Is The South East Cakery London’s Sassiest Bakery?

The South East Cakery is bringing a sprinkle of sass to London’s street food scene, from Lewisham Model Market to KERB Camden. The Resident meets the couple behind the cakes…

Ice cream sandwich bars, rainbow-coloured Victoria sponges, s’mores shakes, explosive sundae stacks, showstopping wedding cakes and the best brownies in town – it could only be the Instagram feed of The South East Cakery.

The concept is the brainchild of talented bakers and entrepreneurs Maria Mannoukas and Alex Ridley, a married couple from Peckham who held their wedding reception at their favourite local restaurant, Pedler.

Mannoukas started out as a baker at Anderson & Co in Peckham, where her creations are still stocked today. Before that, she was a DJ. As well as baking, she and Ridley both share a love of hip hop, and their affection for the genre is reflected in their bold, expressive bakes.

‘We’re not like a cutesy cupcake, flowery bakery,’ explains Mannoukas. ‘When we started, we wanted to do it our way. We like to have a lot of fun with it. We love asking people to tell us their favourite sweets, chocolates and nuts, and creating something especially for them. Each one is different, and we kind of freestyle each time.’

When we catch up for our exclusive photo shoot, the sun is shining over their pop-up at Lewisham’s Model Market, a foodie mecca run by Street Feast (the people behind Hawker House in Canada Water and Dinerama in Shoreditch).

We’re not like a cutesy cupcake, flowery bakery. We like to have a lot of fun with it. We kind of freestyle each time

For Ridley, the Model Market is the best party in south London: ‘For food and music and people, it’s such a great environment. It’s very festival-esque, and has a really individual feel to it.’

It’s also a special location for Mannoukas. ‘You get so many different types of people here just having a good time at the weekend and loving their food. I used to come here when I was little with my mum, when it was an actual market with lots of Caribbean produce.’

With a respectful nod to the heritage of the place, the pair decided to keep the original sign belonging to the old electronics store. It’s symbolic of how the likes of the Model Market – similarly Pop Brixton – has managed to avoid the stigma of gentrification, while still bringing a new, fresh and exciting business to the area.

‘It’s great to be part of the street food scene, says Mannoukas, ‘because you learn about all the new pop-ups first. We love Brockley Market too. I always try to go there on a Saturday if we can fit it into our schedules.’

North of the river, you will also find them at KERB Camden and at Climpson & Sons in Broadway Market, but they both admit to feeling more than a little loyalty to south London – as reflected by the brand name.

South London feels like home. When we meet other small businesses, there’s a real sense of pride in the area

‘It feels like home,’ says Mannoukas. ‘When we meet other small businesses, there’s a real sense of pride in the area.’

‘To be really corny about it, the beating heart of it – it’s there,’ adds Ridley. ‘I’ve yet to encounter anyone that’s indifferent about it.’

The pair have even found the time to set up a clothing label, WHISK. While it refers to the kitchen utensil, it’s also an anagram for ‘working hard is key’. While their schedules must be manic, Ridley tells me that they try to work smart: ‘This year, the challenge has been to know when to say no. Who you affiliate with is important and Street Feast has definitely been one of the best things to happen to us.’