Cake of the Month – May 2017


Name of baker: Samantha Harvey

Name of cake: Rainbow cake

For the cake
285g caster sugar
285g butter
5 eggs
340g SR flour
6 ml vanilla essence

For the filling, icing and decoration
6 TBSP jam of your choice
400g butter
800g icing sugar
1 TBSP just boiled water
Sprinkles of your choice
Silver dragees

For the cake 
Grease and line 2 8″ round sandwich tins and preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.
Cream the butter and sugar together until very pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat into the mixture, beat in the vanilla essence.
Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon.
Divide the mixture between the 2 prepared pans.
Bake for approx 30 mins or until golden and cooked through.
Rest for 5 mins before turning out and set aside to cool.

For the decoration
Beat the butter until pale and aerated.
Add in the icing sugar and water and beat until white and fluffy.

To assemble the cake
Spread the jam on one side of one of the cakes and some icing on one side of the other cake and sandwich together.
Coat the entirety of the vertical sides of the cake in the icing.
Tip the sprinkles in to a large tray and roll the cake through the sprinkles.
Stick the cake to a cake board and ice the top layer. Cover with sprinkles and decorate with silver dragees as desired.

A bit about yourself and how you got in to baking/ why you chose to volunteer with Free Cakes for Kids Hackney
Having trained as a chef back in Australia I now manage a central London Cookery school. I have always enjoyed baking and was lucky enough that growing up every year my mum always made my sister and I a homemade birthday cake, which even thinking about now I have such fond memories of. Now that my job is not 100% in a kitchen, I actually really miss it and find that baking allows my creative side to really come out. I started volunteering for FCFK as I was looking to contribute some time to a local charity and after recently moving to the area thought this would be a perfect opportunity. Having such great memories of all my birthday cakes it feels me with great sadness to think that a child’s birthday would go by without a cake.

Cake of the Month – September 2016


Name of baker: Esther Metcalf

Name of cake: Peppa Pig goes swimming

Ingredients: 10 egg Victoria sandwich cake with buttercream and strawberry jam filling (baked in a large deep baking tray)

Method: Standard Victoria sandwich method. Cake cut to shape with section cut out in the center to create the depth of the pool. Then lots of work with fondant to create the tiles, water and Peppa Pig. I used sweets to create the lane markers and rolled fondant to form the letters for the name and happy birthday message. I used white buttercream to make the water splashes around the pig.

A bit about yourself and how you got into baking/ why you chose to volunteer with Free Cakes for Kids Hackney:
I volunteer because every now and then it’s great just to hide away in the kitchen and have fun making colourful, sugary creations.
Because it’s for kids it’s good to be frivolous with the decorations, use of colour and also the execution of the theme. It also helps living up the road from the wonderful Party Party on Ridley road where the first floor is a baking mecca.

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.

Stars of the blogosphere; that’s us!

Isn’t it nice when people want to write nice things about you? That’s a rhetorical question really. No ones’s going to object to having someone sing their praises; just like no one’s going to argue that children having cakes on their birthdays isn’t an important thing.

The thing is though, people don’t always know that there are kids who go without birthday cakes. Even our patron, Natalie Coleman, who, by the way, is about as down to earth as it’s possible to be, admitted to us the other day that it was hard to comprehend kids going without. It’s not a nice thing to think about, but the number of families struggling to feed their children – and themselves – breakfast, lunch and tea, let alone cake, is probably greater than you think.

FCFK - Stokey Parents article pic


That’s why it’s incredibly important that people share what we do. Of course we love it when our bakers get the recognition they deserve, in print, for the contribution they make to local children’s lives, but we really, reeeally love it when someone reads something about what we do and then gets in touch as a result of it, enabling us to help one less child go without a cake on their birthday.

True story: One of our committee member’s mum was so proud of her daughter’s involvement in FCFK Hackney and the fact that it had been written about in the Telegraph, that she took the article into her work to show off. One of her colleagues knew of a family in need; got in touch with the Free Cakes network; and a child in that family got a cake when it was their birthday. If it wasn’t for the Telegraph article that might never have happened. Totally, totally awesome.

FCFK - Things Wot I Have Made article pic


It’s with that in mind that we’d like to thank two bloggers – Jenna over at Stokey Parents and Zoe from Things Wot I Have Made – for writing about us recently. We already know that another Free Cakes group has gained a baker as a result of this writing. Bonus.

Take a read of what they wrote here and here, and, please, share, share, SHARE what we do. And if you work with families and children here in Hackney and think that you know people who could benefit from our service then please do email us on Referrals are quick and easy. We always say that, but it’s true.

And if you want to write about us we probably ain’t going to object either!

THIS is why a birthday cake is important

If you’ve ever doubted the power of cake, or wondered what having a cake (or rather, NOT having a cake) means to a child on their birthday, then the following feedback from a couple of our referrers will leave you doubting or wondering no more. Warning: you might need a tissue to hand.

