Cake of the Month – February 2017

Smarties surprise cake

Name of baker:  Rebecca Rutt

Name of cake:  Surprise smarties chocolate cake

Ingredients & Methods: You can find all the details on Rebecca’s blog

A bit about yourself and how you got in to baking/ why you chose to volunteer with Free Cakes for Kids Hackney:
For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed baking, whether it’s something I’ve made a hundred times before or an experimental recipe. While at university in Cardiff I first heard about Free Cakes For Kids and then in the past year found out there was a branch in Hackney where I live. I chose to volunteer as I wanted to put my baking skills to good use in the local area. Baking a cake is a small way I can help a child in the community and hopefully give them a brighter Birthday.


Cake of the Month – December 2016


Name of baker: Gail Clark

Name of cake: Christmas Party Cake

Ingredients: 225g softened unsalted butter, 225g golden caster sugar, 4 eggs, 225g self-raising flour, 2 level teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon nice vanilla essence. Strawberry jam for filling, buttercream – 75g softened butter 225g sifted icing sugar and a little milk. Fondant icing

Method: This is a classic Mary Berry Victoria sponge cake. Pre-heat oven 160c Fan, grease two 20cm sandwich tins, line base. Put all cake ingredients into a bowl then mix with electric blender. Bake for 25 minutes – cool then sandwich together with jam and butter icing.

A bit about yourself and how you got in to baking/ why you chose to volunteer with Free Cakes for Kids Hackney:
My Mum was a great baker, and tried to teach me how to bake – and although I watched closely and followed all her tips, my cakes were more like lopsided biscuits! So many years later, when my daughter was coming up to her 7th birthday a friend said why didn’t I have a go at making her a cake rather than buying or begging someone else, usually my brother to make one. It worked – all those tips came back and I had a light fluffy sponge! I’ve never looked back.

My daughter has always had a birthday cake – as has my step-son. I got into Free Cakes for Kids because I wanted to be part of something which helped other children to have a cake. Having a birthday is very special at any age but particularly for a child, it’s a small act but a cake helps to create a memory.

I really enjoyed making a cake for the Christmas party – the perfect excuse to have a good look at Pinterest for inspiration, get the Christmas cutters out and go on the hunt for mini candy canes.

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.

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

Cake of the month – October 2013

Whaaat? We’re halfway through November already? How did that happen? Well, they do say, better late than never, so here’s October’s cake of the month – pretty awesome, I’m sure you’ll agree…


Name of baker:
Olivia Piepe

Name of cake:
Train to Hackney

Basic Victoria sponge recipe; flour, butter, eggs and sugar. In addition, blue food dye, rolling icing, nutella and dolly mixture, sprinkles.

I created the base cake first from two Victoria sponges with nutella spread in between. I rolled the ready-made icing and attached it to the top of the cake, and trimmed off the sides. I used a cake mould to create the train set, and added the food dye to include come colour. When the train set was cold, I placed them on the top of the base cake and added dolly mixtures to one piece.

About the baker:
It’s always good to give back and if, like me, you are lucky enough eat lovely cakes regularly then what better way to do so than cake related volunteering. 
As a child I remember the cake at my birthday parties so vividly; pink turrets on a princess castle stands out as a particular work of art. However, there are some children whose parents can’t afford to buy the ingredients to make them a birthday cake, or do not have the cooking resources needed to do so. Hackney has been gentrified in the last few years but there are still a lot of poverty stricken people that have children to care for.  Free Cakes for Kids is a fantastic charity that really helps these people and that I’m thrilled to have found.

Cake of the Month – January 2013


This Cake was made for Hackney Ark’s winter party, and I was delighted to make it, because we’re one of the families who’ve benefitted from services from the Ark.

Name of baker: Deborah McManamon

Name of cake: Free From Chocolate Cake [dairy and egg free: this recipe comes from Giorgio Locatelli, whose daughter has food allergies.]


450g plain flour
300g caster sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder (I use green & blacks)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
125ml vegetable oil
300ml cold water
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
(I sometimes add some chopped crystalised ginger or orange zest)

Sift the dry ingredients together.  Combine the wet ingredients in a jug.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and pout in the oil and water mixture and beat well.  It should give a thick glossy batter.  Pour into a 23cm cake tin and bake at 170 / 150 fan oven until a skewer comes out clean.
The texture is quite dense and ‘cakey’ rather than sponge like.
I iced this one using apricot jam and fondant icing, which is egg / dairy free too.

About the baker:

I’ve lived in London for 25 years, and Hackney for about 20 years so I’m probably here for good now.   I work for a disability charity in Kings Cross.  I usually make birthday cakes for my two boys and we have great fun coming up with designs.  Even when the cakes turn out a bit different it doesn’t matter.  There’s something special about something being made for you – even if it isn’t perfect.  That’s why I decided to volunteer when I came across a flyer for Free Cakes for Kids.  It’s still a bit nerve wracking baking for other people though!


