Carole finds the recipe for a successful business passing on her baking skills to others

A WOMAN whose career as a chartered surveyor was cut short by serious back problems is now teaching people how to bake.

Carole Johnston, who runs the baking company 4afters from her cottage in Bagby, near Thirsk, is hosting baking days around her homely Aga stove to pass on her skills to others.

It’s a far cry from her original career as an rural practice auctioneer and chartered surveyor with the family auctioneering business, James Johnston of Boroughbridge, as well as at Thirsk Auction Mart and York Lifestock Centre.

Carole, who grew up in Boroughbridge and Aldborough, attended Roecliffe Primary School and St Aidan’s in Harrogate before going on to study rural estate management at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester.

She then joined the family business and was one of the first female livestock auctioneers in the country.

But her career as a chartered surveyor was cruelly cut short by serious back problems and she retired through ill heath in 1998.

She went on to work in the food industry, having always had an interest in baking.

“I had an interest from my grandma (Evelyn Gudgeon) and my mum (Phyll Steel); they always baked,” explained Carole, who had taken an O and A Levels in domestic science while at St Aidan’s, and also made cakes for the Museum Tearooms in Aldborough when she was a teenager.

She worked with the Yorkshire Party Company, mainly at Newby Hall, and Melmerby-based Just Puds.

She also became a chocolate maker in the chocolate room of Bettys after she did a one-day chocolate course at Bettys Cookery School in Harrogate with her mother.

They were so impressed with her skills that they offered her a job!

“It was like being in heaven, being in a Bettys’ chocolate room!” laughed Carole.

In January 2003, she decided to start her own company, 4afters, after a friend of a friend asked her to make a fairy cake wedding cake.

This has now become her speciality and she makes them for any occasion – including one made recently for the Government Office in Leeds to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

She now bakes special cakes, puddings, chocolate and fudge for private clients, as well as supplying butterfly buns to White Rose Books in Thirsk, desserts and puddings for the Golden Fleece Hotel in Thirsk and birthday cakes for Oswalds Restaurant with Rooms in Sowerby.

And, after being the student, she is also branching into teaching herself, with special baking days at her home, starting this Tuesday.

Once enrolled, people will be able to learn the art of baking cakes, brownies, scones and biscuits.

They will also be able to learn – and enjoy – a lunch, which Carole will cook on her new Aga and will serve with wine.

“I like to show people how to do things, there has been quite a revival and interest in baking,” explained Carole, adding she will be teaching a variety of straightforward baking recipes which can be re-created at home.

“If you have got basic ideas you can soon build on them,” she said. “I think a lot of people would love to make their children their birthday cake.”

l Carole is hosting her baking days this Tuesday, then on Tuesday, February 21, and Tuesday, March 21, from 10am to 3pm each day. The cost is 60 per person, with a maximum of three people each day.

To book a place or for more details, telephone Carole on 01845 524220.