Sarah Elvey’s infectious good humour seems to transfer into her baking as a quick glance will reveal. Super Mario characters smile up from butter icing while some cupcakes dress up as 99 ice creams and others are craft beer infused. In season, melted Snowmen find their way onto cookies while the Easter bunny’s footprints are clearly seen dotted across white iced cupcakes. Celebration cakes come adorned with VW vans (for a surfer) or a rescue helicopter with rotating propeller. Sarah’s baking is both whimsical and attractive – it’s also quite delicious as her many happy customers will testify.
Born in Northampton to Jamaican parents, Sarah was brought up with good home cooking and baking, though has less tolerance for hot spicy food than might be expected. She fondly recalls Saturdays spent with her older brother, learning to make steak and kidney pie. That same brother left a successful banking career for the food industry and she worked with him, running several pubs in England and qualifying as a barista. She met her Irish born husband Mark, a photographer, then working in Formula One car photography in the UK. They struck a deal – he would spend four years in England with her and then they would move to Ireland for another four. That stint in Ireland began in 2006 so somebody isn’t very good at counting!
After several years working as café manager in Shells on the seafront in Strandhill, Sarah decided to take the plunge and set up on her own. She’d always loved baking and remembers a particular Home Economics teacher who was less than impressed when Sarah refused to use packet puff pastry for sausage rolls, instead arriving into school armed with her own home-made version! Opening Black Sheep Bakery seemed a natural step. She began working from home, starting small with macarons and whoopee pie, and expanding her range as demand increased. Today her kitchen is a busy whirlwind of activity, often with two Kitchen Aid mixers hard at work simultaneously.
As well as supplying several cafés, the Strandhill People’s Market is her main outlet and she has built up an impressive customer base over her two years there. Every Sunday the Black Sheep Bakery stall is laden with cookies and breads, brownies and croissants, cakes, muffins and meringues. She also takes orders for celebration cakes – birthdays, retirements, weddings and christenings. Needless to say, she made her own wedding cake; a three-tiered topsy turvey extravaganza with a black and white theme. At least husband Mark got to eat some of that one – his main complaint is a house filled with the delicious aromas of fresh baking, none of which he is allowed to touch!
Mark’s own work as a wedding photographer is demanding and means they have to organise their treasured holiday time literally years in advance. They both love the USA and particularly enjoy visiting the wonderful National Parks, walking and climbing as much as they can. It’s precious time out for both of them from busy but fulfilling careers.