Karen’s childhood dream came true when she opened her own bakery
During lockdown many people tried their hand at baking for the first time.
Whether it was banana bread or sour dough, baking proved to be a lifeline for many during the pandemic restrictions,
But for one Lisburn woman, baking became more than a hobby, when she fulfilled her lifeliong dream of opening a bakery.
While many businesses were struggling during the lockdown, 25-year-old Karen Bennington was delighted to open Bennington Cakes in Wallace Village and it has been a big hit with her sweet toothed customers.
Karen has always loved baking and trained at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork when she left school.
However, it was only when lockdown struck and many of her other hobbies and interests were put on hold that she decided to take the bull by the horns and open her own business.
“My granny loved baking and cooking but my mum always made out to me that backing was really hard,” explained Karen, who discovered her passion for baking at a young age.
“When I was in second or third year my friend and I used to buy baking mixes just because we wanted to eat them. It was always a disaster but that got me interested in it.”
When she got to sixth form at Methodist College, Karen knew she didn’t want to go to university but instead opted to study cookery at the prestigious Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork. “I was so excited,” she continued. “The school is set on 100 acres of organic farm and there is a full acre of greenhouses.”
Learning everything from butchery to making cheese, Karen loved her time at Ballymaloe and went on to work at the well known James Street South restaurant in Belfast.
But her heart always lay in baking. When lockdown hit and many of her other interests, including directing panto for the Lambeg Players, were put on hold indefinitely, she decided this was the time to focus on her one true passion.
“I always knew I wanted to do this,” Karen said. “I already knew I wanted to start my own business and when covid happened and everything closed, I decided I may as well go for it.”
Following a chance conversation with local businessman Bill Porter, who wanted Karen to bake a cake for him, she was offered premises for her kitchen at the Porter Experience show home in Wallace Village.
“I started in November so I am only coming up on six months in business but it has been going well,” she continued.
Bennington Cakes is not a walk-in bakery but rather a professional kitchen where Karen creates fantastic sweet treats for customers who have ordered online from her website.
“When I was younger I wanted to have a bake shop but I altered that to an online business,” Karen explained. “I wanted to be able to offer a really big range of things, all the things I know people want.
“I didn’t want to limit what I could offer but I didn’t want lost of wastage either.
“Everything from the product itself, the packaging, the card to say thank you, I do it all because I genuinely love when someone has something they really love.
“I never want anyone to feel they haven’t got the best from me because it’s my reputation.
“I don’t intend to have a bigger site or more employees, I just want this to be my business. I love working for myself and I love meeting people. There is nothing more satisfying for me than it just being me.”
Find out more about Bennington Cakes and how to place an order online at https://benningtonscakes.com/