EVEN though Lisa Murray enjoys her full time job as a mother of three while working in the public sector, she likes doing the night shifts too!
“That is when I get baking, when the kids are gone to bed!” says the Ballincollig native who always had an interest in baking.
Friends and family have been enjoying Lisa’s bakes and artistic talent — so much so, that she took the plunge and started her own business from home, Creative Cakes by Lisa.
“I have been a hobby cake maker for the past few years,” says Lisa, who is married to Niall who is also from Ballincollig. The couple have three children, Donncha, aged seven, Aoife, aged five, and Ciarán, aged three.
Lisa always had a creative pair of hands and was always interested in baking. When her children were born she became more ambitious, making their unique birthday cakes.
“I never realised until then how much I really enjoyed creating and decorating cakes,” says Lisa.
Recently, she made a cake for a Skibbereen couple, Con and Myra McCarthy’s — she presented them with a magnificent cake for their 50th wedding anniversary last month complete with all of their 12 grandchildren, eight boys and four girls, resplendent in their GAA colours on top.
“They were absolutely thrilled with the cake,” says Lisa, especially when their loved ones couldn’t be present on their special day to celebrate the happy occasion with them. Con and Myra are very involved in all their grandchildren’s lives and this was a way they could get to be surrounded by them — on the cake!”
Lisa has perfected her craft over a few creative years.
“I made Donnacha’s first birthday cake almost seven years ago,” she says.
She got the baking bug and cooked up a storm, weighing, sifting, whipping up the butter and sugar, mixing the sloppy ingredients together, and... Shazam! The magic cake came to life rising up in the hot oven.
“Donncha’s first birthday cake was a simple butter-cream cake that he was delighted with,” says Lisa. “Each year after that for each birthday I would try something new.”
She surprised her sons and her daughter each time on their birthdays with a signature cake.
“Whatever cartoons or a favourite movie they were into at the time, I would make their cake based on that theme.”
While Lisa perfected her skill, her baking was mainly a family affair.
“In 2018, when my brother John was turning 40, I asked could I make his birthday cake,” says Lisa.
It was a big ask.
“The cake was to be a Gaelic football surrounded with mini fondant footballs, basketballs, American football and a sliotar,” says Lisa, who was game ball to take up the challenge.
“The cake represented him and his keen interest in sports.
“It was my first proper challenge because not only was it a 3D cake, but for the first time I was going to be making fondant cake toppers and creating a cake that I needed to look like a Gaelic football!”
Was that a piece of cake?
“I did trial runs and started teaching myself and learning from mistakes. I had a real Gaelic football propped up on the worktop beside me so I could see how the leather was wrapped surrounding the ball.”
Lisa cracked it.
“I was so pleased with the finished cake! I get the most satisfaction from handing over the cake and seeing the lovely reaction and surprise.
“From there, after the fabulous reaction to John’s 40th birthday cake, I began to push myself that little bit more,” says Lisa.
“My little girl Aoife was three that same year and I made a 3D unicorn cake for her.
“I was beginning to be braver in the cakes I made.
“When my son Ciarán was turning one, I tried my hand at making a little elephant cake topper. Every time I would make a cake, I would learn so much from it.”
She got answers to her questions.
“What mistake had I made? How would I do it differently the next time?”
Lisa let her family and friends eat her delicious cakes.
“I would also make cakes for family and friends as gifts,” says Lisa.
“Making the cakes for gifts gave me the opportunity to create something new and to learn something new.”
Lisa made a magical discovery.
“I had discovered something that I loved to do,” she says. “Creating cakes!”
She has a secret recipe to her success.
“I use a family recipe for biscuit cake,” says Lisa.
“I use the best of ingredients and I do it well.”
With more happy celebrations came more creative cakes.
“In 2019, I made my first-ever wedding cake for my sister-in-law’s wedding,” says Lisa.
She had a sinking feeling.
“I remember feeling so nervous on the drive to Clonakilty, praying that I wouldn’t hit a pot-hole!”
As news of Lisa’s baking prowess wafted through the locality and beyond, orders for her creative cakes came flooding in.
“I was asked to make a communion cake for a young girl who loves Gaelic football,” says Lisa.
Moya Collins had been disappointed more than once when her First Communion had been cancelled. When it finally took place in December, she was in for a big surprise.
“I thought it might be a nice idea to make a fondant figure of the girl, Moya, sitting on top of the ball,” says Lisa, who puts a lot of thought into creating her cakes for each individual.
“I remember her dad said to me that she loves Adidas and if she could she would wear her Adidas runners with her communion dress!”
Moya got her wish.
“I thought, let’s give the communion girl cake topper Adidas runners.”
Lisa is always chuffed by the response she gets when the lucky recipient sees the luscious cake.
“I get great satisfaction from giving over the cake.”
This lady’s baking and decorating talents know no bounds.
“I wanted to create little figures for our own Halloween cake based on what my children were dressing up as that year.”
What did they dress up as?
“A witch, a werewolf and Frankenstein!” They all turned out great,” says Lisa.
She wielded her magic wooden spoon.
“I also made a separate witch made of fondant.”
People were impressed.
“When I shared the images with my close friends and family, it was at that point I thought maybe I should give this a go,” says Lisa.
“What if I started my own little cake business from my kitchen?”
It took off from the get-go.
“I remember I got an order on my very first day. I just couldn’t believe it!”
Creative Cakes by Lisa is simmering away, bringing lots of happiness and joy to people all over Munster.
“Pre-Covid, I delivered the cakes myself,” says Lisa. “I use a courier now — but hopefully I’ll be back on the road again.”
Lisa is well on the road to establishing her own little business from her own kitchen. She gives a slice of the credit to her nearest and dearest.
“In all of this, there is one person that makes it all possible — my husband Niall. This is what I love.
“Niall gives me so much support and encouragement; I’d be lost without him.
“And my kids. They are the reason I started this in the very first place. Donncha, Aoife and Ciarán will always keep me on my toes with their cake design requests!”
For more see Lisa’s business page on Facebook Creative Cakes by Lisa. Or call 087-9060083.