Leigh is now home to another new art form. It’s rapidly turning into the county’s cake capital.

Behind this new identity is Fancy Nancy’s spectacular cake showroom, in Rectory Grove.

Fancy Nancy’s creations are attracting a fast-growing client base which had included London store Harvey Nichols and celebrities as diverse as actor Sir Ian McKellen, rapper Dizzee Rascal, and TV presenters Holly Willoughby, Eamonn Holmes and Richard Madeley.

The cakes themselves, samples of which line the shelves in Rectory Grove, qualify as definite A-listers of the cakestand in their own right.

Founder Juliet Sear says: “We are now recognised as one of the UK’s leading cake designers.”

Fancy Nancy’s style is as much about looking as cooking – eyecatching products which effectively sell themselves at first glance. The firm has artists as well as cooks on the payroll to ensure its cakes are what Juliet describes as “at the cutting edge”.

Recent examples include a hand-painted tattoo cake, which captures the peculiar sheen of skin art, and a patchwork quilt cake, which contrives to look alarmingly like the real thing.

Perhaps the most impressive creation, however, is Fancy Nancy’s signature design, the rose cake, smothered from tip to base with 400 flower heads.

The company – winner of the Echo’s 2010 Southend Retail Business award – started four years ago after Juliet came up with the idea of what she calls a “couture cake and cookie boutique”.

Her passion for the cakemaker’s craft, has taken the business from the kitchen table to Harvey Nicks.

She admits: “It’s sad, really, but I often wake up in the middle of the night thinking cakes.”

Juliet traces the roots of her current career back 13 years. A one-time restaurant manager, she says: “I’ve always been mad about cooking”.

She put her career on hold to start a family. She recalls: “I baked some cakes for my son George’s first birthday. After that, Some of the other mums asked me to bake cakes for their children’s parties.”

She then took a job with London’s most celebrated cake maker, the Little Venice Cake company, allowing her to study the business from the inside.

It also introduced Juliet to the world of celebrity baking. Little Venice’s regular clients ranged from the Queen, to Terry Wogan, Madonna, the Osbourne family, David Beckham, Gordon Ramsay and Piers Brosnan.

Eventually, Juliet took her experience back to upmarket, arty Leigh, where she spotted an opportunity.

She says: “So many people here work in London, and are used to seeing fancy cake shops.

“Having a local shop like ours gives them the chance to buy cakes at the weekend, when they have the leisure time to enjoy them.”

Juliet worked on the project with her artist sister, Nancy, who is responsible for the shop’s look and also lends the business her name.

From the outset, the emphasis at Fancy Nancy was on quality rather than price.

A standard wedding cake will cost about £500, while bespoke cakes are considerably more.

Juliet explains: “We use the best quality ingredients, usually organic.

“They cost more, but frankly, our main outgoing is labour, so adding a pound or two to the cost of materials doesn’t really make much difference.”

Sometimes, however, money is simply no object at all.

Juliet recalls: “Dizzee Rascal’s people rang at 3.50 on a Friday afternoon. They needed a bespoke cake for the next afternoon.

“By shuffling our orders and working around the clock we just managed to make it in time. It was taken to London by courier.

“They were so desperate they would have paid any amount of money for that cake.”

However, passers-by on a tighter budget are still welcome to drop in at the shop for a single cupcake, or a slice of fruit cake, baked on the premises.

The boss herself, though, is unlikely to join you. She admits: “I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. It’s probably a good thing, really. Otherwise, I might be dipping into the cakes all the time.

"To be honest, I’d rather eat a bag of crisps!"