Cake of the Month – February 2015

When we told baker Lisa that we’d picked her leopard print cake to be our Cake of the Month for February she said it was, and we quote, “the highlight of her year”! It is only March, but we’ll take that!

PS: We reckon the world would be a better place with a bit more leopard print in it.

FCFK - leopard print cakeName of baker: Lisa Stewart
Name of cake: Luscious leopard print cake

Easy chocolate cake recipe from BBC Good Food
Butter icing
Ready to roll icing
Gel food colouring

I started by making two large chocolate bases, then flattened them off and stacked with some butter icing and jam in between. I then added a layer of butter icing around the cakes before covering with the ready to roll icing.

To get the animal print effect I used a deep purple and black gel colouring, adding uneven blotches of the deep purple all over the cake and then drawing black outlines around these. There are loads of amazing tutorials on YouTube if you want to try it yourself!

To complete the cake, I made a little bow and some numbers out of ready to roll icing.

About the baker:
I recently got quite in to baking after I started making cakes for friends’ birthdays. One of my friends then sent me a link to Free Cakes for Kids and I thought it was such a great idea – I’d get to perfect my cake decorating skills whilst doing something for people in my local community.

Not only is it great fun throwing glitter and sparkles on a cake but it’s also a lovely feeling knowing that your cake could help to make someone’s day special. Everyone deserves to be made a fuss of on their birthday and I like to think my cakes help with that!

Cake of the Month – January 2015

Finally, we’re nearly catching up with our Cake of the Months – we’re into 2015 now at least! This cake was new baker Sophie’s first bake for us. We decided that we’d let her stay 😉

If you’ve ever wondered how to make one of *those* Barbie cakes then wonder no more…

FCFK - little Barbie cakeName of baker: Sophie Simpson
Name of cake: Princess Barbie

Vanilla sponge cake, buttercream icing, raspberry jam.

Wrap Barbie in clingfilm (including her hair) in order to protect her from the icing. Stack 3/4 sponges with buttercream and jam until the height reaches Barbie’s torso. Cut a circular hole in the centre for Barbie and shave the top and sides into a bell shape.

Decorate as desired by piping/spreading buttercream dyed pink with food colouring around the cake and finishing with ribbons/edible decorations.

About the baker:
With a busy job, I rarely get a chance to cook dinner, let alone bake, but it’s something I really enjoy therefore I thought FCFK Hackney would provide a great opportunity to do some baking as well as contributing to a wonderful cause.

Cake of the Month – December 2014

Talking of ever so cute cakes … awww, this snowman is just the most adorable thing. And the best thing about volunteering for us for baker Anna? She gets to lick the bowl! Yum yum!

FCFK - cheeky snowman cakeName of baker: Anna Greenwood
Name of cake: Snowman

For the cake-
Five eggs; then same weight as eggs of self-raising flour, sugar and butter. One or two teaspoons of vanilla extract.
For the buttercream–
250g butter, 500g icing sugar, one teaspoon of vanilla extract
Coloured fondant icing, sweets, carrots, whatever works…

Heat oven to 180 / 160 if fan. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one by one, mixing thoroughly as each is added. Add vanilla extract. Sieve and fold flour into the mixture carefully without knocking the air out or over mixing. Divide between two tins and bake for 30 minutes until springy, but keep an eye on them after 25 minutes. Allow to cool and make buttercream by mixing the ingredients together.

When cake is cool, cut one cake into a smaller round for the head (unless you’ve baked in two different sized tins), then cut an inch of cake off each round so one can sit on the other. Lather it in buttercream, inside and out if you like. Smooth the outside with a scraper and get it as neat as you can. Give your snowman a face with sweets, liquorice or coloured icing for eyes, nose and mouth. Make a scarf by rolling out two strips of coloured icing, cutting into one end for the authentic frayed scarf look. Make a hat or anything else you fancy. Doesn’t he look nice? Now EAT HIM.

