This Young Baker Makes Pies to Help Fight Hunger in His Community

Jayden Hairston is a 11-year-old boy in Westchester, New York. He loves to bake—and a couple years ago got the idea to bake pies to raise money to donate to a local food bank.

The first time Jayden Hairston remembers baking with his grandmother they made peanut butter kiss cookies.

“But I don’t make them anymore,” he says.

That’s because he’s moved on to more complicated bakes like pound cakes, pies and citrus tarts. At 11 years old, Jayden turned those days in his grandma’s kitchen into a fully functioning baking business: Cakes By Jay.

Jayden’s mom, Nicole Stansbury, says it all started when he brought his decadent desserts to his performing arts school to share with friends. His treats were such a hit that families asked to place orders for special occasions and, “before we knew it, he had a business going!”

His most original offering is a five-flavor pound cake baked from a family recipe. He packs vanilla, lemon, coconut, almond and rum flavoring into a single cake. “It’s really tasty and no one has ever had a cake with so many flavors,” Jayden says.

He’s Fighting Hunger with Every Pie, Too

Jayden being filmed baking for the newsCourtesy Nicole Stansbury

Jayden is also passionate about improving his community and creating smiles with more than just sweets. Around Thanksgiving during the first year that his baking business was up and running, Jayden learned about a local bakery fundraiser for Feeding Westchester on the nighttime news. Nicole says he wanted to participate in the fundraiser but couldn’t because they didn’t have a bakery, so together they came up with the idea to donate the proceeds from his locally-famous sweet potato pies to the organization.

That winter Jayden sold more than 100 pies with the proceeds going to fight hunger in Westchester. It took a lot of work and dedication to fulfill these orders because sometimes his pies and cakes can take him two days to make, he says.

“It makes me feel really good to know that I’m helping the community,” he said. “I can help people have special things they wouldn’t normally have, or be able to afford.”

To start baking at home with your family, check out this guide to cooking with kids.

What Is Jayden Doing Now?

Hope sponsored event, judges trying dishesCourtesy Nicole Stansbury

Since making his donation over the holidays, Jayden continues to work with Feeding Westchester. In March, he brought his talents to their first-ever Chopped-style competition fundraiser as a judge. But since the coronavirus pandemic began, Cakes By Jay hasn’t taken any orders and Jayden and his mom have been staying home.

Nicole says the kitchen in their apartment can “get hectic” when Jayden is working on baking projects, but, “he has gotten much better at being organized and not as messy. And he’s gotten much better at cleaning up after himself.”

By the time Jayden can take orders again, he’s determined to have a perfect lemon tart recipe ready for summer. “I’ve been practicing my lemon curd, sometimes it’s not thick enough when I make it on the stove,” he says. Next time, he says he’s going to try to bake the tart dough and the curd together, and then work on cleaning up the kitchen!

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Mandy Naglich
Mandy is a food and beverage writer with bylines at WNYC, Munchies, Mic and October. She's a Certified Cicerone and award-winning homebrewer living, writing and cooking in New York City.