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
Ingredients:
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!

Method:
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!


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

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

Method:
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.


Cake of the Month – August 2014

When baker Kirsten emailed us a picture of the “tie dye/rainbow” cake she had made and delivered to a Hackney child at the end of last month we were instantly transported back to our ’90s youthhood.  Hello tie dye!  Hello Magic Eye books!  Hello oversized Global Hypercolour t-shirts and cycling shorts and Salt-N-Pepa’s Let’s Talk About Sex on the ghetto blaster.  “Spinderella cut it up one time.”  Sorry, we totally took that too far …

… back to the cake.  We loved it, and we instantly wanted to know how to create a tie dye cake ourselves.  What better opportunity for a masterclass from the baker herself than Cake of the Month?  Little did we know then that it’s also a rainbow cake inside with concentric circles of colour in the actual batter too.  Legendary.
FCFK - tie dye cake

Name of baker: Kirsten Mansfield
Name of cake: tie dye rainbow cake

Ingredients:
For the cake:
350g self-raising flour
350g soft butter
350g caster sugar
6 large free range eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
up to 40ml semi-skimmed milk
6 different gel icing colours (I used red, orange, green, blue, yellow and purple)

For the icing:
100g butter, soft
250g cream cheese, at room temperature
600g icing sugar, sifted

 

Method:
For the cake:

First, preheat your oven to gas mark 4/170 degrees/360 degrees Fahrenheit and mix up your cake batter in the usual way – cream your butter and sugar until combined, add eggs one at a time followed by a little of the flour and mix well before adding theremaining flour and vanilla extract. If your mix is a little thick, add up to 40ml of semi-skimmed milk – adding a tablespoon at a time and stopping when you get to a consistency that you’re happy with.

Divide the mixture into six bowls, and make each bowl a different rainbow colour. Line the bottom of two 9 inch cake pans with wax paper, and grease the sides. Layer your cake batter in concentric circles. Use about 3/4 of the bowl for your bottom colour, then use a little less of each colour as you continue. Layer your second cake pan in the opposite order.

For the icing:

Melt the butter in a heat proof bowl in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, until close to completely melted. Whisk the butter until no lumps remain. Whisk in your cream cheese, again until no lumps remain.

Prepare your icing sugar, and then sieve it in to the cream cheese mixture 150g at a time, stirring gently with a wooden spoon between each addition. When all the icing sugar is incorporated, pop the frosting into the fridge to chill.

For the tie dye decoration:

Once you have frosted the cake make concentric circles with the gel on the top of your cake, starting with the largest circle (I used red on the outside) and working your way in to the middle (I used purple on the inside as I did not have as much left). Using a small, flat paintbrush, start at the centre circle and brush toward the outside of your cake – you will need to wash your brush a lot to keep it from creating a brown colour.

About the baker:

I was born in South African and my family and I moved to Qatar when I was eight. My mother taught me, my sister and our friends to bake at a young age and we took turns to make muffins and cakes to take to school. Throughout my school education and legal studies I have enjoyed volunteering and I taught swimming to children which encouraged me to get involved in various children’s charities. After university I travelled to Kenya and taught at a school for disadvantaged children in Mombasa which was a fascinating experience as I was able to immerse myself in the community.

When I moved to London two years ago I decided I wanted to carry on with volunteering but I needed it to be flexible as I was looking for a job and I didn’t know what kind of hours I would be doing. I currently work at Goldman Sachs and Free Cakes for Kids Hackney provides a great opportunity for me to combine my passion for baking with my interest in charity work. I was particularly interested in Free Cakes for Kids as it is a brilliant community service which has the opportunity to bring happiness to so many children and families.


Cake of the month – July 2014

Time and time again we are blown away by our bakers’ creativity. This cake is no exception. We bloody love the fact that Kelly didn’t give up on her mission to create an ingenious “smash cake” even though the heat was against her and she could have easily *just* presented us with a sandwich cake.

Making your own chocolate domes? Why not! That’s nothing for a baker who has made a W E D D I N G cake – eek! (We couldn’t resist including a picture of the wedding cake Kelly made too … scroll to the bottom to see it as well as her beautiful reasons for volunteering for us.)

