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

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

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

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!

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.