Strawberri Daiquiri Bundt Cake

I’m pretty sure I’ve got an addictive personality.  I’m an all or nothing kind of person.  Over the past two or three years I’ve really got into baking bundt cakes. I blame Rachel McGrath (aka the fabulous DollyBakes, the bundt queen herself!).  After seeing her amazing creations on her website using NordicWare bundt pans, I thought I fancy buying a couple of those tins!  Now I have a shelving unit with them piled up in our garage much to Mr SmartCookieSam’s disgust!  Both he and my kids have said if I buy any more cake tins, they’re going to throw some out! My 16 year old son said to me yesterday that I hadn’t used one of the tins I’d bought when we were on holiday in Canada.  Well I hate to disappoint him but that tin was a snowflake shape and I don’t want to be thinking of wintery themed cakes in August, thankyou very much!

Last week I went into TKMaxx with my Mum and daughter.  My daughter wanted a new handbag but when she was paying for it, I wandered over to the Homeware section knowing full well they sometimes have Nordicware tins in and they’re usually half price!  My eyes lit up when I saw the layered heart tin on the shelf for £19.99 (half price) and I picked it up! My Mum saw me with it and said “What do you want that for?” and “I don’t like hearts,”  When someone says that to me the rebel in me wants it all the more!  All I could think about for the next few days was getting that blooming cake tin and what I could use it for.  As luck would have it I went back into TKMaxx and it was still there on the shelf!  I nearly danced with it to the checkout!

On Sunday afternoon I got to use the tin for the very first time.  Mr SmartCookieSam saw it and asked “When did you get that tin?”  I said, “Oh I’ve had it ages and it’s been in the garage!” Normally we ladies do that with shoes and clothes (well I do that too!) It was Headingley and Meanwood Clandestine Cake Club’s event coming up and we were going to be meeting at White’s Bar in Headingley.  The theme was Cocktails which is always a fab theme for cake club and everyone comes up with some delicious cakes.  I had recently bought some of Sugar and Crumbs’ new summer flavours of their natural icing sugar and was keen to try out their Strawberry Daiquiri flavour.

I had to google what was in a strawberry daiquiri as I don’t think I’ve ever had one before.  My daughter who has a part time job in a bar said she was pretty sure it had rum in it but had never made one. She wanted me to make a Godfather Cake but that would mean going out and buying bottles of Disaronno and some Jack Daniels. With the daiquiri I could buy a small bottle of Bacardi and know that MrSmartCookieSam would finish it off with some coke.

For the cake itself I went back to the Queen of Bundts for inspiration.  Rachel McGrath has a recipe in the second Clandestine Cake Club book “A Year Of Cake” which is a Passionfruit Caipirinha  Bundt.  I adapted the recipe to make it Strawberry Daiquiri flavoured. Instead of lemon extract I used natural strawberry extract from Lakeland.  I kept in the grated lime zest but substituted passionfruit yoghurt for strawberry yoghurt.  There was also Bacardi in place of the ready made caipirinha cocktail mix.  I hoped it would work in the cake.  I’ve found in the past that you can’t always taste the alcohol, maybe I should have added it afterwards as a soaking syrup.  You can but try.

Last Sunday afternoon saw me baking a few things as I was having a couple of my friends over for lunch the day after.  The bundt was going to be done last as it needed the longest in the oven, after salted caramel brownies, peanut butter cookies and a Pimms Victoria Sponge.  My son was hovering around the kitchen and asked if he could help with the brownies and the cookies.  I don’t think using a heart shaped bundt tin was his idea of baking though, so by that time he sloped off upstairs.

