Gluten Free Baking Course with Paul the Baker

Yesterday I was delighted to attend a gluten free cakes and tea loaves course at Peterborough City College, hosted by Paul White aka Paul the Baker. This whole GF thing is still very new to me, I was diagnosed as intolerant at the start of the year and am still trying to find my feet a little. Luckily it’s not a complete ‘no’ to gluten, so if I do still fancy a slice of normal cake (or pizza!), I can still have one every now and then, and keep on cooking and baking as I love. The courses at Peterborough are really very reasonable (as they’re subsidised), so when I saw this one advertised at just ¬£20 for 4 hours, it was too good to miss. The course took place at the college’s training kitchen, all industrial ovens and stainless steel, a little intimidating to start with! Peterborough college training kitchen cookery course It was only a small group of us and Paul soon put us all at ease, it was to be a relaxed day and certainly no bake-off style competitions. He had 3 recipes for us, with all ingredients and equipment included in the cost of the course. paul white gluten free recipes baking course First up, a gluten free swiss roll. Now I already love swiss roll as is (my original gluten-filled post is still one of the most popular on the blog); it’s simple, straight-forward and fat-free. But this gluten free version takes things to a new level! Amazingly it uses exactly the same quantities, method and ingredients as a normal swiss roll, just substituting regular flour for a gluten free blend (we used Doves Farm throughout the day). My swiss roll before, and after baking (note the light and fluffiness!)… gluten free swiss roll frothy mixture gluten free swiss roll simple tray cake golden finish … and then rolled and filled with raspberry jam. rolled gluten free swiss roll The result? Soft, fluffy and sweet swiss roll. Amazing! Back home I finished it with a sprinkle of icing sugar and of course had a few more big slices ūüôā gluten free swiss roll raspberry jam icing sugar dusted light fluffy sponge Next on the course, a gluten-free tea bread. Again the recipe is quite similar to a ‘regular’ one – flour, milk, yeast, pre-soaked dried fruit, and a little sugar and butter. Due to the limited time we had in the kitchen, Paul recommended baking these in muffin cases so they’d cook a little easier. The mixture went on for seemingly ever, I ended up with two whole trays full! I added some extra dates to the second batch to fruit them up a little. gluten free tea cake buns fruity and golden raisin and date gluten free bread buns tea loaf The one thing I really did learn from the day is that gluten free baking doesn’t look the same when it’s done. Whilst you’d expect normal bread rolls to go a lovely golden brown on top, when they are gluten free they only just start to colour. It’s a bit of a fine art making sure they are cooked inside but not over-done. Nevertheless I was really pleased with the way they turned out – sweet and fruity and perfectly snack size. These bad boys will keep me going for breakfast for the next few weeks! They are great on their own and even better with a smidge of butter ūüôā gluten free tea breads served with butter breakfast or snack gluten free dried fruit and date tea bread rolls One slight downside however, I really struggled to get the muffin cases off, even when they were cool. Next time I make these I will just grease the tin and cook them straight in there. ¬† Last on our recipe list were gluten free brownies. Even more unusually, these are majority made with sweet potatoes – no butter, no sugar, just a sweet potatoes, GF flour, a little maple syrup, cocoa powder and some chopped dates for added texture. The mix was simple to make and went straight into the oven. Again it was a little tricky to tell when these were done, although the top went crispy they seemed to take forever to cook inside! Finally they came out and had a lovely brownie crust on top. ¬† As we were running short on time I finished mine off with a twist at home, cutting into small squares and drizzling with a little dark chocolate. chocolate drizzle on gf brownie bites At the college I was a little unsold on these, the texture and taste is not what I’d expected from a brownie, but once they’d cooled and had the chocolate topping my mind was definitely made up. For a cake that’s both gluten free and vegetable based they are amazing! Fudgy and sweet, easy to make and great little treat bites. gluten free sweet potato brownies with dark chocolate drizzle So overall my day at the college was a pretty big success! Three yummy bakes, some great new acquaintances, and a new zest to go out and try some more GF recipes. Whilst I’ve decided that Peterborough is perhaps a little far to go (200 mile round trip), I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for some more courses soon. A day in someone else’s kitchen is always great fun!

