided to give it a go before I turned 50.”

Last September when Frazer was handing out posters to local shops to advertise a MacMillan Cancer Support coffee morning organised by Judi Bakes, he stumbled upon a shop on Wood Street, which the previous tenant was moving out of.

“The man who was moving out asked us if we fancied having a shop,” said Maria. “I’d never thought about it before.

“Frazer had just taken redundancy, so we thought let’s just go bonkers and take it. It was just by pure fluke that we ended up with the shop.”

From the shop, Maria will also hold workshops for children and adults to learn all about cask decorating.

The grand opening, which will be attended by celebrity chef Annette Gibbons, will be held tomorrow and Maria will cut a ribbon cake she has baked.

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