An hour later and the cake was ready to come out of the oven.  I always get nervous about bundts coming out of the tin in one piece especially when it’s for cake club.  Though it nearly ended up on the floor as my dog walked into the kitchen as I was carrying the cake across from the oven to the cooling rack.  One of these days he’s going to end up with hot cake on his head! Thankfully the bundt slid out of the tin perfectly and there weren’t any stubborn bits stuck to the side.  I gave it a while to cool down and then started on dinner.  After that I mixed up the icing sugar which had a heavenly scent of strawberries.  It tasted very sweet so rather than making it into buttercream, I made a very watery glaze and let it trickle down over the sides of the cake.  I put a plastic mat underneath but icing still ran over the edge of the mat onto the worktop.  Mr SmartCookieSam doesn’t like it when I use icing sugar as it goes everywhere. He has a point.The next morning the cake was finished off with its decorations.  I put whole, fresh strawberries inside the middle of the cake and cheated with ready made pink flower and leaf decorations bought in my local Morrisons. I can make sugar flowers but I didn’t have time to colour up the only white icing I had in the cupboard.  Even Mary Berry uses shortcuts!

 

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Pimms Bundt Cake

img_0007
Pimms Bundt Cake.

A couple of weeks ago I went along to Spen Valley Clandestine Cake Club’s event in Brighouse.  The event was in a lovely cafe just out of Brighouse town centre.  Although it’s about 40 miles away from me,  I hadn’t been to cake club for ages and wanted to catch up with my cakey friends Susan and Helen. The theme for Spen Valley’s latest event was Summer and also was the group’s 4th birthday.  I got my cakey thinking cap on and thought about what I could bake which made me think of summer.  Lots of flavours make me think of summer and I did think of baking something with strawberries in.  Then I remembered we had a whole bottle of Pimms in the drinks cabinet which I’d not even opened and wasn’t likely to, either.  So a Pimms Cake it had to be, then. Not only that, but a Pimms bundt!  I looked on various websites for a Pimms cake recipe and couldn’t find what I wanted.  Then I came across exactly what I was looking for.  Lynn Hill’s very own Strawberry Pimms Cake in the June chapter of A Year Of Cake, the second Clandestine Cake Club Book.

The recipe was one of those which did not have an accompanying picture to it so I had to guess what it would look like.  The cake was also baked in a round springform cake tin and then split in half horizontally so you had two layers.  I thought I would try and bake my own version in one of my Nordicware bundt pans. Well I could but try. If it didn’t work out I could always try again.

img_0001
The ingredients needed for the Pimms syrup, this was a soaking syrup which you brushed onto the cooled cake to add to the flavour of the cake.

First of all I had to make a soaking syrup using caster sugar, a strip of lemon peel pared off the lemon with a potato peeler. I boiled this for a few minutes with some water. Then I added some Pimms and a vanilla pod. I didn’t have a vanilla pod so I added in a teaspoonful of some vanilla syrup I had.  This then cooled down and became a thick syrup.

To decorate the cake I had to melt some dark chocolate.Then I dipped some whole, but hulled strawberries into the pool of melted chocolate.  I found this very messy as I should have used a skewer or a fork to hold the strawberry into the chocolate. Instead it went all over my hands and the chocolate didn’t set smoothly.  Then again at Cake Club no one judges your cakes, it’s not like the Great British Bake Off!

I left the strawberries to set and then got on with baking the cake.  It was a Friday afternoon and I was still tired after coming back off my holiday only two days before.  I had  been food shopping and had so much to catch up on so baking a cake was a welcome distraction from it all.  I chose to use my Heritage Bundt pan which lends itself to lots of different bakes. I like how icing can trickle down in the grooves and also how there is enough space to decorate the top instead if you prefer.

The cake itself was baked with ground almonds but also contained a small amount of cornflour and plain flour.  I sifted all these ingredients together so that they were well combined.  To this I added caster sugar and eggs and they were all beaten together for a few minutes.  I suddenly remembered that the butter in this recipe needed to be melted and then cooled down. I had to quickly pop it in the microwave, then gave it a few minutes to cool down.  Finally in the butter went, followed by some more Pimms.

The Pimms Cake cooked beautifully in the bundt pan and slid out perfectly.  The cooking time for the original cake was about 45-55 minutes which was roughly the same time for the bundt. I kept trying to see if it was ok from looking through the glass on the oven door but it was difficult to tell. I had to leave it to chance and thankfully it did work this time.

img_0003
The finished Strawberry Pimms Cake. I baked it in a bundt pan.  The recipe is from A Year Of Cake, the second Clandestine Cake Club book.

