Sarah Simpson’s passion is cakes, and for just over a month she’s been cooking up a storm of brownies and cakes from her mum’s kitchen for her new enterprise, Guilty Bakes.
Sarah trained for three years as a professional chef, starting at the age of 16 when she also had a Saturday job in The Tea House in Reigate. “I worked there when I was 16 and made the carrot cake. I loved it! My boss was the best – Nina is so nice – and that’s actually where I started making cakes.”
After completing her training, Sarah went to work in restaurants and hotels in London, getting the 5am train from Reigate and often getting home at 9pm. “I love cooking but it was actually very stressful. I was doing such long hours and the work environment wasn’t very nice; eventually my mum said: “I think you need to leave!””
The idea for Guilty Bakes came up during lockdown. “Cooking is my hobby and a few people had already asked me to make cakes for them, so I made an Instagram page. My boyfriend is really good at pictures and helped me, then I thought: people are not going out, so I set up selling brownies and delivering locally to people’s houses.”
That’s when things really took off. “I can’t believe how busy it’s been. There was Father’s Day plus everyone seems to have birthdays in June! Then people started asking if I’d post them, and now they go all over the UK.”
So is Sarah run off her feet to the unpleasant levels of a London chef? “I’m about as busy as I can be, but I don’t make the brownies every day. I ask people to send their order by Instagram message before Wednesday, then I’ll post them on Thursday and deliver locally on Friday.”
The brownies come in fours, sixes or eights and Sarah sends out mixed boxes of four flavours: Small Please (biscuit and toasted marshmallow); Prets Get Together (salted toffee pretzel); Bi-Scoff Them (white chocolate and biscoff); and Nuts About You (hazelnut caramel brownie). Delivery is free locally, while postage is £3.70 first class.
It’s early days, but are there plans for a brownie empire? “I’m just going with how it goes. I’d need more space if I wanted to grow; maybe a kitchen somewhere just for this. A shop would be amazing, but I’m not sure I’d have the time for it!”