York Clandestine Cake Club- Book Launch Event at Hobbycraft, Monks Cross.

A few months ago Clandestine Cake Club organisers were asked if they were interested in getting in contact with their local Hobbycraft store to hold a special event marking the publication of The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook.  Although the book has been out since February, it has only recently been on sale in Hobbycraft stores up and down the country.

I am a regular customer at my local Hobbycraft which has been open since November 2012 on Monks Cross retail park just off the York Ring Road and near the A64 junction. It “fuels” my addiction for the hobbies in my life- cross stitch, knitting, sewing as well as being a great place to stock up on baking and cake decorating essentials!

So a couple of months back I contacted the Manager of the York Hobbycraft and asked if York CCC could come along and hold a book launch event in the store.  Several phone calls later we arranged a two hour event on a Saturday afternoon. Members of York CCC would choose a cake from the book, bring it along to Hobbycraft and we would let customers in the store sample the cakes, see copies of the book, buy the book or learn more about the club and sign up as a new member!

One of my favourite cookbooks at the moment, the fabulous Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook available in all good bookshops!
The front cover of The Clandestine Cake Club cookbook.  This is now very well thumbed, the pages are spattered and one is even stuck together where I spilt milk on it!

It got to a couple of days before and people began dropping out so there were only four of us in the end with two bakers!  I didn’t want the table to look unimpressive and I wanted a variety of cakes to attract the public so I went over the top in the kitchen the day before.  I didn’t mind though as I had lots of ingredients which needed using up, I wanted to try more recipes out of the book and it was a miserable depressing day outside.  What better than to be cocooned in a warm and cosy kitchen baking instead?

So here’s what I baked on Friday afternoon:

A Strawberry Yoghurt Butterfly bundt cake made using Rachel McGrath's recipe www.dollybakes.co.uk for more fabulous bundt recipes and ideas!
A Strawberry Yoghurt Butterfly bundt cake made using Rachel McGrath’s recipe http://www.dollybakes.co.uk for more fabulous bundt recipes and ideas!
This is Jini Mulukutla's Neapolitan cake. I made this in my Alan Silverwood Battenburg tin without the separators in.
This is Jini Mulukutla’s Neapolitan cake. I made this in my Alan Silverwood Battenburg tin without the separators in.
This is Amanda Woodward's Raspberry Cakewell. Its like a Bakewell tart but in cake form!
This is Amanda Woodward’s Raspberry Cakewell. Its like a Bakewell tart but in cake form!
Lynn Hill's  Stem Ginger Cake.  I love stem ginger and I found this smelled heavenly as it was baking in my kitchen.
Lynn Hill’s Stem Ginger Cake. I love stem ginger and I found this smelled heavenly as it was baking in my kitchen.
The Tarta de Almendras (Spanish Almond Cake) about to go into the oven.
The Tarta de Almendras (Spanish Almond Cake) about to go into the oven.
Dried fruit soaking in cold Yorkshire tea. I used raisins, sultanas and dried apricots in this cake.
Dried fruit soaking in cold Yorkshire tea. I used raisins, sultanas and dried apricots in this cake.

Apart from not reading the recipe right and putting the raspberry cakewell mixture into the tin wrongly everything seemed to be ok.  I put the sponge mixture in first in both tins then added the frangipane layer on top of both tins. What I should have done was put the sponge in one tin and the frangipane in the other tin.  I also ran out of raspberry jam and had to use a tablespoon of strawberry to make up the shortfall.  I bet someone noticed!

At the Hobbycraft event we were given two large tables upstairs and a small one downstairs in the entrance to the store.

