Baking tradition kept alive in new venture

Paula McDaid. (DER2913JB265)
Paula McDaid. (DER2913JB265)

Baking is definitely in the blood for the owners of a new cake shop in the city centre.

Husband and wife team Sean Boyle and Joanne McDaid come from a long line of bakers and have just opened a traditional cake shop, known simply as ‘The Cake Shop,’ in Castle Street.

Sean’s father, Bobby, worked in Stevenson’s Bakery in the city for decades and his uncles and brothers worked in various bakeries as well. Joanne’s late father, Dessie, worked in McDaid’s Bakery, a firm dating back to 1916 in Derry.

Sean, who began work as a baker in the early 1980s when he was 16 years-old, said having his own cake shop keeps the family tradition alive.

Pictures of his father and father-in-law hang on the walls of the new cake shop as a reminder of the decades of family involvement in baking.

“It’s definitely in the family,” he said. “My father, uncles and brothers all worked in bakeries and funnily enough Joanne’s father was a baker and her sister Paula now works in the cake shop. My daughter also helps out with the shop so it’s being carried on to a new generation.

“We thought it was important to preserve the family tradition so we have pictures of the previous generations up on the walls,” he added.

Sean also preserves the traditional style of baking cakes in his new shop. “When I started out the town was full of bakeries and bakers had to train for four years. These days with the big bakeries that training is gone and with ready mixed stuff people are baking straight away. I got fed up with that and actually left baking and went to university and did a degree in archaeology but when I finished I gradually started back into the baking, making birthday and wedding cakes for friends and family and it grew from there,” he explained.

Sean said the theme of tradition is important in his new venture. “As well as the traditional methods we also have vintage china cups and saucers and it fits in with the decor of the shop. The cakes may be traditional but we also do modern styles as well and we do consultations with people for wedding and birthday cakes and I would sit with people and help them decide what type of cake they want and then go and make it,” he said.

The baker also said his father is proud that the family tradition is being kept alive. “My father is 75 years-old and retired now but he is delighted that baking is being kept alive. The whole family have been supportive,” he said.