Oh hi!

Hello there! Thanks for stopping by to check out our truly delectable website ūüôā

The more observant amongst you may have noticed that this here blog thingy hasn’t been updated in, like, FOREVER. Ah, yeah… ‘life’ kind of got in the way.

imageMmmm, cake.

Sorry, we got distracted.

Where were we? Oh yes… we’ve been a little too busy *cough* eating cake *cough* holding family baking workshops, running children’s cake decorating stalls, fundraising in all manner of exciting ways, hosting socials for our fab-u-lous bakers, being interviewed and photographed, writing annual reports like proper grown ups, judging cake competitions like Mary and Paul, and, above all else, fulfilling the birthday cake requests that come in from brilliant referrers for brilliant children so that they don’t miss out on having cake and being spoilt on the special days in their lives.

In fact, guess what? This is pretty major news so you may want to hold onto your hat if you’re wearing one. We’ve now baked over FIVE HUNDRED cakes for children who would have otherwise gone without. Now that’s a total we can be proud of. Yay!

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So if we’re a little quiet on here, you can be pretty darned certain that it isn’t because we’re quiet in real life. Oh no. And we’re always Facebooking and tweeting what we’re up to so come and say hi over on those other corners of the tinterweb. We love it. Especially if you ‘like’ us!

Right then. Better get on with life…

We’ll leave you with some pictures from a fun little baking workshop we recently ran for a group of Hackney young carers in conjunction with Action for Children as part of Carers’ Week. These kids had it all sussed. They smashed the microwave mug cake recipe (no bananas, thanks, and woah, woah, woah, they weren’t touching a sultana!) and stormed their cake decorating challenge. Actually we’re thinking of retiring and leaving them to run this show.

Laters!

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Those five hours where we couldn’t feel our toes

photo 1-2Oh what a glorious day it is today Рblue sky; sun; a positively balmy 18 degrees.  Yeah.

Well cast your mind back to the middle of winter, quite literally, and the picture wasn’t quite so warm. ¬†Were we tucked up under a blanket by a roaring fire? ¬†Oh no. ¬†We decided that we would prefer to spend five freezingly chilly hours under our pals the Empress‘ awning (thanks guys, love ya) touting cook books, cakes and our gorgeous FCFK Hackney wares at the Victoria Park Village Mid Winter Fair. ¬†Let’s just say that we now know why Kat Slater sports fingerless gloves on her market stall when it’s winter on ‘stenders.

Even our ever-so-fetching tights AND socks combo couldn’t save our toes.

Buuut, do you know what? ¬†It was fun. ¬†Vicky Park certainly knows what community is all about and the atmosphere was great. ¬†We sold out of cake, made a serious dint in ‘Cookbook Mountain,’ were nearly wiped out of teatowels and forced some rather chilly grown-ups to hang about getting rather more chilly while their children decorated gingerbread with us to take home and hang on their Christmas trees. ¬†(They couldn’t complain though, we did have hot mulled cider if they wanted it! ¬†Erm, yes please.)

And we raised well over 500 quid which we were pretty chuffed about, as well as generating new referrals and gaining some top new supporters.

Win, win, win.

And after we’d stomped home, even our toes lived to see another day. ¬†Phew.

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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


Wholy cow, Whole Foods!

Way, way back when the sun was actually shining we got to do the most amazing thing. You know those big cheques that they give out when you win the lottery? We got one given to us! It wasn’t for quite as large an amount as those that you see on lottery winner’s cheques, but at ¬£755 it felt like winning the jackpot to us. And the kind benefactor? Whole Foods on Church Street in Stokey.

FCFK - Whole Foods chequeFCFK - Whole Foods cake

(A massive thank you to bakers Shelly and Deborah for helping represent us at the cheque collection.)

Now you may think that Whole Foods is more interested in quinoa that community, but that’s not so. Periodically the store hosts 5% days whereby it feeds back 5% of the net sales it makes on a chosen day to a local organisation, doing good stuff in the area, that it likes the look of. Happily for FCFK Hackney, Stokey Whole Foods liked the look of us and the totally awesome Erica made it possible for us to not only benefit from the money, but also to chat to customers about what we do.

