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.

Cake of the Month – August 2016


Name of baker:  Kelly Davis

Name of cake:  Oreo cake

How did you make the cake:
I have a couple of Oreo cake recipes that I use – depending on whether I can find buttermilk easily or not.  This time, I could so used this one. You can find it here:*

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got in to baking/ why you chose to volunteer with Free Cakes for Kids Hackney:
I have developed a bit of a reputation for baking kooky-looking, bright coloured cakes for friends and family.  I’ve been volunteering for Free Cakes for Kids Hackney for 3 ½ years. It’s a great opportunity to try out all kinds of cake-making skills. I prefer open briefs, where I can make one of the cakes on my long wishlist of cakes I want to try one day.  I still hold out hope I’ll get to make a train cake, bag cake, and a peacock cake some time.

Cake decorating can be stressful and I confess there have been times I wonder why I push myself so hard.  Then I’ll hear a story from one of the charities that receive the cakes, telling me that the birthday cakes really do make a difference to the people who receive them.  To be honest, that is all the motivation I need.

* Some extra tips for recreating Kelly’s Oreo cake
Set oven to 150c. Grease 9” baking tins. I quite like Wilton’s Cake Release.  Some people divide this mixture among 3 tins, some 2, others use one huge tin and cut the resulting cake in two.  To play it safe, use 2 tins.

  • Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix together.
  • Add eggs, buttermilk and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Add vanilla to boiling water and add to the mixture. Mix well.
  • Pour into cake tins and bake until a skewer comes out clean. This could be up to an hour so keep an eye on it.  When my kitchen starts to smell like chocolate cake, I know it’s nearly done.
  • Remove cakes from oven and leave to cool in tins for 10 minutes.
  • Cool completely on cake racks.

Make icing

  • Beat butter and shortening together until smooth.
  • Slowly add 4c of the icing sugar and mix until smooth. Add another 4-5c of icing sugar and mix until smooth. Add a little water to get a smooth consistency if you need it.  At this stage it will be CRAZY hard and stiff, like concrete for laying bricks.  You will be glad of this, trust me.


  • Level off the cakes by cutting off tops or any bits you don’t need.
  • Spread a thick layer of icing between the cakes.
  • Ice the top and sides of the cake. The icing is so stiff that if you want to create thick layers of icing and nice sharp edges on the top of the cake, you can.
  • Top with piped rosettes of leftover icing and Oreo quarters.

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!

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).

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.

Better than the “Bake Off” final?

We know Tuesday nights are for the Great British Bake Off and nothing else, and we know that last Tuesday was none other than the GBBO final, but we had very important work to do, so we had no choice but to make our excuses to Paul “Blue-eyes” Hollywood and the lovely Mary and go and bake up a bit of a storm ourselves. What rebels we are!


The awesome people (thank you Catherine Conway!) at Unpackaged leant us their equally awesome space (seriously, if you haven’t been there, you need to go!) so that we could hold a special “train the trainer” event for seven of our interested bakers.

Remember we told you about that grant Hackney Council had given us? Well this is where it comes into play. The idea – the dream, if you like – is that we train some of our bakers to be able to teach some of the local parents and children that we work with to be able to bake. We’re not doing it so that our local families stop coming to us for birthday cakes. This is about giving families the skills (and basic equipment/ingredients) to be able to do a fun activity together. Baking: it makes people happy. Eating cake does that too, but eating home made cake is even better.


We were very lucky to be able to work with Julia Chalkley – a freelance cookery teacher, who teaches all ages, which is just as well really as she was teaching us adults how to teach kids how to bake. And it seemed to work. Julia whipped us all into shape and we managed to produce some very decent batches of very delicious blueberry and yoghurt muffins. But, not only that, we learnt how to structure the time when we run our own baking workshops, and how best to show others, who are unlikely to have ever baked before, how to bake in a way that makes it easy, enjoyable and encourages them to go on to bake again. It was enlightening and we had loads of fun, and our bakers are lovely (even if we do say so ourselves, and even if we may have mentioned it one or two times before)!


So we missed the Bake Off final, but we can catch it on iPlayer and we still know that Frances rocked it (of course she did – remember those bread sticks made to look like matches?!). And it was so worth it. We met bakers, we ate muffins, we cooked and learnt and are now raring to go with our own baking workshops. The first is at Morningside Children’s Centre in just a couple of weeks. We will, of course, report back here… Wish us luck!

We hear ya


A little while back we sent out a survey to all our bakers asking for some feedback on a few key areas. We got a fantastic response which will really help us to improve the service we offer and to shape the way we do things in the future.

It was absolutely lovely hearing the reasons bakers gave for why they bake and what inspires them to be part of the little bit of magic that is FCFK Hackney. What we do wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for those who selflessly donate their time, skills and ingredients to create inventive, tasty, awesome cakes and drop them off for kids who they don’t know and will probably never meet. It’s nice to know it means as much to our bakers as our bakers mean to us.

A few bakers were keen to learn more about the “story” behind the cakes. FCFK Hackney endeavours to protect the identity of the children and families we provide cakes for so, for obvious reasons, we can’t share too much information when requests come in. However, we do have a strict referral process, and work closely with organisations like Family Action and local children’s centres, to ensure that cakes reach those children who have genuine cases of need. We will be updating the information on our website to reflect this for people who are interested about how the process works, but, trust us, we don’t give out cakes willy nilly.

Top of the tops in the feedback we received was that our bakers want more socials, and maybe a cake decorating course. We’re combining those two requests for a special Christmas social/icing masterclass. Don’t say we never give you anything, bakers!

Seriously though, if you’re one of our bakers, thank you for the feedback. And, also, just thank you – we don’t say it enough.