This cake was an almalgamation of two recipes which I’ve used plenty of times before. The cake part came from John Whaite’s first book John Whaite Bakes which contains a delicious recipe for a White Chocolate and Raspberry Cake. The decoration idea came from the second Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook A Year Of Cake which has a fantastic recipe for a Cadbury’s Chocolate Finger and Smartie Cake in it. This opened up lots of ideas to adapt a design to suit flavours and themes.
I was off to a Clandestine Cake Club event in Leeds which was held in the historic Tetley building. I remember the days of the brewery being open in my childhood when I used to see the shire horses delivering the beer to the local Leeds pubs. I was very impressed with the bar and restaurant at The Tetley and hope to go back to look around the exhibition soon.
The theme for this cake club was Childhood Sweets and I chose to incorporate Percy Pigs on my cake. Incidentally Percy Pigs just celebrated 25 years which gave me the idea. I was definitely not a child when Percy Pigs came out but my own two children love them and we always buy a bag if we go on a long train journey. I can’t stop eating them!
To assemble the cake together I made up some white chocolate buttercream with Lindt White Chocolate and some Sugar and Crumbs White Chocolate and Raspberry natural flavour icing sugar. I was so excited to use the icing sugar as it is one of Sugar and Crumbs’ new flavours brought out for this summer. It smelled wonderful and definitely tasted of white chocolate and raspberries, just heavenly.
Here are just a few of the photos of my cake and also of some of the other cakes at the event. It was a wonderful evening and I enjoyed far too much cake! I still had a sugar high the day after!
It’s been a couple of months at least since I’ve been to a Clandestine Cake Club event. I’ve been working full time and I haven’t baked much recently. The Clandestine Cake Club’s VCake Events are a fantastic idea if you can’t get to an event but you still want to bake. I love taking part in them and I baked a cake. But unfortunately, I forgot to email my cake photos to the Club’s founder, Lynn Hill so my cake wasn’t included in the event write up.
The idea was that many people collect or stash recipes gleaned from magazines, leaflets and booklets. I do. I buy Good Food magazine and Delicious magazine but only get chance to cook recipes out of them sometimes. I’m always picking up recipe leaflets and booklets but never seem to get round to cooking anything from them. This event was such a good idea to get you searching through those cake recipes you wish you had had chance to bake. Funnily enough this month’s Good Food magazine came with a free cake recipe booklet to celebrate the magazine’s 300th issue! I’ve not been buying all of those, I was only 18 when the first issue of Good Food mag came out and as a sixth former cooking was the last thing I was interested in!
There were several recipes I wanted to try in the booklet but the one that I thought my whole family would eat was the Chocolate Cherry Bakewell Loaf. All the flavours of a bakewell tart but in a loaf form and with chocolate as well. Bound to be a hit!
Last Sunday I chose to bake this, along with some scones. Mr SmartCookieSam was out at a Classic Car show and my two grown up children were at work. So it was me on my lonesome! Perfect opportunity to get my apron on and the scales out, especially as the weather has been so rubbish.
Recipe as featured in Good Food Magazine.
Cuts into 8-10 slices.
200g softened butter
140g fresh, stoned and halved cherries *
140g plain flour
200g golden caster sugar
3 medium eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
75g ground almonds
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp each of vanilla and almond extracts
200g dark or milk chocolate, chopped.
2 tbsp toasted, flaked almonds.
First, heat the oven to 160oC/ 140oC fan/ Gas Mark 3. Line a 900g loaf tin with baking parchment. I swear by the ready made loaf tin liners readily available from shops like Lakeland.
Now to deal with the cherries. If you are using fresh cherries, you need to wash, destone and half them first. Then toss them in a tablespoonful of the flour from the quantity already weighed out. If you are choosing to use glace cherries like I did, then thoroughly wash them to get the syrup off. Then pat dry on a paper towel, halve them, rinse and dry again. Then toss in a tablespoonful of flour.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. When this is done, add the eggs one by one and mix well between each addition.
Fold in the rest of the flour, the baking powder and the ground almonds.
Stir in the milk, the two extracts and half of the chocolate. Then add in the cherries.
Bake in the oven for 1 hour 10 minutes approx or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out on to a wire rack to cool down completely.
When the cake has cooled down, melt the remaining chocolate in the microwave and drizzle or pipe it on top of the cake.
