Clandestine Cake Club: Sex On The Beach Cake

On Monday I went to my second Clandestine Cake Club event. This time it was the Christmas party for all three of the Manchester groups – Manchester North, Manchester South, and Manchester City Centre & Chorlton. It was held at Grosvenor Casino in East Didsbury. The casino has only been there since February and was a very stylish and glamorous venue. The theme was ‘Cocktails and Mocktails’ and there were about 30 cakes in total. I brought along a Sex On The Beach Cake (pictured above) which I will show you how I made further down in this post. But first a recap of the cakes…

White Russian cake by my friend Beth who I took along for her first Cake Club experience. This was definitely in my top three favourites of the night. It was covered in whipped cream, and the sponge was so light.

There were several mojito cakes, but this one was the tastiest in my opinion!

A Bailey’s cake by Kelly. Baileys was another common choice of flavour, and I am not complaining!!

Naomi’s very creative Bubbly Bucks Fizz cake was sprinkled with popping candy. I thought it was a brilliant idea making it into the shape of a martini glass! I love how creative everyone gets.

Another of my favourites of the night – Jackie’s Bailey’s cheesecake with Baileys cream. So damn good!

Ellie made The Godfather cake. The Godfather is a very manly cocktail, with only two ingredients, and yes they’re both alcohol! My housemate Pete requested a slice if someone made a Godfather cake, and lucky for him they did! He said ‘the person who made this is a genius’ after enjoying the slice I brought home for him.

There were lots of cakes involving strawberries.

Stina’s Ginger Cake with Pineapple Cream and Spiced Rum Topping. This was really delicious!

Claire’s Irish Coffee Cake definitely wins my award for the prettiest cake of the night. The decorating is superb and so neat. I didn’t actually taste this as I’m not a fan of coffee, but Beth gave it the thumbs up for taste!

A couple of shots of the tables of cake. A few more did arrive after I took these photos.

My leftovers….

I’m not sure what gave me the idea to do a Sex On The Beach cake. I think I was thinking of cocktails, and second after a cosmopolitan, I thought of a sex on the beach. And then my mind just ran with it, and this is what I came up with:

I made a basic sponge using my favourite method (weigh the eggs, then match the weight of butter, sugar and flour). I separated it into 3 bowls. Into the first bowl went dried cranberries.

Into the second bowl I put about 2 capfuls of Peach Schnapps.

I really wanted to make sure the flavours came through so I was quite generous!

And into the third bowl I put 2 tsp of orange flavouring.

I poured the mixture into a shallow lined tin.

I baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown and a skewer or knife comes out clean.

While the cake was cooling, I added some green food colouring to some white sugar paste icing and rolled it out. Use icing sugar when you roll out icing to stop it from sticking, it’s like using flour with dough. I am a sugar paste novice and don’t have any speciality tools, so I just used a knife to cut out nine leaf shapes and a pair of shorts.

I then coloured a smaller amount of white sugar paste with pink icing, rolled it out, and cut out a bikini shape.

I made buttercream using 340g icing sugar, 170g butter, and about 4 heaped tsp cream cheese. I also add some blue food colouring. This was to represent the sea.

I piled up the three sponges, putting a small amount of buttercream between each layer, then smeared the blue buttercream all over the cake until it was fully covered.

I bashed up some digestive biscuits with a rolling pin and sprinkled the crumbs over the top of the cake to represent sand.

I put a dab of buttercream on the back of the bikini and shorts, and positioned them on the cake.

I made palm trees out of orange chocolate sticks. I put two sticks back to back, then stuck three leaves on each one using buttercream to stick them. Then I pushed them into the sponge.
And the cake was done! It did get a final decoration of a cocktail umbrealla at the cake club, thanks to Beth. I was really pleased with how my idea came together and how it looked and tasted. Clandestine Cake Club is such great fun and I really do recommend anyone to join up. It inspires creativity in your cake making, and lets you share it with other passionate cake eaters and bakers.
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Swiss Roll

The last (and only) time I remember ever making swiss roll was in Home Economics (now more often known as Food Technology) at high school. So I was probably about 13 years old. I don’t remember the method, or how it tasted, or how it turned out. I just remember there being a lot of eggs involved. So I decided to refresh my memory, and give it a go a few years later….ok more than a few years later!!