And by happy coincide, the store was celebrating 13 years of being on Church Street so there was a delicious chocolate vegan birthday cake (yes, vegan and indulgent, who’d have thunk it?!), plus balloons and face painting; the works. And that cheque, wow, that cheque. If we had a loo big enough we’d frame it and get it up on the wall! Instead, we’ll take great delight in spending its contents on family baking workshops that will most definitely make a difference. Thank you Whole Foods, you star.


Run, run, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man

FCFK - gingerbread runnerThe runner in the gingerbread man suit in the picture is not one of us. ¬†That runner is an absolute legend. ¬†If you were out and about on the day of the Run Hackney half marathon you’ll know why – it was HOT! ¬†Hot in a stifling, muggy, no breeze kind of way. ¬†It was too hot to be sittng in a park, so running in full sun around our beloved Hackney as the heat radiated off the pavements and buildings and we counted the distance by the water stops was a next level kind of hot. ¬†Hell, even spectators were passing out from the heat (although we’d like to think it was from the sight of our legs!). ¬†The very thought of donning a gingerbread man suit and running 13.1 miles that day would be enough to make us sweat even if we were sitting stock still in a deep freeze with an air conditioning unit blasting in our faces. ¬†We salute that runner! ¬†Whoever you are, you are bonkers, but we salute you.

Given the weather conditions on the day, luckily for us and our sweat glands, we didn’t reach our fundraising target before our run so we didn’t have to follow through on our promise to run dressed as cakes. ¬†We did have our eyes on a fetching little cupcake number with a cherry for a hat, but rules are rules and we weren’t even close to raising the money we’d hoped to so we had to settle for some rather snazzy Free Cakes for Kids Hackney vests instead, thanks to some last minute super service from Kustom Clothing. ¬†Even more luckily for us, our friends, family and supporters pulled out all the stops and we totally smashed through our target after the race, whoop, which absolutely made the sweat worth it. ¬†We particularly loved the donation from a random stranger who saw our vests on the day, looked us up, found our fundraising page and donated. ¬†And as if that wasn’t fantastic enough, he actually came back to our site and chucked another tenner our way just to ensure that we tipped over our target. ¬†What a sweetheart.

FCFK - Run Hackney walkingFCFK - Run Hackney sign

FCFK - Run Hackney medalIf you’d asked us immediately after the run if we’d do it again then we’d quite possibly have said no as we yanked our hot feet out of our trainers and mainlined water as the sweat dried in white crystals on our faces, but now? ¬†Now there’s a little distance between that day and today … well, let’s just say that we couldn’t resist pre-registering for next year! ¬†Perhaps we’re mad, but running through our own borough’s streets with thousands of other runners, and even more people cheering us on, playing their steel pan drums, hosing us down, handing out water and Haribo and high fives, was the stuff goose pimples are made of. ¬†We may be soppy fools but it was far more than just a run to us. ¬†So thank you for the support on the ground on the day and thank you for the financial support – you’ve totally covered our running (no pun intended) costs for a whole year. ¬†And huge, huge thanks to our runners: baker Lucy, super sisters Hannah and Zoe, and Sophie and Tess from our committee. ¬†WINNERS! ¬†Same place, same time next year?!


With a little help from our friends

FCFK - cake event - buntingFCFK - cake event - ging lettersFCFK - cake event - crowds

A whole month has passed since THE CAKE EVENT – our annual fundraising extravaganza – and still we are unable to wipe the grin off our face. ¬†Hackney, we cannot begin to tell you just how perfect it was. ¬†The sun shone, the crowds came, there was cake (obvs. – we’d have looked pretty silly if there hadn’t been), and beer (mmm), and people bought cookbooks and teatowels and raffle tickets, and played the best tombola in the world (Hackney Wicked WI, we salute you), and there were brilliant demos by brilliant chefs and and and and and … ! ¬†It was like a mini festival; Hackney at its finest; community with a capital C.

And, the real big AND… we raised an awful lot of money: over ¬£2,300 to be precise. ¬†Incredible; just incredible.

FCFK - cake event - pear cakeFCFK - cake event - guess the weight

FCFK - cake event - choc cake

We’ll let you into a little secret: we were nervous, so very nervous. ¬†We thought that nobody would come, or maybe only us and a few mates.

We’d made dozens of gingerbread men (and women, or men in dresses) for children to ice and we envisaged having to take them home with us again, unsold, unloved, but they were gone almost faster than we could get the lids off the tubes of icing. ¬†And the tables groaning with cookbooks groaned less and less by the second. ¬†And slices and slices of cakes sold in double quick time as we struggled to replenish our counter top.

