Kingsland road is oozing with character and a dishevelled kind of charm. It’s a mixed up mess of bars, coffee shops, thrift stores, trendy, and not so trendy restaurants with the standard off licence thrown between, but it’s weird variety somehow works.
Newly thrown into the mix is the most loveable little bakery, Molly Bakes. With its vibrant watermelon red shop front bursting out from in between a pharmacy and solicitor’s office, it’s difficult to walk past without nosing inside. Be warned, once you stop for a peek, your senses will hurtle into overdrive and you won’t be able to leave until one of those heavenly treats is in your hand. Molly Bakes has added something unique to the quirky area of Dalston and people are freaking out over it – in a good way.
When I walk inside the quirky bakery, I am hit with the delicious aroma of Maria’s cakes combined with Climpson’s coffee. Then greeted by Olly, husband to baking genius Maria Goodman, behind the counter with a friendly smiling face. While we wait for Maria, Olly whips me up a peanut butter freak-shake. The dessert is a sticky tower of ice cream, peanut butter, crunchy honeycomb, sweet soft cookie with caramel sauce and sprinkles dripping from the sides. I sit staring at it for a few minutes working out a plan of attack and throw back my lactose tablets before digging in. It is literally the sweetest and most indulgent dessert I have ever tasted and I know I shouldn’t be eating the whole thing but hey, I’d would be rude not too.
Maria arrives just after the morning delivery of fresh cupcakes, honeycombs and marshmallows comes in and her charm matches the style of the store perfectly. I can tell she is a women who probably has a million and one things on her to-do list. Instead of rushing through our interview, Maria sits with a smile and we chat casually and unhurried about her baking adventure, her aspirations for the future and of course, Freak-Shakes.
So Maria, where were you born?
I was born in Finsbury Park, London. One of the rare true Londoners you see.
Tell me about your baking adventure pre-Molly Bakes
So I started off the business 7 years ago and I just started making cupcakes. I didn’t ever think it would get this big, I just did It because I was running out of money! I’d been unemployed for 6 months and I was down to my last £300.
How did you know you could make money from baking?
My mum is a like a dessert queen, isn’t she Olly? You should see how skinny he (referring to Olly) was before we got married. He blames it entirely on my mother. Also, one of my aunts owns a massive factory in Cyprus, a big bakery. My other aunt, also in Cyprus does cakes from home, like wedding cakes and things like that. I’ve always been fascinated with cakes but I never ever thought I’d do it as a profession. It just kind of happened by accident, maybe fate.
So would you say losing your job was the push you needed to start baking professionally?
Yeah definitely. So just before I lost my job, I asked my mum to teach me how to bake because she never had and then I lost my job a month later and had loads of free time. I really loved baking, it just felt kind of natural.
Where you selling your treats? At stalls and markets?
At the start I was just baking for fun because I was a bit obsessed with cupcakes and then 6 months later, after posting pictures of things I made, my friends encouraged me to start selling them, so I did. It seemed like a sensible thing to try as I was running out of money fast, so I began taking them around offices and selling them. I got such a good response that I took up a stall at Brick Lane market and it all just went from there really.
You live here in Dalston and have opened your shop here too. Do you think Molly Bakes will continue to do well in this area?
Yeah, we have lived here for four years and the thing about Dalston is, that I remember quite a few times on a Sunday afternoons being like ‘oh, I really fancy some cakes’ (and I don’t want to have to bake one on my day off you know?). There just wasn’t anywhere around, so I thought it was something the area needed. Loads of our customers have said the same thing.
So let’s talk Freak-Shakes, what three words would you use to describe the them?
Indulgent, monstrous and crazy!
Where did you get the idea for freak-shakes?
I saw them on Instagram last summer and I thought oh my god, I have to try one of these! I couldn’t find a place anywhere in London that made them so basically I decided to buy a machine and experiment. A few months later the shop came up and once we were in, we decided to just go for it.
What response did you get?
So it was late January when we started and I thought ‘oh it’s freezing cold, nobody has any money and nobody will come, so it will just be a soft launch’. We had a two hour queue, it was insane! It just shows how much people wanted them.
So I have a confession, I wouldn’t usually come to places like this because I am lactose intolerant… Would you consider making a vegan option in the future?
We get asked all the time but the problem is, we are in such a tiny space, like the freezer literally holds 12 ice cream tubs and we get through those in one day, so maybe when we open another branch, we could do it.
So are you looking into opening a second store?
Well, I think we are a long way off but it is something we will consider in the future. We’re just getting into this one you know. We have so many people come in here, and sometimes we can’t serve everyone so another store would make sense at some point in the future for sure.
So how does it feel to be living your dream?
Well it’s very tiring but also very rewarding. Anything that is worth doing is difficult and never comes easy. The best thing about it is the feedback we get from customers. They all absolutely love it!
What words of wisdom would you give someone who wanted a career change?
One thing I would say to people is never sell yourself short because it’s your time and you need to factor that in. That’s one of the mistakes I made at the start just doing things for a lot cheaper than I should have. Make sure you do your research and make your product unique.
What aspirations do you have for Molly Bakes in the future?
I don’t want to become a chain but my dream would be to open in America.
Have you got any new exciting things joining the Molly Bakes menu soon?
We are going to add some new flavours of Freak-Shakes and at some point, we’re going to make Hard-Shakes. They’re alcoholic Freak-Shakes!
I feel like there will be an even longer queue outside the door when you do that and I’ll definitely be in it! Thanks Maria and good luck with your adventure.
Molly Bakes can be found at 450 Kingsland Road London E8 4AE, check out their website.
No matter what part of London you’re from, or the world for that matter, Molly Bakes is definitely worth the visit!
Written by Emma Grimmond
Photos by Zoe Flammang