Well, I can’t believe I started the New Year with good intentions. I thought this year I would get myself back on track with my blog and update it more regularly. All very well until I went back to work. In the supply teaching world the Spring term is often the busiest for me. Each night I think I’m going to get that blog post written and it has just stayed in draft form for yet another night. And now we’re nearly halfway through February. How did that happen?
Last month I didn’t bake much at all. I’m trying my hardest not to have sweet stuff in at home as I’m doing Slimming World. With 16lbs lost to date and another 16lbs to my target weight, I don’t want to undo all my hard work. Then again I’ve got to live, too. That includes meeting up with my friends and also going to my much loved Clandestine Cake Club events. About three weeks ago my friend Linda, who is the organiser for the Headingley and Meanwood branch of cake club, organised an event at East of Arcadia in Meanwood. A lovely, welcoming venue and the event’s theme was “New Year, New Cake”.
I thought January is the perfect opportunity to try out something new, whether it is a new flavour, a new recipe or even a new way of decorating a cake. Fot me it had to be a new recipe combined with decorating a cake. For once I was going to bake something that wasn’t a bundt but would still look and taste amazing. While looking through a Green and Blacks Organic chocolate recipe book which my sister in law gave me one Christmas, I stumbled upon the perfect cake. A chocolate chequerboard cake which looked really impressive.
Chequerboard cakes don’t look as complicated and as fiddly as you might think. I thought you needed a special tin or fancy cutting skills but it can all be done with a large plain piping nozzle and two large piping bags. One filled with chocolate cake mix, the other with vanilla. You pipe concentric circles in contrasting colours by alternating them on each layer. This is so when the cake is assembled the contrasting colour and flavour is directly on top of the other one. Looks very effective when finished and if the cake is completely covered in icing nobody can tell what it looks like inside!
It was a Monday morning, the day before the cake club. I hadn’t got any supply work booked in until later that week and was feeling like January had got off to a slow and boring start. The weather was foul and miserable with a damp, low fog that hung in the air. I didn’t want to go out so the warmth of the kitchen appealed to me. I thought as the phone hadn’t rung, I was safe. I greased the three sandwich tins I would need for my cake and began to get out the ingredients. Just as I reached into the cupboard to get out my scales my phone rings. It’s one of the agencies I work through offering me work for that afternoon. I say yes, quickly put everything away and go off to get showered and changed.
So my cake ended up being baked on the very same day of the cake club. Fast forward to Tuesday morning. The weather is still cold, wet and lousy but after walking the dog and dropping my son off at the bus stop I was ready to try again. As my photos show, there were a lot of interesting parts in making the cake but it was worth it for the impressive results.
In the Green and Blacks recipe book the cake was decorated with a simple Green and Blacks dark chocolate ganache and finished with chocolate curls and pieces of Green and Blacks chocolate. This to me needed me to do something else which was a bit more fun. I’d got some chocolate moulds I’d not used before as well as a packet of crispy M&M’s and a tub of mini chocolate jazzies. I poured melted chocolate into a mini chocolate bar mould and then into a dog mould. They didn’t come out in a perfect finish but then I’m no chocolatier. Once they were set and I’d got them out of the mould I started to make the chocolate ganache. This ended up being flavoured with another spoonful of rum. Luckily for me today the ganache was playing the game that day and let me spread it on the cake without it dripping all over the board and the wire rack underneath.
I was so delighted when the cake turned out well and that it nearly all got eaten at Cake Club. That makes me feel really happy. I’ll definitely be having a go at another chequerboard cake as it looked and tasted divine.
Love Sam xx