Scatter on top with toasted, flaked almonds.
Wait for the chocolate on top to set a bit before slicing the cake.
Now as I’m always doing things in a hurry or have a zillion things on the go at once, I was a little bit disappointed to find my chocolate and cherries had sunk to the bottom of the cake. I’ve made cherry cakes before which have remained in the middle. So why not this one? I thoroughly rinsed and dried the cherries as well as tossing them in flour. Maybe it was the rest of the cake mixture. Didn’t spoil the taste of the cake though. I also didn’t bother with adding toasted almond flakes to the top of the cake.
I demolished a slice of this gorgeous cake with a cup of tea on that Sunday afternoon while reading a magazine. It had the almond flavour running through it and tasted just like a cherry bakewell cake should taste with the added dimension of dark chocolate. Cherries and chocolate work so well together. I will definitely make this cake again as my family really enjoyed it. The remainder froze well, although the cake apparently does keep in a cake tin for up to four days.
I’ve always wanted to bake a Pinata Cake. I’d seen loads of them on the internet but never had chance to bake one until last year. There is a really fab Pinata Cake recipe in the second Clandestine Cake Club book “A Year Of Cake”. In fact it’s the cake picture which adorns the front cover. People wonder how you manage to get the sweets or chocolates inside the cake in the first place. My son asked if you get to beat the cake with a stick like a traditional Pinata until it breaks and the sweets fall out! Er no, you’d end up with crumbs but the idea is the same. You cut up the cake and a load of sweets fall out of the middle that you’re not expecting to be there.
In the Easter holidays it was my turn to be on my local WI Supper Rota. I usually choose to do this when there is a meeting which falls during the school holidays. I bake a couple of cakes. There was a mix up over the supper rota but that’s another story. Normally I wouldn’t bake anything so fancy and highly decorated but I had the ingredients in already and they needed using up.
The original Pinata Cake recipe is a chocolate sponge but I chose to bake a vanilla one. The icing is made up of double cream whipped up with two packets of Angel Delight. I hadn’t eaten Angel Delight for years. It was always something we had at my Nana Margaret’s house. Nana Margaret was my Dad’s mum and she was a dreadful cook. She nearly gave us food poisoning with raw burgers. My poor grandad must have had iron guts. One day he nearly broke his tooth eating a rock hard apple pie which my Nana had put in the microwave for 30 minutes instead of 30 seconds. At least she didn’t bodge up making Angel Delight.
To bake a Pinata cake you need to bake four layers of sponge. When these are cooled and turned out of the tins onto the rack you need to find a large circular biscuit cutter and cut a hole in the centre of two of the cakes. The other two are left whole. To assemble the cake you spread a layer of Angel Delight icing on top of one of the whole cakes. Then place the first of the cakes with the hole cut out of it and repeat with the cream layer. Do this again with the other cake with a hole in the middle. Finally add some more cream. Before you put the top layer on you need to fill the hole full of your chosen sweets. The original recipe showed Smarties in the middle but I reckon any sweets or chocolates would look amazing. I used a large packet of Haribo Starmix inside mine.
It took iron will power not to get a spoon and start eating the icing there and then. I used two packets of strawberry flavoured Angel Delight although I reckon any flavour would taste great. Last year I baked a similar cake with Banana Angel Delight. This made it yellow and the inside was decorated with Haribo Minion sweets. The top of the cake was decorated with blue sprinkles. For this cake I raided my baking cupboard and found a couple of random jars of sprinkles which needed finishing off.
Of course because of there being a mix up over the WI Supper Rota I thought I was on the list but I wasn’t. I turned up at the village hall and one of the ladies said I wasn’t doing it. As I had spent my entire day off baking and decorating three cakes I was extremely annoyed. When one lady said they had enough cakes and to put them back in the car I was so angry and upset. She also said well you could freeze them. I told her I was taking them in, I had been baking all day and I had no room for them at home. Not only that but only one out of the three cakes was suitable for freezing. My friend took pity on me and said I could sell them at the meeting. So that’s what happened. The three cakes were sold to cover the cost of my ingredients. This also meant that I didn’t get to take a photo of the cake with all the sweets spilling out of it when it was cut. I never mentioned to the lady that bought it about the inside of the cake so she would have had a surprise when she cut into it. Next time maybe?