When the cake had cooled a little I poked a few holes in it with a skewer and then brushed on the Pimms syrup made earlier.  The Pimms syrup smelled wonderful and if it wasn’t the middle of a busy Friday afternoon I would have made myself a glass of Pimms. Then again I didn’t have any lemonade. Oh well, I knew I had some tonic water so I could look forward to a gin and tonic at tea time!

I then made up the filling and icing for the cake which was a heavenly mix of Mascarpone, icing sugar, double cream and Pimms. Definitely not Weightwatchers friendly then!  I love icing made with Mascarpone, it gives the icing a rich, yet creamy texture.  This was doubly decadent with the double cream in it. In the original recipe Lynn Hill uses the mascarpone icing as a filling and a topping. She also adds some strawberries soaked in the remaining Pimms syrup to the filling.  Given that mine was a bundt cake I wasn’t able to give it layers and a filling, so all my decoration went on top of the cake!

img_0007
The finished Pimms Bundt Cake.  Pimms soaked sponge topped with mascarpone cream and finished off with plain and chocolate dipped strawberries.

To decorate the cake I filled a large disposable piping bag with the mascarpone cream and piped on the decoration with my large star nozzle. There was just enough to fit on the top of the cake.  I also put some strawberries in the middle hoping that there would be enough to go round.  Luckily there was.

It was a very hot day so I kept the cake in the fridge  until it was time to leave for cake club the following morning.  I was very worried it would get knocked in the back of the car but luckily it survived the journey intact!

img_0014
My cake on display at cake club.

I will definitely bake this cake again.  It looked complicated with all the little steps and bits to it. Having said that if you allow yourself a bit of time you can create an amazing showstopper of a cake perfect for any summer celebration.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 

 

 

Chocolate and Peanut M&M Cake- The Clandestine Cake Club A Year of Cake May Bakealong

It was my son’s 16th birthday last week.  I’m feeling very old.  It doesn’t seem 5 minutes since he was born and we brought him home from hospital.  Now he’s studying for his GCSE’s and he’s taller than me! As the boy wonder has grown older I think back to all the birthday cakes I’ve baked for him over the years.  I remember baking him a giant pirate ship cake complete with Curly Wurly masts and a Dairy Milk plank. How I wish I’d taken a photo of it but this was in the days before Smart phones and I wasn’t very organised with cameras.

This year my son said he just wanted a small birthday cake.  I was gratelful for that as I had had an extremely busy week teaching in a nursery class the week before. I eventually found the perfect cake in The Clandestine Cake Club’s second cookbook “A Year of Cake”.  The original recipe is a stunning looking cake called “Smartie Pants Cake” by Ruth Tebbutt from Gateshead Club.  Her recipe in the May chapter of the book was created to celebrate the Eurovision Song Contest, usually held in May.  As the recipe introduction states “Rather than pick sides, Ruth has created a cake that reflects the colourful spirit of the event and the kaleidoscope of cultures, characters and costumes that viewers have come to expect,”

What I also love about the Smartie Pants Cake is that it is so adaptable.  It could be baked for any age group: young or old as well as being perfect for different occasions.  The outer edging of the cake is decorated with Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers and the topping is decorated with a rainbow effect of colourful Smarties.  I had made the cake once before as part of a cake demo evening so I knew it would work well.  When I was buying the ingredients though, I found that Fox’s Chocolate Fingers were on special offer in Morrisons and at 55p a packet as opposed to £1.50 for the Cadbury’s ones, you can guess what I went for.  I also found that Peanut M&M’s treat bags were on special offer, so they were substituted for the Smarties instead!

