At first sight, a ‘freak shake’ can be intimidating. What starts out in fairly standard fashion, by mixing milk and ice cream, soon stacks up into a pile of dairy and sugar tall enough to keep a toddler buzzing for days. An Australian import, they’re all about excess, with various sauces, cakes, crumbles and froths adding up to a structurally unstable dessert colossus.
We’re having our inaugural freak shake experience at Molly Bakes, the first café from Maria Goodman and her husband Olly (Maria + Olly = Molly), who’ve been running their baking business since 2009. “People kept asking me where they could find the shop,” Maria tells us, “and in the end it seemed like the logical thing to do. We wanted to start a milkshake business anyway, and so the freak shakes just made sense.”
We order a peanut butter shake and watch Maria build it. She starts by whizzing vanilla ice cream with peanut butter before turning her attention to the serving glass, dabbing and smearing the rim with peanut butter, caramel, cookie dust and popping candy. Caramel is dribbled down the sides, and then the shake goes in, followed by another scoop of ice cream and some whipped cream. There’s a brownie on top, then some honeycomb, and an extra flourish of sugary crumble. Are you still with us? She lifts it onto a plate (it’s impossible to hold without getting sticky) and the shake is served. We wonder where to start, but eventually dig in with a spoon. “It’s amazing, the glasses usually come back clean every time,” Maria says, “people don’t usually even share them.”
On the evening they launched the shakes, queues were stretching down the road outside, as people got wind of them via Twitter and Instagram. The waiting time was two hours, and one couple came all the way from South Kensington, queuing for one hour and 10 minutes to get their shake. The rapper Scroobius Pip has even paid a visit, right after finishing an appointment at the dentist. “My Twitter and Instagram suddenly went crazy,” said Maria, “and I realised this famous rapper was here.”
We ask Maria what she plans for her freaky future and she reveals that more flavours are in development, including some boozy shakes, just in case they weren’t ticking enough boxes already. We’re surprised at just how easy it is to plough through one of these, although we do stop before the end. It’s only when we get home later that we realise we’ve been sporting a streak of freak shake in our hair. They're messy, but they're worth it.
Molly Bakes, 450 Kingsland Rd, E8 4AE