Harvest festival meets Random Recipes meets Clandestine Cake Club in this post. As we had a hard challenge for August, Dom has gone easy on us this month and it’s back to the basics of picking a random book from our collection and then a random recipe from that book. I used my usual Eat Your Books method of selection and came up with a recipe for a simple chocolate pear upside-down cake in Jennifer Donovan’s book Chocolate. Happily this pick coincided with a Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club gathering on Thursday where the theme was harvest festival. And to tie it all together in a nice little bundle, my mother turned up with a jar of pears that she’d just poached. All sorted.
I had to add my own twist of course, so apart from using poached pears rather than raw ones, I substituted the vanilla for cardamom. The cake was fudgy and chocolatey, but the cardamom and pear stopped it being too sweet and sickly. It was in fact a delicious cake I will be repeating and the good folk at cake club seemed to enjoy it.
This is how I made:
Chocolate Pear Cardamom Upside-Down Cake
- Melted 200g butter with 200g of dark 70% chocolate in a large saucepan over low heat.
- Stirred in 150g cardamom sugar (golden caster sugar) and left to cool a little.
- Beat in three duck eggs (large hens eggs will be fine) with 1 drop of the excellent Holy Lama cardamom extract (or the ground seeds from 1-2 cardamom pods, depending on how subtle you want the flavour).
- Sifted in 120g self-raising flour and stirred gently until just combined.
- Sprinkled 3 tbsp of dark brown sugar over the base of a 9″ round silicon mould.
- Lay 12 pear quarters on top of the sugar then poured the batter over the top.
- Baked at 180℃ for 30 minutes until just done.
- Left to cool for about ten minutes, then turned the cake upside down onto a serving plate.
The harvest festival theme resulted in a bounty of fruit and vegetable cakes. The cake shown here completely stole the show, but they were all very tasty and yes, I did manage to try a piece of each! An independent wine merchant with accompanying champagne and coffee bar, Bin Two in Padstow, was our venue and some of the participants seemed much more interested in the wine than they did in the cake. The shop included a cafe bar, so we all crowded and got up close and cosy. Thanks as always to Ellie Mitchell for organising another splendid cakey gathering.
Bin Two were hosting a Macmillan Coffee Morning the following day, so I also brought along a few oaty ginger biscuits. These were quite fiery as they were not only flavoured with ground ginger but included crystallised ginger too. CT got almost grumpy when he was only allowed to try one.
So this is another success I put down to Dom and his Random Recipes over at Belleau Kitchen – such a fun and interesting challenge – most of the time anyway!
I had a bit of a dilemma trying to decide which of this month’s seasonal recipes should be sent to Simple and in Season – there have been so many good ones. But despite the rather prosaic nature of pear after the colours and flavours of blackberry and plum, this cake deserves recognition. Nazima of Franglais Kitchen is hosting this month on behalf of Ren Behan.
The theme of this month’s Clandestine Cake Club was free as a bird. I have to say, I was somewhat stumped by this and the best I could come up with was a free to make whatever I liked cake. The theme for this month’s We Should Cocoa is gluten free, so that got me wondering. I’d also been sent some coconut oil and coconut nectar to use from Cocofina – review to follow in a later post. Suddenly it all clicked into place and I would do a free from cake – free from gluten, free from dairy, free from eggs and free from sugar (sugar in the everyday sense anyway).
It was the last Clandestine Cake Club of the year and to cheer us up through the dank, dark days of November, the theme was “a splash of colour”. Time was of the essence, I had to leave the house at 8:30 to get to the venue at Truro for 10:00 and I had to do my bake that morning. So not only something colourful, but something simple was also needed. I knew the very thing. I’ve made Nigella’s Cranberry Upside Down Cake from How to be a Domestic Goddess before and it was very well received. However, this time I felt the addition of some warming chilli would not go amiss – so the last vestiges of my Dartmoor Dragon bar winged its way into the mix. Talking of dragons, I’m looking forward to the next instalment of The Hobbit, coming to a cinema near you sometime very soon.
So literally hot out of the oven and into the back of the car, off we headed to Truro. Who needs an air freshener when they have hot cake on board? We had a wonderfully fragrant drive.