Last Saturday afternoon, I started to bake the cake once my jobs had been done.  It’s a vegetable oil based chocolate cake and also uses golden syrup to sweeten the mixture as well as sugar.  It gives a lovely light sponge without being too sickly sweet which does go well with all the chocolate and sweets! The cake is sandwiched together with a chocolate fudge buttercream which is not too heavy but provides enough “glue” to the top and sides of the cake so you can stick the chocolate fingers and Smarties in the right places.

One of the fun parts of baking this cake is to separate all your Smarties or M&M’s out into separate dishes of different colours. This makes it so much easier when you’re decorating the top of the cake. My mum, who was staying with us for the weekend enjoyed helping me with this task but we were both annoyed when opening the Fox’s Chocolate Fingers. For a start about 10 of them were snapped in half so were no good for decorating the outside of the cake.  I was also furious because I didn’t have enough fingers to go round the outside of the cake with three packets, although last time with three packets I had more than enough! Even the broken ones stuck together weren’t enough.  The cake looked a complete mess on one side.

In the end my son asked if he could decorate the top of the cake and he really enjoyed doing it. What made me laugh though was that he said he didn’t want brown M&M’s on the top of the cake.  He couldn’t see what was funny but I told him there was a pop star (can’t remember which one) who asks for M&M’s in his or her dressing room with the brown ones taken out. My son said the brown ones didn’t show up against the chocolate cake. He has a point!

We had a large slice of cake the following morning.  It gave a lovely chocolatey hit without feeling too sweet or too sickly. I really enjoyed it and it got eaten over the next few days.  I would love to bake it again, although I won’t be baking it for a Eurovision Song Contest Party.  It’s my own birthday celebration that weekend and my daughter has offered to bake me a cake.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Toffee Apple Gingerbread from A Year Of Cake.

Baked to commemorate World Teacher’s Day this is definitely an apple for the teacher he or she would love to receive.

Those of you who know me well will realise that this is a post close to my heart. I am a primary school teacher myself. I trained 21 years ago but had time out to bring up my children. I worked as a TA in a fantastic primary school for 8 years doing supply teaching alongside it. But this time last year I decided to take the plunge and leave my regular job to take up day to day supply. Apart from the uncertainty of work at the beginning of the school year I am very busy and would not change it for the world.

What I do find upsetting and have done for years is that in other countries on the whole it seems that teachers are treated with respect. This doesn’t seem to be the same in the UK. I get sick and tired of all the “start at 9 and finish at 3” jokes and about all the long holidays we get. The funny thing is though, these complaining types are the sort who wouldn’t last 5 minutes in a classroom and if it’s so easy for the teachers with their cushy hours then why aren’t you doing it yourself?  Teacher bashing seems to be a great past time and for the record, no we don’t sit around drinking coffee all day on training days!  Boring….. anyway I love being a teacher and it is hard work when you feel like you are juggling about 20 balls in the air. Apart frombaking I would never consider another career.

So when I opened the October chapter of The Clandestine Cake Club’s new cookbook “A Year Of Cake” it was a big surprise to see a recipe commemorating World Teachers Day. I’ve never even heard of this day, it was created in 1994 funnily enough that was the year I qualified. So why haven’t I heard of this day before? UNESCO created World Teachers’ Day to raise awareness of the essential role that teachers play in the education of future generations and encourages support to make sure that children all over the world have access to quality education.

As a teacher I have always been over the moon with beautiful gifts and gorgeous cards that pupils have given me at the end of term or at Christmas. I always appreciate them and keep all my cards in a special drawer in my spare room. I treasure my memory book I was given when I left my last job although I do end up crying when I read all the lovely comments in it.

It has always been a tradition or a saying “an apple for the teacher” and I was only too keen to try Yin Li from Leeds Clandestine Cake Club’s delicious sounding Toffee Apple Gingerbread recipe from “A Year Of Cake”.  Perfect for this time of year with apples being harvested and also toffee apples are synominous with Halloween and Bonfire Night time.

Yin Li suggests using a crisp type of eating apple in the recipe, such as a Granny Smith. I had loads of Bramley cooking apples to use up and I thought as they were being softened to caramelise them it wouldn’t matter. They would be sweetened by the amount of sugar being added to them. To make the toffee apple base I melted butter and sugar in a large frying pan. When this was done I added sliced apples to the pan and softened them for about 5 minutes. There seemed to be a lot of juice coming out of them.

