Earlier this week I ventured to HM Prison Brixton accompanied by Alex (Head) to meet some of the boys behind Bad Boys’ Bakery. Before I arrived, I was feeling a little apprehensive about what I was about to experience and some of the characters I would meet. Finally after the rigmarole of security checks, we were led to the bakery to meet the team where we set about making some fondant fancies. My concerns about how the morning would pan out quickly evaporated as I got to know the team, especially after being asked to dance by one of them… to which I had to politely decline.
Many were enthusiastic and wanted to see the process from start to finish which was quite a task in itself when looking at the number of steps it takes to turn out these little sweet treats, largely as most of them were new to baking. They showed genuine curiosity and willingness and a few of the other boys came to watch and wanted to get involved. Whilst we were making fondant fancies on one side of the kitchen, other team members was knocking up Danish pastries with custard, trays of chocolate chip cookies and brownies.
It was such a pleasure getting to know them and chatting about what they wanted to do when they got out. Some had really found baking to be therapeutic and want to start up their own bakeries or bagel shops. I really found the whole experience to be quite humbling and it highlighted the difficulty these men face when trying to find employment when they get out. So it was great to see how baking had changed their mindsets and given them passion to start their own things.
My parting image will last for quite some time… a load of burley men creating very delicate ice pink fondant fancies with real care and precision.