This is how I made:
Nigella’s Cranberry Upside Down Cake
- Melted 50g unsalted butter in a large pan.
- Added 175g cardamom sugar (golden caster) and left on the heat for a couple of minutes.
- Removed from the heat and stirred in 200g fresh cranberries. Left to one side.
- In a large bowl, melted 20g white chilli chocolate (Dartmoor Dragon)
- Creamed 200g cardamom sugar (golden caster) with 200g unsalted butter until pale in colour and fluffy in texture.
- Beat in a pinch of rock salt.
- Beat in 4 medium eggs alternately with a spoonful of the flour (see next line).
- Sifted in 200g flour (half wholemeal, half plain), 1 tsp of baking powder and 1 tsp mesquite powder (optional).
- Stirred in 4 tbsp sour milk.
- Turned the cranberries and sugar into a 23cm cake mould, then piled the batter on top.
- Baked for 40 minutes at 180C. Left in the mould to cool for a few minutes, then turned out onto a plate.
Though I say it myself, the cake was absolutely scrummy and benefited, I felt, from the addition of white hot chilli chocolate. It seemed to go down well with the others at CCC too. It was moist with a good flavour and the tartness of the berries offset the general sweetness. Heavens, that naga chilli, even in such a small quantity, still had a bit of a kick to it. It wasn’t as fast acting as my previous bakes, but it crept up on you and left a warm glow in the back of the throat. Cranberries aren’t just for turkeys.
The colour of my cake wasn’t quite as vibrant as some, but it held its own both in looks and taste. A splash of colour was a particularly appropriate theme, given our venue was an art shop in Truro. The name of the cake was also appropriate: CCC for the CCC. Thanks go as always to our splendid organiser Ellie Michell and to Truro Arts Company for the splendid venue.
|Coffee at Truro Arts Company|
|A splash of cakey colour|
|Loved this red stripy teapot|
|Chocolate Red Wine Cake for my Birthday|
It’s National Chocolate Week, although every week is chocolate week in this household. Nevertheless, this seems a good time to post a showstopper chocolate cake.
This chocolate red wine cake was one of the first recipes I made from Charlotte Pike’s Easy Baking in her Hungry Student series of cookbooks. I made it back in July as my birthday offering to my work colleagues. The cake is a plain unadorned one, although I can assure you that the taste is by no means plain. However, as it was a celebratory cake, I created a chocolate red wine icing to top it and decorated it using chocolate fingers. Sadly, like the chocolate amnesia cake, I forgot to write down exactly what I did and I can no longer remember.
However, recently, I had the perfect opportunity to make one again and remind myself just how good it was. I was set a challenge of creating a Home Bargains Showstopper and was sent a selection of goodies to help me on my way. I was thrilled when a box arrived in the post packed full of all sorts of baking paraphernalia; it reminded me of a Christmas stocking as I excitedly pulled out one thing after another. The theme was definitely pink and what girl doesn’t like pink? There was a three layer pink cardboard cake stand, a pink heat mat, pink cupcake cases, pink hearts and pink marshmallows. Luckily, there was a fair amount of red in it too and red is the colour of my kitchen. I immediately fell in love with the red strawberry apron and oven glove and was pleased with the two red silicone cake moulds and cookie cutters. And it was indeed a home bargain as the whole lot would have cost less than £14. Products are available online or at 300 Home Bargain stores across the UK.
- Strawberry single oven glove – £1.49
- Top Cake love hearts – 79p
- Red strawberry apron £1.99
- Red cookie cutters – 99p
- 75 cupcake cases – 79p
- Red silicone cake mould (8″) – £1.99
- Vintage Dream cupcake cases and picks – 99p
- Stainless steel palette knife – 99p
- Silicone trivet – 79p
- Pink spotty cake stand – 99p
- Measuring spoons – 59p
- Mini marshmallows – 59p
Then along came the first Cornish Clandestine Cake Club event I’ve been able to attend in a very long time and the theme was vintage. Held at a Cornish winery, it was more of a “vin” theme than a retro recipe one, but it was left up to us to choose. The chocolate red wine cake was a must. This time I made use of some dark cranberry chocolate that was in need of using and added it along with some cranberries soaked in red wine. I donned my lovely new apron, got out the new oven glove and cake decorations, washed the cake moulds and palette knife and set to, making up a filling and topping recipe once again. This time I wrote it down.
