The Great British Bake Off Christmas- Cinnamon and Raspberry Whirl Wreath.

Saturday 2nd December 2017.

Although I love baking and people say I’m good at it, the same can’t be said about my breadmaking and patisserie skills.  It’s only because I’ve not had enough practice or also that I don’t have enough knowledge.  Next year I hope to go on a couple of courses but in the meantime I’m going to practise at home.  It’s as if any recipe contains yeast, it suddenly pushes me into panic mode!  But surely if I followed the recipe to the letter like I do with cake and biscuit recipes?

Cue the reasoning for my second bake from The Great British Bake Off Christmas book.  I saw the photo which accompanied the recipe for the Cinnamon and Raspberry Whirl Wreath and my mouth started to water.  It looked like a giant Danish pastry.  As the recipe introduction says, it’s a “delicious wreath made from a sweet, enriched dough coated in fruity jam.”  Not only that but the dough is infused with cardamom and the raspberry filling is accompanied with the tantalising aroma of cinnamon sugar.  I couldn’t wait to try it out.

Plain flour was sifted into a large bowl along with some salt.
In a small saucepan I warmed whole milk with ground cardamom, caster sugar and melted butter.

When the milk had cooled sufficiently, I made a well in the centre of the bowl containing the flour and salt.  I then poured the milk mixture into the well and then formed a dough.  I had to add a little  more flour so that the dough was easy enough to knead.

After kneading for 10 minutes I put the dough into a bowl and covered it with a teatowel. I usually put bread to rise in my utility room on the work top as it was warm in there.  I left it there for about an hour or so.

Before proving…
After proving.

After the dough had proved for about an hour I knocked it back and then turned it our onto the work top.  I had to roll the dough into a rectangle which was easier said than done!  It was the most  wonky rectangle I’d ever seen though.

The dough was rolled out into a large oblong shape. I trimmed it to tidy the ends up.
To make the filling I spread raspberry jam with sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on top.

The next bit was extremely fiddly.  I had to roll up the dough like I was making a Swiss Roll.  It had to be a very tight roll but that was easier said than done.  Once it was rolled up I then had to cut the roll in half lengthways so that the raspberry jam layers were easy to see. Unfortunately because of the red colour it looked more like a nasty wound or something my daughter might have created on her make up and special effects course! I twisted the dough round to form a wreath but it ended up more like a swirly lump with hardly any gaps in the middle like a wreath should have.

Back into the utility room it went, once again under a teatowel but this time on a baking tray.  Another hour of proving and then the wreath had doubled again in size and was now ready to be baked.  The wreath went into the oven while Mr SmartCookieSam and I were eating dinner and came out of the oven just before I went to pick my son up from work.  The gap in the middle of the wreath had closed up even more and it looked a lot messier than the picture in the book.  The thing was, did it taste good?  I couldn’t wait to try some.  As I’m typing this, it’s 10pm and I can still smell the cinnamony aroma wafting through from the kitchen.  Guess what I’ll be eating for breakfast tomorrow, then!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 Raspberry and Lemon Love Heart Cake- The Clandestine Cake Club A Year of Cake February Bakealong.


The Raspberry and Lemon Love Hearts Cake from The Clandestine Cake Club book A Year Of Cake
Valentine’s Day to me is a great excuse to bake.  I don’t like all the commercialism around Valentine’s Day, though. To me if you want to show someone you love them, its the little things every day, not just on the 14th February. Why wait until the 14th February to buy your loved one a bunch of flowers? They’re usually twice or three times the price! My hubby and I once went out on Valentines Day to dinner and it was a complete let down. The meal wasn’t very good, the tables in the restaurant were crammed close together so you felt like you were listening to other people’s conversations. It was expensive and the following day I went down with a stinking cold. So ever since then we make a nice dinner at home and I might bake a cake. But then again we do that at other times of the year. 

This year I decided to take part in the Clandestine Cake Club’s monthly A Year of Cake Bakealong. If you see my last post it explains how the Bakealong works. For the February event we have to send our photos in by the end of the month.  I chose to bake Margaret Knox’s Raspberry and Lemon Love Heart cake which is featured in the book to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

As mentioned in the recipe introduction ” but cake club members know the fastest way to your heart is through your stomach, so it’s an occasion for cakes! Presented with this pink, zingy flavoured fruity gift, your Valentine’s reaction is sure to echo one of the classic  Love Heart messages: All Mine!”