The Toffee Apple Gingerbread needed 6 Granny Smith applles but i didn’t have any, only some Bramley Apples my mum gave me.

The apples were removed from the heat and then allowed to cool down while I made the gingerbread itself.  First I sifted flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice together in a large bowl. Then cubes of butter were rubbed in so it turned into fine breadcrumbs.

I then put treacle and golden syrup into a saucepan and heated it through so it became runny but not bubbling away. In another pan I then put muscovado sugar and milk to warm through.  Once all this was done I then whisked the milk mixture into the flour mixture beating it carefully. Finally the treacle mixture was added.

I got the tin ready. I used a 20cm square tin with a loose bottom and greased and lined it carefully. It needed to be lined as the toffee sauce with the apple mixture might leak out of the bottom if you weren’t careful. The apple layer was placed on the bottom and then the gingerbread mixture spooned carefully on the top.

Yin Li says the gingerbread could be served in different ways, either as a tarte tatin with the apple layer on top of the cake inverted out of the tin or you could eat it so that the apple layer is a surprise on the bottom. I inverted the gingerbread myself so it was like an upside down cake and cut it into squares. Along with the Chocolate Orange Cake I’d baked earlier I took the gingerbread to work with me and hoped it would go down well.

The top of the gingerbread was very moist and sticky.
The gingerbread was cut into 12 pieces and taken in a box to work tne folllowing day.

I’m not sure what everyone thought of the gingerbread as everyone took slices of the chocolate orange cake. I had a piece of the gingerbread myself and I really enjoyed it. You could taste the spices coming thorough and they worked perfectly with the apple flavour. Perfect for a cold autumn day and would be ideal for a Sunday lunch pudding finished off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I’ll definitely be baking this again!

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

Coconut and Mojito Tres Leches Cake- my own recipe featured in The Clandestine Cake Club A Year Of Cake Book.

As mentioned in my previous blog post I’ve got two recipes published in the latest Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook “A Year of Cake”. Along with my Welsh Honey and Camomile Bara Brith I also had my Coconut and Mojito Tres Leches Cake featured in the May chapter of the book.

I am a regular member of the Pudsey and West Leeds branch of the CCC.  Each event along with other cake club branches has really great themes which inspires you to get your baking thinking caps on.  Last year back in June 2014 Pudsey cake club had an event with an Around The World Theme.  I’m a huge Mojito cocktail fan (though I’m trying to steer clear due to going to Weightwatchers at the moment) and also love the way it works well with coconut and cream. So this is where the inspiration for my Tres Leches cake came from.  It was one of those cakes I’d tried baking before and although hugely calorific, it was one I enjoyed tasting the most.  So I tried baking my own version of a tres leches cake and hoped it would go down well at cake club.

I originally baked my cake as a triple layer cake but the recipe testers felt it worked better as a two layer one.  I’ve since baked it with 2 layers and I’m happy to agree with them. It holds up better, from looking at my original picture it looks like it could topple over at any time!

My original triple layered Coconut and Mojito Tres Leches cake.  I added a sugarpaste cactus to the top of it as a tres leches cake is traditionally from Mexico.
My original triple layered Coconut and Mojito Tres Leches cake. I added a sugarpaste cactus to the top of it as a tres leches cake is traditionally from Mexico. 

The recipe introduction says: “Cocktail and Mocktail themed events are very popular with Cake Club members who shake and stir all manner of ingredients to turn their favourite tipple into a cake.”  (well Mojito is one of my favourites apart from gin!) “Sam has created a South American-inspired tres leches cake- sponge soaked in three milks: condensed milk, evaporated milk and double cream- which is infused with the punchy flavours of the traditional Cuban rum cocktail, the mojito.  It’s perfect for sharing on World Cocktail Day which celebrates the day in 1806 when the word “cocktail” was first put into print, thereby officially recognising the alchemy of mixing spirits”.  