As my regular SmartCookieSam readers will know, I’m a member of the internationally renowned Clandestine Cake Club. Although there are plenty of events held all over the world and some very local to me in North Yorkshire, there are also virtual or VCake events for those who can’t get to an event. Or you can join them if you want an excuse to bake!
At the end of January, Lynn Hill the founder of the Clandestine Cake Club held a virtual event where you were invited to “dust off your old cookbooks” and bake something from a recipe book you had not used for a while.
I have loads of recipe books like that and my family are sick of all the books I have all over the house. Some are more used than others and Lynn’s event gave me the perfect excuse to search through my stash and bake something. When my Nana Mary (my Mum’s mum) died I inherited her cookbooks. Nana and I were so alike in lots of ways, we both loved cooking and baking, knitting and sewing and also reading books. Sadly Nana died in 1994, just after I’d sat my teaching degree finals. She used to collect recipes from everywhere and wrote them down from TV cookery programmes or from the radio as well as cutting recipes out of magazines.
One of Nana’s baking books was a Sainsbury’s one. It dates from the late 1980’s and I loved looking through the recipes in it. As I decided what to bake I came across a mouthwatering recipe for a coffee sponge. I never remember Nana baking a coffee sponge, she tended to make fruit cakes and I do remember her lemon drizzle cake.
Mr SmartCookieSam’s birthday is at the end of January so it was a perfect opportunity to bake the coffee cake for then. My husband doesn’t have a sweet tooth but he loves coffee cake. I had a couple of goodies to make this cake even extra special: some Sugar and Crumbs Coffee flavour Natural icing sugar, some cocoa covered coffee beans bought in Costa coffee and some glittery gold and silver star candles thrown in the trolley when I was shopping in Tesco.
The coffee sponge was made using the whisking method. I whisked eggs and sugar together until they became light and fluffy. Then in went some flour and baking powder, followed by a spoonful of vegetable oil and some semi skimmed milk. Also added to the mixture to give it a coffee flavour was a teaspoonful of Monin Tiramisu sugar syrup.
The cake baked for about 20-25 minutes and rose beautifully in the oven. It smelled delicious. When it was cooling I made up the coffee buttercream. I also crushed up some pecan nuts to go in the middle of the cake and to sprinkle on the top of it.
The cake was layered together with the coffee buttercream and sprinkled with chopped pecan nuts in the middle and on the top of the cake. I used a packet of cocoa covered coffee beans to decorate the top as well.
We had a slice of birthday cake and it was delicious. What a treat to celebrate Mr SmartCookieSam’s birthday and he really enjoyed it.
I love being a member of the internationally renowned Clandestine Cake Club. I’ve made lots of lovely friends through chatting over cake. I can honestly say that cake club has changed my life in lots of ways and I wouldn’t be without it. I haven’t been able to get along to any events for a couple of months due to work commitments but I’m excited to be getting back to it in January!
For those who can’t always make the events and meet up with friends there are a couple of other options. Members can join in a virtual cake event or a bakealong. I have joined in with several of these in the past, including the CCCBook Club “A Year Of Cake” bakealong. These events are monthly and by the end of that month those who want to take part choose to bake a cake which features in that particular chapter of the Year Of Cake book. You take photos and email this with a short description of the cake and why you baked it, etc for Lynn Hill founder of the Clandestine Cake Club to put into a write up or blog post of the event. Though sometimes I’ve forgotten to post the photos by the deadline and missed it a couple of times!
Anyway, being December it was the last of the Year Of Cake bakealongs. There were twelve scrumptious recipes to choose from all of which I would love to have baked. I had to go with something I know everyone would eat at home. I decided on the Nordic Spice Cake. It is a cake typical of the flavours in Scandinavian cooking which is shared at the time of St. Lucia’s Day (the Swedish festival of lights) Baked in a circular bundt pan it could be resplendent of an Advent wreath or a St Lucia crown.
I chose to bake my version in the Gingerbread House Bundt pan instead of a wreath shape. This is because I’m absolutely rubbish at making gingerbread houses, they always collapse on me no matter how much icing I throw on them. So I could have a cakey version instead. It was 8.30am on December 23rd and I had so much to do. The gingerbread house was only one of a few things I was going to bake.
First things first- to grease the gingerbread house pan. This was a complex job as it had lots of nooks and crannies. Lots of Cake Release needed here! Then I made sure the oven was on and preheating with the top shelf removed so I could get the tin in without knocking it.
