Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Winter Wonderland Cake Club

What a great Clandestine Cake Club the November one was.

Detail from Lisa's snowball cake
First off, my friend Frankie and her mum were there. Frankie is awesome, and her mum is just fabulous. She's so funny and lovely. They brought along a very lovely egg nogg cake.

Secondly, having my cake photographed again for Appetite magazine. for all I whinge about not having a chance to do my hair beforehand, it really is flattering and exciting to have my cake chosen again to appear in the press. 

Thirdly was having the chance to tell everyone about Private Pie Club. Everyone was so positive and excited about the idea, and we signed a few people up. There were also lots of people who were busy on the day, but who said they really wanted to go to future meetings. 

Fourthly, was the lovely selection of cakes there were. this event had proved really popular and there were some new bakers there who it was lovely to meet.

Fifthly, and most definitely not last, was the presence of Lynne Hill, the founder of Clandestine Cake Club. I felt like I was meeting cake royalty! It was lovely to meet her, and to see how proud she was that her idea was bringing so many people together. 

Anyway, I shall now shut up, and let the pictures of cake do the talking. Apologies to anyone who's cake doesn't get a picture here. The cameras in my battery gave up half way through :(

Kate's cranberry and dark chocolate panettone

Alison's sugar plum fairy cake

Julia's Pear and mincemeat crumble cake- my favourite cake of the night.

Lisa's Snowball cake (which Frankie's mum adored, bordering on the obsessive)

Sarah's chocolate and mulled wine cake
Julie's Spiced orange cake
Frankie's eggnog cake

That Old Chestnut


No, I don't think it's too early to be getting in the festive mood. No, I don't get sick of christmas songs in a loop. Yes, I did have my first mince pie in September and no, it didn't feel wrong.


So of course I was excited for November's Clandestine Cake Club, which had a "Winter Wonderland" theme.

I decided to make a chestnut cake, from an old cake recipe book that i have. The way the cake was decorated in the book, however, left a lot to be desired. It was all very 80's, with swirly bits of cream everywhere. So I decided to go with a snowy wintry scene that i had seen in another cake decorating book, which was actually supposed to be a wedding cake.

Making the cake mixture was almost the same technique as making sachertorte, but with chestnut puree instead of chocolate. I had to separate 9 eggs and whisk up the whites, then fold the eggs whites carefully into the mixture. Then came the exciting bit...

The cake was filled with a (very delicious) chestnut and rum cream. This tasted... potent, and rather pleasant if i may say so myself (yes, I admit that i did eat quite a bit off a spoon once the cake was finished). I am starting to worry that the CCC may end up organising an AA intervention at some point for me, as i seem to be building a reputation for bringing alcoholic cakes!

The cake is loaded with rum cream :)
Then it was time for decorating. I used royal icing, and placed pine cones, bay leaves, and rosemary on top to make a bit of a wintry woodland floor type scene. Then added a few tea lights to bring a nice warm wintry glow to the cake when lit. Then a sprinkling of sugar lumps to look like little lumps of snow, and some generous handfuls of icing sugar and caster sugar to make it look super snowy, and ta-da! a wintry, snowy chestnut cake:

I had a minor panic just before the CCC. I had to go there straight from work so the cake had to sit in the fridge at work for the day, which is a danger in itself with the gannets that i work with. Then I realised that most of the "snow" icing sugar had melted, so i had to detour for some extra icing sugar on the way to the meeting. Once the candles were lit though, it did look pretty impressive, and it caught the eye of a photographer and journalist who were there for appetite magazine, so I ended up having to have another post-work, messy hair and rubbish make-up photo-shoot :-S

The inside of the cake was strange, kind of pinky and pate-ish in colour. The cake itself didn't taste of a huge amount, but the chestnut and rum cream was lovely.

More on cake club soon!

Stir Up Saturday and Sunday

Hi all,

I'm so behind on blogging, I really do apologise. So now it is time to do some serious catching up!

A few weekends ago I decided I would have my own little Stir-Up Sunday, although it was actually Saturday, and it spilled over into the sunday anyway.

I made christmas puddings, to Nigella's recipe. I am very pleased with myself for managing to avoid the disaster which occurred last year, which led to the destruction of one christmas pudding, one steaming pot, and one rather pricey Jamie Oliver pan. This time I kept a keen eye on them while they were steaming and made sure no melting happened.

This year's puds seem to have a much better colour than when i've made them in the past. Last time I used cointreau and they were quite er, potent shall we say. This year, I invested in some sherry, so they should be a bit more gentle on the taste buds.