FCFK - smash cake
Name of baker: Kelly Davis

Name of cake: Piñata cake

Ingredients:
A home-made chocolate-orange marble cake; chocolate icing; vegetarian sweets; milk chocolate; chocolate buttons; hundreds & thousands; a toy mallet; and a chocolate mould (see details below).

Method:

I saw piñata cakes on the internet and thought they looked like something a child would enjoy. You get a delicious birthday cake but you also get to smash it up. What’s not to love? I predict that these cakes will become a bit of a craze.

The biggest mistake I made was attempting to make a giant chocolate dome to cover the entire cake – and attempting to make it on the hottest day of the year. Using a balloon as a mould, I tried to make a big dome but it just wouldn’t cool down enough for the chocolate to harden. Putting it in the fridge didn’t help because as soon as I took it out again it started to collapse. I compromised by using large silicone muffin pans as moulds. I covered them in thick layers of melted milk chocolate and froze them solid. It worked! After unmoulding the chocolate I laid the domes over little mounds of sweets and then decorated both the cake and the chocolate domes.

The birthday child then gets to smash the chocolate domes with the little mallet to discover the sweets inside. In the winter I will try a whole-cake dome again. Fingers crossed I’ll have a bit more success!

FCFK - wedding cake
About the baker:

This is my twelfth cake for Free Cakes for Kids Hackney. I do lots of volunteering in Hackney but this is special. I get an opportunity to make cakes and try out new techniques and ideas – and the cake goes to someone who really needs it.

If it weren’t for FCFK Hackney I wouldn’t have got to try my hand at princess cakes, football cakes, Spiderman cakes – and of course this piñata cake. If I could make a cake every week I would!

I feel lots of excitement when the cake turns out alright and it’s ready to be delivered. I like that I get to remain anonymous – like some sort of birthday fairy!


Cake of the month – June 2014

June’s cake of the month was made by one of our newest bakers. The cake is pretty special as we’re sure you’ll agree – it’s bright and colourful, and fulfills the unusual brief (Dragon Ball Z? Yes, we had to Google it too!) – but, also, its baker, Clare, has already made a handful of cakes for us in just a couple of months. Top cake. Top baker. Happy us.

FCFK - Goku cake

 

Name of baker: Clare Brewer

Name of cake: Dragon Ball Z (Goku) cake

Ingredients/method: A standard Victoria sponge cake recipe, with strawberry jam in the centre, then covered in vanilla buttercream and fondant to decorate.

About the baker:
I love baking and I stumbled across this charity about a year ago, so I looked for local groups and at the time Hackney was my nearest one.

It’s satisfying being able make cakes for someone else, whilst at the same time honing your skills as a baker, and of course not having to eat everything you bake!


Cake of the month – May 2014

We’ve got another corker of a cake for May’s cake of the month. Its baker, Julia, is also a bit of a corker in our eyes, producing cake after imaginative cake for us. She is not a One Direction fan. She didn’t know the names of the boys in that band. But she became one and learnt their names for this project, and in doing so, we can imagine, made one Hackney birthday girl last month feel very special indeed. Thank you, Julia, for the dedication you show to the cause – having to Google Harry Styles is going above and beyond!

FCFK - 1D cakeFCFK - 1D cakeFCFK - 1D cake

Name of baker: Julia Thackray

Name of cake: The Only Direction is One Direction!

This was a standard Victoria sponge recipe with strawberry jam in the middle, covered with buttercream and rolled icing and topped with cut-out icing decorations and glace icing writing.

Ingredients:
For the cake
• 400g caster sugar
• 400g softened butter
• 8 eggs, beaten
• 400g self-raising flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp vanilla essence
For the filling
• strawberry jam
For the decoration
• Buttercream icing made with butter and icing sugar
• Ready to roll icing – white for coating the cake and coloured red and black with colouring gel for the cut out decorations.
• Glace icing made with icing sugar and water for writing

Method:
I made one large square cake and when baked cut it in half and sandwiched it together with jam.
1. Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Butter the tin.
2. Beat butter and caster sugar in large bowl.
3. Beat eggs hard till light. Add vanilla essence
4. Beat eggs in a little at a time to the butter and sugar
5. Fold in the flour and baking powder (sifted together).
6. Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth.
7. Bake for about 20 mins until golden and the cake springs back when pressed. Turn onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.