This is how I made:
Chocolate and Cranberry Red Wine Cake
- Poured 125ml red wine into a jug.
- Added 50g dried cranberries and left to soak whilst getting on with everything else.
- Melted 125g dark chocolate (half Dr Oetker 72% and half cranberry 52%) in a bowl over hot water, then left to cool a little.
- Creamed 250g unsalted butter with 200g caster sugar and 50g molasses sugar until pale in colour and airy.
- Beat in 1 tsp vanilla extract.
- Beat in 4 eggs, one by one, adding a little of the flour mixture towards the end.
- Sifted in 250g flour (half wholemeal, half white), 1 rounded tsp baking powder, 4 rounded tsp cocoa,1 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of Himalayan pink rock salt and stirred gently.
- Stirred in the wine and cranberries a little at a time.
- Stirred in the chocolate until just incorporated.
- Divided the mixture between two 20 cm cake moulds and baked at 180°C for 30 minutes when the cakes were well risen and a tester inserted in the middle came out clean.
|Chocolate Red Wine Cake for CCC|
- Creamed 120g unsalted butter with 250g sifted icing sugar.
- Sifted in 40g of cocoa and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
- Stirred in 75 ml red wine and beat vigourously until light and airy.
- Sandwiched the cakes with half of the filling and slathered the other half on top.
- Decorated with pink hearts and Dr Oetker pink sugar and shimmer balls.
The winery, Knightor, near St Austell and the Eden Project is housed in an old stone barn that has been spectacularly renovated. As ever, there were some fabulous cakes made by the indefatigable home bakers of Cornwall. Thanks to our mistress of ceremonies, Ellie, for organising another splendid CCC.
|Clever design – hic!|
|Black Forest Gateau made by Nat of HungryHinny|
|Boozy Coffee and Walnut Cake|
|Tuck in if you dare|
|Sadly not the plate I took home|
As soon as I saw the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook, I knew immediately I wanted to make this Pistachio & Lime Cake for my friend’s upcoming birthday. This is one of Lynn Hill’s own and it is the one that graces the front cover of the book.
Leafing through How to be a Domestic Goddess the other night, I saw Nigella’s treatise on Victoria sponges and although she didn’t have a chocolate one, I was inspired by her to create my own for the Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club, CCC. The theme was afternoon tea, so what could be more appropriate than a Victoria sandwich? I was also inspired by Karen’s drinking chocolate cake over at Lavender and Lovage, so decided to use a drinking chocolate mix rather than cocoa. As I was planning on using the vanilla apricot jam I made before Christmas, I was hoping this would make for a lighter taste, which would allow the apricot and vanilla flavours to shine through.
This is how I made:
Hot Chocolate Victoria Sponge with Vanilla Apricot Jam and Cream
- Creamed 250g unsalted butter with 240g vanilla (caster) sugar until very pale.
- Beat in 4 duck eggs, one at a time, mixing in a little of the flour in between each egg to stop curdling.
- Stirred in 210g flour (half wholemeal, half white), 50g drinking chocolate, and 2 scant teaspoons of baking powder.
- Added about 4 tbsp of milk to make a loose, but not runny mixture.
- Divided mixture between two 21 cm cake moulds and baked at 180C for 20 minutes until firm on top and cake tester came out clean.
- Left to cool for ten minutes, then turned out onto wire racks to cool completely.
- Spread one half with a jar of my vanilla apricot jam.
- Whisked 150 ml double cream until soft peaks formed.
- Spread cream over the top of the jam and placed the other half on top.
- Sprinkled with caster sugar.
One of my cakes broke up a little when I turned it out, a rare occurrence for me as I use silicone moulds; I am always taken aback when it happens and not best pleased. Luckily, I managed to rescue it by gluing most of it back together with the jam and using it as the bottom layer.
My goodness that jam was good. The cake wasn’t bad either. Others thought so too and demonstrated their appreciation by coming up for seconds – no mean feat with the vast array of cakes available.