Cake of the Month – December 2012


Name of baker: Rosie Leigh

Name of cake: Large Victoria Sponge with Butter-cream icing


8 Eggs

500g (16oz) Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)

500g (16oz) Caster Sugar

500g (16oz) Self-Raising Flour

Vanilla Extract

2 x 20in cake tins, greased and lined

To decorate:

Butter-Cream Icing:    250g Icing Sugar

80g Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)

25ml Whole Milk

Vanilla extract

Strawberry Jam

Fresh strawberries (optional)

Hundreds and Thousands Sprinkles

Multi-Coloured Chocolate Beans



1)      Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth/creamy

2)      Beat in two of the eggs, add half the flour and repeat until all ingredients are incorporated

3)      Add ½ Tsp of Vanilla extract and mix in

4)      Split the mixture between the tins and bake at 170c for 30-40mins or until golden/a skewer comes out clean.

Butter-Cream Icing

1)      Beat icing sugar and butter with electric whisk (medium speed).

2)      Combine the milk and vanilla separately then add to the icing/butter mix gradually.

3)      Once all incorporated turn up to a high speed and beat until light and fluffy (at least 5 minutes).


1)      Layer the strawberry jam on the bottom cake (add fresh strawberries if you like)

2)      Add the second cake on top of the jam, cover the top of the cake with a generous amount of butter-cream and sprinkle decorations on top


About the baker:

Free Cakes for Kids is a wonderful organisation and as I am dedicated to working either with or for children, volunteering with Free Cakes for Kids provides me with a wonderful opportunity to combine my love for baking with helping in some way to make a child’s birthday special.

I am also passionate about baking in all forms. I have had opportunities to make celebration cakes for a variety of age groups and events but working with Free Cakes for Kids allows me to practice and expand further on this experience.

In addition, as I have five nieces and nephews under 10 years old I can appreciate first-hand just how special it feels to receive a personalised cake such as those made by Free Cakes for Kids!

Cake of the Month – October 2012


Name of baker: Anna Brewster

Name of cake: Transformers Cake


Sponge – egg, flour, butter, sugar

Strawberry jam

Icing – bought coloured icing


Two large rectangle sponge cakes. One sponge for the base, covered with jam and then white rolled icing. Second sponge cut into smaller rectangles to form the robot arms, legs, torso and head. Each covered with jam and then rolled coloured icing, red and blue. Grey icing formed by moulding white and black icing together for the panels on the torso. Legs and face. Silver balls for eyes, then black tube icing for the detail.

About the baker:

I’m 28, work for the Guardian newspaper, and I’ve lived in London for five years or so. I only recently moved to the Hackney area but it already feels like it’s always been my home. As for why I chose FCFK – I love baking, basically! A friend told me about FCFK and it sounded like a great opportunity to be able to bake for purpose (other than just eating it all myself…) I love being able to contribute to my local community and help make a kid’s birthday a little brighter.

Cake of the Month – September 2012


Name of baker: Tessa Lidstone

Name of cake: Star cake (for Eid) – raspberry, iced Victoria sponge


For the cake:

200g caster sugar

200g softened butter

4 eggs, beaten

200g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp milk

For the filling:

Raspberry jam


For the icing:

100g softened butter

140g sifted icing sugar

Raspberry puree (you can make your own by pressing fresh raspberries through a sieve and reducing in a pan slightly if too liquid then leaving to cool, or you can buy an equivalent product ready made).

For the decoration:

Royal icing cut into stars

Small white chocolate stars

Anything else you fancy!


  1. Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5.  Butter two 20cm sandwich tins and line with non-stick baking paper.  In a large bowl, beat all the cake ingredients together until you have a smooth, soft batter.
  2. Divide the mixture between the tins, smooth the surface with a spatula or the back of a spoon, then bake for about 20mins until golden and the cake springs back when pressed.  Turn onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
  3. When cooled use the jam to sandwich the cakes together.
  4. To make the icing, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, then gradually beat in icing sugar.  Add enough raspberry puree to give flavour and colour without making the icing too loose.
  5. Spread the butter cream over the top of the cake and work down the sides with a knife until the cake is covered.
  6. Decorate to taste with royal icing shapes etc.

About the baker:

I was born and brought up in Bristol, but moved to London to work as a journalist after graduating from Sheffield University with a politics degree.  After living in South London initially, I moved to Hackney around seven years ago and have been proud to call it my home ever since.  I live with my husband, Elliott, and we are expecting our first baby in January.  We couldn’t be more excited!  I now work full time as a press officer for an MP – the hours are long but I love it and try to make the most of my spare time too.  I saw Free Cakes for Kids Hackney advertised through the Dalston Darlings WI, of which I’m a member, and thought it would be right up my street.  My husband’s a chef but, believe it or not, I do most of the home cooking and love baking for others.  Food is definitely the way to a lot of people’s hearts and the loving simplicity of FCFK’s really appealed to me.  I remember my mum making all sorts of creations over the years – from wigwams to cats (and bunny-shaped jelly on the side!) – for birthday cakes for my brother and I.  To be able to replicate those fun memories for another child, who might not otherwise get that experience, is truly a privilege.  Rock on Free Cakes for Kids Hackney!