MEET THE BAKERS
Gabrielle Dent, 34, Accounts
A friend posted on Facebook that she had made a cake for Cakes for Kids so I looked into it. My son was just about to turn five and it hit home that there were children like him out there who had never had a birthday cake of their own. I love making and decorating cakes for fun and this was a great way to practice my skills whilst giving back to the community. I love the fact that you are giving your time and resources to a child rather than just donating money. I learnt to bake with my mum. I don’t think it’s hard to bake if you follow a recipe to the exact measurements. I have done a few decorating classes but mainly I have learnt through Youtube and trial and error. I love the planning, getting a theme and researching ideas. I get my kids involved in the process and they inspire me. Things don’t always work out the way I expected so I never know how it’s going to look until I’m finished. I allow eight hours to decorate each cake but tend to make fondant elements beforehand to give them time to firm up. Some of the kids don’t have much to call their own and/or have been through a tough time in their short lives. It’s such a small thing to do that can mean so much. I still remember my fifth birthday cake that my brother made for me. You are potentially creating a happy lifelong memory for them.
Amanda Lee Coker, 37, Professional cake decorator
I love making cakes for kids because so many miss out. Seeing their smiles and happy cheers because there’s a cake, just for them, designed for them, it puts a lump in my throat. I try and do my own designs based on a theme the kids love. The cakes are all about what the child is into. I’ve been baking for 10 years but only been in business for four. I have my nana to thank for my gift; she was a cake decorator for over 30 years. If it wasn’t for my nana pushing me, I’m not sure what I would be doing now. Because I also do this as a business I bake six days a week and decorate four of those six days. I have my home kitchen registered, which means my hours are more flexible than if I worked in a shop. When I was growing up there were birthdays when I wouldn’t get a cake or a gift and I know how it made me feel and I don’t want any child to feel sad on their birthday. A birthday is to be celebrated. There are so many kids that miss out on important childhood memories. For some kids a cake from us is their very first cake or gift – that’s why every time I donate a cake they also get a gift with it. I applaud Emily. She is such an amazing, kind, friendly person. She’s managed to start something many people only think about.
Mariah Antonie, 13, Student at Rangitoto College
My mum found out about Cakes For Kids on Facebook and then told me. I volunteered because I wanted to help kids have a cake – it’s not their fault that they can’t afford a cake. I love the reaction I get once they receive it. That’s the best kind of gift. The cakes make the kids feel special and it also brings joy: it makes them feel loved and that it’s their special day, just for them. My mum inspires me. She is very creative and crafty. If she has a problem she always finds a way to fix it. I bake on the weekend, make decorations after school and put it all together the morning of the birthday. I’ve been baking for a year and a half. I learned to bake by following the recipe and I learned to decorate by doing it for fun at school and then taking classes and practising a lot. My tips? If you make a mistake try and try again, don’t just say ‘it’s good enough’ then it’s not special and doesn’t look as good as it could be. For beginners: Don’t rush; practice first; take some classes if you want. Buy a pack of fondant and practice some flowers. Don’t race ahead.
Shayna Lawton, 27, Student
I heard about Cakes For Kids just before I left my previous job. A colleague who is involved let me know about it after I brought a cake in to work. I think Cakes For Kids is a brilliant charity. What kid doesn’t like cake? It shows the children that someone has thought of them on their birthday and cares enough to spend the time to make them a cake. For me growing up the cake was the most exciting part of having a birthday and that is something I think all kids should be able to experience. I enjoy knowing that I will be making a cake for a child who likely otherwise wouldn’t get one. I also love the colour and detail that making children’s cakes entails. It takes an hour or so for the baking and about three hours for the decorating. I don’t find the time, I make it: often the cakes are baked and decorated late at night. I’ve been baking for around 17 years. My mum taught me initially as she always used to make awesome birthday cakes for us. I taught myself further techniques and now have a hobby-business.