Oh my, it was a whirlwind, but so, so much fun.

FCFK - cake event - WIFCFK - cake event - teatowelsFCFK - cake event - ging icing

We have struggled to write this post because we barely knew where to begin; how to say thank you. ¬†When we think of how the community came together to help us make the event possible – from donating cakes, cookbooks, raffle and tombola prizes to coming along to support us in person on the day – it makes us teary. ¬†At the heart of Free Cakes for Kids Hackney there are just five individuals and we can’t get over what we were able to achieve with a little help from our friends. ¬†We were left buzzing. ¬†Knowing that we have a secure financial future and can expand our service, and potentially put on more community baking workshops, is simply fantastic.

FCFK - cake event - book stallFCFK - cake event - crowds bunting

FCFK - cake event - natalieFCFK - cake event - Elliott

And so we come to the thank yous. ¬†We have tried to include everyone, but, as it seemed like the whole of Hackney (and beyond) was rooting for us at one point or another, we have probably forgotten to thank someone and for that we apologise. ¬†If we’ve missed you, we don’t mean to have. ¬†Thank you from the bottom of our heart to everyone. ¬†If we could, we’d come and give you big sloppy kisses!

Special thank yous go to:

Crate Brewery, in particular James, for lending us the space and putting on a great quiz.

Natalie Coleman, Elliott Lidstone and Hayley Edwards for keeping the crowds entertained with chef demos.

Debora, our lovely Debora, for amassing a cookbook mountain and presiding over a stall to put a bookshop to shame. ¬†Cookbook thanks also go to Divertimenti¬†(and their customers), Richard Ehrlich, India Knight, Jojo Tulloh, Persephone Books, Quadrille Publishing, Grub Street, Cico Books, Ryland Peters, 4th Estate, Bloomsbury Publishing and undoubtedly more …

Divertimenti (again), Victoria Yum Cake, Cakes4Fun (particularly the awesome SuperJess) and Deli Downstairs for professional cakes, plus many more beautiful people who contributed not-so-professional-but-equally-as-yummy cakes.

Hackney Wicked Women WI (especially Grace and her mum, and Lauren, and Cheeka) for putting on the tombola, guess the weight of the cake competition and pin the tail on the Easter bunny, AND for participating so enthusiastically in the beer-inspired cupcake competition (we will now forever think cake when we drink Guinness).  Tombola thanks and sloppy kisses go to A&S Cycles, Joe’s Tea Company, Hoxton Mini Press, Isle of Olive, Fabrications, Newton & Pott, Noble Fine Liquor, Dalston Cola, Fur Feathers and Tails, Little Gems, 90 Mainyard, The Lauriston, Love Jam Kitchen, Cheese Cellar, Aubin Cinema, and Murdock’s (each and every one of you has a community spirit that you should be proud of and we are hugely grateful).

The Empress, Young and Foodish, ¬†“I Can’t Sing” the Musical, Divertimenti (again, again!), Mulberry and Cakes4Fun for raffle prizes. We wish we’d bought more raffle tickets because we had our eyes on each and every one of those prizes. Hello Mulberry purse!

Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor of Hackney, for believing in what we do and coming along on a Sunday, without having to be invited. And that goes to every single person who joined us on the day because you saw our event posters (thanks if you displayed one) or our listings or endless tweets and came to splash the cash and support us. ¬†You’re all stars. Thank you.

And before we get all Oscars-style emotional ¬†on you and start weepily thanking our mums and hairdressers and telling you who we were dressed by (Matalan, actually, in case you were wondering!) we’ll finish up with a few of our favourite memories from the day: the people who came armed with Tupperware to cart cake off in and the woman who won the scooter in the tombola; we’ve never seen someone so happy, apart from maybe us when we cheers’ed over a pint of Crate’s finest IPA at the end of a day that will go down in history (Free Cakes for Kids Hackney history, but history all the same). Cheers to you, Hackney and here’s to us being one step closer to our dream of a future where no Hackney child has to go without a birthday cake.

FCFK - cake event - laughing team


By popular demand

We can safely say that we have never, ever, at any point in our lives, been quite as excited about a teatowel as we are now. There was that one time when we discovered a right beaut of a teatowel depicting the happy union of Prince Charles and Lady Di hiding at the back of our parents’ stash, but that doesn’t even come close to the excitement we feel now, because now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we have our very own blinkin’ teatowels. Dryer-upperers across the land: rejoice!

