From struggling mom to celebrated baker, the story behind Catherine’s Incredible Edibles.
By Kim Ploughman
In a tiny hamlet in Newfoundland, a 40-year-old woman sporting a splash of pink hair has a hankering for telling colourful stories. However, Catherine Sansome of Indian Cove, on New World Island near Twillingate, is no ordinary storyteller. Her creativity manifests in the form of cakes created to celebrate someone special. She is so skilled at her craft that she was crowned top baker in Canada in 2022, making her not just a celebrity baker in her hometown but across the country as well.
We catch up with Catherine via phone one recent Friday at lunchtime. Her children are still in school and she’s in between errands. “I have a very full life,” she laughs, as we launch into our discussion about her home-based business selling her signature cakes and other sweet treats like scones, cupcakes and cookies.
Growing up, Catherine learned to bake with her mom, grandmother and aunts. “This instilled a love of baking,” she says. And she was always artistic, even painting murals in her youth. When she discovered the baking shows on the Food Network and saw what people were making, she was hooked. By 2009, she was fully into cake decorating.
Around that time she was a single mom to two very small children and living in Gander. “I didn’t want to be a single mom on welfare. I had to support my family,” Catherine says, explaining how her baking business got its start. “I knew I had a knack for it, and it just flourished from there.” Posting pictures of her beautiful creations to social media really helped boost her sales.
By 2012, Catherine had moved to Indian Cove with her new husband, Jamie, and his three teenage daughters. Here, the baker maintained her home business under the name Catherine’s Incredible Edibles. The next year, tragedy struck when the family home, including the bakery, was destroyed by fire. She credits the wonderful support of family and the community for getting her back on her feet in a year.
As her business was rebuilding, Catherine was setting her sights on baking competitions. She applied for but didn’t make “The Great Canadian Baking Show.” Rather than being deterred, Catherine says, “It was my first toe dipping in this arena and I was hooked!”
In 2019, NL celebrity baker Aaron McInnis (“Man vs Cake” and “Happy Belly”) invited her as an assistant on Food Network Canada’s “The Big Bake: Halloween Season,” which she deemed “an amazing experience.” The following year, Catherine led her own team, taking two other bakers with her to a competition. While they didn’t win, she remarks that “it was a whirlwind of emotions.”
Her big moment to shine came in late 2022, when Catherine was chosen for individual competition on CTV’s “Holiday Cross-Country Cake Off.” What got her in was a creation based on a story about herself. Her cake was topped by a figurine of Catherine juggling family life, a home and her cake business, right down to her face dimples and piping bag tattoo on her right arm. The cake florals represented each of her children, with a blackberry bus for her son, as well as two butterflies for her grandbabies and a bee for her grandson.
“It won the judges’ hearts over,” Catherine says with pride.
She was flown to Toronto for the live bake-off competition. In the first round, she designed a cake with the theme, “The Greatest Gift.” With a whimsical Christmas tree cake, Catherine paid a touching tribute to her daughter Kylie, born at 9:31 a.m. on Christmas Day.
In the final round, Catherine showcased a Christmas wedding cake that represented her and her husband, and who they are as a couple. “I blended the traditional, which he is, with me being non-traditional, especially with my bright pink hair.” It was the winning entry.
Catherine says her husband always believed she would make it to the top and win. “What he said came to life!” she says. “It was amazing. I was lost for words… I couldn’t believe it… I cried…”
With the $50,000 in winnings, Catherine further invested in her dream by finishing the “bare-bones” bakery attached to their house.
A self-taught cake maker, Catherine shares that building relationships is a big part of her business, which is why she still has devoted clients in Gander and as far away as St. John’s. For those aspiring to follow a similar fondant footpath, she advises to “Never give up!”
She adds, “It will be a trial-and-error process. Just do lots of research, and study what other bakers are sharing for free online. And get yourself a good turntable!”
One of her most challenging, and certainly most famous, creations was a cake made for her father-in-law’s birthday a few years ago. It had a uniquely Newfoundland design: a turr dinner. “It is his favourite Sunday tradition. The idea only popped into my head that day,” she recalls. Complete with veggies and gravy, it was the perfect homage to him.
Folks, evidently, love seeing and tasting Catherine’s imaginative and delightful creations. And Catherine loves making sweet dreams come true, from a cove by the sea with her family – the icing on her cake.