Cake of the Month – August 2014

When baker Kirsten emailed us a picture of the “tie dye/rainbow” cake she had made and delivered to a Hackney child at the end of last month we were instantly transported back to our ’90s youthhood.  Hello tie dye!  Hello Magic Eye books!  Hello oversized Global Hypercolour t-shirts and cycling shorts and Salt-N-Pepa’s Let’s Talk About Sex on the ghetto blaster.  “Spinderella cut it up one time.”  Sorry, we totally took that too far …

… back to the cake.  We loved it, and we instantly wanted to know how to create a tie dye cake ourselves.  What better opportunity for a masterclass from the baker herself than Cake of the Month?  Little did we know then that it’s also a rainbow cake inside with concentric circles of colour in the actual batter too.  Legendary.
FCFK - tie dye cake

Name of baker: Kirsten Mansfield
Name of cake: tie dye rainbow cake

Ingredients:
For the cake:
350g self-raising flour
350g soft butter
350g caster sugar
6 large free range eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
up to 40ml semi-skimmed milk
6 different gel icing colours (I used red, orange, green, blue, yellow and purple)

For the icing:
100g butter, soft
250g cream cheese, at room temperature
600g icing sugar, sifted

 

Method:
For the cake:

First, preheat your oven to gas mark 4/170 degrees/360 degrees Fahrenheit and mix up your cake batter in the usual way – cream your butter and sugar until combined, add eggs one at a time followed by a little of the flour and mix well before adding theremaining flour and vanilla extract. If your mix is a little thick, add up to 40ml of semi-skimmed milk – adding a tablespoon at a time and stopping when you get to a consistency that you’re happy with.

Divide the mixture into six bowls, and make each bowl a different rainbow colour. Line the bottom of two 9 inch cake pans with wax paper, and grease the sides. Layer your cake batter in concentric circles. Use about 3/4 of the bowl for your bottom colour, then use a little less of each colour as you continue. Layer your second cake pan in the opposite order.

For the icing:

Melt the butter in a heat proof bowl in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, until close to completely melted. Whisk the butter until no lumps remain. Whisk in your cream cheese, again until no lumps remain.

Prepare your icing sugar, and then sieve it in to the cream cheese mixture 150g at a time, stirring gently with a wooden spoon between each addition. When all the icing sugar is incorporated, pop the frosting into the fridge to chill.

For the tie dye decoration:

Once you have frosted the cake make concentric circles with the gel on the top of your cake, starting with the largest circle (I used red on the outside) and working your way in to the middle (I used purple on the inside as I did not have as much left). Using a small, flat paintbrush, start at the centre circle and brush toward the outside of your cake – you will need to wash your brush a lot to keep it from creating a brown colour.

About the baker:

I was born in South African and my family and I moved to Qatar when I was eight. My mother taught me, my sister and our friends to bake at a young age and we took turns to make muffins and cakes to take to school. Throughout my school education and legal studies I have enjoyed volunteering and I taught swimming to children which encouraged me to get involved in various children’s charities. After university I travelled to Kenya and taught at a school for disadvantaged children in Mombasa which was a fascinating experience as I was able to immerse myself in the community.

When I moved to London two years ago I decided I wanted to carry on with volunteering but I needed it to be flexible as I was looking for a job and I didn’t know what kind of hours I would be doing. I currently work at Goldman Sachs and Free Cakes for Kids Hackney provides a great opportunity for me to combine my passion for baking with my interest in charity work. I was particularly interested in Free Cakes for Kids as it is a brilliant community service which has the opportunity to bring happiness to so many children and families.


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


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

Ingredients:
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

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

Method:
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!


Cake of the month – November 2013

Our cakes just get awesomer and awesomer.  What do you mean that’s not a word?!  Check out this cake – it’s the awesomist!