About the baker:
I’m a DJ and work from home so it’s easy for me to whip up a cake during the day. Plus I get to lick the bowl after and everyone knows cake mix is the best bit of this whole baking process. FCFK Hackney is such a great charity and idea and it’s so nice to be part of it and make something fun to be enjoyed at a celebration. My decorating may not be Great British Bake Off worthy, but the cakes always taste good!

Cake of the Month – November 2014

November’s Cake of the Month is up next – a dinosaur in cake form that was so cute it made us fall a little bit in love with it.  If we could have taken it home to keep as a pet then we would have!

FCFK - dragon cake 1Name of baker: Esther Metcalf
Name of cake: Dinosaur cake

Butter, sugar, self-raising flour, baking powder, cocoa powder
Icing 1 (main cake):
Butter, icing sugar, cocoa powder
Icing 2 (under the dinosaur cake):
Butter, icing sugar, vanilla seeds

FCFK - dinosaur making ofMethod:
Standard Victoria sandwich cake method for the cake – I made three circular cakes. Two were used sandwiched together for the base cake which was then covered in dark green fondant and the third cake was used to form the body of the dinosaur.

I made some off cuts for the tail and head and then sandwiched together the remaining halves of the circle to form his arching body.

A base layer of vanilla butter cream made a smooth base to cover over with orange fondant (from my favourite shop, Party Party in Dalston) for the dinosaur’s body, and I added cut out triangles fixed with dabs of water for his spikes and yellow dots stuck on this way too. The best bit was adding his googly eyes and teeth!

A sneaky flourish of green buttercream icing helped cover some cracks in the green fondant.

About the baker:
My day job as an architect doesn’t always mean I get to be as creative as I would like, drawing on the computer all day. So baking is a way for almost instant creative gratification. FCFK Hackney seemed an obvious match. I love making cakes, especially fun ones for kids and FCFK Hackney need volunteers to make them.

Cake of the Month – October 2014

Um, yeah, so it’s March 2015 and we’re posting October 2014’s Cake of the Month. We’ve reached new levels of lateness, but hello! Baker Beth only went and made TWO amazing cakes for one year-old and three year-old sisters. The older sister had been in and out of hospital and the family were planning a special celebration for when she came home. Beth could have *just* made a pair of vicky sponges, but she didn’t. She went to town and has some great icing tips to share below. Read on…

FCFK - cakes for sistersName of baker: Beth
Name of cakes: Makka Pakka garden cake and Mickey Mouse ball pool cake
Chocolate sponge with chocolate icing x 2
Fondant icing
Food colouring (I find the gel ones best as they give such a bright colour)
Various icing tools – I usually use whatever I can find around the house such as different sized knives, chopsticks, bottle tops etc
Lots and lots and lots of Smarties!

First I covered each sponge with chocolate frosting followed by a sheet of fondant icing. For the Makka Pakka cake, I coloured the fondant blue, and for the Mickey cake, bright pink. A tip I was given for colouring large amounts of icing like this is to colour a small ball of icing first, making sure its colour is brighter than you want the final colour to be, then knead this small ball into the rest of the icing. I love this way, as it is much quicker and the end product ends up much less streaky.

After this, I used more icing and even more colours to decorate the two cakes! I used leaf cutters and star cutters to decorate the Makka Pakka cake to look like a garden and the sky, before adding some clouds and a fondant Makka Pakka to the top of the cake.

For the Mickey cake, I recruited a good friend of mine who usually comes to the rescue when my baking doesn’t go to plan, to help me make a Mickey from fondant icing – which turned out to be much harder than we first thought! Once we conquered this, I rolled out a long thick tube of purple icing, lined the cake with it, placed Mickey in the middle and then poured Smarties around him to make the cake look like a big ball pool.

And that’s it! Making two cakes in one evening was definitely a challenge, but once I heard that the two girls were sisters, I was very glad to do it.