“I’d like to thank your wonderful team. The cakes that were delivered here were absolutely great. The kids were absolutely amazed at their individual cakes and their mum reported that they had a wonderful belated party. Thank you once again for putting a brilliant smile, filled with laughter, on these children’s faces, and in their lives.”

“Thank you for the beautiful cake; the family were amazed and very excited. Mum reported that [her son] sat in front of his cake most of the afternoon singing ‘happy birthday’ and that they all celebrated his birthday, as a family. They cannot thank your team enough.”

One of our bakers recently described volunteering for FCFK Hackney as being a bit like a “birthday fairy” – the children she bakes for don’t know her and she doesn’t know them yet somehow she can bring smiles to their lives by magicking a cake to them on their birthday. This is so true, and, actually, the anonymity of our service is what appeals to many of our bakers, but hearing – not just hoping – that a certain cake made a certain child happy is important too.

We are currently working on a way to bring a greater level of feedback to our bakers, whilst still, importantly, keeping our service confidential. This should hopefully mean that we will also be able to share more of the reasons behind why we do what we do here on the website. Until that point, never underestimate the power of love cake (not that we’re suggesting for a minute that love isn’t important too; it is, but … hello chocolate icing).

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.

Tell your mum, tell your mates, tell the world… we’re in the Telegraph

It all started with a My Little Pony cake. It was a pretty spectacular My Little Pony cake it has to be said. A My Little Pony Cake of dreams, made for a besotted Hackney birthday girl back in November by our baker Jennie.

Clouds on the outside; rainbow on the inside; bedecked with said pony (“Rainbow Dash” for those of you who know your cartoon nags): it was a cake which, by the power of the Twittersphere, turned a few heads.

One of those heads belongs to Leah Hyslop, an online editor at the Telegraph who, it turns out, had dabbled in a bit of My Little Pony appreciation in her younger days and, though her tastes have matured considerably, later confided to us that she’d be happy with a cake as beautiful as that one on any of her adult birthdays. Who wouldn’t?

Fortunately, Leah doesn’t just have good taste in cakes. She’s lovely (which always helps), and she was happy to have a chat with us over a nice cup of tea with a view to writing a piece about what we do for the Telegraph. The result of that chat and a couple of interviews with two of our bakers (thank you Anna and Shell) have now been transformed into the essence of us. Truly. If we wrote for the Telegraph we would have written what Leah wrote. But we don’t, of course (in our dreams!), so instead we’ll just point you in the direction of a bloody brilliant article… which just so happens to be about us! Thank you Leah, and not forgetting My Little Pony.

FCFK - Telegraph article

Mega milestones

Back in October 2011 we baked our first cake to celebrate the birthday of a child in Hackney we didn’t know. It had been a little while in the making – not the cake, that was fresh; the process.

We’d officially founded a Hackney branch of the Free Cakes for Kids network earlier in the year – August to be precise – but getting the word out there about who we are and what we do had taken a while and the referrals had been slow to come in.

That first cake was a milestone. It marked the real start of us.

Fast forward two and a half years (and considerable amounts of sponge batter and buttercream) from that first cake to now and here we are with another rather spectacular milestone under our belt: 200 cakes. Yes! TWO HUNDRED cakes. Pretty blinkin’ epic, we’re sure you’ll agree.

Behold! Our 200th cake:

FCFK - 200th cake
Last summer our 99th, 100th and 101st cakes happened to go to the first set of triplets we’d ever baked for and the Hackney Gazette came out to mark the occasion. Our 200th cake slipped out one rainy day in early May. It was no more or less special than the other 199 cakes that had gone before it, but, for us, there was a bit of a “bloody hell” moment when we stopped and thought that we’d baked 200 cakes for children in Hackney who would have otherwise gone without on their birthday.

FCFK - 200 cake candles counter

So, a quick pat on the back; a small round of applause; then it’s back to work for us. The referrals are coming in thicker and faster than ever and we can see our 300th cake on the horizon (if it’s a clear day and you really squint!).

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

Media darlings

FCFK - Time OutWe are not ones to blow our own trumpet (apart from that time we were in the Guardian, and, then we were all like, “hello, hello, you, yes we know you don’t know us but WE’RE IN THE GUARDIAN!  What do mean you aren’t interested?  It’s the Guardian, the GUARDIAN, we’re IN the GUARDIAN, hello!”).

Buuut, quite frankly, it’s nice when something nice gets written about us.  Who doesn’t like a bit of positive publicity?  Not us.  So we’d like to draw your attention to a few pieces that have hit the media recently…

East London Lines wrote a lovely piece that really captured what we’re about and why we do what we do.

None other than Time Out, and then Metro, tipped our “CAKE EVENT” (a write up on which will follow soon, we promise!) as THE place to be in the whole of the Capital on that particular sunny Sunday in April.

FCFK - metroAnd as if that wasn’t all exciting enough, the Hackney Citizen wrote an awesome article about MasterChef 2013 winner Natalie Coleman becoming our patron (yes, we know, we’ve got some serious catching up to do on this here website!).

Click the links; take a read; and see what you think.

We’re happy to sign our autograph for you now that we’re F A M O U S 😉