IMG_20131114_213855

 

Name of baker: Jennie

Name of cake: Rainbow Dash rainbow cake

Ingredients:
6 eggs
Weight of the eggs in butter (or margarine), caster sugar and self raising flour
Vanilla extract (for the cake)
Pinch of salt
Rainbow coloured gel food colours (I used red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple – no indigo – I’m not totally sure I know what indigo even is) – these are fantastic – much better than the liquid colours of my youth – unbelievably string colours even when baked.
Jam
250g block of butter
650g icing sugar
Vanilla extract (for the icing)
Edible lustre sprays in pearl and sky blue (optional)

Method:
For the cake:
I made the cake in three batches (partly because I only have one set of sandwich cake tins and one oven).
– *Weigh two eggs and preheat the oven to 180 (165 fan).
– Weight the same amount of butter (margarine) and sugar into a bowl and add a splodge of vanilla extract. Cream this until it goes white and fluffy (I did it with a stand mixer, but a hand whisk or wooden spoon is also totally viable).
– Measure out (separately) the same weight of flour and add the pinch of salt.
– Add the two eggs to the butter/sugar mix gradually and beat in (not too much, just till it’s all combined well).
– If the egg/butter/sugar mix starts to look a bit curdled, just chuck in a little handful of the flour between egg additions.
– Chuck in the flour and fold it in to the mix – keep it quick and only fold until combined – don’t overmix.
– Split this mixture in half and colour each half with one of your rainbow colours.
– Stick these two coloured batters into your sandwich tins and stick in the oven for about 15 minutes till they are cooked – they will be fairly thin cakes – this is a good thing – you are going to end up with six layers, after all.
– When the cakes are cool enough, turn them out onto racks and leave to cool completely.
– Frantically wash your bowls and tins and start again from * with the next two colours until you have six lovely layers.
– When all your cakes are cooked, level them off as necessary (it matters more with more layers – you don’t want a Leaning Tower of Pisa cake for this one) and layer them up on a board with jam in between to stick them together nicely.
– Refrigerate while you make the icing (for an hour at least).
– To make the icing, stick the butter (at room temperature) and icing sugar into a bowl and beat (slowly at first – icing sugar is messy stuff) until all incorporated (it might be a bit crumby – that is fine at this stage). Again – you can do this by hand if you’re feeling strong, but icing is where those stand mixers really come into their own.
– Add a good splodge of vanilla and possibly a splash of milk if things are looking a bit dry and beat frantically until it’s lovely and fluffy – it takes about 5 minutes in the stand mixer – probably more by hand.
– Use up to half the icing to crumb coat your cake, making a nice smooth layer and locking all the crumbs in – it’s fine if it doesn’t look nice – it just needs to give a good base.
– Refrigerate the whole thing overnight (or at least for a couple of hours) for the icing to set and chill.
– The next day, spread the rest of the icing over the crumb coat – this time, make it as beautiful as you can!
– I decorated the whole thing by spraying the icing all over with pearlescent lustre and then using stencils (cut of old bits of paper) to make clouds and spraying with blue. This is obviously optional, but I thought that since Rainbow Dash is a proper flutter pony, she’d probably quite like a sky background and it makes the cake a little bit interesting on the outside as well as being a rainbow inside.
– Finally, I stuck my Rainbow Dash figure on top (she’s just plastic – I contemplated icing her on, but thought that, if it was my birthday, I’d probably prefer something I could actually keep afterwards) and chucked a couple of packets of Skittles round the cake to reemphasise the rainbow theme.
– Et voila – Rainbow Dash rainbow cake! Obviously these are at their best when they’re actually sliced and you get the whole rainbow effect, but I didn’t get to see that here (it always looks awesome, though).

About the baker:
I am a slightly obsessive baker (and occasional and slightly lame blogger) in my spare time (such as it is), which is a little at odds with being a type 1 diabetic who doesn’t really eat cake.
As such, I am always keen to find new cake victims, and the waistlines of my friends, family and coworkers, who have tended to bear the brunt in the past, are grateful to be sharing the burden with Free Cakes for Kids Hackney.
In all seriousness, when I heard about FCFK, I raced to sign up – in some ways it’s a small thing – there are maybe bigger, more important causes, but the impact of small things, like cakes and parties when growing up, shouldn’t be underestimated, and I am keen to share some of my own childhood birthday experiences with people who might not otherwise get them – unthinkable for so many of us. And, on a purely selfish note, it has been really lovely to be able to make someone so happy with something so very easy!