Our CCC event was held at Lanhydrock, one of our local National Trust estates which is just up the road from us – in Cornwall terms anyway. The meeting was held in one of the offices away from the main house, a pleasant corner of the estate I’d not seen before. The converted stables, recently revamped, made an excellent location for our gathering. The cakes were many, splendid and varied. To top it all we had an informative and entertaining talk by Sue Bamford on the surprisingly dramatic history of afternoon tea. Who knew that a married woman in Victorian times could entertain a male guest in her dressing gown for tea, but was unable to do so fully dressed for dinner.
Many thanks to Ellie Michell for continuing to organise our wonderful cakey gatherings. As I said the cakes were many and varied and I rather lost the plot on what they were, who had baked them and whether I’d photographed them or not. So here follows a random selection:
|Kat’s lemon curd and raspberry sponge|
|Ellie’s Carrot Cake|
|Boiled Fruit Cake with Pineapple|
|Irish Whisky Cake|
|Nat’s Cherry Bakewell|
|Brown Sugar Chocolate Cake|
Inspired by Nigella as it was, I’m entering my Hot Chocolate Victoria Sandwich to Forever Nigella, created by Maison Cupcake and this month hosted by Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes. The Theme is Easter and I reckon this would make a perfect cake for Easter tea.
As I used four very large duck eggs which were coming to the end of their useful life, I am entering this to the No Waste Food Challenge, created by Kate of Turquoise Lemons and this month hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen. The theme this month is eggs.
Although most of my bakes are entirely made from scratch, I don’t often remember to submit them to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays, but I’ve remembered this time.
To celebrate the publication of the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook, this month’s Cornwall CCC meeting was held on the launch date itself, February 14th, at Waterstones in Truro. The theme for this month’s bake was, rather aptly, books. Visions of elaborate book shaped cakes sent me into an immediate panic when first hearing this, but then sense prevailed and a simple solution occurred to me: I would bake one of the recipes from the CCC cookbook. As I had an abundance of limes to use and needed ginger for this month’s We Should Cocoa, I chose Dark ‘n’ Stormy Cake by Rob Martin from the Leeds CCC. There was one problem, it contained no chocolate – but when did that ever stop me? The sponge was a genoise, flavoured with ginger. It reminded me of the Lime and White Chocolate Genoise that I made a couple of years ago, based on Lorraine Pascale’s Mojito Genoise from Baking Made Easy. I decided to make the sponge according to Rob’s instructions, but substituted a lime syrup rather than his rum one and replaced the lime cream cheese frosting with whipped chocolate ganache. I then drizzled home made lime and ginger curd over the top.
This is how I made:
Ginger and Lime Cake with Whipped Chocolate Ganache and Lime Curd
- Melted 90g unsalted butter in a pan over low heat and left to cool a little.
- Chopped 100g crystallised ginger finely.
- Whisked 6 duck eggs with 180g golden caster sugar using electric beaters on high speed for a good ten minutes until the mixture was thick, pale and had tripled in volume.
- Sifted in 180g plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp ground ginger.
- Folded this in as gently as possible.
- Poured the butter in down one side of the bowl and folded this in as gently as possible.
- Gently stirred in the crystallised ginger.
- Divided the mixture between two 8″ cake moulds and baked at 180C for 23 minutes when the cakes were firm on top and skewer inserted in the middle came out clean.
- Grated the rind of two well scrubbed limes into a small pan, followed by the juice.
- Added 75g golden caster sugar and stirred over a low heat until the sugar had dissolved.
- Poured the syrup over the cakes as soon as they were out of the oven, then left in their moulds to cool.
- Made a pot of ginger tea by cutting a 1″ piece of root ginger into slithers and pouring boiling water over the top. Left to steep for a good 15 minutes.
- Melted 100g Cornish dark chocolate (55%) in a bowl over hot water with 50ml of ginger tea.
- Heated 200ml double cream until just about boiling.
- Added the cream, a third at a time to the chocolate stirring hard after each addition until all was incorporated and smooth.
- Placed in the fridge for three hours.
- Whisked with electric beaters on slow speed until soft peaks formed.
- Turned the cakes out of their moulds.
- Spread about a third of the mixture on the bottom of one of the cakes, then placed the bottom half of the other on top.
