Baking Her Way into the Hearts of Foster Kids

Lady Gaga. Vampires. Pirate Ships. Nintendo game controllers. Alice in Wonderland.

Molly Boarman has created them all – on homemade birthday cakes, that is.

Boarman, of Scripps Ranch, has been providing birthday cakes to foster youth in San Diego County for almost a year now. It sounds simple, yet the work that goes into it and the resulting emotions of the recipients are anything but simple.

“I want to wish you a great holiday and thank you for the cake,” reads one of the cards Boarman received recently. “It was very delicious and it made my whole birthday special because I wasn’t expecting anything.”

“It’s so exciting the feedback I get,” said Boarman. “The letters I’ve received have been amazing.”

She was looking for a way to give back to the community and read a story about an organization that bakes cakes for needy children. Extensive research found there was no such service in San Diego County.

“I thought ‘Why not bring this type of service to San Diego?’” she said. “After all, every child deserves that individual recognition on such a special day and what better way for me to give back to the community when I love baking.”

It started off as 2-3 cakes a month, but now she’s up to 8 to 10. Luckily her two sons, ages 6 and 8 assist, and they are often tapped to help her figure out current pop culture references. They are experts at video game characters.

“My boys get to help,” she said. “They like to help pick out characters for the cake.” 

Her sons, as well as her husband, also serve as “official tasters”.

Boarman has only taken one decorating class – the rest has been learned by trial and error, watching cooking classes and a little natural talent passed on to her by her father who used to bake.

“I have his chocolate cake recipe,” she said.

So far, Boarman has covered all the costs. She keeps them reasonable by buying in bulk and on sale and gets some of the plastic cake domes (for delivery) that may be imperfect donated by local grocery stores.

Since the cakes are given as a donation, Boarman has had the freedom to be more adventurous. She has begun working more and more with fondant, an icing-like substance that can be molded to create almost anything on a cake.

“I pride myself on making everything edible on my cake,” she said. “It’s kind of fun to see what people like. I like to make it personal.”

Those individual requests come to her via a form filled out by social workers at community partners of the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency such as South Bay Community Services, San Diego Youth Services or The Center for Positive Changes. Each child gets to pick out the theme or character they want on their cake.

As word of mouth continues to spread about her creations, Boarman is destined to get busier and busier. But that doesn’t faze her.

“This is just something I love to do,” she said. “I haven’t said no yet.”