002
Copies of the book laid out on the table for customers to browse through.
004
All our cakes laid out to try.
005
The Spanish Almond Cake. This is ideal for those following a gluten and dairy free diet.
006
The Raspberry Cakewell. One lady said it reminded her of the cakes her mother used to make when she was a little girl.
007
The Chocolate Neapolitan Cake was a huge hit, especially with the children and the men.
008
The Overnight Tea Loaf was also popular. I told customers how easy it was to make and how versatile the recipe was to use whatever dried fruit you have to hand. Sadly, I forgot to bring some butter and Wensleydale cheese to go with it though!
009
The Strawberry Yoghurt Butterfly bundt went down very well with the children, especially the little girls.
010
The Stem Ginger Cake cut into little pieces. I scoffed a small piece of this and really enjoyed it.
011
Michele brought along the Mocha Marble Cake which was absolutely gorgeous. After I’d tried my ginger cake I had a piece of Michele’s cake. If you love chocolate and coffee, you will adore this cake. It was very popular, especially with the staff at Hobbycraft who kept coming past for some!
012
Our little taster table downstairs in the entrance.
013
My son Rob got to keep the antenna off the butterfly cake as he had been a massive help to me at the event. He came to Monks Cross with me as I needed to buy him some art stuff and I offered him some pocket money to help me carry the cakes in to the shop and to go and get me a drink from Starbucks! He helped serve the cake too!

Sadly we didn’t sell any copies of the book. This I think was down to the high retail price that Hobbycraft had set it at (£16). Each customer I spoke to who wanted the book said they loved it but were going straight on the Internet to buy it when they got home! Even though it was £4 lower than the RRP of £20 it is still far much more money than other book retailers would sell it for.  I have seen the book for sale for as low as £5.99 on the Book People website. I don’t blame people for going elsewhere in this current economic climate.  I would not pay £16 myself as I have a lot of other expenses in life, just like most people!

If you love baking, eating and talking about cake (and lots of other things too) then why not see what The Clandestine Cake Club is all about. We meet in secret locations around the UK and overseas and I have made lots of new friends over baking and cake.

To find out more visit : www.clandestinecakeclub.co.uk. and see if there is a club near you!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 

Blackberry Buttermilk Sponge- The Great British Bake Off Everyday

You  must all think that all I do is bake from The Great British Bake Off Everyday book.  It seems like so at the moment though I have been using other books as well.  It’s just the way things have turned out over the past month or so since the book has been published!

Last Monday I went back to work after six weeks off for the summer holidays.  I really enjoyed the summer break, we had a relaxing holiday in Spain but not only that I had a great chance to catch up on all the neglected jobs that hadn’t been done.  It was a shame that the last two weeks were shadowed a bit by my dog hurting his leg and me having a stinking cold!  By the time Monday came around I was pleased to be back.

For our training day shared lunch, alongside the Raspberry Shortbread Crumble Squares I chose to make a Blackberry Buttermilk Sponge. This is the very first recipe from the book and is deliciously moist due to the presence of buttermilk in the sponge.  I love using buttermilk in recipes and use it in my scones.

053
The blackberries were rinsed and patted dry carefully on a piece of kitchen towel. Sadly I had to get these from the supermarket, the blackberries on the hedges round near me weren’t quite ripe enough at the time to pick.
054
Butter and sugar being creamed together with my hand held mixer.
056
Adding beaten egg to the creamed butter and sugar.
057
A large spring form tin was greased and lined with a circle of baking parchment.
055
The creamed mixture.

058
Most of the blackberries were studded evenly into the cake. I didn’t mix them in with the mixture as I was worried they would break up and then turn the cake purple!
067
The cooked cake just out of the oven!
068
After about an hour I turned the cake out onto a rack by releasing the springform clip.
072
To liven up the top I poked the rest of the blackberries into the top of the cake and sprinkled it with some sugar.

I was pleased with the cake and although it didn’t look that exciting, it tasted lovely.  It could be served with a scoop of ice cream or creme fraiche but I forgot to take some to school. We ate it plain and I really enjoyed it.  I will definitely bake it again and I think it would also work with raspberries or blueberries if you’re not a fan of blackberries!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 

Raspberry Crumble Shortbread- The Great British Bake Off Everyday

As I’m typing it’s a Friday afternoon here, the rain is tumbling down and I have cakes in the oven for tomorrow’s York Clandestine Cake Club event at the Hobbycraft store on the Monks’ Cross retail park.  I’m trying to catch up on my blogging which is seriously behind.  I’ve had a good excuse this week though as I have gone back to work in my day job as a teaching assistant after the summer break.  I don’t usually work on a Friday though so today is my catch up day!

On Monday we started back at school with our staff training day. We usually have a shared lunch on training days if we are school based and I normally provide the pudding or the cake.  I chose to make two bakes from the new Great British Bake Off recipe book The Great British Bake Off Everyday that wouldn’t be too rich and sickly sweet, yet I hoped would taste nice for my work colleagues!