- Covered the top and sides of the cake with the remaining ganache.
- Drizzled 3 or 4 tablespoonfuls of lime and ginger curd over the top in a criss cross pattern.
|As if by magic the book opened at my recipe 😉|
Much to my bemusement, Daphne Skinnard of BBC Radio Cornwall dragged me off (nearly kicking and screaming) along with Sarah Milligan and Ellie Michell for a quick interview. Having a microphone thrust under my nose didn’t do much for my eloquence, but there we are, we must suffer for our art. You can hear the clip here and it’s abut 1:10 minutes into the programme.
Both cake makers and passing Waterstones customers partook of the delights on offer and many a smile was generated. Some strong willed individuals, looked but didn’t try – it was Lent, after all. It was also Valentine’s Day, so just right to spread some cakey-bakey love around. Literary allusions were much more obvious in some of the other cakes as you can see from the following photos.
|Cake Expectations by our warm hearted organiser Ellie Michell|
|Ceci C’est Un Gateau by Jilly Ballantyne|
|Chocolate & Beetroot Cake inspired by Chocolat by Sally & Emma|
|Pistachio Cake by Emily Scott – the best pistachio cake I’ve ever eaten.|
|Chocolate Cobweb Cake by Emma Skilton|
|Buttermilk Chocolate Cake by Sarah Milligan – her own recipe from the CCC Cookbook|
Today, the 14th February, a number of things coincide: Chocolate Log Blog is four, the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook, featuring one of my recipes, is published and I’m off to attend my 5th CCC meeting, which just happens to be at Waterstones in Truro. This 4th blog anniversary feels like the perfect time to post about CCC.
I’m sure most of you will have heard of the phenomenon that is Clandestine Cake Club (CCC) by now. If not, it is a gathering of cake bakers and lovers who meet, usually on a monthly basis at a secret venue, to eat and talk cake. Initiated by Lynn Hill back in 2010, it has now gone global. Lynn has been working very hard over the last year or so to write a book highlighting some of the best cakes that have been made by herself and other CCC members. As any good Clandestine Cake Club member will know, cakes are the only thing on the menu, no brownies, cupcakes or muffins allowed, just full on proper sized cakes. Thus the book’s 120 recipes are all for cake and what a wondrous collection they are: classic cakes, Victorian cakes, fruity cakes, global cakes, zesty cakes, chocolatey cakes, celebration cakes and creative cakes. In it you will find a cake for any occasion from the full on Toffee Shock Cake with it’s four layers of different flavoured batter, fudge icing and caramel to the more homely and old fashioned Caraway Seed Cake. This hardback book is well laid out and importantly stays open at the chosen recipe. Pictures abound, virtually every cake is accompanied by a photograph. I submitted two entries my Chocrhutea didn’t make it but happily the other one did. I very much hope the book will be a rip roaring success, it certainly deserves to be.
Due to work commitments, I am unable to attend the Cornwall CCC as often as I’d like, but I have been known to make the odd appearance. My very first time was back in May last year where I made a Passionfruit Curd Sponge Cake for a fruit themed event held at Baker Tom’s new bakery in Pool near Camborne. This has become my second recipe to be published in a print book (though I do have a few floating around in various e-books) and I am absolutely thrilled.
My second event had a Fairy Tale theme and was held down in the woods at Cardinham. There were many fabulous creations, I went for the simple approach: a Fairy Godmother cake with basic wand decoration. More accurately, it could be described as a dense chocolate and rose cake.
My third outing took place in a tiny new cafe, Grounded, which had just opened in Truro. I made a Hazelnut and Orange Torte for this one where I experimented with my new cappuccino stencils. The theme was Italian tortes.
Ellie Michell is our hard working organiser. She has come up with some fantastic venues and themes. I only wish I could manage to get to more of them. In celebration of Cornwall CCC’s first anniversary, Ellie chose a birthday party theme down at the Watergate Bay Hotel near Newquay. For this one, I made a Cornish sea salted caramel chocolate cake.