About the baker:
I live in Stoke Newington with my two children. I’m a family lawyer and mediator and now work in legal training. I really enjoy baking and especially the challenge of the special occasion cake. My kids have always loved having a birthday cake and usually I make something on a theme that they are particularly keen on that year or related to the theme of the party. This year my son had a Phoenix cake for a ‘Harry Potter’ birthday and my daughter had a Midsummer Night’s Dream cake.

When I heard about the FCFK initiative I just thought what a brilliant and simple idea it was to match up people keen to make cakes (but don’t necessarily want to eat them!) with kids who would really appreciate a homemade cake, just for them on their special day. It’s been a lot of fun, working out what to make given the ideas that come from the kids or their carers.


Cake of the month – April 2014

It’s approaching the end of May; let’s face it, it’s nearly June; and here we are with April’s cake of the month.  Hey ho.

We picked this cake for it’s beautiful simplicity. It’s pretty, pink… perfect! And we love that baker Jen wants to share some of the happiness she had as a child with other children in Hackney.

FCFK - tiny butterfliesName of baker: Jen Shepherd.

Name of cake: Princess Perfect.

Ingredients: Fairtrade granulated sugar, Fairtrade icing sugar, baking powder, self raising flower, eggs, butter, semi skimmed milk, organic strawberry jam, double cream, pink food colouring and sugar butterflies.

Method: Nothing special – I just followed a Mary Berry recipe plus a little patience and use of my learning from our great cake decorating class last Christmas to perfect the butter icing.

About the baker: I chose to volunteer with FCFK Hackney because I was incredibly lucky as a child to have a very happy upbringing and everything I needed, I had. I was so fortunate to have been surrounded by amazing parents, siblings, friends and family friends and if I can just pass a little bit of that on and repeat my experiences for others, I am very happy to do so. I also work for Fairtrade and work on the sugar category, where baking is starting to look very interesting for us. All Tate & Lyle products are Fairtrade and if by any way we can further our message of fairly traded goods and support the Global South that would be great also. We also do loads of work with children in schools.


Cake of the month – March 2014

When it came to deciding on our cake of the month for March we were totally spoilt for choice. That’s not to say it’s usually an easy decision; far from it. We love each and every cake our bakers make on our behalf. Asking us to choose a favourite cake is like asking someone which of their children they prefer or which dancer on Strictly Brucie is most partial to. In a word: hard!

But March was particularly hard because each and every cake that came in was worthy of the cake of the month title. There were cakes packed out with sweets; ones adorned with delicate butterflies; a Spring-inspired cake that was so pretty we just couldn’t stop looking at it… but then?

Then there was THIS cake – a cake (made for the E8 Community dream drawing exhibition) that looked like an explosion in an art shop. Just incredible. And, as if the outside wasn’t amazing enough, inside there was a rainbow. An actual rainbow made out of cake. Sigh.

If we could make cakes this good we’d probably set up a cake shop! This baker just bakes as a sideline. Her “real” calling: NEUROSCIENCE! We LOVE our bakers!

FCFK - dreams cake crayonsName of baker: Beth Scutt

Name of cake: Rainbow layer cake

Ingredients:
For the sponge:
160g unsalted butter, softened
560g caster sugar
480g plain flour
2tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
480ml whole milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 large eggs

Vanilla frosting:
750g icing sugar
240g unsalted butter, softened
75ml whole milk
3/4 tsp vanilla essence

Equipment:
3 20cm (8in) sandwich tins
6 bowls
Gel food colouring (red, orange, yellow, green blue and purple)