Turns out my memory is terrible. What you are meant to do is this: Over a pan of simmering water, in a glass bowl whisk together 3 eggs, 100g sugar, and a pinch of salt with an electric whisk until thick. Then whisk for 1-2 minutes off the heat. Then fold in 75g of flour and 1 tsp vanilla extract. What I did: Put the flour in at the start. Ooops. I whisked it for a while and it didn’t thicken, but seemed to have lots of bubbles and volume, so in typical Baking Explorer style, I thought I’d bake it anyway and see what happened.

I lined a square tray with baking paper and poured the mixture in. I did double the above mixture to make two rolls. Tilt the tray so the mixture spreads evenly. Then I baked it on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 15 minutes.

 Meanwhile, I prepared a sheet of baking paper sprinkled with sugar.

The sponge came out of the oven looking golden and was springy to the touch. Looks like I have gotten away with my mistake!

I tipped the sponge (golden brown side down) onto the baking sheet of sugar, then smeared raspberry jam all over the other side. I smeared the second one with chocolate spread.

Now the tricky part! Make a dent in the sponge about 2cm from one end. This will help to get the roll going. Firmly, but gently, roll the sponge. Use the baking paper to help you, and don’t worry if it breaks! That is all part of a swiss roll’s charm. Keep it wrapped up in the baking paper until it cools fully.

Lay out onto a plate to serve, cutting off the ends gives it a neater, more presentable look.

This swiss roll will keep for 2 days in an air tight container, and best of all, it’s fat free! No butter or cream used. A treat you can enjoy without any guilt. They are also so versatile as you can fill them with anything you want. Lemon curd, marmalade, and even mincemeat for a festive swiss roll.

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Pretzels

Pretzels come in many shapes and sizes, from the giant to the tiny. They can be hard or soft, and sweet or savoury. A pretzel is basically a dough twisted into what is known as the ‘pretzel loop’ and a double glazing method is used when baking for a dark, shiny effect. They are popular in Europe, Germany in particular, and the USA. I’ve actually never eaten a pretzel before, and maybe that was a good thing in case I messed up, then I would be none the wiser! But in fact this is a baking success story, and I now absolutely love pretzels! Especially the sweet ones!

I started with 350g strong white bread flour, 150g plain flour, 1 tsp salt and 2 tbsp caster sugar in a large bowl.

In a jug I stirred a sachet of dried yeast into 300ml warm water, and left it to dissolve for 5 minutes. Then I added 2 tbsp sunflower oil.

I mixed the yeast into the flour until it formed a dough. I tipped it out onto a floured surface and kneaded it for 5-10 minutes until it became a smooth and soft dough.

I put the dough into an oiled bowl and left it somewhere warm for about 90 minutes. There is nowhere warm in my house this time of year, so I wrapped the bowl in oven gloves and tea towels for extra warmth. After the 90 minutes it had almost doubled in size.

I knocked the dough back on a floured surface, this just means to push all the air out. I cut the dough in half with a sharp knife, then each half into half again until I ended up with 16 pieces.

I rolled the dough out into a long, thin sausage. They should be about 45cm long – I used a measuring tape to help me keep each piece roughly the same length.

To make the ‘pretzel loop’ I crossed over the two ends, then twisted them around and brought them back on each other, and secured them by pressing gently.

Not the neatest, but above is roughly what it should look like.

They were quite lose structures at this stage, so I lifted them carefully onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Then I covered them with cling film and a tea towel and left for 30 minutes to rise again.

I five bowls I prepared my glazes and toppings: sesame seeds and coarse rock salt, 1 tbsp cinnamon and 3 tbsp caster sugar, one beaten egg, 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda mixed with 2 tbsp boiling water, and some melted butter.

I brushed all of the pretzels with the bicarbonate of soda mixture.

For the savoury pretzels, I sprinkled over the sesame seeds and coarse salt before baking.

I baked the pretzels on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 15 minutes. Take them out and very lightly brush with egg, then put them back in for another 5 minutes.  Cool for at least 5 minutes on a cooling rack before serving.

For the sweet pretzels, I did the same egg glazing method as above, then once they had finished baking I brushed them with the melted butter, then sprinkled the cinnamon sugar over them generously and left to cool.

My pretzels weren’t perfectly formed, but they were perfectly baked. I even did the Paul Hollywood tap on the bottom to make sure! The simple addition of the different sweet and salty flavours makes such a difference, and the baked dough is chewy and delicious. These didn’t last long, I devoured two sweet ones pretty fast! Next time I will roll the dough even thinner and might even make some giant sized pretzels.

TIP: Put chocolate spread (Nutella or any supermarket version) on the sweet pretzels, you will not regret it!!

