Molly Bakes and freakshakes take over Hackney

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Maria Goodman in front of the counter at Molly Bakes, Hackney. Pic: Amanda Ternblad

It may look like cupcakes and sweets is all you will find in this newly opened café in Hackney, but what is now a blooming business is based on six years of hard work.

Molly Bakes café opened a few weeks ago but its bakery nearby has been running since 2009 when Maria Goodman lost her job as a talent agent during the recession, just before her 29th birthday.

When we meet in the small but bright and colourful café, it is quieter than its usual buzzing atmosphere. It is a rainy Tuesday after the lunch rush and Maria is on her computer arranging orders.

“My sister does my PR, she has scheduled me for so many things I can’t keep track of them”. She says and laughs. She seems relaxed and not at all overwhelmed, but she must be used to the hectic pace by now.

“It all started when I lost my job in 2009. I thought; ‘Great, now I have more time to bake!’ So I asked my mum to show me how to do cupcakes for my birthday party and they were a big hit. From there it took off. I was unemployed for six months and opened a stall at the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane and started going to different offices promoting my cupcakes,” Goodman says.

She is modest but there is no denying how delicious her cakes look, even though she has had no official training. “I just had a passion and a lot of free time,” she says.

Maria’s first big customer was The Sun who wanted cupcakes with their logo on for their 40th birthday party. She says: “That’s when I thought I could really make this into something big.” Goodman has many notable regular customers, including Google and ASOS.

It is hard not to notice that Maria Goodman is filled with drive and ambition, and a strong business sense. She is attentive and she believes that she has a feel for predicting trends.

Series of pastry photographed for Molly Bakes, in it's new hackney shop, the 9th of February 2016.

‘Freakshakes’ by Molly Bakes. Pic: Zoe Flammang

She explains: “When I started out in 2009, there weren’t too many places in London focusing on extravagant cupcakes and cakes like mine. Especially now with all the health trends, I like going against that and letting people come here to indulge and have fun.”

A newly added item to the assortment is the trendy ‘freakshake’, which has put Molly Bakes in the bloggers’ loop and on the social media map. She says: “’Freakshake’ is an Australian trend which has been growing lately but there aren’t too many places in London that sell them. We knew we had to have them.”

A ‘freakshake’ consists of all good things imaginable; a milkshake filled with ice cream, toppings like brownies, cookies, donuts and more. “People come from all over the UK to try them. The day we launched them we had a two-hour queue,” she says.

The Molly Bakes café is located on Kingsland Road in Dalston Junction which Maria describes as a welcoming area with a good mix between young adults and families. Goodman says: “People here are curious and open to new things.” Molly Bakes uses local suppliers where it is possible, for example the sodas, coffee, hot chocolate, bread and cakes. “It is all from Hackney locals,” she says proudly.

Since her bakery opened in 2009, Goodman has written two books and built a loyal network of customers. She said the café has made her busier than ever but cannot help but mentioned that she would like to expand and open one more soon.

“I could never have imagined I would sit here today when I found myself unemployed baking cupcakes with my mum’s help back in 2009. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but I never predicted this.” She says.

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