Here is the top part of my recipe as featured in the new Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook A Year Of Cake. It's on page 82.
Here is the top part of my recipe as featured in the new Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook A Year Of Cake. It’s on page 82. There isn’t a picture to accompany this recipe due to cost.

The Tres Leches cake is ideally best to be made and soaked the night before you need to bake it as you need to give time for the flavours to develop in the cake.

To bake the cake itself you need to first sift plain flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.  In another bowl you need to beat softened butter and sugar together until it gets light and fluffy.  Then one by one you add in eggs and a little bit of the flour mixture to stop any curdling.  When the remaining flour is added in, you then add in some natural coconut extract and some lime zest.  The natural coconut extract I swear by is one that comes from a range in Lakeland Ltd.  It comes in a small bottle and a few drops transform the flavours of your bakes.

Once all the mixture is combined well, it is divided into two loose bottomed sandwich tins and then baked in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.

051
These are the original photos I took last year before I submitted the recipe, hence there being 3 cake layers instead of two. Here they are just out of the oven and cooling.
052
This is the tres leches glaze all mixed up and ready for soaking. Evaporated milk, condensed milk, double cream and some ready made up Mojito cocktail are mixed together. I use the Bacardi one found in most big supermarkets.
053
Now this is a bit of a messy job and I learned the hard way that it’s best to keep the cakes in the tin when you are pouring the tres leches glaze on top of the cake. Then put the tins in the fridge overnight and remove them the next day. I didn’t and ended up with baking parchment catching the drips.

Don’t be alarmed when soaking a tres leches cake.  It looks like you have loads of soaking syrup and you do wonder how all of that will go into a cake and not fall to pieces in a big soggy mess.  I felt like that the very first time I baked one and I panicked. But I was reassured not to worry and it was fine. I took my time carefully with it, spooning the glaze carefully onto the cakes, letting it do the soaking then adding more.

Then, leave your cake overnight in the fridge to let the flavours develop.  The next morning or whenever you need to assemble it, make up the topping and filling.  This is made with double cream and icing sugar whipped up together. Sometimes I choose to decorate the sides of the cake with the topping as well, depends on what I feel like doing at the time!

019
Here is the version of the Tres Leches cake I baked for the A Year Of Cake Launch party in Leeds last weekend. I tried to decorate the side of the cake with it but I am such a messy decorator.

033
The first slice ready to be cut at the launch party.

 Since first creating the recipe I have discovered Sugar and Crumbs Natural flavoured icing sugars  and I am a huge fan of their products.  I’m always thinking of good excuses to use them. I used some of their Key Lime flavoured icing sugar in the topping instead of plain icing sugar to give it an extra kick.  I think it worked extremely well and will be doing that again when I bake the cake in the future.

I’m sorry that I can’t give you the whole recipe here but I am not allowed to by the publishers of the book.

Welsh Honey and Camomile Bara Brith- My Own Recipe Featured in The Clandestine Cake Club A Year Of Cake.

Last year myself and the other Clandestine Cake Club members were invited to submit recipes to be included in a brand new cookbook due to be published in September 2015. It was to be called “A Year Of Cake” and members were asked to contribute recipes which celebrated both festivals and famous people’s birthdays from all over the world.  I had joined the Clandestine Cake Club just after all the recipes had been submitted and shortlisted for the hugely popular first book The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook which came out in February 2013. It is one of my ambitions to write a recipe book so I was tempted to have a go but wasn’t sure if it was what they were looking for. I was a bit nervous about sending in my own recipes but I chose three that I had tried out and worked well enough for me. Lynn Hill, founder of the Clandestine Cake Club was to have some recipes in the book herself and the rest of the book would be made up of members’ own recipes.

A few months later I was absolutely thrilled when Lynn emailed and told me that I was to have not one but two out of the three recipes included in the book!  All the recipes are scrupulously tested out so I’m glad the testing team thought they would work ok! I was so excited when the email came through on my phone I shot through to where my hubby was sat watching telly in the lounge and upstairs to tell my two teenage children. They couldn’t see why I was so excited though, which dampened it down a bit.

