Clandestine Cake Club Archives - The Baking Explorer

Apple Cake


I haven’t been to a Clandestine Cake Club meeting for ages, since last year actually. I usually attend one group in Manchester, but I decided to join another Manchester group for access to more local cake lovers and of course cake! I was so excited to attend my first Manchester South meet. The theme for the meeting was ‘Back To School’. I mulled over ideas for a while, before I settled on an apple cake. I originally wanted to do a 3D sphere apple cake, but I don’t have the correct tin and I was advised quite strongly by my boyfriend not to put a glass bowl in the oven as they can explode (!) So a flat apple it was.

In my usual style I kind of made up this recipe as I went. I used my Orange & Pomegranate Cake recipe as a starting point and it developed from there. First I grated 3 cooking apples. They went brown really fast! But this doesn’t matter.

I then creamed together 300g butter, 180g golden caster sugar and 160g soft light brown sugar. I only used the mixture of sugars as I had the golden caster lying around and thought I may as well use it. You can just use 340g soft light brown sugar if you don’t have both.

I added 3 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract, and whisked well.

I pressed a few layers of kitchen towel down onto the grated apple to soak up some of the moisture before I mixed it in.

I folded in 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp baking powder and 340g self raising flour, and smoothed the mixture into a lined rectangular tin.

I baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 mins, then turned down to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for a further 30 minutes. I checked on it a couple of times using a very thin skewer, and took it out once the skewer came out clean.

This is an apple outline I found to give me a rough template to follow when cutting the cake.

I started with the bottom and cut the dimple of the apple out.

Then I cut out the top and leaf section. I did this freehand as the template was a lot smaller than the cake. It’s quite a simple shape so wasn’t difficult, I cut gently so the cake didn’t break.


I made a red buttercream using red food colouring. I used Sugarflair Red Extra – the strongest red there is, but it still took a lot of it to get it to go red. I have found that red is the hardest colour to get a strong colour with when colouring buttercream.

I smoothed the buttercream on using a palette knife. This was very tricky round the sides where the cake had been cut as the crumbs meant getting the buttercream to stick was troublesome. I then made a green buttercream using Sugarflair Mint Green. Again I had more trouble with the crumbs, but eventually got the ‘leaf’ coated.

Of course you don’t have to go to all the trouble of shaping this cake into an apple and icing it. You can simply enjoy it alone, or with fresh raspberries and cream as I did with a piece of the cut offs!

The Clandestine Cake Club meeting took place at Coasters in Sale, a small coffee shop opposite the Sale tram shop. Check out their Facebook page – they make some amazing cakes, cheesecakes and other goodies!

Avril who runs the group was so lovely and welcoming, she made this Carrot & Walnut Cake, the recipe was given to her by a teacher.

This chocolate cake was made by Angela and I thought it was very tasty, especially the layer of jam in the middle!

I’m not sure who made this cake, but it had a fantastic lemon flavour!

Helena, who runs the Manchester North Clandestine Cake Club, came along with her gorgeous baby, and this gorgeous milk bundt cake too!

I have never been a fan of salted caramel, but Venetta’s chocolate cornflake and salted caramel cake has converted me! It was so delicious!

Mary made this fabulous cake full of childhood sweeties.

I love bakewell tart and really enjoyed eating some of Hayley’s bakewell tart cake.

Clare decorated her cake with a school emblem, and used fluff to make her marshmallow buttercream – a great idea!

This was my favourite cake of the night, packed with apples and blackberries it had a great zingy flavour and was super moist. I took a piece of this home and had it with my lunch the next day!

Owen, the ‘token male’ of the club, made this amazingly creative school crossing cake flavoured with honey and cinnamon. He made the ‘stop cake’ sign himself – I was really impressed!

Claire couldn’t make it as she was stuck at the airport waiting for her boyfriend to arrive and his flight was delayed, but she sent me a photo of the pencil cake she made and I had to feature it as it’s fantastic!

I got some great comments about my cake and I was so pleased. Two people recommended it to me, without knowing it was mine, I was really chuffed! Part of cake club is having your cakes tasted by other bakers, and having positive feedback is such a great feeling.

I am entering my apple cake into September’s Feel Good Food challenge, hosted by Victoria at A Kick At The Pantry Door. This month’s theme is apples and this cake fits the bill!

I am also entering my apple cake into the Four Seasons Food September Challenge, hosted by Anneli from Delicieux and Louise from Eat Your Veg. Apples are a great autumn fruit perfect for using in this challenge.

And finally, I’m entering the cake into Gourmandize UK’s competition to win a Kenwood Stand Mixer. They are looking for the best apple recipe.