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Flapjacks

I like flapjacks, although to be honest they aren’t my favourite thing. However, my brother and my boyfriend love them. So being the wonderful sister and girlfriend that I am, I made this batch for them and sent it off in the post as a surprise. I love sending care packages to people, or surprise gifts and cards. Getting something nice unexpectedly in the post is the best feeling, and it makes me feel great in return to be able to give someone that feeling. Plain flapjacks are super easy to make, and I followed a basic recipe, but also jazzed them up a bit with fruit and chocolate.

First I melted 225g butter, 2 tbsp golden syrup and 225g soft brown sugar on a low heat. Keep stirring the mixture so the sugar doesn’t burn.

It ended up looking like this. The butter sat on top of the sugar and didn’t combine with it. I didn’t know if this was meant to happen or not.

I poured 350g porridge oats into the pan and mixed until the oats were all coated with the mixture. I also squeezed in a bit more golden syrup! Then I added in some mixed dried fruit, I just put in how much I thought was enough

I put the mixture into a square pan greased well with butter and pressed it down. With a metal spoon dipped in hot water you can smooth out the top for a more even finish.

I baked on 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2 for about 30 minutes. It should be golden all over.

I left it to cool for 10 minutes, then cut into squares. I did large squares as this was for two hungry boys!

I melted some milk chocolate and drizzled it over the flapjacks for extra indulgence!

Once the flapjacks were completely cool I took them out of the tray and snapped a few pictures before wrapping them in cling film and foil and sending them off to two very happy boys! I can’t personally report on how they tasted. My brother is a man of few words, but my boyfriend described them as ‘immense’ so I was happy with that! These flapjacks keep for a week in an air tight container so are perfect for sending to friends and family. Let me know in the comments if you have ever posted any baked goods and what you sent!

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Children In Need Cupcakes

Today is Children In Need 2012 – we celebrate this every year at my work with a charity day that involves a raffle, second hand book and DVD sale, and of course a cake sale! This year I decided to make cupcakes that looked like the Children In Need mascot, Pudsey Bear. I used a basic cupcake sponge recipe to make the cakes. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that the best recipe to follow is: measure your eggs (I used 4 for these cakes). Then match the weight of your flour, sugar and butter. Cream the butter and sugar together first, then add eggs and 1-2 tsp vanilla extract and whisk in, then fold in self raising flour. Divide the mixture into cupcake cases and bake on 180C (160C Fan)/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

To dye the coconut flakes, I mixed in 1 tsp yellow food colouring to 150g of coconut. I had to add some water to dilute the colouring first and get it to mix better. Eventually it turned the colour above – a glorious bright yellow!

I made buttercream by mixing together 170g butter and 340g icing sugar. You want it to be quite stiff.

Using a knife, I spread some of the buttercream out onto the top of one of the fully cooled cupcakes.

Then I dipped the cake into the bowl of yellow coconut flakes, and pressed firmly until fully coated. I added extra with a spoon and pressed it down. I shook off any excess.

I added two white chocolate buttons for Pudsey’s ears.

I rolled out some white sugar paste and cut a shape for Pudsey’s bandage. I used my first shape as a template to cut the rest out. Smear the back of the bandage with a little buttercream and add to the cupcake. Also add a chocolate chip for his eye and nose. I put a bit of buttercream on the back of the chocolate chips too to make them stick.

Then I used icing writing pens to create polka dots on the bandage, or you could use coloured sugarpaste too. Finally a strawberry lace cut and bended into shape for his mouth.

Pretty good resemblance don’t you think?!

These went down a treat at the work cake sale this morning, the whole sale lasted 30 minutes before the place was completely decimated of all cake! I got one too and can confirm it was yummy 🙂 We have raised over £500 so far, but I don’t have the exact total yet. Hope you have a great day with your Children In Need fundraising efforts!

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The November Lust List

November is here. Dark nights, fireworks and Christmas shopping begins (if you are more organised than me that is!) Maybe some of the items on my lust list this month will end up on your Christmas list!

Heart and Scroll Cupcake Box
Bakey Cakey from £1.49
Are you planning on giving cupcakes as gifts this Christmas? These cute and funky boxes will be brilliant to put them in! I love the retro design.

Autumn Cupcake Stencils Set
Williams Sonoma £7.28
Thanksgiving is this month, and whether you celebrate it or not, these fab stencils will add an Autumn theme to your cupcakes!

