It’s beautiful outside on the patio where I’m chatting with rapidly up-and-coming baker, Lauren Carr, about her delightful online bakery, Watch Me Whip. Yes, we thought it was a super-cute name, too! Coffee in hand and a platter of beautifully presented macarons before me, I resist the temptation to try them until I get to know the baker behind the dainty delights.
Lauren was raised in the south of Joburg, and with a grandmother who always had a milk tart and other delicious treats at the ends of her outstretched arms, it’s easy to understand how she grew to love baked goodies. But her decision to become a baker would only come later.
After achieving straight As in high school and going on to study law and psychology at university, Lauren began her working life at a school for children with disabilities. She still works part-time for private families who have children with special needs because she loves helping them overcome some of their challenges.
Lauren casually started baking a few cakes for family and friends, using recipes from her mother’s cookbook and from old school recipes. Her first effort was an elephant-shaped cake for a friend’s baby shower. “It was very flat,” she grins, “and it was covered in fondant icing that I had cut to shape with a steak knife! But I was proud of my effort at the time.”
She continued to experiment and, seeing her passion for baking gaining momentum, her boyfriend Darryn Wright surprised her one day with a whole heap of baking supplies and equipment. And finally, the baking bug bit.
The first challenge she set herself was to master the art of making macarons, which she says took ages to get just right. “But now I love watching them turn out perfectly,” she enthuses. “I’m proud of the technical accomplishment, and the fact that I taught myself how to make them.”
Lauren is, in fact, completely self-taught. She admits it took her a good year of trial and error to develop the recipes she uses now – mostly while sitting cross-legged in front of her baking business took off from there. Starting a new business is challenging for anyone, and Lauren affirms: “When I started out, the orders were so infrequent and I struggled to buy the right quantities as I was working from order to order. I didn’t make a profit because I used my takings to purchase ingredients and equipment. You also don’t factor in your time, and the cost oven, experimenting with ingredients and enduring many a flop. “I’m obsessed with UK master baker Georgia Green of Georgia’s Cakes, who studied at Le Cordon Bleu in London. I used to watch her videos for inspiration and to learn. I’m also inspired by Sweet Lion Heart Pâtisserie in Cape Town – they make the most beautiful cakes!”
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