Apple Cake


For the sponge

  • 3 Large cooking apples
  • 300 g Butter
  • 180 g Golden caster sugar
  • 160 g Light brown sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Mixed spice
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 340 g Self raising flour

For the red buttercream

  • Red food colouring
  • 150 g Butter
  • 300 g Icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

For the green buttercream

  • Green food colouring
  • 110 g Icing sugar
  • 55 Butter
  • 1/8 tsp Vanilla extract


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C/160 Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4, and grease and line a traybake tin

  2. Grate the apples and press a few layers of kitchen towel down onto them to soak up some of the moisture

  3. Cream together the butter, the golden caster sugar and light brown sugar

  4. Add the eggs and the vanilla extract, and whisk well. Then mix in the apple

  5. Fold in the cinnamon, mixed spice, baking powder and self raising flour, then smooth the mixture into the traybake tin

  6. Bake for 45 mins

  7. Once fully cool, cut the dimple of the apple into the bottom. Then cut out the top and leaf section
  8. Make the red buttercream by mixing the butter, the icing sugar, vanilla extract and the red food colouring together. Smooth onto all of the cake except the leaf section

  9. Make the green buttercream by mixing the butter, icing sugar, vanilla and green food colouring together. Cover the leaf section of the cake



Clandestine Cake Club: ‘Over The Rainbow’ Cake


The theme for this month’s Clandestine Cake Club was ‘Musical Celebrations’. I have to admit this baffled me for a while, so I waited till other people submitted their ideas to figure out what it meant! Turns out it meant songs, bands, singers or musicals. I chose the song ‘Over the Rainbow’ from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ for the theme of my cake after reading a list of 100 greatest musicals on IMDB.

I bought myself a lovely bundt pan from ebay. I have never made a bundt before, and I was quite worried about it sticking to the tin so I greased it up really well with butter and sprinkled it with flour.


I decided to do a simple vanilla sponge to contrast the brightness of my decoration. I mixed together 125g butter and 180g caster sugar in my electric mixer.
I added two beaten eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract. 
I then added 180g self raising flour and 150g soured cream, and popped the mixture into my thoroughly greased bundt tin.
I baked it on 175C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes. This was possibly a tad too long, but to be fair it’s hard to tell when your cake is upside down! I thought it looked pretty good without any decoration, I will definitely be making another more simple bundt cake with this tin.

To get the rainbow arch shape, I chopped off the bottom of the cake, about two thirds down. This also gave me a good opportunity to taste the sponge, and it was very delicious and vanillery!

I started making icing and piping it on for all the colours of the rainbow. I guessed the measurements, and used about 60g butter and 120g icing sugar for the red and orange, then around 40g butter and 80g icing sugar for the other colours. I also added a dollop of cream cheese to each colour. This is very time consuming, but worth it!

I used Sugarflair colours to achieve the bright results of my rainbow. These food colourings are the best. They are strong, so you only need a little bit, and they don’t affect your icing’s flavour or consistency. I used Christmas Red, Melon (Yellow), Tangerine/Apricot (Orange), Mint Green, Ice Blue and Grape Violet (Purple). I got mine off ebay as they were pretty cheap and the seller was offering a good deal.




The icing was finally done! I also used some blue cut-offs from my piping bags to create a blue sky behind my rainbow. A blue cake board would look a lot better, but this was a last minute decision!


For the ‘clouds’ I whipped up a pot of cream and dollopped it at the end of the rainbow cake, then dotted mini white marshmallows all over.


And the cake was done! I was very pleased with the final result!




And off to cake club I went…

Stacey & Emily’s Chocolate & Orange ‘Simba’s Pride Cake’, delicious and moist, one of my favourites!

Hayley’s ‘Carrot & Wonderwal-nut Cake’. Sadly I don’t like carrots or walnuts, but Stacey tried some and said it was the best carrot cake she’d ever had.

Steph’s ‘Sweet Like Chocolate’ cake, this was a chocolate overload – in a good way!

 Elly’s ‘Beatles Strawberry Fields Cake’, sadly I didn’t try any of this either, but it looks great!

Emily’s ‘Coconut & Lime Cake’. I love this song and I loved this cake!

Emma’s ‘Happy Birthday Custard Celebration Cake’ – it was Emma our host’s birthday this month!

Lynette’s ‘Austrain Apple Sounds Of Music Cake’, I think the nun decorations on this and the bow look fab!

Vicki’s ‘I Can Sing A Rainbow Cake’. This looked stunning and tasted really good too, I definitely understood the hard work that went into this cake!

Beth’s ‘Yellow Brick Road Cake’, using Caramac for the yellow brick road – genius!!

Diane’s ‘The Bell’s Of St. Clements’ Cake’, brilliant presentation and delicious orange flavour.

Another successful, fun and delicious Clandestine Cake Club! Also some very exciting news…a woman walking past asked me to make two of the rainbow cake for her daughter’s birthday. I am so excited about it! I never thought cake club would lead to anything like that!

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.