Liam Charles leads inter-generational Windrush baking day

Young and old were brought together over sweet treats such as Jamaican Plaintain Tarts and Grenadian black cake as Hackney’s inter-generational Windrush baking sessions were held throughout May.

The baking events, led by The Great British Bake Off’s 2017 contestant Liam Charles, formed part of the Council’s Windrush Generation’s Festival’s programme of events to celebrate the contribution of the Windrush generation and their descendants.

Liam Charles, 21, from Hackney, said: “My own culture has impacted the way I cook so I find events like this important. My nan on my mums side is from Jamaica so you know I’ve done a curry goat pie, a saltfish donut and plantain in a sweet pie. My favourite thing about baking and cooking is that you can be very experimental. To be fair, as long as you know the fundamentals of cooking no one can tell you what to do.”

Though a celebrated baker, Liam learnt a lot at the event, pairing up with Caribbean Elder Elon Charles, 78, from Grenada, who helped him make a delicious Caribbean Black Cake. Liam added: “I found it pretty cool to work alongside someone older than me. They have their own methods which have been tried and tested so it was fun. As a baker myself its taught me some different techniques as well. It also taught me not to be so precise and focal, with some stuff you can just throw it into the mixture as well.”

Elsie Chapman, 91, who brought along her Barbadian Sweetbread recipient said: “I don’t bake often because now I only bake for myself. Usually if I do bake anything, I like to give it away to people. I think it is lovely. Sharing is a part of me I love sharing. Sometimes when I make food for my children, if they don’t take it the same day I will give it to someone else. I think today was lovely, a lovely idea that people get together and share.”

The idea for the baking project came from attendees at the Caribbean Elders Tea Party held last year in Hackney Town Hall, who wanted a way to pass on their skills and knowledge to the young generations. Young people aged 8 to 25 and older people aged 55 to 91 went to the events, bringing along personal recipes which will eventually be brought together in a cookbook that will be available at Hackney’s libraries.

Rhianna Ali-Balogun, 15, from Stoke Newington said: “I’m from Grenada, Trinidad, Jamaica and Nigeria. Today I met a lady called Beryl and I helped make Jamaican coconut drops. So far I’ve enjoyed myself though because I like to bake at home. I like to make cakes!”​

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Deputy Mayor of Hackney
We want to celebrate and salute the Windrush generation here in Hackney because they are a generation that has not been acknowledged enough in the past, but have come to Britain and contributed so much to British life. In the weeks to come, we are going to have a series of fantastic events, its great this year we are also able to help young people work together with their elders to learn more about their life and contributions to the community and culture of Hackney today.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Deputy Mayor of Hackney

HMT Windrush was the first ship to bring Commonwealth citizens from the Caribbean to the UK over 70 years ago, part of a request from the British government to help rebuild Britain after World War II. This important moment in Britain’s history has come to represent the enormous contribution migrants and their descendants have made to British life and identity. Funding for these events was provided by the government’s Windrush Day grant scheme to help educate, commemorate and celebrate the outstanding contribution of the Windrush Generation and their descendants.

Find out more about the Council’s Windrush Generation Festival of events at www.hackney.gov.uk/black-history or follow Hackney Black History on Facebook.