About the baker:
Hi, I’m Beth. I’ve been baking for FCFK Hackney for about a year now, and began after I graduated from university. It has been a bit of a crazy year, but I really enjoy taking the time to bake, and love to challenge myself with new cake designs. I definitely wouldn’t have the opportunity to make cakes like this without FCFK Hackney, so I am grateful for the opportunity!

Where the hell have we been?!

We’re sorry, we know you’ve no doubt been checking our website on an almost daily basis wondering when the bloody hell we were going to get on and post something else. We haven’t just been sitting around watching daytime telly, we can assure you of that; we’ve been busy, as in mega, mega busy!

FCFK - 336 candlesIf you’re one of our likers on good ol’ Facebook, or if you follow us on twitter then you’ll have some idea of what we’ve been up to these past months, from fundraising to celebrating our bakers with a big party, not to mention keeping the good ship FCFK Hackney ticking over as we bake more cakes than ever (336 was our total at the end of February). We’ll be writing a bit more about all that soon, but, right now, we wanted to chat money!

A little while ago now we put in for a BBC Children in Need grant and completed a rather rigorous application process. We knew that the competition for the money would be immense so, whilst we had our fingers permanently crossed, we’d told ourselves not to be too disappointed if we didn’t get the funding. But guess what? We only went and got. the. funding! Yes, yes we did!

FCFK - Skipton fundingWhile this was going on, we also applied for a Skipton Building Society ‘Grassroots Giving’ grant. You may remember this because it was down to the public vote who got the money and we spent a considerable amount of time badgering you lovely lot to vote for us. Well, our badgering your voting paid off and we got the grant. Whoop! (Witness a happy TEAM FCFK Hackney in the photo on the right in receipt of our grant from Skipton.)

Meanwhile, some rather generous companies out there – the awesome Adams Catering Hire and Chegworth Valley Juices, we’re looking at you – decided that Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas unless they gave us some cash. So they did. And we were, and still are, massively grateful. Unlike the grants, this ‘unattached’ money means that we can pay for some of the more mundane costs associated with the running of FCFK Hackney, like DBS checks and insurance, and it takes the pressure off us having to fundraise like crazy when we have other things on our plate, like…

FCFK - Long White Cloud bakers…family baking workshops. Yep, that’s what the applications for the Children in Need and Skipton grants were all about. We were so encouraged by the two baking workshops that we held previously – and the response we got from the children and their parents/carers who then went on to bake at home as a family using our equipment and basic recipe – that we really wanted to expand our service to offer more of the same. The grants will enable us to do just that and we’ve already done our training session (thanks to Long White Cloud on Hackney Road for hosting us and our rather large collection of blue mixing bowls) and have a whole series of baking workshops lined up, starting at the end of this month (eeek, better get our pinnies ironed!). We can’t wait to get started properly and are particularly excited to be involving some older young people (if that makes sense) from Think Forward to help deliver our workshops.

Ok, we reckon we’ve waffled on enough now, so we’ll leave you with some shots of the muffins and the microwave mug cakes, for families without ovens, that we’ve been trialing ahead of the workshops. And stay tuned because we’ve got a whole backlog of Cake of the Months to post and we’d love it if each baker gets their moment to shine.

FCFK - Long White Cloud muffinsFCFK - Long White Cloud microwave cakes

On why you sometimes see scribbles on our cake pictures

From time to time, when we put cake pictures up in our gallery here, or over on twitter, Facebook and Instagram, you’ll see they have ‘scribbles’ on them. Like this, this and this, for example…

FCFK - bunting iced cakeFCFK - chocolate star cakeFCFK - star cakes for twins

The scribbles aren’t because the baker’s flown into a rage with a tube of writing icing, or because we’ve let the toddler loose with the crayons, it’s because we’ve – rather crudely on a rubbishy picture editor app – edited out a child’s name. Ok, so we won’t get a job airbrushing Kim Kardashian’s thighs for Elle magazine, but at least we’re safe in the knowledge that the children we bake for have their identities protected. Twitter isn’t interested in who that incredible dinosaur cake was baked for; the cakes still get love on Instagram without us sharing the child’s name; and the likes keep coming in on Facebook regardless of the back-story.