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Lolly Cake

lolly cake slices new zealand recipe ideal for kids no baking required

The ingredients and recipe for this cake came in one of the most amazing Christmas presents ever Рa baking package all the way from my brother and sister-in-law in New Zealand! You may remember a couple of years ago now, my post on Cakes with the Kiwis, when we were lucky enough over travelling round for a couple of weeks. Of course lolly cake featured Рand they were so amazing to remember how much I loved it and send me the kit over.

lolly cake ingredients christmas gift from new zealand

The name might be a bit confusing to UK readers – it doesn’t have anything to do with lollipops on sticks, or even ice lollies. Over on the other side of the world, ‘lolly’ is the kiwi word for sweets, much as the US call it candy. The lollies in question, the main part of the cake, are these Eskimos.

pascall eskimo sweets lolly from new zealand

They’re not readily available in the UK, I understand there is a similar version called Fruit Puffs, also not available here! The closest thing I would describe them too are foam fruits – you know the pink shrimps, yellow bananas etc? I’ll be sure to try a version with these soon and post the results, watch this space.

eskimo lollies lolly sweets foam brightly coloured kiwi

Once you’ve got hold of the sweets, the most difficult bit¬†is out of the way! Other ingredients are simply crushed biscuits, melted butter, condensed milk, and a little desiccated coconut to roll on the edges. This would be a great recipe to make with kids¬†– supervising the lolly cutting of course, the rest is all hands-on stickiness with no baking required.

The original recipe (as sent to me) can be found on the Griffin’s website. They make an amazing malt biscuit which adds that certain something to the cake. I’m hoping the same effect can be made with a malted milk biscuit or similar over here when I attempt a UK version….

The  cake is made as simply as crushing the biscuits, cutting up the lollies, then mixing with condensed milk and butter.

The mixture needs to be rolled into a log shape and chilled for several hours before I eating, which was a bit sticky to start with but made infinitely easier using a big sheet of greaseproof paper.

lolly cake rolling tips with greaseproof paper

Likewise, to coat the edges in coconut, another roll around in the greaseproof paper saved my kitchen from an otherwise nutty mess!

lolly cake being rolled in desiccated coconut new zealand recipe

Once chilled the log is inconspicuously ordinary as a cake…

finished lolly cake log covered in desiccated coconut ready to eat

… until you cut in and reveal the amazing brightly coloured lollies!

This is one seriously addictive cake, I just cannot describe. The malty warmth of the biscuits melts into the creamy condensed milk, and the lollies come through with a squishy tangy marshmallow like texture. Sooo good!

lolly cake slices biscuit eskimo lollies condensed milk and coconut brightly coloured sweets

Unsurprisingly this batch didn’t last long at all in our house, and hence the hunt begins to track down an Eskimo lolly alternative in the UK. More here as it happens!

lolly cake slices brightly coloured pieces of marshmallow sweet in biscuit mixture

Brunch at Bettys

Back in the summer, as part of a hen weekend in the wonderful city of York, 5 lovely ladies and I brunched at Bettys tea rooms and cafe. After spending the previous day at York races, we were very excited to go to one of Yorkshire’s finest and fill up on all the yummy wares we’d heard so much about.

hen party afternoon york races followed by bettys tea

Luckily the great British weather was on our side, and a heavy summer downpour had meant the streets were almost clear, and we only had a short wait for a table. I have it on good authority that the queues often stretch right round the building!

exterior view bettys cafe tea rooms york

Of course this gave us a great excuse to have a peek around the shop and take-away cakes, and my goodness what a selection!