First up was some delicious sounding Raspberry Crumble Shortbread Squares.

Butter weighed out about to be cut into small cubes for the shortbread mixture.
Butter weighed out about to be cut into small cubes for the shortbread mixture.
The butter and sugar are creamed together with my hand held mixer.
The butter and sugar are creamed together with my hand held mixer.
Flour was added to the creamed mixture and combined.
Flour was added to the creamed mixture and combined.
Formed into a ball of dough.
Formed into a ball of dough.
I let the shortbread rest for a little while when I went off to bake something else.
I let the shortbread rest for a little while when I went off to bake something else.
Three quarters of the shortbread mixture was placed in the bottom of a greased square tin. I used a fork to prick the bottom of it.
Three quarters of the shortbread mixture was placed in the bottom of a greased square tin. I used a fork to prick the bottom of it.

Note to self: when baking a recipe you have never baked before, please read the recipe carefully. As the recipe involved looking at another shortbread recipe, one for plain shortbread over on the previous page, baking it to a certain point in the recipe, then continuing with the raspberry one I got very confused and made up all the dough into one big ball. Instead I separated it afterwards , having a large and a small ball of dough. The small ball of dough was meant to stay as crumbs (or is this down to confusing recipes)? This meant that when I added the topping to the shortbread, it wasn’t nearly enough to cover the whole shortbread.  The shortbread looked very rustic but with a few slivered almonds thrown on it wasn’t so bad.

This is one of the recipes which doesn’t have an accompanying picture to it which is frustrating. I would have had SOME idea about how my shortbread was MEANT to look instead of just guessing!

The remaining dough was kept behind to become the topping.
The remaining dough was kept behind to become the topping.
066
Nearly a whole jar of raspberry jam went into the shortbread filling!

The book contains a recipe for Raspberry and Redcurrant Jam on the following page to the Raspberry Crumble Shortbread recipe.  It is meant to be used as the filling for the shortbread or for scones but I did not have time to make my own jam as well. Instead I had a jar of raspberry jam which I had bought a few days previously and told everyone to keep off!

074
Here is the cooked shortbread just out of the oven and cooling on the top of the cooker before being turned out of the tin.
075
The shortbread was cut up into 12 large chunks and put into a tin to take to work the following day!

I was very pleased with the way the shortbread turned out in the end, although when it first came out of the oven I was a bit sceptical.  It looked much better when cut up and I am pleased it went down at work. We had a slice at breaktime with our coffee and I brought the box back out at lunchtime as an alternative to the other cakes which were on offer.

I will definitely make this shortbread recipe again as my children wanted to try it as well.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Vanilla Sables- The Great British Bake Off Everyday

For my third bake towards the family picnic I never went on last week I chose to make some Vanilla Sables.  Vanilla Sables are the French equivalent of shortbread biscuits and I’ve seen them when I have been on holiday in France, especially in the Normandy and Brittany regions.  I’ve seen them called Sables Au Beurre too.  Unfortunately there is meant to be an acute accent above the “e” in the word “sable” but I still don’t know how to add different languages and characters on my laptop.  I can do it on my phone as I have the French keyboard installed but not on the computer.  I still struggle to write my posts on my WordPress App so one of these days I might actually learn how to do it.

These delicious French biscuits were a hit with the adults and children.
These delicious French biscuits were a hit with the adults and children.

The recipe introduction in The Great British Bake Off Everyday book states that sables are “very rich, crisp, sandy textured biscuits”. That’s probably where they get their name from then as sable is the French word  for sand if I can remember rightly from my A Level French days.

I made up the cookie dough quickly in my food processor by adding flour, salt and icing sugar to the bowl and then adding cubes of butter through the funnel bit by bit. This was blitzed together until I was left with the sandy like texture. Once this was done I added the yolks of three eggs bit by bit through the funnel until the dough formed into a large ball.

The dough was chilled for half an hour wrapped in cling film in the fridge so that the dough would be easier to roll out.

After 1/2 hour out came the dough again and it was then rolled out on my floured work top to the thickness of a pound coin.  I then cut rounds out with a fluted circular biscuit cutter.