We had to keep the nature of our recipes secret until the book was published but as soon as we got our copies of the books my cakey friends and I were looking excitedly at each other’s recipes and wondering what we’d bake first out of the book.

The first recipe I submitted was my Welsh Honey and Camomile Bara Brith.

This is the recipe introduction in the A Year Of Cake book: Bara Brith means speckled bread in Welsh and is a delicately spiced fruity tea bread. It is sometimes made with yeast to make it more like a bread but this version is firmly anchored in the cake category with the use of self-raising flour which keeps it wonderfully sticky and moist. As a tea bread, soaking the fruit in a brew is obligatory and Sam has chosen to steep hers in a camomile and honey tea giving it a unique aromatic flavour.  It’s an easy recipe to bake with children and the perfect cake to celebrate the feast of St David, the patron saint of Wales who died on this day in 569AD.  Mwynhewch eich bara brith! (Enjoy your bara brith!)

The inspiration for this recipe came from lots of happy memories of childhood holidays, my time at uni in Bangor in the early 1990s and more recently holidaying in Ceredigion where my husband lived as a child. On one holiday we visited NewQuay Honey Farm and ate delicious honey bara brith made with the honey from the farm.  I always stock up on the honey to take back home with me so I was really keen to replicate the recipe myself at home.

The idea is with a bara brith or other fruit bread is that you soak the fruit in the liquid the night before so that the fruit absorbs the flavours.  I wanted to choose a tea which complimented the honey flavour in the bara brith and inspiration came to me when looking in my cupboard.  I often drink camomile tea to relax me at night and found some Twinings Camomile and Honey teabags. So i tried it out with my recipe in place of the usual builder’s tea.  The result tasted gorgeous.

After you have soaked the fruit overnight (and again I am not one of those who sticks to a certain type of dried fruit in my bara brith, I just go with what’s left in my cupboard!)

001
The dried fruit is soaking in a large bowl with the camomile and honey tea, stirred in with runny local Welsh honey and boiling water. This was left to soak overnight though I took the teabag out after 10 minutes.
011
The following day I strained the liquid out of the dried fruit mixture but kept it just in case I needed moisture in the cake mix.

After straining the liquid I added beaten egg to the dried fruit and then afterwards added the remaining ingredients.  These were soft light brown sugar, a grated zest of a lemon, some self raising flour and some ground mixed spice.

012
Here is the mixture about to go into the oven. You can line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with baking parchment or you can buy special loaf tin liners in specialist bakeware shops.

The loaf is baked in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours but if it looks like it is going brown well before the end of cooking time then you need to cover the top of it with a bit of foil.

020
The finished Bara Brith. all ready and waiting to be boxed up and taken to the Cake Club Launch party so other members could taste it for themselves.

I hope lots of people will try to bake the Bara Brith for themselves as it is such a delicious tea loaf.  It freezes well too! I baked it again as I was invited to a book launch party last weekend and took along both bakes from the book. It was also easy to carry in a tin- no cake wrecks here with it being a loaf cake and easy to transport!  It’s also a fab recipe to bake with kids, as a teacher in my “day” job I have baked this with children and they adored it.

The excitement about A Year Of Cake being published was amazing amongst our community of cake clubbers and we couldn’t wait for our own special copies of the book to arrive just prior to the official publication date. On Saturday 5th September my own copy arrived and I was so emotional at seeing my own name in print.  Though sharing the same name as a famous singer who also happens to be singing the new James Bond theme means I do see my name a lot now, but this was to do with me and not Sam Smith the singer!

016
Not every recipe in the book has an accompanying picture. This can be annoying to some who would like to see how the recipe is meant to turn out but usually it is down to the sheer cost of printing. My Bara Brith recipe did have a picture to go with it. Picture courtesy of Quercus Books.
017
Here it is! My very own recipe in print!
024
My Bara Brith on display at the launch party along with just some of the other mouthwatering cakes we all got to taste.