From macarons in all colours and flavours…

brightly coloured macarons at bettys tearooms york pistachio lemon strawberry rose chocolate

… to fresh fruit cakes, tarts and slices…

bettys tea room york window display cakes tarts biscuits strawberry and raspberry summer fresh

… and not to mention these wonderfully cute chocolate bees, ladybirds, and mini pigs.bettys english tea room york cake displays summer bumblebees pigs and ladybirds

And gifts for the baker (or eater!) in your life:

bettys tea room york cake shop gift displays bettys tea room vintage flyer confectioners and caterers

It still being breakfast time, it only seemed right that we start with something a little more savoury though. The summer menu was absolutely full of delights, and so difficult to choose!

bettys cafe tea rooms york summer menu

I eventually settled for a Swiss Breakfast Rosti – and was certainly not disappointed. A giant cheese, cream and potato rosti, topped with bacon, eggs, and mushrooms – it was absolutely delicious.

bettys tea room swiss breakfast rosti brunch and cake review

One of the best things about Bettys for me was the silver service Рin every way. From the silver tea pots and fine china, to the immaculately dressed and wonderfully polite hostesses. It was all wonderfully British and very proper!

silver service tea set at bettys tea room york brunch or afternoon

Breakfast washed down with some tea, well, it was now 11am, so… elevenses? We couldn’t come to Bettys and not have cake!

There was so much choice – everything from the shop and more besides. From a fantastic display to the famed cake trolley, we were literally spoilt for choice.

cake and flower display pastries chocolates tarts at bettys tea room cafe york cake trolley at bettys tea room cafe york

And a great selection I think we made:

chocolate bomb engadine torte raspberry white chocolate tart strawberry paris-brest cakes at bettys tea room cafe yrok

I opted for a strawberry Paris-Brest – a wheel-shaped choux pastry filled to the brim with strawberries and cream, and topped with chocolate shavings. Delicious!

strawberry paris-brest pastry cake at bettys tea room york review

Tummies completely full of breakfast and cake – we paid another quick trip to the shop for some souvenirs. What would the boys say if we returned home cake-less!

I went for one of Bettys classics – a Yorkshire Fat Rascal. This little devil is a plump, fruit filled scone, with a cheeky little face made out of almonds and cherries.

yorkshire fat rascal fruit scone at bettys york tea room

And of course I couldn’t resist his younger other – a delicious sounding chocolate and orange rascal.

bettys fat rascal scone packaging review takeaway cake chocolate orange rascal and fat rascal scones from bettys cafe tea room york yorkshire

Stopping for a few more pictures on the way – the queues had already started to build up outside. It’s apparently not unusual for people to queue all the way round the front of the tearoom, for an hour or even more!

bettys cafe tea rooms york outside stained glass window queue at bettys tea rooms in york

When we were there, in mid-July, the Tour de France decorations were still adorning the streets in force. How cute is the bunting made from little yellow, green, and patterned t-shirts?

tour de france jersey bunting in york outside bettys tea room yellow red green striped

And I couldn’t leave without some snaps of the wonderful window displays in Bettys – it truly is a great institution and one I hope to go back to soon!

summer picnic basket cake display gingham at bettys tea room york bakers and confectioners window cake bunting display at bettys tea room york

The Pudding Pantry, Nottingham

They say word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to get noticed – and who am I to contest. This lovely new little bakery/coffee shop was recommended by a friend, and now here I am doing the same for you!

Situated in Trinity Square, just a minutes’ walk each from the Victoria Centre and Cornerhouse, The Pudding Pantry opened up about 2 months ago, and is an oasis of calm amid all the shops, bustling restaurants and busy streets.

the pudding pantry nottingham review trinty square new tea room coffee shop

Inside the decor is bright and fresh – it reminds me of being at the seaside, with soft blues and greys, and lots of white painted wood.

the puddng pantry nottingham tea room coffee shop bakery review trinity square

There are also plenty of quirky touches – as any good tea room should have!
Vintage tea pots on display under the unique lighting:

tea room decor teapot cups chic lighting

Hand-bound wooden fronted menus:

wooden hand bound menu the pudding pantry nottingham tea room coffee shop

And a hand-written specials board of the days sweet treats:

hand written blackboard menu personal touch tea room nottingham the pudding pantry

And what an array of sweet treats there were – on display in the windows; in and around the main glass-fronted counter, we were absolutely spoilt for choice! From pastries to muffins to sliced cakes to scones… they really do have the whole lot.