We didn’t adopt this policy until about a year ago, but publishing names wasn’t ever something that sat comfortably with us, and after a discussion with one of our bakers – who happens to work in family law – we just knew if was the right decision to make.

People know that we bake birthday cakes for kids who would otherwise go without and that’s enough. And to the child it doesn’t matter where their cake comes from. We don’t need the families to shout about us. We don’t care what parents or carers tell their children. At school drop-offs, classmates could believe that their mate’s mum popped by with a cake. That’s ok. The children might not give a cake’s origins a second thought so long as it’s got their favourite superhero or colour on, or they might start believing that there’s a birthday cake fairy. That’d be nice. The point is, it doesn’t matter.

Life’s tough enough for many people already and the last thing they want is the fact that they’re struggling highlighted for all to see. It’s taken some time for us to build up the level of trust and understanding we have with many of our referring bodies and we don’t want to do anything to jeopardise that. We want families to be able to come to us if they need our service without worrying that others will think badly of them for getting help. That’s what we’re here for.

So we’ll keep on scribbling on cake photos where necessary. And while we’re more than happy to share what makes us and our organisation tick, we’ll honour our commitment to never share anything that would compromise the identity of the children and families we work with. That’s a promise.

Cake of the Month – September 2014

Oh balls. It’s November. How did that happen? Better late than never, hey? Here’s September’s Cake of the Month – which is a spectacular masterpiece by anyone’s standards.

Often cakes for children are very literal; a cartoon character’s face for example (not that there’s anything wrong with that – we are huge fans of Mickey’s grin or Spiderman’s mask). The brief for this cake was Snow White and we love how baker Becca has styled it to the max. It doesn’t have Snow White’s face on it, but this cake – in colour and symbolisation – is undeniably Snow White. We love it.

FCFK - snow white cake

Name of baker: Becca Gale

Name of cake: Snow White Cake

Vanilla sponge (flour, sugar, margarine, eggs, vanilla extract)
Strawberry jam
Buttercream icing
Fondant icing

I made two sponges of different sizes and then sliced them both in half when baked and cooled. I filled each sponge with buttercream and jam and then stacked them so that the smaller sponge sat on top of the larger one. I then covered the cakes in coloured buttercreams and made the apple and bow decoration out of fondant icing which I painted with food colouring.

About the baker:
I have always loved baking but as I live with only my boyfriend I don’t like to bake too often (keeping our waistlines in mind!). When I heard about FCFK Hackney I thought it would be a way for me to do some extra baking and it is for such a great cause. I always loved the birthday cakes my mum made for me growing up and think that every child deserves a homemade cake baked with care for their birthday.

How to turn a tenner into £20 without the help of Paul Daniels

Since we started baking birthday cakes for kids in Hackney who wouldn’t otherwise receive them, we’ve made quite a few friends. And not just people who like cake (although show us a person who doesn’t like cake and we’ll show you someone who has clearly not let chocolate Guinness cake with cream cheese icing into their life). Where were we…? Oh yes, friends. We are constantly blown away by the support we are offered from other people, businesses, groups and organisations both in Hackney and beyond. One such organisation that we now count as a friend is

FCFK - Laura's cake for LouSaying we’re friends with Localgiving is a bit like proclaiming undying love for an ever so generous bank manager. But it’s more than just a business transaction.

If you aren’t familiar with the organisation, Localgiving offers groups like ours an online fundraising platform, plus a load of personal support to go with it if you so wish. The cost to us is small and having an accessible, easy to use page on the web where anybody and everybody can donate to us whenever and wherever they wish is invaluable.

– Without it we would have to be doling out our bank account details to any potential donor.

– Without it we would have struggled to find a resource to fundraise for our Hackney half marathon and we certainly wouldn’t have had the lovely Lou give up cake for a month to raise money for us.