Teatowels, teatowels, teatowels, teatowels. We can’t stop saying teatowels. TEATOWELS.

We brought you tote bags; we brought you aprons; but you demanded the most humble of all drying-up cloths, the teatowel, so now, we bring you the teatowel… prepare yourself…

FCFK - teatowelsSwit swoo, right?

The gorgeous illustrations were kindly drawn for us and us alone by the talented Emily Hadden and have been printed (by the ever-generous Print Club London) in our Free Cakes For Kids Hackney trade-mark hot pink. We reckon the illustrations look similar to the historical line drawings depicting outlandish jellies of Georgian times, except they’ve been put in a time-machine to 2014 Hackney and made PINK.

We are in love! Teatowel love.

And don’t fret, the edges will be sewn neatly by our own lovely Laura, before she gives them the finishing touch of an FCFK Hackney label. This is them in their “raw” form only. We were just so excited that we wanted to show off our tea, tea, teatowels ASAP. They’ll have done their hair and have their make-up on by the time you see them.

Want one?

Come to our fundraiser on Sunday 13th April from 3pm at Crate Brewery then.

We anticipate these bad boys will sell like hot cakes, or cold cakes, or any cake really, so we suggest you get there early to stake your place in the queue to our merch stall. And yes, our tote bags and aprons will also be available to buy on the day. Why not collect the trio?!

PS: Teatowel.


I had a dream …

An inspirational man once gave an inspirational speech which contained four words – “I have a dream.” That man was American civil rights activist Martin Luther King and that dream was for an end to racism in a free and equal United States.

If you’re going to dream; you may as well dream big.

When E8 Community got in touch with us to say they were helping run a dream drawing event throughout March for kids on the Regent Estate we loved the idea of getting involved. They asked us if our bakers would be interested in providing cakes for the exhibition of the dreams. Thankfully our bakers were.

FCFK - dream exhibitionFCFK - dreams

Now we’re not talking dreams on the scale of Martin Luther King here, but when you’re a child, living on an inner-city estate in Hackney, having a tree house, or a beach, or even a cafe for superheros in your neck of the woods, matter as much as civil rights. Every Friday in March, Workshop 44 hosted dream drawing sessions, and boy, did the kids come up with some beautiful dreams. We even had a go at drawing our own dream – that every child in Hackney has a cake on their birthday.

FCFK - dreams montage

We ask a lot of our bakers and they never disappoint. They really let their creativity shine and we had a Banksy, a rainbow, floral and starry masterpieces, loads of chocolately goodness and two cakes that were made to actually look like artists’ materials. They were totally awesome and to see the children’s faces when the cakes were delivered – not to mention when they were eating them! – was a treat.

Sunny Saturdays playing with friends, surrounded by colour and drawings, on an inner-city estate in Hackney, eating cake which appears as if from nowhere is 100% what dreams are made of.


Event of the century

FCFK - event posterIf you’ve been on a trip to Outer Mongolia then it may have escaped your notice that we are having a mega fundraiser in less than three weeks time.

If you haven’t been on said trip then you’ll have no excuse for not knowing every in and every out of our event.

Buuut… just in case you have missed our excessive tweeting about it, or haven’t yet joined our Facebook event, or have overlooked the listings going up online and in real life around Hackney in the shape of our pretty pretty poster on the right (designed by our own delicious Dale!) then here are the details you need to know…

First and foremost, the date.

It’s on Sunday 13th April. If you’ve got any other plans for that day then we suggest you change them!
We need you with us from 3pm.
Seriously – it’s the only gig to be seen at in town that day (although a few thousand runners might tell you otherwise!).

And where have you got to be?

Why Crate Brewery of course.
You can take a stroll there along the canal, or if you’re coming from further afield then Hackney Wick overground station is literally (and we actually mean literally) a couple of minutes away. We’ll be in the brewing shed at the back.
Come and find us before we drink all the beer!

Admin over; want to hear what’s going to be going on? Say yes, say yes!