viennese whirls food porn glass counter tea room coffee shop fresh pastries raspberry and custard twist banoffee danish the pudding pantry nottingham blackberry and mint cake whole purple and green swirl icing summer tea room nottingham array of cakes and stands cupcakes muffins at the pudding pantry nottingham

My cake camarade opted for a scone with jam and cream – but was asked did she mind that it would be about 10 minutes as they were freshly baked to order? What a treat!

freshly baked scone homemade jam clotted cream nottingham coffee house afternoon tea pudding pantry

And the warm summer weather tempted me into something fresh and fruity – the amazing looking, sounding, and definitely tasting blackberry and mint cake. It was divine!

blackberry and mint cake purple icing swirl vintage tea plate

So consider my word well and truly spread – definitely a tea room to try next time you are in the area!

CCC at The Cake & Bake Show, Manchester 2014

Yesterday I was privileged to be a part of the Clandestine Cake Club stall at Cake and Bake Manchester 2014. CCC founder Lynn Hill had wanted us organisers to be a part, spending the day explaining to fellow cake-fans our simple concept of baking, sharing and eating cakes. Simple and very social, needless to say we had a lot of interest!

After a gruelling 6am start, Julia, organiser of CCC Derby and I, soon perked up once we were on the stall!

clandestine cake club stand cake and bake 2014 manchester central derby organiser julia

And it wasn’t long before the crowds started to arrive.

clandestine cake club stall at cake and bake show 2014 crowds gathering for taste on the table judging

Each day CCC was hosting a ‘Taste on the Table’ competition, for members of near and far clubs to enter their best bakes, to win fab baking prizes from Renshaw and Nordicware. And they did not disappoint – before long we had a fantastic array of cakes adorning the stall.

clandestine cake club taste on the table competition at cake and bake manchester central 2014

And the icing on the cake as you may put it… I was kindly volunteered by the rest of the team to judge the competition with none other than Peter Sidwell from Britain’s Best Bakery. Nerve-wracking doesn’t even describe it – tasting 10 cakes sounds like a lot of fun, but surround by crowds of eager bakers was a little over-whelming! Thankfully the girls were on hand to snap me at my most flattering…

clandestine cake club taste on the table competition judging with peter sidwell britains best bakery

Peter was a real pro, and between us (conferring with me hidden behind the banner!) we chose a Chocolate Porter Cake with Baileys icing as the winner – baked by Heidi from N. Yorkshire & Tees Valley CCC. She too was rather overwhelmed but a very worthy winner, for a great combination of flavours and lovely light texture.

Judging duties out the way, I had plenty of time to wander round, sample and shop!

Of course I had to try this fantastic cupcake dress, made of 800 cupcakes and over 5000 sugar flowers – simply stunning.

cake and bake show 2014 purple cupcake dress

And some fantastic things to see at the other stalls – Nielsen-Massey were making cocktails with their extracts…

giant nielsen massey vanilla extract cake and bake show

… and Billingtons had created a brilliant Sugar Market, with lots of fudge made from their different varieties. Handily placed very close to our CCC stand, we stopped by there more than a few times!

billingtons sugar stall cake and bake show

Around the show there were some absolutely fantastic display cakes, of Disney, Pixar, and other famous ‘faces’:

cake and bake show cloudy with a chance of meatballs display cake cake and bake show 2014 frozen reindeer and snowman cake disney monsters university cake sully mike wazowski sugar art cake and bake show 2014

I just loved this tray of ‘savouries’ – how great an idea to have the scotch eggs with creme eggs inside!

edible art cake scotch creme eggs pork pies all as cakes

At the heart of the show was a giant jungle-themed installation, with the show’s main competition inviting bakers to create everything animalistic and evergreen. Some more absolutely outstanding cakes – they must have taken days if not weeks!

cake and bake show manchester 2014 jungle peacock and monkey cakes edible art cake and bake show 2014 jungle art cakes lions head cake and bake show crocodile cake life size all edible

Back at the CCC stall we were thrilled to have some familiar faces drop by. Glenn, Christine and Kimberley from 2013’s Great British Bake-Off – all of whom were absolutely lovely and only too happy to chat everything cake.

