Friday, 23 September 2011

Clandestine Cake Club, Newcastle upon Tyne: Wednesday 24th September 2011

Amaretto Cherry Bakewell baked by Emily
The venue...
This venue generated more oohs and ahhs that the last 2 cake clubs, and it wasn't just because of all the cakes...We were very fortunate to have the use of the wonderful, homely, The Knit Studio, the venue for our 3rd gathering of Clandestine Cake Club, Newcastle. 

The studio has everything a knitter could ever want, beginner or expert.  It has a warm, homely feel about it, a communal table for group activities (workshops etc), and you are surrounded by yarns of all types, colours, textures and shapes.  It's the the kind of space I could happily spend hours looking thinking "I wish I could make one of those."  Plus it's got Anne, the owner, who's knows everything there is to know about everything she has in the shop, and genuinely happy to help and advise, whatever your skill level. The knitters in our cake club were overwhelmed by this double-whammy of eye-candy...

Our host, Anne (& her lovely assistant/teagirl) looked after us all night, topping up our teas and coffees, served from China teacups & saucers.

The Theme...
Who wouldn't want to take part in this gathering: everyone was guaranteed to get one (or possibly) ten of their five portions of fruit or veg a day.

We had 10 cakes, which provided a selection of 12 different fruits and vegetables: parsnip, carrots, banana, pineapple, apple, beetroot, cherry, orange, lemon, lime, raspberry and pear.

Julie's Carrot Cake (& a cuppa)
The Cakes...
I still wasn't able to try them all, but as always, took leftovers so that I could try them!

I began with a 'Juice' inspired cake, made by Claire, she baked a Polenta & Orange Juice Cake. I've always wondered what Polenta tasted like, and now I do. It was lovely: a soft, moist texture, almondy, orangey and chocolate drizzle topping. I'd make that myself (and maybe add a cheeky bit of cointreau).

The Carrot Cake made by Julie with mascarpone & cinnamon icing, was also topped with pecans (another bonus).  For me a good carrot cake needs some extra fruit like raisins, and guess what - this one did! It got my vote & I took another bit home!

The Toffee Apple Cake was great seasonal choice, and has inspired me.  The apples were firm, sweet, and not too sticky with toffee.  The juices from the apple topping had soaked into the cake below, keeping it moist, and the bottom layer of cake was cemented to the top with a smooth, filling, was it toffee cream, was it caramel cream? Dunno, but it was nice.  It complimented the sharpness of the apples, finishing it perfectly.

The Cheese and Apple Cake (which was not a cheesecake) was the dark horse of the night.  The cake enveloped chunks of cheshire cheese and chunky apple.  I love cheese and I love cake, and I loved Ros's cake. I might have to bake that one for myself one day (yes all for myself).

Next to this was Frankie's White Chocolate & Raspberry Cake. It looked very unassuming but when you took a bite it slapped you with each mouthful of succulent, juicy raspberries, I love it when cakes do that to you. The white chocolate gave the cake a subtle richness of texture, and not sickly in the slightest. How could it with all those raspberries?

Val's Lemony Something (as I labelled it) was picture perfect.  If I was a judge on Great British Bake Off I'd score it top marks for appearance alone.  We had a pair of perfect flat-topped sponges of equal thickness, a filling of cream and lemon curd. To cut into it felt wrong, but greed hunger got the better of us!  The cake was light, the lemon curd filling was tart, sweet and sharp all at the same time.  It was beautiful.

My own Parsnip, Ginger & Lime Cake
Other cakes we had, but I didn't try: Hummingbird Cake (by Liz), Spicy Pear Cake - which arrived still warm (by Kate), Chocolate & Beetroot Cake (by Hannah), Cherry Bakewell Cake (by Emily) and Parsnip, Ginger & Lime Cake (by me).  However, I did take a slice of each home to enjoy, because that's what CCC is about.

Our new bakers were welcomed (as always) and I think they enjoyed themselves, we discussed recipes, debated the 'to-practise or not to practise' question, I also may have heard the word "dye-et?" but will need to look that one up in a dictionary...Everyone was generous with sharing their ideas and suggestions of potential venues we could try for future gatherings, so much so when I got home I emailed about 6 of them!

Lemony Something cake made by Val
So the October Clandestine Cake Club for Newcastle may be booked sooner than you think!

Thank yous...
  • A big thank you to our host, Anne at The Knit Studio, and her glamourous assistant.
  • Hanna our official photographer of the evening: she took these excellent photos - it was hard to choose which one to use, and she took all of these of the evening, available to view on Flickr.
  • All of the bakers who joined us tonight: Kate, Frankie, Val, Ros, Alison, Emily, Liz, Hannah, Claire, Julie.  I'm glad we all love baking & sharing our cakes.
  • Cake bakers friends - you stop us being too greedy
  • Lynn Hill - inventor of Clandestine Cake Club  

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