– And without it we wouldn’t have gained £290-worth of *free* money through match funding.

We love ’em so much we even bake them cakes … ! On the left is our lovely Laura (FCFK Hackney events supremo and super sew-er) presenting the lovely Localgiving Lou (of #nocakeAugust fame) with a bloody big cakey reward for going 31 days without even a crumb!

So, as you can imagine, we were super excited when we heard that there was going to be new round of match funding called Grow Your Tenner and we jumped at the chance to go along to the launch party. Put simply, Grow Your Tenner is awesome. Lovely people donate a tenner to us through our Localgiving site and that tenner miraculously turns into TWENTY WHOLE GREAT BRITISH POUNDS, thanks to a pot of money kindly set aside by the Government’s Cabinet Office. It’s amazing. We can do a lot with £10, but we can do double that “a lot” with twenty quid, like pay for our insurance, our DBS checks … print leaflets advertising our service to new referrers, oh, and keep baking, of course … the sky is the limit. Small organinsations make money go a looooooooong way. Believe us.

We also like Grow Your Tenner because it has this lovely flashy banner (which you might like to click on and have a go at turning a tenner of yours into £20 with no Paul Daniels or Debbie McGee in sight). Oooh, flashy banner. Click, click, click!

FCFK - moneyboxWhat we weren’t expecting when we rocked up to the Grow Your Tenner launch party was for Rob Wilson MP, Minister for Civil Society – who was there to officially welcome the new round of match funding – to pledge to raise money for us too. Yes, really!

He said he loved cake!

… and whilst he couldn’t go a whole month without it, he would happily give it up for a fortnight and donate the money he would ordinarily spend on cake in that fortnight to us instead.

Cue some rather large smiles from us.

We’ve sent him this rather snazzy little moneybox to help him on his way and will keep you posted with his progress in the endeavour that we have snappily named #nocakefortnight.

In the meantime, thank you if you’ve already donated to us through our Localgiving site. You rock. And we mean it when we say we couldn’t do without those tenners that you so generously donate (especially the magic ones that turn into twenties). Money doesn’t make the world go round; cake does. But money helps to make the cake that makes the world go round.

Do us a favour. Yes, another one. Pleeease!

Us lot, we’re always asking for favours, aren’t we?  If we don’t want you to bake something for us then we want you to come to some event we’ve organised, or to donate to us, or sponsor us.  We know.  We ask a LOT.  And here we are asking you for a favour once again, sorry, but it’s an easy one, we promise.

We’ve applied for some funding through Skipton Building Society’s Grassroots Giving programme to enable us to put on more of the awesome family baking workshops we ran at the end of last year and the beginning of this year.  We’ve been shortlisted – woo hoo!  But whether we get the money now depends on how many people vote for us.  Yep, this is where you come in…

Pretty please with a cherry on top could you:

1. Click this link:

2. Scroll to the bottom.

3. Enter your email address.

4. Encourage as many of your friends; relatives; acquaintances; work colleagues; hell, even the person sitting next to you on the tube if you’re there long enough, to do the same.

It only takes a couple of seconds (unless you’ve got some ridiculously long email address), then your job is done.  Favour over.  You can carry on watching telly, picking your nose, for all we care, but you will be safe in the knowledge that you’ve taken us one click closer to getting some really valuable funding.

What are you waiting for?  Click and vote, people, click and vote!

And if you need any further encouragement as to why you should click and vote, here are some beautiful pictures and comments from the workshops we’ve already held.  If these aren’t worth you entering your email address then we don’t know what is.

“I love cooking but don’t have the equipment so thank you for giving me all the things I need to bake with my children at home.”

“Doing the workshop helped me interact with my children more. I would usually go home and let them watch television but the workshop gave us time together.”

“I’d never baked with my children before the workshop but we’ve already used the kit to make the muffins again. It’s a new family activity for us.”