Please note I have not given out my recipe on the blog- you will have to buy the book to be able to see the full recipe. Not my rules, I’m afraid.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Pear and Ginger Upside Down Cake from The Clandestine Cake Club’s A Year Of Cake.

The second Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook was published last Thursday and is already proving very popular both with members and non-members.  I have been a member of the Clandestine Cake Club for nearly three years now and I can honestly say it has changed my life.  I have made some wonderful friends over cake and regularly meet up with a few of them for afternoon tea or lunch and a girly gossip at the same time.

The recipe I baked for our Sunday lunch dessert yesterday was created as a homage to the seventh Duchess of Bedford who is believed to have created the idea of the English Afternoon Tea. She needed something to keep her hunger at bay until she ate dinner but then as time progressed friends began to share tea with her.  The recipe in the book is called Pear and Ginger Upside Down cake and was created by member Jean Lacey who is from the Loire Valley Clandestine Cake Club.  I can just picture this delectable cake being served at an afternoon tea.  Pears and ginger are a winning combination to me, although my two children weren’t impressed.  Neither my daughter or son like pears though I was convinced they’d eat them in a cake.  They said the same about ginger but I’ve seen them eating gingerbread men!

So yesterday was going to be a very busy one.  Loads of jobs to do on top of trying to cook a roast beef dinner and to try out the pear and ginger cake recipe. But the ironing could wait!

I got out my well used 8″ sandwich tins, greased and lined them and put on the oven.  While it was heating up I made the cake batter and prepared the pears.

In one bowl I sifted together self raising flour, baking powder and some ground ginger. To this I then added softened unsalted butter, eggs and some caster sugar.  All the ingredients were mixed together and then I got the pears ready.

On the base of one of the greased tins I sprinkled some light brown soft sugar and then topped them with sliced pears.  The recipe said to peel two pears, halve and core them, then cut each half into three wedges. My pears were quite small so I used three but still cut each of the halves into three pieces. There was just enough fruit to cover the bottom of the tin.

After that I divided the cake mixture equally between the two tins but had to take care to make sure the pears stayed intact on the bottom of the tin.  Once this had been done, into the oven they went and were baked for about 20-25 minutes.

034
The Pear and Ginger Upside Down Cake was baked in two separate 8″ sandwich tins. There was a layer of brown sugar topped with sliced pears in the bottom of one of the cakes.

The cakes cooked beautifully in the oven and rose well.  I put them on a wire rack to cool down and left them for a while when I went out for a dog walk.  When I came back I turned the cakes out onto the wire rack. I had to use my Nordicware Cake Lifter to help me move the pear layer as it seemed more fragile.

To finish the cake there was a delectable filling to make up.  It consisted of a layer of ginger preserve or jam with some sweetened whipped cream on top.  I found some delicious Tiptree Ginger Jam from Ocado the other day.  I was meant to spread a layer of the jam on top of one of the cake layers, then add the whipped cream. Only I didn’t read the recipe properly and I added the jam into the whipped cream mixture. It still looked okay though.

031
The cake was layered with a divine tasting ginger infused whipped cream filling.
032
To finish I dusted the cake with some icing sugar and put it on my cake stand ready for dinner.
006
I was very impressed by the flavour of this cake. It was very enjoyable to make and I felt it was one I could bake over and over again.

 In the end I scoffed a piece at 4 pm. We weren’t eating our roast dinner til about 6.30pm when my daughter had got in from work and I was ravenous.  It’s fatal having cake in the house when you are hungry, especially one that you know you’ll enjoy the flavours of. My husband had a small slice after his roast but my kids turned their nose up at it: “What have you put fruit in it for?” So the rest got cut up and is now in a plastic box in the fridge. I’m trying to forget about the rest of the cake but then I’ve started back at Weightwatchers….

To find out more about the Clandestine Cake Club and the fun we have at all our events all around the world then please go to www.clandestinecakeclub.co.uk

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx