What it’s like to leave your stable job to live the sweet life?
K atherine Sabbath is a baking queen – a cake creative with an international cult following of more than 337,000 on Instagram. Her creations have inspired thousands of home bakers around the world and she is in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for her very first pop-up cake cookbook. But she wasn’t always a professional baker.
Swapping the whiteboard for the baking tray
After completing a Bachelor of Education at UOW, Katherine began teaching English, Commerce, Geography and History to high school students in Sydney.
“Having the opportunity to be in the very privileged role of enriching the lives of others and supporting the growth of good, global citizens is a pretty special reward, in my humble opinion,” Katherine says. “I really loved connecting with and learning alongside my students.”
But every spare hour outside the classroom was spent in the kitchen covered in flour and food colouring creating her next masterpiece. Eventually the lure of baking became too strong and in 2015, with the support of her ever-growing fan base, she took the leap and took on the “cake life” full-time.
“It was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make in my life, but so far it’s also proven to be the most exciting,” Katherine says. “Don’t get me wrong, high school teaching has always motivated me but I’ve also always had a very strong creative streak that only dessert making has been able to satiate.”
Mixing her passions
Combining her self-taught baking skills with her teaching experience, Katherine is now sharing her passion for making and baking through cooking demonstrations and hands-on workshops throughout Australia and abroad.
“I thrive on the opportunities within the dessert world to develop my craft, as well as being able to share these new ideas, hints, tips and tricks with fellow home bakers,” she says.
“For me, there is no greater feeling than being in a room filled with other enthusiastic and like-minded people, creating fantastical cakes with the aim of sharing these with the special people in their lives.”
Personally, I think there is much to be admired about being a maker and creator, rather than a reliance on mindless, mass-market consumerism.Katherine Sabbath
Made from scratch
For Katherine, the rising popularity in home baking goes beyond TV cooking shows by tapping into our natural urge to create something with our own two hands and the satisfaction we feel when we get to share it with those we love.
“Personally, I think there is much to be admired about being a maker and creator, rather than a reliance on mindless, mass-market consumerism. Making something from scratch is inherently hugely rewarding. I get a real kick out of the gesture of sharing a personalised and delicious memory with the ones I love. It goes without saying that good food brings people together,” she says.
When searching for inspiration for her next creation, Katherine often simply listens to the rumblings from within.
“More often than not, I bake according to the flavours and textures I feel like eating at the time and matching these to some of my favourite colour combinations of the moment,” she says.
This free-will approach to baking allows her to be more experimental in the kitchen, which can often lead her down a new path to a truly unique creation.
“I would definitely say the creative process for me is pure experimentation married with personal preference, which makes it all the more exciting,” Katherine says.
The rise of the accidental baker
Katherine only joined Instagram to keep in touch with friends. However the cake creations she has shared since 2013 – combined with her bubbly personality and vibrant personal style – started to spread beyond her circle of friends. Way beyond.
“I’ve been seriously gob-smacked by the amount of support I’ve received through Instagram as well as all of the wonderful people I’ve been fortunate enough to connect with over the last three years,” Katherine says. “It’s something I would have never imagined would happen to me, yet I’ll never take the attention of others for granted. I’m very chuffed there is a community out there who enjoy my work as much as I do.”
This humble approach to her online fame seems to help with the pressure of posting such personal creations to a large audience.
“I try not to overthink Instagram and post whatever I myself would be proud and excited to share with my mates. One thing I know for sure, it’s never, ever about the likes,” she says.
Setting the trends
With countless #katherinesabbath replicas popping up on Instagram feeds around the globe, it’s fair to say that Katherine Sabbath is influencing the future trends of home baking.
But where does this merry maker see baking heading in the near future?
“I love admiring cakes covered in fresh, edible flower petals. They are a breath of fresh air and add gorgeous, natural bursts of colour,” she says.
“I’m also very much enjoying the resurgence of cakes covered in fluffy buttercream, decadent ganache drips and all things delicious.”
Once a teacher
While the classroom and the kitchen may seem like very different careers, Katherine couldn’t be happier as she has found a way to combine her biggest passions into the one career.
“It’s been fantastic because now I am able to teach people from all walks of life, in all different types of learning environments,” she says.
She also manages to keep in contact with her old school and visit the students when she gets the chance.
“Those kiddos will be in my heart forever and it’s been very valuable for me to realise that teaching and learning don’t just happen in the confines of a school classroom,” Katherine says.
This story is the first in a Meet The Makers series profiling UOW people who are rejecting the mass made and getting their hands dirty making real things.