Giant Pink Cupcake Carrier
Betty Crocker $24.95
I saw this a few weeks ago in T K Maxx and really wanted it, I’ve since been back and they didn’t have it anymore. These carriers are so convenient for taking cupcakes to friends and parties. I’ve seen it on ebay, but struggled to find it elsewhere online. Sadly Betty Crocker doesn’t ship to the UK – let me know if you find this anywhere else!

Mini Pocket Pie Moulds
Williams Sonoma £14.67
Ok so another Williams Sonoma product, but I just discovered this website and the stuff on there is amazing, I want it all!! Seriously it was hard to narrow it down to just two. These little pie moulds are the cutest and perfect for Christmas canapes and nibbles.

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Staffordshire Oatcakes

I do believe that this is my first ever savoury post! I thought it was about time. These Oatcakes are basically savoury pancakes which you can fill with meat, cheese or vegetables and have as a main meal. There are a few different variations on oatcakes (Scottish, Derbyshire, Canadian) but they all have the same basic ingredients of oats, yeast and flour. Important tip: make the batter in advance as it has to be left for 1-2 hours. Don’t forget this part and end up having your dinner at 10pm!

In a large bowl I mixed together 200g fine oatmeal, 100g wholemeal plain flour, 100 plain flour and 1/2 tsp salt. For the fine oatmeal I used a hand blender on normal porridge oats to grind them down until they had a finer texture.

I a jug I mixed one sachet dried yeast and 400ml warm water until the yeast dissolved. I then added in 300ml milk.

I poured the yeast mixture into the flour and whisked to form a batter. Cover the mixture with cling film and leave for 1-2 hours until bubbles form on the surface. I left mine for just over an hour.

I chopped up various vegetables. Above you can see onion, cherry tomatoes, leek, red pepper and mushrooms. I also cut up some bacon.

Cook the vegetables and meat in pans before making the pancakes. The separate pans I have used is because this was dinner for me and my boyfriend and he is a vegetarian and also doesn’t like mushrooms. Grate up some cheese as well if desired. I definitely desired some cheese.

Before pouring the batter in between each oatcake, I put a small knob of butter in the pan to grease the bottom. I used a ladle full of batter for each oatcake. You want them to be quite thick.

I cooked the oatcakes for about 2 minutes on each side on a medium to high heat until golden brown as above.

Whilst the second side was cooking I added on the vegetables, meat and a sprinkle of cheese.

You can wrap them up like a pouch as above or roll them up as below. The amount of batter in this recipe makes about 10 pancakes.

These were very delicious and filling. I only managed two and a bit. I would say two is plenty with a side salad. It’s nice to have something a bit different for a main meal, and these are so versatile, you can add different fillings depending on tastes and dietary requirements. I hope you enjoy these if you give them a go!

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Things To Do With… Black Treacle

Black Treacle is one of those ingredients that you use a little bit of to make parkin or Christmas pudding, and then
half a tin of it sits in your cupboard (usually hidden at the back!) until the year after. But there are so many other exciting, delicious and interesting recipes you can also use in it! I’ve featured some of the recipes I’ve made with black treacle below and also gathered some other ideas from around the internet you may like to try…

Parkin – Uses 100g Black Treacle
A traditional sticky moist cake flavoured with ginger and black treacle that
originated in the North of England, it’s perfect for cold Autumn
nights.

Parkin Cupcakes with Toffee Buttercream & Popping Candy – Uses 100g Black Treacle
Using the same parkin recipe as above, I baked it in cupcake cases and added toffee buttercream and chocolate with popping candy in to represent fireworks.

Sticky Ginger & Lemon Drizzle Cake – Uses 140g Black Treacle
A very rich and moist cake, the ginger and lemon flavours are such a punchy mixture,
they make your taste buds tingle in all the right ways! I highly
recommend this cake, it is truly amazing!


Gingerbread Bonfire Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce – Uses 340g Black Treacle
Made with black treacle, dark brown sugar and even some Guinness for good
measure. This cake has been described as ‘Bonfire Night in a cake’ It’s a really moist cake, full of warming smokey flavours and the rich caramel sauce is to die for! It really is the
perfect cake for Bonfire Night.

Other ideas from around the web:

The simple one:
Black Treacle Flapjacks – Uses 113g Black Treacle
Make flapjacks with black treacle instead of golden syrup for a more intense flavour.

The difficult one:
Orange Custard Souffle with Banana and Toffee Sauce – Uses 6 tbsp Black Treacle
Souffle is notoriously difficult, but this sounds worth the effort!