Then I also made stollen. A long time ago i was a pre-reg pharmacist working in a hospital, and there was a German pharmacist working there. She brought some stollen in, and I loved it, so demanded the recipe. I remember her telling us the recipe off the top of her head, then she said "You'll never be able to make it properly without being actually German" (I do think she was kidding).

Anyway, I've made stollen every year since to that recipe and it's pretty much always a triumph/ What that you say? You want the recipe? Well only if you are very, very good.

I always make huge quantities of the stollen mixture, then get a bit scared by the fact that it appears to attempt to take over the whole kitchen after proving.

And here they are in all their Fresh-Out-The-Oven glory. This time I made one big one and two little ones. One will probably be accompanying me to work at some point, as i've been getting requests for stollen already from my colleagues.

Hayley xxx


The Christmas puddings were an absolute triumph. My family really enjoyed one on Christmas day, and even my Grandma, who is very vocal about not liking Christmas pudding, tried some and declared it yummy. The boyf and I had our own little Christmas Dinner also when he came up after Christmas, and he seemed to thoroughly enjoy his generous portion with ice cream!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Quick Catch-up

Hi my lovelies,

Just a quick post to say that i promise i will be doing a decent post soon. I've been fairly busy lately, ironically mainly baking, to get down to writing any proper posts.

It's the Winter themed Clandestine Cake Club tomorrow though, and it's going to be a busy one! There are so many really exciting cakes on the list, and i'm quite pleased with how mine has turned out this time.

You will hear all about it soon, I promise,

Oceans of love,

Hayley xxx

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Long and Rocky Road

Oh. My. Goodness. How excited am I about telling you about this cake? Very! In pharmacy terms, there is a type of drug interaction where two drugs add together to create an effect which is greater than the sum of each drug alone, which is known as potentiation.

Chocolate cake is good.

Rocky Road is good.

Chocolate cake + Rocky Road = OMG THIS IS HEAVEN AND ITS THE BEST THING EVAR!!!!

A friend at work gave me a baking calendar for next year. I just couldn't wait to make this rocky road chocolate cake so Boyf and I gave it a go this weekend.

First, we melted some Stork, and stirred in the sugar (I'm going to post the recipe onto the recipes page so check that out if you're wanting to give this cake a go. And frankly, I don't see how you could possibly not want to give it a go)

... Then we folded in the flour and cocoa powder, poured the mixture into a tin, and baked for about 30 mins. In the meantime, we made a huge batch of chocolate brownies as well...

...Then when the cake had cooled, Boyf carefully and precisely (as is his way) arranged the marshamallows...

... Then we covered the whole lot in a massive amount of chocolatey- Malteser-y-walnut-ty goop, and popped it in the fridge to set.

The result is a layer of chocolate cake covered in a big thick layer of rocky road. I need say no more. GO MAKE IT! you know you want to!

Thursday, 10 November 2011


Hello all,

Had a lovely holiday, thank you very much. I have returned with quite a serious addiction to olives and feta cheese, however. It was very quiet, as most things were closed in Malia with it being off-season, but we found ways to amuse ourselves, including visiting Knossos to hunt for the minotaur.

Last weekend i was down in London to see The Boyf, so we decided to do a spot of baking. I haven't made muffins for ages, so we thought we would whip up a couple of batches. Everything that Boyf bakes appears to need to contain chocolate, and lots of it, so we settled on double chocolate chunk muffins, and i demanded to make Nigella's divine snickers and peanut butter muffins as well.

We had to go shopping for ingredients and everything. For some reason i was slightly disappointed at the fact that London branches of Tesco are the same as North East ones, as if the south is a whole other country. My style of shopping usually consists of meandering about slowly looking at everything new and being seduced by shiny, brightly coloured packaging. I established  that alas, this is not how The Boyf shops at all (go directly to aisle required, select item, that is all)

We used this recipe for the double chocolate chunk muffins. The cinnamon was an odd addition, and initially we feared it was going to be a bit overpowered but the finished article was yummy.

Meanwhile (as The Boyf sloooowly and precisely measured out exact amounts of muffin mixture to go into each muffin cup, bless him), i made a start on the snickers and peanut butter muffins. I made these years ago from Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess, and they were amazing, and got rave reviews from those who tried them (including the staff in my local salon, who would regularly tell me how wonderful they were in a subtle hint kind of a way). Anyway, as you will probably know by now, I do have a serious peanut butter addiction, so these muffins are a joy for me.

There will be more baking this weekend, so expect more posts. It will involve more chocolate, yay!

In other news, the arrangements for Private Pie are coming along nicely. Will let you know as things develop further.

Hayley xxx