Last September when the Clandestine Cake Club book A Year Of Cake came out we were invited to a special book launch party in Leeds. Everyone was drawn to Margaret’s beautiful cake with its delicate pastel pink icing. But the real treat was inside- the sponge is bright pink! To match the colour, the flavour is also achieved with real fresh raspberries and a hint of lemon. No wonder we loved the cake and it vanished off the table.

I couldn’t wait to bake it myself and was glad that I had the February Bakealong to do it. My husband would enjoy the cake itself but he’s not a fan of sugar paste. He could always take it off though.  

So on Valentine’s Day itself I set to with baking this stunning cake. The cake is baked in two 20cm/ 8″ diameter loose bottomed sandwich tins which were greased and lined with baking parchment circles. 

To make the cake itself I creamed together butter and sugar. To the creamed mixture I added eggs and self raising flour. When this was done, in went the zest of two lemons and some fresh raspberries. Finally I needed to turn the sponge pink, this was achieved with a few drops of pink gel food colouring. For colouring sponges I always use Dr Oetker gels which you can buy in most major supermarkets. 

The mixture was divided between the two greased tins and baked for about 25 minutes. So far so good. When I took the cakes out of the oven though I was a bit worried as the top of the sponge didn’t look pink, it was very pale and was browned. I hoped the inside would look better. I thought maybe I hadn’t added enough food colouring but I thought I’d stuck loads in.

The finished cake though Iots more practice needed with sugarpaste.

When the cakes had cooled I turned them out on to a rack and started to assemble the cake. The filling could be either with raspberry jam or lemon curd along with a simple buttercream. I made up some buttercream and found some raspberry jam in the cupboard. I didn’t have lemon curd so raspberry it had to be! The buttercream and jam were spread onto the cakes, they were layered up together and then onto the next stage of baking. 

I then had to colour a packet of white sugarpaste myself. I find this a real pain and can never get it to be even coloured, it t always ends up with little streaks in.  For colouring sugar paste I always use  cocktail sticks and post blobs of the concentrated gel into the icing. Then I knead the colour in but always wear disposable catering gloves so the colour doesn’t stain my hands. Before I discovered that tip and got red food colouring on my hand, it looked like I’d had a nasty acciden

A ribbon around the edge of a cake always covers up my mistakes.

Yayyyy! The colour did turn out pink after all!

As you can see from these pictures above my sugarpaste colouring skills still need practice. At least I managed to cover the cake with with the sugarpaste without having a wrestling match with the rolling pin and lots of swearing. A little tip- that’s why ribbons around the edge of a cake always hides any mistakes!

To finish, I got out my cake smoother to flatten out the surface of the cake and added the Love Heart sweets to the top. There were a few sweets leftover in the packet and lo and behold the children came downstairs when they saw I had spares.   I’m sure they have radar where sweets are concerned.

So did Mr SmartCookieSam enjoy his cake? No he didn’t because he said it was too sweet. But I took the remains to share out at the end of the Cake Club event I was going to the following night. I thought it tasted fab even though I say so myself. 

Would I bake this amazing cake again? Of course I would.

Happy Baking! 

Love Sam xx

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 for more fabulous bundt recipes and ideas!
A Strawberry Yoghurt Butterfly bundt cake made using Rachel McGrath’s recipe 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.

Copies of the book laid out on the table for customers to browse through.
All our cakes laid out to try.
The Spanish Almond Cake. This is ideal for those following a gluten and dairy free diet.
The Raspberry Cakewell. One lady said it reminded her of the cakes her mother used to make when she was a little girl.
The Chocolate Neapolitan Cake was a huge hit, especially with the children and the men.
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!
The Strawberry Yoghurt Butterfly bundt went down very well with the children, especially the little girls.
The Stem Ginger Cake cut into little pieces. I scoffed a small piece of this and really enjoyed it.
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!
Our little taster table downstairs in the entrance.
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 : and see if there is a club near you!

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.
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!

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.
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