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C for fan ovens), and line the cake tins.
2. Using a hand-held electric whisk or freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt until the ingredients are fully mixed and resemble fine breadcrumbs.
3. Mix together the milk, vanilla essence and eggs by hand in a jug. With the whisk or mixer on a low speed, pour three quarters of the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well, scraping down the side of the bowl. With the mixer on a medium speed, add the remaining milk mixture until the batter is smooth. The batter will be quite runny, don’t worry!
4. Separate the batter evenly into six different bowls. If you want to be super accurate, measure out the batter. Colour each bowl with one of the gel food colours, the colour of the sponge won’t change much once it’s cooked so be brave and make them bright! Once coloured, take three of the colours and spoon each of them into the three sandwich tins, making sure the surface is even. Pop the three tins into the oven and cook for approximately 25 mins. They might need longer, so before taking them out, make sure a skewer comes out clean, and the sponge bounces back when lightly pressed. Once the cakes are turned out on a cooling rack, repeat with the final three colours.
5. To make the buttercream icing, whisk the icing sugar with the butter on a low speed until fully combined and sandy in consistency. The longer, the better. Add the vanilla essence to the milk and slowly pour into the butter and icing sugar while still mixing on a low speed, then increase the speed to high and whisk the frosting until light and fluffy. I find that often not all of the milk mixture is needed, so add it slowly, judging yourself when the icing is a correct consistency. Also be careful not to over mix the icing once the milk is added, as it might split and not set hard enough to support all 6 sponges!
6. Assemble the cake. In rainbow order, stack the six sponges with a good amount of icing between each layer. Once assembled, cover the cake in a thin layer of icing using a pallet knife (this will pick up any loose crumbs, giving the cake a clean finish). Wash the knife, and then add a second, thicker, layer of icing around the top and sides of the cake. If you are covering the cake in fondant icing, then skip the thick layer and just add the fondant icing to the cake with the thin layer of butter icing. Decorate as you wish.
7. Eat and enjoy the rainbow-y goodness!

FCFK - March COTM insideFCFK - March COTM child plate

About the baker:
Hello! I’m Beth, a 21 year old who recently graduated from a neuroscience degree. I’ve always loved having creative projects alongside my studies to balance everything out a bit, and baking was a favourite of mine because it made a good treat for me and my housemates when we were desperate for a break during our finals! I decided to bake for FCFK Hackney because I wanted to be able to practice my cake making and decorating skills for a great cause. I love challenging myself with cake ideas, and hope that the final outcome is loved just as much by the kids themselves!


Cake of the month – February 2014

We have to admit that we totally swooned when a picture of this cake appeared in our inbox.

It is all kinds of awesome and we reckon that even if Arsenal are your team’s deadly rivals – or even if you don’t give two hoots about football! – you’d probably still bite someone’s hand off to have this as your birthday cake, although you may piggle off those Arsenal logos first!

Like we said: T O T A L L Y swoon-worthy!

And we love baker Kelly’s comment about the possibility of one of the cakes she’s made for us forming a happy memory in the life of the child who receives it. (No, we’re not welling up, there must just be a lot of dust in the air or something!)

Enjoy the step-by-step guide…

FCFK - football cake with scarfName of baker: Kelly Davis

Name of cake: Arsenal football cake

Ingredients:

225g plain flour
350g caster sugar
85g cocoa powder
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 free-range eggs
250ml milk
125ml vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
250ml boiling water

Method:

Mix all ingredients, except water, until well-combined. Slowly add the boiling water and mix until smooth.

I made two batches of this very easy, basic chocolate cake and divided the batter between two hemisphere tins and one shallow rectangular tin. If you’re fancy you will have two hemisphere tins, but I just have one, so I had to bake my hemispheres one-at-a-time, which took a while.

I was a bit worried about having a gap where my hemispheres met, but the secret is to cool your cake in the tin and cut off any excess cake that rises above the rim of the tin before you turn it out. I used Wilton cake release in my tins to ensure they came out perfectly – I didn’t want a sphere that was anything less than spherical!

When the cakes were nice and cool, I iced the rectangular cake with green buttercream icing, as a kind of crumb coat. I then covered the cake with green-tinted desiccated coconut. I have wanted an excuse to make coconut grass ever since I was a kid and my mother made me a log cabin birthday cake, with grass, trees and flowers out the front. It’s easy to do: fill a zip-loc plastic bag about half full with coconut and add in green food colouring a little at a time. Mix it about really well in the sealed bag, until you’re happy that all the coconut looks green.

