Jack of All Trades Master of None!

Blog - Jack of All Trades Master of None

When I first set up a business I decided that I would do all things cakes and bakes. I even chose my first business name for that purpose.

Holmestead Cakes and Bakes was born in October 2016 when I left my job as Operations Manager at Grimsby Citizens Advice. The name encompassed everything that I thought I might do at some point in my new chosen career.

My background has always been office-based but my passion has always been cooking, baking and cake decorating; something I probably got from my Nanna who was a great cook and worked for some major companies in Derby where I was born such as Rolls Royce, Royal Crown Derby and Balfour Beatty to name a few.

To leave a well paid job that I had loved doing for 16 years was a risk but one I decided to take. I was not quite sure what to do so I thought I could do a bit of everything including baking, cake decorating and small buffet catering.

The history of “Jack”

This blog looks at whether it is better to be a Jack of all trades (doing a bit of everything) or concentrate on being the best at something specific.

The term “Jack of all trades” dates back to about the 14th century where “Jack” was used as a generic name for someone of the “common people”.

It is used to describe someone who has many skills but uses them with average efficiency. He is therefore “Jack of all trades Master of none”!


Where did my talents lie, and would they make a viable business?

My cakes are always themed and beautifully decorated and people order them due to the nature of the decoration but it is important that they also taste good too. There are very many different cake flavours and recipes but right at the start I decided that it was important not to overstretch myself with offering “any kind of cake” but to stick to a couple of recipes that I make regularly, that are always consistent and always taste good. I am usually complimented on how the cake tastes “homemade” which I take as a compliment. In other words that the cake doesn’t taste like those that are mass produced. Usually they are a Victoria sponge, a lemon sponge or a chocolate fudge cake.

When I realised that making cakes probably wasn’t going to make a sustainable business I looked at other bakes that I had the skills to create.

One of my favourite things to work with during my 3 year studies for the Sugarcraft City and Guilds 7900 certificate was royal icing.

I love the fact that Royal Icing is simple in both terms of making it and the ingredients that it uses. Just Icing Sugar, Meriwhite (a powdered egg substitute) lemon flavouring and food colourings or the traditional recipe of Icing Sugar, Egg whites, lemon juice and colourings. Whisked together these make a stiff icing that can be varied in thickness to create beautiful shiny surfaces on cakes and biscuits.

I wrote a blog called Why Royal Icing isn’t just for Snowy Christmas Cakes and there are lots of hints and tips on making and using Royal Icing in there.


Taking a leap of faith.

Looking at the idea of creating bespoke cookies with royal icing really appealed to me and I set to work designing some for friends and family to see whether this idea might have legs.

As a newly created business with a new name which I hoped would be more memorable, Cookie Doodle Doo cookie boxes started to take off I realised that this was where I should be concentrating all of my attention and rather than be that Jack of All Trades I would stop advertising both catering services and celebration cakes altogether.

Whilst I still have a number of regular customers for whom I make cakes each year I now do very few and my Holmestead Cakes and Bakes Facebook page has become a gallery of cakes rather than a place to advertise for new customers and if you are interested you can click the link to have a look.


The end result

Cookie Doodle Doo makes personalised cookies for all occasions including business events and corporate gifts. Made to one perfectly executed recipe for the vanilla sugar cookie (which is similar to a shortbread biscuit) and a finely tuned Royal Icing recipe which is flavoured faintly with lemon, just enough to cut through the sweetness of the sugar, I now create a perfect combination of flavours that taste delicious.


But what makes Cookie Doodle Doo different from other cookie companies?

People want to feel special. They want to give and receive a personal gift that shows that a lot of thought has gone into purchasing that perfect present. The bespoke cookie boxes that I create for my customers to give to their loved ones tell a story - the recipient’s story; in a box of cookies.

I take all the details that my customers know about the event or special occasion and I create a box of cookies that is unique to the person who will receive them.

Everything that I include in the box is a special part of the persons life, loves or hobbies and is perfect for the occasion.

When the box is opened the Birthday Girl / Boy ; the parents of a new baby or the Wedding Couple will take one look, smile and know that the gift is made and sent with love and shows them that they are special.  

If I can help you send a personalised gift to your loved ones in these uncertain time of Covid19 then please let me know. Letterbox gifts are a great way to show you love them in a unique and personal way.

I hope you have enjoyed this insight into why Cookie Doodle Doo is not a Jack of all trades but a master in one!

With cookie regards

Melanie x