So, thank you to all the lovely visitors to Chocolate Log Blog. I doubt I would have had the heart to carry on this long without you. I’d especially like to thank those that take the time to comment on my posts, it is this interaction which makes it so worthwhile. Whilst I’m at it, I’d also like to thank all those that have contributed to We Should Cocoa, either as a host or entrant. Once again, it is your contributions that make the whole business so much fun; I would never have dreamt of half of the things you all come up with, you are an inspiration.
What a glorious first birthday party. A bunch of Cornish cake fans gathered last Friday to celebrate the first birthday of Cornwall’s Clandestine Cake Club. Ellie Michell, our generous founder and mistress of ceremonies, has been coming up with interesting themes and locating fabulous venues over the last twelve months. You can see her write up here. As this was a Friday, I was not at work and thus able to attend – making this my fourth CCC. I was particularly pleased to catch up with this month’s We Should Cocoa host, the HungryHinny.
We gathered on a bright and sunny, if showery, day at the Watergate Bay Hotel near Newquay. The function room has been newly built and enjoys fabulous sea views over the bay. CT, who somehow blagged his way into this event and was the only man present, attempted to eat his body weight in cake. I’m pleased to say he failed in this venture, but I followed his lead and enjoyed more cake than was probably good for me, not sadly, that I managed to try all of them.
|Nigella’s Birthday Custard Sponge by Ellie|
|My Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake|
|Cocoa & Sweet Potato Cake|
|Carrot, Courgette and Orange Cake|
|Carrot and Walnut Cake|
|Chocolate Chess Cake|
|Gorgeous Lemon Cream Cake|
|Nigella’s Chocolate Delight|
|Caramel Apple Cake by HungryHinny|
|Iced Lemon Curd Layer Cake|
|Banana Cake by The Cow Lady|
|Gluten Free Chocolate Cake|
Driven by guilt we decided to make our way up onto the cliffs and walk off some of our excesses. Somehow we managed to dodge the showers and enjoyed an invigorating hike along Bedruthan Steps.
|The road to nowhere|
On Friday, we celebrated Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club’s 1st birthday. With this momentous event in mind, we were tasked with making something rather special, a “birthday cake”, not I hasten to add that the CCC cakes aren’t always special. I’d seen a few caramel cakes on the internet recently and had also just tried Green & Black’s new sea salted milk chocolate which I rather fell for. These combined to give me salted caramel on the brain, so I decided to indulge my new found obsession and make a salted caramel chocolate cake. I couldn’t find anything in my cookery books or on the net that appealed, so I adapted the chocolate caramel cupcakes I made a couple of years ago to fit my vision.
- Dissolved 225g caster sugar in a large pan on gentle heat with 100ml water.
- Brought to the boil and left for a few minutes to bubble away. Then “watched like a hawk” for it to turn to a nice reddish brown caramel colour, but to ensure it didn’t burn.
- Poured in 200ml double cream. It all went very lumpy at this point, but I stirred and stirred and eventually it became more or less smooth.
- Stirred in 1/2 tsp Cornish sea salt and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
- Creamed 250g unsalted butter with 200g dark brown sugar.
- Beat in about 1/3 of the caramel.
- Broke in three duck eggs (large hens eggs are fine) and beat well.
- Sifted in 200g flour (1/2 spelt, 1/2 white), 40g of cocoa and 1 rounded tsp baking powder.
- Spooned into two 21 cm cake moulds and baked at 180C for 20 minutes.
- Left to cool for ten minutes then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Creamed 80g salted butter with 120g icing sugar until my arm was sore and the mixture was very light and fluffy.
- Beat in another 1/2 of the remaining caramel.
- Spread on top of one of the cooled cakes and placed the other on top.
- Licked the bowl clean – reckoned it was the best buttercream I’ve yet made.
- Spread the remaining caramel over the top of the cake.
- Sprinkled various milk, dark and white chocolate bits over the top and dusted very lightly with two types of edible gold glitter.
Modesty be hanged, this cake proved to be very popular with the other cake club members and I only got to try a tiny slice. It was rich and chocolatey and offered the discerning punter three separate hits of salted caramel of differing intensities in the various layers. This just proves to me that salted caramel has not yet had its day!
I’d had visions of the caramel dripping down the sides of the cake, but by the time I got to apply it, it had set. This must mean that I am fated to make it again.