Here is one half of my biscuit dough rolled out. I tend to roll it out to the thickness of a pound coin and I try to make sure it is even throughout.
Here is one half of my biscuit dough rolled out. I tend to roll it out to the thickness of a pound coin and I try to make sure it is even throughout.
The biscuits are cut out into fluted rounds and placed on baking trays.
The biscuits are cut out into fluted rounds and placed on baking trays.

Before baking, the biscuit rounds needed to be brushed with beaten egg. Once this is done, they are then scored with the side of a knife in the traditional lattice pattern. Then there is another layer of beaten egg to glaze on the top. This gives the sables their distinctive appearance.

The baked cookies just out of the oven.
The baked cookies just out of the oven.
Delicious buttery Vanilla Sables. Perfect with a cup of tea or a scoop of ice cream!
Delicious buttery Vanilla Sables. Perfect with a cup of tea or a scoop of ice cream!

Although these were meant for the family picnic, once my family had seen them, that was it!  The biscuits vanished!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Honey and Courgette Loaf- The Great British Bake Off Everyday

As mentioned in my previous post, I had to reluctantly cancel going on a family picnic last Friday due to a stinking cold. I just wanted to stay at home and vegetate!  I had managed to bake the three things I wanted to take as my contribution to the picnic before finally admitting I was just too ill to go.

I wanted to try out the Honey and Courgette Loaf from the new Great British Bake Off Book- The Great British Bake Off Everyday.  I knew my kids wouldn’t eat courgettes if they were served up on a plate sliced up as part of a meal but I was sure they would eat them grated up within a cake made with honey and chocolate chips!

This recipe was very simple to make and ideal for a picnic or an afternoon tea. It’s a wonderfully moist cake and didn’t need any accompaniment to it.

006
Whole, blanched hazelnuts are chopped into small pieces in the food processor.
007
Runny honey, sunflower oil, eggs and light brown muscovado sugar are put into a bowl and mixed together carefully.
008
A medium sized courgette was prepared for the cake by washing it, topping and tailing it and then grating it into a small bowl.
009
In another bowl wholemeal flour, baking powder, and mixed spice were weighed out.
010
All the ingredients were combined gently with the addition of a packet of dark chocolate chips as well as the courgette and the chopped hazelnuts.
011
The chocolate chips get added last of all!
012
When making loaf cakes I always like to use loaf tin liners bought from Lakeland. They save me greasing and lining the tin with parchment.
023
The loaf cake was baked in the oven for about 45 minutes.
027
After about 10 minutes cooling down in the loaf tin, I then removed the cake from the tin and left it in the wrapper until it was completely cool. I warmed through a tablespoon of runny honey to drizzle over the top of the cake.
028
The loaf cake sliced beautifully into several slices. They freeze well, although in my house some cakes don’t even get into a cake tin!

Although I didn’t get to go on the picnic with feeling ill, my mum asked if the cake would freeze as she would like to try some.  I told her it would and that we would save some for her.  Unfortunately for my mum, the cake got scoffed over the weekend.  Once my kids realised there was a cake with chocolate chips and honey in it, it vanished.  I lied about the courgettes though as I’m the only one who eats them in our house. Purely psychological as they happily munched the cake not knowing about the courgettes. I can’t convince them to eat them in savoury meals though!

I’m definitely going to bake the Honey and Courgette Loaf again and again.  It had a delicious taste to it and I have promised some to my mum.  It was a real treat.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Pistachio Cupcakes

The pistachio nuts are ground up in my food processor.
The pistachio nuts are ground up in my food processor.

Last Thursday I was feeling rubbish. It was the last week of the school holidays and I was trying to get lots done.  But my body decided to make me go down with a cold. It started on the Tuesday morning as a sore throat.  I thought nothing of it at first and put it down to snoring the night before! But the sore throat did not wear off and by Wednesday had turned into a horrible cold.  By Thursday although it was nothing really in the scheme of things I felt very low.  I was meant to be meeting my Mum and our friend for a picnic in Clumber Park about an hour’s drive away from me over the border into Nottinghamshire. I hadn’t seen much of my Mum over the summer and I hadn’t seen our friend for ages either. I thought, well if I’m ok by tonight, we can still go!

