Alcohol and baking are the perfect match for the Liverpool Cake Company

Gaynor Doyle preparing the batch of cupcakes ready for the oven

Gaynor Doyle preparing the batch of cupcakes ready for the oven - Credit: Archant

Treat yourself this Christmas with a boozy bake from Liverpool Cake Company. Words by Rebekka O’Grady

Gin ring with orange, mint and juniper

Gin ring with orange, mint and juniper - Credit: Archant

The festive season is always a time for indulgence. So throw out that diet book and take a bite into something more… intoxicating. From sumptuous stout brownies and zesty gin rings, through to cocktail cupcakes and rich boozy fruit cakes, you name it and Gaynor Doyle can make it. The talented cake maker of Liverpool Cake Company added these alcoholic treats to her already well strung bow - which includes a spectacular array of detailed occasion cakes - after finding inspiration while working at a local beer festival.

‘I’d always made my Christmas fruit cake very boozy,’ said Gaynor, an ex-primary school teacher who lives in Allerton with her husband, Steve, and two children, Polly, 20, and Charlie, 18. ‘But when I started baking for Liverpool Organic Brewery’s beer festivals in 2013, I adapted a Guinness cake recipe using their Kitty Wilkinson stout. It was very popular so I thought I would branch out and experiment with different beers and spirits in cakes.’

Gaynor Doyle

Gaynor Doyle - Credit: Archant

These boozy cakes have proven to be increasingly popular, and Gaynor is now utilising beers from different local breweries as well as a range of high-quality spirits in her bakes. If you’re tired of the same trifles, Christmas puddings and mince pies after your Christmas dinner, why not try egg nog cupcakes made with spiced dark rum, or perhaps black forest with a touch of kirsch.

‘When the gin festival launched, I started making the gin ring [which is a perfect Christmas table centrepiece] and recently created some Turkish delight using the new rose flavoured Liverpool Gin,’ said Gaynor. ‘It’s exciting to keep coming up with new ideas and recipes, but fruit cake and my ‘beer-a-brith’ are my personal favourites!’

It’s hard to imagine that cake making and decorating wasn’t always Gaynor’s first calling. Although her background was initially in art, 3D design and ceramics, she was a teacher until 2013, before she pursued her dream of cake baking full time. ‘I had always liked baking and cooking, but I think it was when I took a trip to New York in 2000 and visited the famous Magnolia Bakery that I really took an interest. I purchased their cookbook and a mixer, and started making cupcakes for friends and family.’

‘I was doing more and more in my last few years of teaching so I just decided to take the plunge and go full time. This was around the time I started making the beer festival cakes and set up a Facebook page. It just snowballed from there.’

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Soon, Gaynor was taking over her family home with her fabulous bakes, using every flat surface possible. ‘It was driving my family mad. We have a tiny galley kitchen, so I was baking in there and decorating in the dining room. When it came to dinner, I had to move everything out of the way into the front room!’

It was apparent that popularity meant that Liverpool Cake Company needed its own space, so by April of this year Gaynor moved to her workshop in the Annex. Located on Hope Street in Liverpool city centre’s Georgian Quarter, the space of studios and workshops enables small creative companies to be based within the most creatively dynamic part of the city, to flourish and grow.

‘I’m not too sure what the future holds for me, but it would be nice to take a person on. At the moment, it’s just me. But I do have the help from my mum and 83-year-old Auntie Jean who each take a day once a week to wash up for me!’

Gaynor’s tips for Christmas baking:

- If you’re planning on baking with alcohol, look for a recipe that has a liquid already in them – normally milk. Then you can replace some of that liquid with your alcohol of choice.

- Start now if you want to make a Christmas fruit cake. Soak the fruit for up to a week beforehand. I use brandy and rum, but to really soak it I add a strong stout or ginger wine to boost the liquid content. It is also cost effective as it saves you using a full bottle of brandy!

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