Affectionately known as ‘The Baking Goddess’ by her friends and long-time customers, Lorraine Aspill lives in baking bliss on her farm nestled deep in rural Co. Wicklow. From her country kitchen, she creates fresh baked goodies and dreams up novel products for her business Daisy Cottage Farm . We chat with the very busy Baking Goddess about her life filled with sugar, flour, spice, and all things nice…
Daisy Cottage Farm are responsible for the innovative ‘Bottle of Bread’ baking products displayed on the shelves of Aldi Stores in 2019, which Lidl continued to promote through the Kickstart programme for 2020/21 and this year also. The bakery has won numerous awards at Blas Na hÉireann for their creations over the years, and they’ve earned gold ribbons at Agricultural shows around the country. Their ‘Irish Brown Bread’ was awarded 2 Gold Stars by the Guild of Fine Food in the UK (2020) and their ‘Irish Brown Scone Mix’ earned a gold star at the Great Taste Awards (2021). There’s good news this year too, as the McKennas’ Guide have bestowed another ‘Best in Ireland’ plaque on the artisan bakery.
Classic & Contemporary Cakes
The brand is renowned for cake classics like Tea Brack, Battenberg, Oxford Lunch, Mince Pies, and Scones, but contemporary bakes such as, cupcakes injected with alcohol shots, rocky road, and snickerdoodle traybakes and more are also covered. A big emphasis is put on Gluten-Free options, such as their ‘Bottle of Bread’ (no flour), a GF Battenberg Cake, and gluten-free scones. Lorraine’s culinary repertoire further extends to quiches, chutneys, jams, pesto, and cordials. All these are handmade with ingredients grown and foraged on her farm.
Tell us about your business, Lorraine.
Daisy Cottage Farm is a small artisan bakery, we strive to make all our products by hand, using a mix of new and traditional recipes. We also grow, forage and source as many of our ingredients as possible, for example, wild garlic for pesto, berries for our jams and tarts, tomatoes, onions and herbs for chutneys and quiche.
What’s your favourite thing about working for yourself?
I love working for myself, choosing my hours, experimenting with different ideas.
And what do you find is the most frustrating?
Not having enough hours in the day!
Describe an average workday.
Most baking days start at 2.30am, I love this hour of the day, it’s quiet, no phones ringing, and no deliveries going out or coming in. Although sometimes, I’ll start my yeast breads and disappear to the office to answer emails and place orders, but for the most part it’s just me, the flour, and RTE Gold on the radio.
I take inspiration from my surroundings, I’m constantly looking and listening to my surroundings.”
What keeps you going or inspires you?
I suppose what keeps me going is the fact that I LOVE baking, it still fascinates me that a kg of flour and a little bit of this and that can become something spectacular. I take inspiration from my surroundings, I’m constantly looking and listening to my surroundings.
Initially, did you manage to get any support or funding for your business?
NO, none at all.
Can you see your business expanding further?
I am hesitant to expand more, as it’s just me and some seasonal part time workers. I’m at an age now where I’m thinking about cutting back.
I’ll jot down ideas or sketch a cake decoration, whist sitting in traffic when I’m out on deliveries.”
Do you have any ‘time saving’ tips for business owners?
I always have a notebook and pen as I’m constantly making lists and crossing off as tasks are completed. Also, I’ll jot down ideas or sketch a cake decoration whilst sitting in traffic when I’m out on deliveries. I suppose, the list stems from my first job as a commis chef; the Head Chef always carried a clipboard and pen. My motto has always been, “if you are going to do something, do it right or not at all”.
I suppose over the last few years I have been dabbling in the online end of things…but lockdown was a big wakeup call!”
Has having an online presence helped or hindered your business?
I suppose over the last few years, I have been dabbling in the online end of things while kind of pushing it to the back of things as well, but lockdown was a big wakeup call! With the help of my I.T. guy in Cork (my cousin Niall) an online presence was born, and a very brisk side of business began.
How do you engage with your online customer? -What’s your favourite channel?
Facebook and Instagram are the go-to ones.
Lorraine’s Tasteful Tips
What advice would you offer someone who is thinking of starting their own food business?
- Take all the help and advice you can.
- Shadow somebody who is a small food business owner.
- Look at the amount of work involved (especially with a young family), while you will have to love what you do, you really need to enjoy it as well!
Cheers Lorraine, it was great to catch up with you!
For stockists of their magic baking mixes see here
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