I went ahead and did the baking for the picnic. I started off with Pistachio Cupcakes, a recipe I found on the Good Food IPhone Cake App. I love pistachio nuts and thought these cupcakes sounded pretty with their pastel colouring. Here’s how they were made:

002
Pistachio nuts chopped up in the food processor. About 20g were reserved back from a 100g bag to be kept for the cupcake toppings.
003
Butter, self raising flour, sugar and free range eggs were beaten up together in the all in one method. I used my hand held whisk as I couldn’t be bothered to get my Kitchen Aid out of the cupboard.
004
Finally, the chopped pistachios were folded into the mixture.
005
The mixture is spooned into the cupcake cases. I used silver foil ones.
013
The cooked cupcakes come out of the oven after about 20 minutes.
014
The cupcakes are then lifted to cool down onto a wire rack.
020
I mixed up some fondant icing and added a tiny bit of green food colouring to it. Unfortunately the icing was a bit too runny!
021
Each cupcake was decorated with two or three whole pistachios.

It was a shame that at the end I decided I felt too rough to go to the picnic. The baking I had done remained at home and got troughed over the next few days at home.  My children don’t really like pistachios so luckily these lasted a lot longer than the other things in the cake tin!

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

Lemon, Ginger and Coconut Flapjacks

A week last Saturday I took my son to take part in a fabulous Make Your Own Chocolate Bar Workshop at the York Cocoa House.  He had a fantastic time.  I treated myself to some flavoured chocolate buttons to use in my baking and came across these pretty pastel green coloured buttons delicately flavoured with lemon oil.  At first I thought they were mint flavoured but they were lemon, in fact.  I thought they would make a lovely topping to a cake and bought some to experiment with.

The day after I was at home and decided to look through my baking stash to see what flavours would go with lemon. After spending a while choosing I decided on coconut and ginger with lemon zest in a flapjack mixture which could then be topped with the chocolate buttons melted down.  My kids laughed at the colour of the chocolate buttons saying they looked like snot!

So, on went the oven at about 160oC, and I set to making the flapjacks. Here’s how they were created:

Delicate lemon flavoured chocolate buttons from York Cocoa House. They came in several other flavours. This was a 200g bag.
Delicate lemon flavoured chocolate buttons from York Cocoa House. They came in several other flavours. This was a 200g bag.
Butter, soft brown sugar and golden syrup were melted together gently in a saucepan.
Butter, soft brown sugar and golden syrup were melted together gently in a saucepan.
Desiccated coconut weighed out in a bowl ready to add to the melted ingredients.
Desiccated coconut  was weighed out in a bowl ready to add to the melted ingredients.
Porridge oats also added to the mixture.
Porridge oats were also added to the mixture.
I chopped up three balls of stem ginger into small chunks. These had been rinsed carefully previously so that all the syrup had come off.
I chopped up three balls of stem ginger into small chunks. These had been rinsed carefully previously so that all the syrup had come off.
I grated the zest of a large lemon to add to the mixture.
I grated the zest of a large lemon to add to the mixture.
The lemon, ginger and coconut was all mixed together in the bowl.
The lemon, ginger and coconut was all mixed together in the bowl.
Once all the wet and dry mixture was combined, it was spooned into a 20cm square, loose bottomed tin which was greased and lined.
Once all the wet and dry mixture was combined, it was spooned into a 20cm square, loose bottomed tin which was greased and lined.

The flapjacks baked well for roughly about 1/2 hour in the oven.  This was time for me to get the chocolate melted carefully.  As this bag of chocolate buttons was about £5 I did not want to waste them!

Once the flapjack was cooled and turned out of the tin I melted the whole bag of chocolate buttons and spread the chocolate mixture on the top of the flapjack.
Once the flapjack was cooled and turned out of the tin I melted the whole bag of chocolate buttons and spread the chocolate mixture on the top of the flapjack.
Ready to serve!
Ready to serve!

When the flapjacks had cooled, my children were asking me what was in them. When I said coconut and ginger, both of them said “Yuck, what did you have to put those in for?”  Well, how come when my back was turned, four of the flapjacks had disappeared off the plate!  I can’t blame the dog, he was asleep the whole time in his dog basket!  Wonder if I can hide broccoli or spinach in a cake?  By the following day all dozen pieces had gone. My hubby and I only had one each!

I’m already looking forward to my next trip to York Cocoa House to buy more of these delicious bags of chocolate buttons.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx