Top baker plans to share his secrets at sugarcraft school

HIS wacky cakes are so "scrumptious" that he gained five stone sampling his own wares.

Now, Bathgate-born cake designer Paul Bradford – famed for fashioning cakes in the shape of Edinburgh Castle, Cybermen, dragons and just about anything – is set to reveal his secrets to the masses with a new cake school.

Paul, 31, co-founder of Linlithgow-based Truly Scrumptious Cakes, has set up the new sugarcraft school to teach people the intricate art of cake design.

He said: "The sugarcraft school started out as a small pilot project that was oversubscribed.

"Everyone who took part in the initial classes booked in for the next class."

The school will run 15 courses, with places for around 150 people, from beginners to those just wanting to brush up their skills.

Paul and his business partner David Brice, 42, started their business in Linlithgow High Street in 2003, designing top-of-the range cakes for clients including the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and the Scottish Government.

Paul went into bakery straight from school, and work experience turned into a full-time career courtesy of a supportive local baker.

He added: "I'd always wanted to be baker – even at school.

"When I left school I did an HNC in baking and baking design at Telford College, and when it came time to do some work experience I was determined to work in an independent bakery rather than a big corporate bakery.

"I took some work experience at Oliphant's in Linlithgow, and owner David Oliphant asked me to work for him full-time."

Mr Oliphant's decision to take on the fledgling young baker wasn't his last act of kindness, and when Paul wanted to go out on his own Mr Oliphant even gave him some of his own premises to work out of for free.

"Everyone thought he was mad," said Paul. "Technically I was in competition but we had a deal where I would buy the sponges from him to fashion into my cakes, and my prices would start where Oliphant's ended so we wouldn't be tapping the same market."

Truly Scrumptious expanded into Corstorphine in 2007, where it caught the eye of Jenners, which offered them a cake concession within the store.

The company now employs ten people, which has given Paul the chance to concentrate on other things, including his sugarcraft school.

The new school is being helped with a 16,000 loan from business support agency DSL Business Finance.

Paul said: "When we first started the business it was called Paul Bradford Cake Design. But everyone would ask for me by name and I couldn't get anything done so we changed it to Truly Scrumptious.

"My cakes are hard to resist and I ballooned to 17 stone within a few years of starting out.

"When I worked at Oliphant's I used to cycle eight miles from Bathgate to Linlithgow and I was about 12 stone, so it was quite a jump.

"The increase in staff means I've got more people to taste the cakes to make sure they're just right – and the weight is coming off now."