clandestine cake club team with glenn cosby and christine wallace gbbo 2013 cake and bake show 2014 clandestine cake club ccc at cake and bake show 2014 with kimberley GBBO 2013 finalist

And the delightful GBBO Series 4 winner Frances Quinn. She was such a sweetie, genuinely a lovely person, although seeming a little rushed off her feet!

clandestine cake lynn hill and team with francis quinn gbbo series 4 winner

Over by the Bakery we bumped into (ok stalked a little), Eric Lanlard of Cake Boy fame. He is a huge CCC supporter and so enthusiastic about everything baking related.

cake and bake show 2014 ccc clandestine cake club with eric landlard

After a hard days cake-chatting I made it home a little after 9 – rather weary after a 14 hour day but delighted to have met so many fantastic people on the stall. Here’s to spreading the Clandestine Cake word!

And of course I didn’t come back empty handed – a combination of shopping with free samples from Dr. Oetker, Rainbow Dust and Sugar & Crumbs – plenty to keep me in the kitchen trying new things over the next few weeks.

cake and bake show manchester 2014 goodies new covent garden cookbook billingtons sugar tin colours sugar and crumbs icing

Birthday Afternoon Tea Party

Ah yes, the week of my birthday, where, once again, friends and family gather to eat their own body weight in cake. There is a definite theme to all my birthday presents and the respective celebrations at which they are received – cake, cake, and more CAKE! Take for example this amazing 3d patisserie card – will definitely be finding a permanent home for this little lovely in my kitchen.

patisserie 3d birthday card cake lover

This year Rob and I hosted a birthday afternoon tea at home; we moved house in September and still love our new bolthole, as today proved it’s perfect for parties!

A windy Sunday afternoon in Derbyshire didn’t deter the party goers, and we made sure the house was well decked out for an afternoon tea party – balloons, banners, and of course bunting, zig-zagging across the hallway. I’m wondering how long I can get away with having this up for, the cats seem to have designs on pulling it down though…

pastel bunting and cats hosting traditional afternoon tea party at home

Starting with sandwiches, served with champagne, we tucked in to the veritable feast in front of us.

birthday afternoon tea champagne sandwiches and cake

afternoon tea party at home derbyshire happy birthday

Enjoyed freshly baked from the oven, delicious fruit scones made by Al…

afternoon tea party freshly baked scones

… and topped with home-made (by t’other Jen) blackcurrant jam, and whipped cream. Yum!

afternoon tea party fresh scones with homemade blackcurrant jam and whipped cream

Offerings from my kitchen included strawberry swirl meringues, and gluten-free brownie bites (both recipes now posted & linked up!) home afternoon tea birthday party chocolate brownie bites strawberry swirl meringues finger sandwiches

And and experiment with one of my brilliant birthday presents, a cake pop maker, little white kitty cat cake pops! They are not my finest work of art but not a bad testament to my battle with the evil that is candy melts.

kitty cat cake pops white chocolate candy melt birthday party ideas pink glitter sugar ears

cat cake pop white chocolate in place of a nose birthday party fun

And what else could you finish a birthday party with, other than a big sticky birthday cake?!

birthday girl blowing out candles afternoon tea party

Made by the lovely Jen this was one brilliant birthday cake:

chocolate swirl birthday cake with candles

– that just got better and better when I cut inside. Look at the chocolate checkerboard!

checkerboard chocolate happy birthday cake

Some more fun and games…

fun and games birthday afternoon tea party host at home derbyshire

… before waving guests off with full tummies and little party bags! Who doesn’t love a party bag, at any age?

mini afternoon tea party bags chocolate freddo cat toy

Thanks to all my lovely guests for a great afternoon, helping to make (and demolish) all the yummy food, and of course my fabulous presents! All that remains now is for me to get baking and start using some of them…

Christmas Snowflake Cupcakes

christmas snowflake cupcakes easy cake decorating ideas festive colours sugar sprinkles piped buttercream in green and red

Ah don’t you love the pre-Christmas festivities, drinking mulled wine until you lose feeling in your toes and can’t tell if it’s from the cold or the alcohol; and of course the local school / village fair, buying more Christmas decorations than you’ll ever need, trying to dodge excitable small children, and purchasing your weight in home-made produce from the food stalls.
I personally love local school fairs as it gives me an excuse to make some ridiculously over the top and fully festive wares – last year it was my Red Velvet Rudolph Cupcakes; this year I went all out to Let it Snow!