FCFK - footie cake 0FCFK - footie cake 1FCFK - footie cake 2

Next, I sliced just enough off the bottom of one of the cooled spheres that it would sit flat on top of the ‘grass pitch.’ I joined the two spheres together with buttercream, making sure all of the cakes sat on each other nice and securely. Then I covered the football with a crumb coat of buttercream.

If I was a pro, I’d have a set of pentagon and hexagon cutters to make the next step really easy. I don’t so I made some paper templates. I rolled out black and white fondant icing and cut the shapes out using the templates. Be careful to keep the white and black shapes separate, as the white fondant picks up marks easily. I stuck one of the black pentagons on the football first, and placed white hexagons all around it – look at a real life football or use a picture of one for reference. Keep going until you’ve covered the sphere and – voila! – it will look like a pretty convincing football!

FCFK - footie cake 3FCFK - footie cake 4FCFK - footie cake 5

Finally, I rolled out fondant icing in the colour of the football team – in this case Arsenal – and draped it carefully around the base of the ball. It’s a good way to disguise the join where the ball meets the pitch. Make sure the fondant is nice and thick so that it doesn’t tear or break when you’re manipulating it. I used white fondant, with slits in it for the tassel fringe on the ends of the scarf. I printed out the team logo in colour and added this to the scarf.

About the baker:

This is the eighth cake I’ve made for Free Cakes for Kids Hackney over the past year. I am delighted to volunteer with the charity and am sure I enjoy making the cakes even more than the kids and families enjoy receiving them. Every cake is a challenge and a chance to try something I would never otherwise have the opportunity to make. I don’t know anyone who would want me to make them a football cake so getting to bake this cake was a wonderful experience for me.

I have very happy memories of the spectacular cakes that I had for my birthday parties as a child. It seems like such a small thing, but if a birthday cake can help make a child’s special day that bit sweeter and more special, then to me that’s no small thing at all. I would be chuffed if any of the cakes I’ve made live on in the memories of the families and children who receive them – but I won’t be offended if they don’t either!


Cake of the month – January 2014

When we told this baker that we’d chosen her cake as our “cake of the month” for January she was super happy because, she said, she never wins anything! The thing is though, as cheesy as this may sound, it’s the child who received this cake, not her, who is the real winner. We know, we know, that is Cheddar overload, with a side helping of brie, but it’s true.

PS: How do you get a mouse to smile? Say cheese!

FCFK - star cake againName of baker: Anna Greenwood

Name of cake: Star cake (victoria sponge with jazzy accessories)

Ingredients:
Cake:
Five eggs
Same weight as eggs of self-raising flour, sugar (well a little less tbh) & butter
2 tsp Vanilla extract
Blue or whichever colour food dye (optional)
Buttercream:
500g Icing sugar, 250g butter
1tsp vanilla extract
Jam
Ready roll blue or whichever colour icing

Method:
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, beating in one at a time.
Fold in the flour.
When all mixed together divide between two tins and bake at 160 fan or 180 for 30 minutes or thereabouts.
Whilst baking, make the buttercream by mixing all ingredients together.
Remove cakes from oven and leave to cool on a rack. When cool, put a third of the butter cream on one cake, jam on the other and sandwich together. Spread the rest of the buttercream on the cake. Decorate with stars cut out from the coloured icing.
Admire your handiwork.
Eat (unless you’re providing it as a gift, then don’t eat).

If you like you can dye one cake layer a different colour by dying half the batter in a separate bowl. Please note you probably need more dye than you think otherwise it can come out looking a bit grey and sad. Then when it comes to icing, split both cakes into two then alternate them so it’s stripey inside. But you don’t have to. It’s merely a suggestion.

About the baker:
I am a DJ and performer and live in Dalston. I enjoy baking, but don’t do it a lot as I live in a household of one and would end up eating cake for every meal so I tend not to. Even though I would like to. I bake for FCFK Hackney as it’s a great idea and is more personal than making a charity donation. Plus it’s great fun and satisfies my baking urges without compromising my thighs.