Then for the cake itself. I creamed together butter and brown sugar until it became light and fluffy. Next I beat eggs, natural yoghurt and the zest of a large orange together in another bowl. Finally in another bowl I measured out sifted self raising flour and three teaspoonfuls of my friend Heidi’s special Christmas Spice. Lynn Hill’s recipe also uses 35ml of mulled wine in the mix. I didn’t have mulled wine so instead I added in the juice of the orange I had taken the zest off first. The aroma coming out of the kitchen smelled wonderful and I couldn’t wait to try it. Nothing smells as nice to me as the smell of baking gingerbread.
With the gingerbread house bundt pan being an uneven shape I usually put it on a flat baking tray in the oven so it can bake flat. Nothing worse than the gingerbread house’s chimney sticking through the gap in the oven tray and the mixture all falling out on the bottom of the oven. Believe me, I’ve been there.
As luck would have it the cake baked perfectly and came out of the pan in one piece. I couldn’t decorate it straight away as I had other things to do. So the gingerbread house went into a corner of the kitchen for a few hours while I started on some fudge.
Decorated with piped glace icing and some Wilton Gingerbread house sugar shapes as well as some M&Ms the cake looked really festive. It made a beautiful centrepiece on Christmas Eve and also tasted fantastic. Not everyone likes fruit cake or marzipan and this was a perfect alternative.
Last weekend I finally got the chance to go along to one of North Yorkshire and Teeside Clandestine Cake Club events. My friend Heidi is the group organiser but I’ve never actually been to one of her events. They’d always clashed with other things going on.
ssyLife has calmed down here a little in the SmartCookieSam house. We had a hectic few weeks with our holiday visiting family over in Canada, then it was busy at the end of term. It’s taken me a while to wind down. It’s been great to chill out at home as well as trying to get all those annoying little jobs done that never seem to get done at other times of the year. My house is the cleanest and tidiest it has been in a long time, well it is if you ignore my two teenagers’ messy rooms!
I was pleased I could get along and enjoy cake, drinks and a good old natter with the other members who I hadn’t got the chance to meet up with before.
The event this time was held in a popular pub in Redcar called The Lobster which does great food. One to try again if I’m in the area. Heidi had chosen the theme of Alcholic Cakes being as we were in a pub. I was originally going to bake a White Chocolate and Limoncello cake but I didn’t want to go out and buy a bottle of Limoncello especially for the cake. It’s not something I really drink. I did buy some once on holiday in Rome a few years back but it ended up in several trifles over the next few months or so. I had to chose a cake that would contain something I already had in my drinks cabinet or something I knew we could drink the remainder of.
Thinking of Italy and limoncello got me thinking about another, more recent trip to Italy. This time I was thinking back to my 40th birthday trip to the Italian Lakes and to Venice. I remember Mr SmartCookieSam and I enjoying a Bellini cocktail outside a cafe in Varenna on the banks of Lake Como. I haven’t drunk one since though they are easy to make with prosecco and peach juice. I found that Sugar and Crumbs had brought out a limited edition flavoured icing sugar as part of their summer range, so the idea for a Peach Bellini Bundt was born. The recipe I used was adapted from a Pink Champagne Bundt cake recipe featured in the second Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook “A Year Of Cake”. In this recipe all I had to do was substitute the pink champagne for about 300ml of Prosecco. I chose the cheapest Prosecco that Morrisons did which was about £5.99 and luckily there was half a bottle left after I’d finished baking the cake!
It was the perfect opportunity to try out my latest bundt pan which I bought when over in Canada. My brother and sister in law took me to Williams Sonoma which I guess is like a US/ Canadian version of Lakeland. I was in bundt heaven and had I got more room in my suitcase I would have bought more! I came away with the 70th Anniversary Bundt pan and the giant snowflake one which was perfect.
I’m always careful and meticulous when greasing my bundt pans but this still gets me worried every time I bake a bundt and it doesn’t come out of the pan. I have my usual praying it comes out of the pan in one piece game and if it won’t budge I have to give it a good thump. Today the bellini bundt thought it wasn’t going to come out until I thumped the top of the inverted tin on the wire rack. Fortunately, except for one tiny piece, it slid out in one piece! A miracle!