FCFK - CrateWell…
* There’s going to be a bar (it is in a brewery after all), selling Crate’s finest beer plus more.
* But you’ll be relieved to know that you’ll also be able to get a decent cuppa. Why?…
* Because there’s going to be cake, naturally, and lots of it, sold by the slice, either to eat there or take away with you (or both). We haven’t called it THE CAKE EVENT in all caps for nothing!
* And while you sip and munch there are going to be stacks of new, as well as lightly used, cookbooks for you to browse through and buy, if you can’t resist. Cookbook addiction – it’s a thing!
FCFK - cookbooksFCFK - cookbooksFCFK - cookbooks

FCFK - Natalie ColemanWhat else? What else?
* From 4pm we’ve got an awesome chef demo stage, headlined by none other than MasterChef 2013 winner – and, we might add, Free Cakes for Kids Hackney’s patron – Natalie Coleman. Elliott Lidstone from the Empress in Victoria Park is going to be experimenting with stinging nettle and beer cakes, and Hayley Edwards of Borough Market fame is going to be showing us how to decorate cupcakes like pros (we’ve been promised glitter!). Plus we may have a few more tricks – or rather chefs for our star line-up – up our sleeves, but we can’t give all our secrets away in advance.

And as if that wasn’t enough…
*The lovely women over at Wicked Women WI are going to be putting on a tombola (roll up, roll up!), as well as a guess the weight of the cake competition and a pin the tail on the Easter bunny game.
* Oh, and there’ll be a raffle, with rather a lot of amazing prizes, including meals out, oh and a Mulberry purse. Yes, you heard us correctly!
* Plus, if you like beer and cake and have a bit of a creative mind then we’re hoping you’ll enter our *beer-inspired cupcake contest*. Don’t forget, you’ll need to make your cake in advance and bring it on the day to be judged. We’ll have our clipboards and freshly sharpened pencils ready to give marks!
* And we haven’t overlooked the kids – this is a family event after all. They will have the opportunity to ice their own gingerbread men and women, or colour in a cake, which should keep them busy for all of, what?, five minutes, until you have to bribe them with cake so that you can stay for another half!

FCFK - tombolaFCFK - gingerbread manFCFK - tombolaFCFK - gingerbread man

We nearly forgot…!
* There will be limited edition FCFK Hackney merchandise, including our tote bags, aprons and all-new teatowels, to buy too.
* And, finally, from 6pm, it’s pub quiz o’clock. The last time we checked there were only four team entry tickets left so if you want to prolong your festivities with us past 6pm then enlist your mates and sign your team up.

We think that’s it covered! Sound good? Good. We’ll see you at the brewery! And please do bring some money with you. This is a fundraiser for a future where no Hackney child has to go without a birthday cake, which is kind of on the ambitious side, but, thanks to a great number of people’s generosity, all the money we raise on the day will be ploughed back into ensuring FCFK Hackney can keep on baking those birthday cakes. We don’t take your support lightly and we look forward to chinking a pint glass or mug of tea with you on the day. Until then… x


Beer + cupcakes = good

FCFK - beer cupcakes

As you’ll probably be aware from the amount we’ve been banging on about it on Twitter, this year, our annual fundraiser is going to be awesome on Sunday 13th April.

SUNDAY 13TH APRIL – Diarise that date, people! (And yes, we know, it clashes with the London Marathon, but eating cake is waaay better than running. Until it comes to the Hackney Half Marathon, of course!)

We barely even know where to start telling you about all the fun stuff happening on the day, like the fact MasterChef 2013 winner Natalie Coleman is going to be doing a demo and that there’ll be a spectacular pub quiz in the evening, but we will get to it, when we recover from our excitement. We may be some time!

For now though, we wanted to invite you to get your thinking caps on and consider entering our cupcake contest. It isn’t just an ordinary cupcake contest, oh no!, it’s a *beer-inspired cupcake contest*!

Our fundraiser’s taking place at Crate Brewery so, as a homage to our location, we are challenging you to come up with something that looks/tastes/looks&tastes like beer, or anything beer-related. Let your imaginations run wild – think spectacular creations at county show cake judging contests and you’ll be on the right track!

The rules are:
– bring a beer-inspired cupcake of your own making to the fundraiser and register it before 4pm
– it’s ¬£1 to enter; you can enter more than one cupcake but each entry costs ¬£1
– beer-inspired can be anything from taste to decoration so let your imagination run wild
– cakes will be judged by a *star* baker (fingers crossed!)
– any questions, email: communications@freecakesforkidshackney.co.uk

Image courtesy of the Cupcake Confessional, where you may find a sneaky headstart on recipe ideas.