The cupcake base was a moist sponge crammed full of white chocolate chips. Snow on the outside, white squishy chocolate on the inside.

white chocolate chip cupcakes silver wrapper full to the brim

The snowflakes themselves were certainly a challenge. I was using some free cutters that came free with a magazine, whilst they looked so delicate and intricate, well, they were! A lot of patience was used up prising each prong out with a cocktail stick. And repeating times about twenty. I added a little tylo powder to the white fondant before rolling it, so the snowflakes would harden quickly and not go mushy on their buttercream base.

extracting white snowflake fondant shape from intricate cutter using cocktail stick delicate work

Once all my snowflakes were ready I mixed up the buttercream – a simple 1/3 butter to 2/3 icing sugar, coloured brightly and festively with red and green gels. Using a star nozzle I piped different patterns onto all the cupcakes…

piped star effect red buttercream icing on silver cupcake base for christmas kids ideas

… before topping with a fondant snowflake, and matching snowflake sugar sprinkles (these ones are from Morrisons).

red piped buttercream swirls with white fondant snowflake star shaped and sugar sprinkles for christmas childrens ideas

And of course, no snowflake would be perfect without that magical sparkle, in the form of some holographic edible glitter.

christmas snowflake cupcakes green buttercream white fondant icing flake edible glitter sparkle

The finished batch of cupcakes – oh how I wanted to try one before giving them away, but it may have been a bit obvious…

christmas snowflake cupcakes red and green buttercream white fondant and sugar sprinkles easy

They went down an absolute (snow) storm at the Christmas fair, with kids and adults alike. Happy holidays indeed!

The Walk Cafe Nottingham – Reopened and Reviewed

A few weeks back I learnt that one of my favourite tea rooms in Nottingham had been taken over and reopened – of course I had to go and see for myself!

Located on Bridlesmith Walk, the cafe is right in the centre of town, but tucked away in an unassumingly serene little arcade, providing welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Heading up Bridlesmith Walk, from Bridlesmith Gate:

bridlesmith walk nottingham shopping arcade leading to the walk cafe reviews

And arriving at The Walk Cafe!

the walk cafe nottingham outside on bridlesmith gate hidden gem

On walking through the door a host of delicious delights greeted us, the choice was not an easy one.

the walk cafe nottingham lemon and carrot cakes all homemade in glass cake stands

We got talking to one of the owners, Laura, who told us that the kitchens were too tiny to bake everything onsite, instead she roped in on of her neighbours, who makes makes all the cakes from scratch each week. As well as classics like lemon, chocolate, coffee, etc., she likes to try something different every week, such as this seasonal apple and elderflower cake.

chocolate apple and elderflower homemade cakes at the walk cafe tea room nottingham review

And those with special requirements needn’t miss out! These gluten free cakes looked equally as delicious.

gluten free chocolate and lemon drizzle cakes at the walk cafe nottingham

Aside from the cakes, The Walk also offers a range of other sweet and savoury items, and we pored (and drooled) over the wonders in the big glass fridge. Macarons! Cupcakes! A chocolate SHOE! What more could a girl want?

bright macarons at the walk cafe nottingham

cupcakes and white chocolate shoe the walk cafe nottingham reopened 2013

Finally for us to dote on, a beautiful range of cake stands and loose leaf teas.

afternoon tea cake stands and loose leaf teas and the walk cafe tea room nottingham

The tea menu is no less extensive, there are some wonderful blends and flowering teas to choose from.

extensive loose leaf tea menu at the walk cafe nottingham

Eventually making our way to sit down, we were pleasantly surprised to find the decor has been brightened up a little, with fantastic hand=painted floral artwork on the walls:

the walk cafe nottingham hand painted wall artwork

reopened the walk cafe nottingham review hand painted flowers antique furniture

Whilst still maintaining the quirky with beautifully mis-matched furniture, a mix of old and new.

