Meet the Foodie: Sweet Sisters Cakery
Having fallen in love with baking with her grandmother as a child, Becki Hartness decided to take the plunge and launch her own baking business
Tell us about yourself.
I’m Becki, but many people call me Sweet Sister or Buns. Sweet Sister of course comes from the business name, but the nickname Buns has nothing to do with the business. In fact, many customers don’t know that it’s actually my skater name from a team sport I play called roller derby. It’s a hard- hitting team sport that is challenging but lots of fun. It takes a lot of practice and determination to perfect the skills and be successful. I approach my business the same way as I do roller derby. I practice and perfect my skills, work hard at it and love being part of a team by meeting other traders and organisers. Team work really does make the dream work.
How did Sweet Sisters Cakery start?
I always loved baking as a kid with my grandma, even though I was always a little messy. As I got older and better at baking, my friends and family would always complement me on my bakes and I would often get told that I should make a business out it. One day, whilst working for a bank, a little unit came up for sale and I managed to convince my younger sister to go into business with me. We both quit our jobs and took the plunge, setting up a sandwich shop and bakery. Experimenting with different sweet treats was always my passion, and after six years of building the business up to be a bakery, deli, sandwich shop, butchers and sweet shop we decided to sell the unit and move on. This meant I could get back to my main interest – dessert!
What’s the business vision?
Now that I’m comfortably set up in a little baking unit and taking my bakes on the road, my main goal is to keep booking onto great events around Yorkshire. I love meeting different customers and traders, but seeing the same customers follow me to different events is so rewarding. I also have a couple of stockists at the moment too, and next year I hope to expand on this side to make my bakes readily available in a few locations local to my home town, Barnsley.
What inspires your baking flavours?
Often my ideas come to me at 2am when I can’t sleep and have flavours and designs racing through my head. I tend to find that my inspiration comes from the changing seasons. As soon as it starts getting a little colder, I’m thinking about Christmas flavours. I adore Christmas baking – the smells bring back so many wholesome memories.
Talk us through the trial, tasting and baking process.
I’ve been baking professionally now for eight years and there have been plenty of fails, but mostly I’ve managed to get some pretty fool-proof recipes nailed. I often get asked how I don’t just sit and eat it all but the fact is I actually do. Everything I bake has to be taste tested. I wouldn’t sell anything that I haven’t tried and loved. So, I honestly love each bake I make.
Do you have a favourite bake?
I’ve spent a lot of time perfecting my brownies the way I like them – they’re chewy, fudgy and gooey in the middle with a crisp edge. Most people say my brownies are different to any they’ve ever tried before and I’m very proud that I stand out for this. However, I think my favourite bake, especially with the current season, is my giant rum truffles made using Belgian chocolate. I can cut these into orange segments or just eat them like an apple. Either way, it sounds a bit healthier right?
Tell us about a typical working day.
I’ve tried working a 9–5 day but it just doesn’t work. I tend to start at 9am but can often be baking right up until the early hours of the next morning. It totally depends how much I’ve got on that week. It’s long hours, but I absolutely love it.
What would you say the best thing about working and running Sweet Sisters Cakery is?
I love being my own boss and that when I’m inspired to make something, I can just do it. I love the freedom.
What can we expect when you exhibit at Living North’s Christmas Fair?
You’ll find a selection of brownies, blondies, shortbreads, flapjacks, rocky roads and giant rum truffles – with added festive vibes of course.