When the bundt had cooled I started on the Peach Bellini icing. I opened the packet of icing sugar which was conveniently exactly the amount I needed to ice the bundt. This was 500g which I was pleased about as I don’t like waste. I added a splash of prosecco and a spoonful of water to the icing sugar. The consistency came out just as I liked it. The icing, though was white and I wanted my icing to be a peach colour like a Bellini. There was one thing for it, to get out my food colouring. I can be a bit heavy handed with the food colouring and today was no exception. Two drops of red, one of yellow. Only the red drops were too big, more like blobs! This meant it came out a very dark orangey red. I was really annoyed with myself. I couldn’t make any more up as I didn’t have any more Bellini icing sugar. How embarrassing. I could just see everyone looking at the horrible colour and be put off eating it. There was nothing else I could do, but to carry on and decorate the bundt with the luridly bright icing! I laughed it off, even when Mr SmartCookieSam said the cake looked like a road accident!
On Saturday afternoon, it was a quick and easy drive up from my home near Boroughbridge to Redcar and the cake survived the journey without slipping and toppling over in the boot. I had to put the cake in one of my massive cupcake boxes as they were the only ones tall enough for the height of the bundt. Everyone was joking about the size of my cake box and laughing about how much cake I could fit in to take home! All the cakes I tried were absolutely scrumptious and mine didn’t taste too bad, despite the bright icing. Thankfully people did taste it and ignored the loud colour!
It’s been a long time since I’ve done a blog post update. I shouldn’t have any excuses as it’s the summer holidays and I’ve got much more time than I usually have. But summer holidays also means a chance to catch up on a long list of jobs I don’t get done and the blogging goes by the wayside. There have been so many blog posts in draft on the system for a few weeks now. Today, as I write I thought enough is enough and I need to get back into it.
A couple of weeks ago I joined in with the Clandestine Cake Club’s A Year Of Cake Monthly Bakealong for July. For the monthly bakealong you have to choose one of the recipes featured in A Year Of Cake for that relevant month and bake it. You share photos and experiences with others and Lynn Hill, the founder of the Clandestine Cake Club does a write-up and posts it on the website. The July chapter has eight different cakes to choose from. I chose to adapt the first recipe in the chapter, Shelley Titmus’ Bacon and Maple Syrup Cake in honour of Canada Day.
Coincidentally I was in Canada on holiday in July, visiting my brother and his family. I missed being there for Canada Day on 1st July, although my mum got to enjoy the celebrations! I would have loved to have taken a cake over to my family but it would have got a bit damaged on the plane!
Shelley’s Maple Syrup Cake is actually made with bacon as well. I’ve never tried bacon in a cake before though I’ve had it with pancakes and maple syrup. I would have needed about 18 pieces of streaky, dry cured bacon to add to the recipe. The bacon is grilled until crispy. Some is added into the cake batter, the rest used as a topping and filling for the cake. I didn’t have any bacon in but I had some other ingredients I wanted to use in the cake. I had brought back some genuine Maple Syrup back with me from Edmonton, as well as some maple flavoured peanuts. I thought the peanuts would be a fantastic alternative to the bacon in the cake.
I didn’t actually start to bake the cake until the very last day in July. It ended up being a Sunday lunch dessert/ pudding. It was a fantastic reminder of a very special holiday. The cake itself is baked in three layers in 3 separate 20cm or 8″ diameter sandwich tins. I creamed sugar and butter together with an electric whisk, then added 5 beaten eggs one at a time. These were mixed in slowly with some flour and a little milk, along with 3 tbsp of the pure Canadian Maple Syrup. I didn’t add any maple peanuts to the actual cake as I wasn’t sure how they’d react to baking. Instead I kept them for the filling and topping.
While the cakes were baking, I made up the cake filling and topping. This was a simple buttercream icing but maple syrup was added to the icing to flavour it as well. It tasted gorgeous but very sweet so a little piece would be all you would need.
The three layers baked for about 20-25 minutes and once cooked came out of the oven and cooled down on a wire rack. I went off to start a couple of other jobs so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat the spare peanuts or to decorate the cake before it was cool enough. There was enough icing and enough peanuts to decorate the cake with. To finish off, I drizzled some more maple syrup on the top of the cake.
We ended up having our Sunday dinner later than planned, so guess who ended up troughing a piece before? Yes, you guessed right! It was absolutely delicious and the cake didn’t last long. I’ll definitely be baking this one again.