Hectic life of a mother and celebrity baker

Cat Dresser at The Little Handcross Bakery which has just opened. Pic Steve Robards SUS-140923-151435001
Cat Dresser at The Little Handcross Bakery which has just opened. Pic Steve Robards SUS-140923-151435001

A baker and TV celeb has taken on 20 hour work days and lovingly baked us 400 batches of bread after opening a bakery in Handcross.

Cathryn Dresser, or Cat, a contestant on the Great British Bake Off TV show in 2012, has opened her own bakery called the Little Handcross Bakery, in the High Street.

After long anticipation, the cute and colourful store opened when Cat’s two children - aged 10 and 6 - went back to school three weeks ago.

Since then she has been putting every ounce of energy into the business, with only the help of her mum and husband Craig, when they have a moment to help serve the stream of curious customers.

Reporter Nikki Cutler went to visit Cat at her bakery and witnessed what life was like for a business owner, baker, mother, and celebrity.

As Cat jam filled and iced a batch of 24 cupcakes she said: “I come in at 3.30am, Craig brings the children here on his way to work, the children eat their breakfast here, I take them to school then I come back and open.”

She neatly displayed the cakes on the counter before wiping down the surfaces and moving onto a huge made-to-order ‘choco-tastic’ birthday cake.

She said: “This morning I’ve made 40 loaves of bread and most of them have gone already.

“I’ve made over 400 since we opened three weeks ago which is more than baking a loaf of bread every day for a year which is just ridiculous really.”

She makes the loaves to sell individually and for her home-made sandwiches which Craig helps with when he’s not busy doing his full time job as a manager for a nationwide retail company.

He said: “I was in until 1.30 this morning. When I finished work I went to the supermarket, got ingredients, came here, mopped the floors and made the sandwiches.”

As Craig spoke to me Cat skilfully iced and decorated her huge cake with some deliciously sweet looking chocolate butter icing, crushed caramel chocolate squares and Twirl bars.

She then promptly looked at her watch and realised she had to rush off to a ribbon cutting at a new store in Barns Green.

Cat is now so much more than the “shelf stacker at a service station” as she was referred to many times during the BBC competitive baking show.

Since then she has made appearances on a number of television programmes and has written her own very successful recipe book called ‘Let’s Bake’.

But publicising her book was not high on her agenda - in fact her shop has shelves full of books which she calls her ‘bakery book library’ and it’s just a quarter of her full cookery book collection at her home in Pease Pottage.

Despite her hectic lifestyle Cat still has time to feel nervous about turning 30.

She said this was made worse by the fact that she ‘lost a year of her life’ when she believed she was 26 for two years.

She said: “It came to my birthday and my family heard me saying ‘yeah I’ll be 27’ and they all said ‘no you’ll be 28’. I was so disappointed.”

And Cat still finds time to watch GBBO 2014 and she said Martha is one of her favourite contestants.