The savoury one:
Salmon with Black Treacle, Juniper and Sherry Dressing – Uses 1 tsp Black Treacle
I eat a lot of salmon so always interested to see new ways to flavour it. This is off the Lyle’s website, which has a few other great ideas for more savoury cooking with treacle.

The bread one:
Mixed Seed Rye Bread – Uses 75g Black Treacle
A basic dough recipe, but with a twist on the flavours. Make sure to use tepid water as it’s not specifically stated in the recipe.

The my favourite one:
Gingerbread Cake with Orange Icing – Uses 225g Black Treacle
This sounds so tasty and a great combination of flavours, it’s on my ‘to bake’ list!

The traditional one:
Treacle Toffee – Uses 115g Black Treacle
A very traditional Bonfire Night treat, be careful when making this as the treacle gets very hot!

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Plum Clafoutis

Plums are in season right now and are a typical Autumn fruit. The deep reddish purple of their skin reminds me of the leaves falling off the trees and they make me think of jams and wines. You can make a clafoutis using other fruits such as cherries, apricots, and blackberries. I chose plums because I haven’t eaten them in a while and they are a really juicy and delicious fruit!

I started by greasing a pie tin with butter, I then sprinkled on sugar till it covered the bottom and sides. A flan dish is probably the best think to use for this as it involved a batter which did drip out of my pie tin in the oven and caused a bit of a mess!

I halved and de-stoned my plums, I had 9 plums which was a punnet’s worth .Use enough to fill your dish. I probably could’ve benefited from a couple more plums.

 In a bowl I whisked 45g plain flour and a pinch of salt with 150ml milk and 75ml double cream.

 I then added 4 eggs and 2 egg yolks and whisked until a smooth batter formed.

Before adding the batter, I used a spoon to pour a sweet whisky onto the plums, you could also use brandy or rum, then I poured in the creamy mixture. Don’t pour it over the plums, make sure it goes into a gap between them and let it fill the dish.

I baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for around 30 minutes, until the clafoutis puffed up and browned. I dusted with icing sugar when it came out of the oven.

Serve warm with ice cream or at room temperature with cream. The plums were lovely and soft, and the clafoutis batter was custardy and sweet. I’ve never had this before and I absolutely loved it, I had 2 slices! This is a great seasonal dish, and a bit more unusual than the typical crumble or pie.

Try this with plums or with other fruits, and let me know how it goes!

I am entering this into November 2013 Calendar Cakes challenge hosted by Laura Loves Cakes and Dollybakes. The theme is puddings and this is a perfect pudding for this time of year, which can be served hot or cold.

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Parkin

Bonfire Night is one of my favourite nights of the year (or Firework Night, or Guy Fawkes Night depending on your preference!) I love fireworks and find them so pretty and mesmorising. I gasp at every one like it’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything like it! I enjoy public firework displays but find that a lot of them get ‘ambushed’ by certain members of the general public setting off fireworks into the crowd, so I don’t tend to go to them anymore. This is a real shame. I support the banning of selling fireworks to the general public. You can read more about this here. When you are outside watching fireworks or standing by a big glowing bonfire you need cosy food to warm you up. Parkin is a sticky moist cake flavoured with ginger and black treacle that originated in the North of England, and it’s perfect for cold Autumn nights. Here’s how to make it…

First I lined a square tin with baking paper.

In a pan on a low heat I melted together 100g butter, 100g soft brown sugar, 100g black treacle and 100g golden syrup. Don’t let the mixture boil. Black treacle and golden syrup are very sticky and gloopy so put the pan on your scales and measure them directly into it.

In a large bowl I mixed together 150g porridge oats, 150g plain flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 3 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp mixed spice, a sprinkle of nutmeg and a pinch of salt

I poured the warm treacle mixture into the bowl and combined the ingredients with a wooden spoon.

In a small bowl I beat 2 eggs and 2 tbsp milk. I added it bit by bit to the bowl, mixing in well each time.

I poured the mixture into the lined tin and baked on 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2 for 35 minutes. It must be firm on top all the way to the centre.

Allow to cool, cut into squares, now this is the hard bit… put into an airtight container and leave for 3 – 5 days! Yes this will make it more moist, and even stickier.

I managed to wait 3 days before having a piece of this – very proud of myself! It was nice and sticky, and had a great shine to it. The oats give it a great texture, and the ginger is delicious. Custard was made to go with parkin! It also tastes good with double cream. Parkin is somewhere between a brownie and a cake. It’s hearty, filling, and very moreish – just what you need for these cold dark nights!

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