vintage furniture at the walk cafe nottingham tea room decor tables and chairs

the walk cafe nottingham 2013 chandelier above purple themed dining table and chairs

I opted for some coffee and walnut cake (later followed up with a toasted tea cake, what a greedy pig!), both of which were well-portioned and very tasty.

carrot and walnut cake slice tea room afternoon tea the walk nottingham

Everything was served in vintage china – cups, teapots, and plates.

vintage fine china teapots and teacups at the walk nottingham

As you can tell we had a lovely time – I for one am very glad this great venue has finally re-opened and restored to its former glory, and beyond! Laura and her staff were friendly and attentive, despite a busy Saturday rush. They’ve only been back open for a couple of months but I’m hopeful many more to come, and am already looking forward to going back.

Malory Towers Castle Cake

malory towers castle cake for enid blyton derby clandestine cake club october 2013 recipe and how to using silicon shaped mould

Yesterday was the latest event for Derby Clandestine Cake Club, with the brilliant theme of Enid Blyton, sprung up from a conversation about Mr. Moonface at the summer’s event!

I was a big fan of Enid Blyton books when I was little – from the Magic Faraway Tree and Wishing Chair series, to the Famous Five and Secret Seven, and, of course, the Malory Towers books. I’d be wanting to re-use my castle mould for a long time, it’s only had one bake since I bought it – see my Chocolate Lego Castle Cake from last year.

This time I was determined to make a good, stable, and plentiful recipe – it’s a huge mould so does need quite a big mix. I seem to remember last time never quite having enough mixture, and having to keep mixing up more batches to add to the top! I started with a bundt cake recipe, as this has the same kinds of volume and lightness I was after, and scaled it up to fit the capacity of the mould, which was about 3 litres.

Ingredients – to fit 3 litre castle silicon mould or similar

340g butter
450g sugar
4 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract
9 eggs
525g plain flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
375ml low fat yoghurt

Method

– Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla, until light and fluffy. Sieve the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a separate bowl
– Beat in the eggs, one at a time, with a teaspoon of flour each time to prevent curdling
– Add half the yoghurt and half the remaining flour, mix, add the remainder, and mix again.
Technically you should fold in the flour and yoghurt but I found this to be a bit challenging with so much mixture! Even my Breville mixture was struggling by the end – but the texture wasn’t affected by beating instead of folding.

breville stand mixer full to the brim with bundt cake batter

– Prepare your mould/tin by greasing it very well. I used a cake release spray to get in all the corners and crevasses, and made sure it all had a good, thick coating. Then, dust with a layer of flour, and turn upside down to shake off the excess

grease and flour silicon tin castle mould to ensure cake doesn't stick very detailed intricate

– Pour the mixture in the tin, no need to spread it out as the weight will make it flow into all the corners. You’ll see that this recipe didn’t quite fill up the mould, I didn’t get the steps to the castle, if you wanted this you’d need to scale up the recipe by another 20% or so.

silicon castle cake mould bundt style recipe how to use

– Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Cover the top of the mould in greaseproof paper – this will stop the top from cooking too quickly and burning, and also prevent the middle from rising too much and giving you an uneven base

covering silicon castle cake mould in greaseproof paper for long baking time to ensure no burning

– Overall my cake too around 1 1/2 hours to cook. After 45 minutes, check to see how it is getting on. The top will look cooked but if a skewer or similar is inserted you’ll see the inside is not done.
Return to the oven and check back every 10-15 minutes, again inserting a clean skewer (I use the back of thin teaspoon) to see if it’s done. If it comes out completely clean, the cake is cooked, if not, it’s not! Be sure to test a different part of the cake every time, and push your skewer down into the very centre of the cake as this is the bit that will cook last.

perfectly cooked bundt cake recipe in silicon castle mould how to and method

– Leave to cool for at least an hour before gently easing out. It may be tempting but the cake is more likely to break when it’s hot. After leaving mine for a couple of hours and it turned out perfectly – I was so happy! The excess flour you can see in a couple of parts brushed off easily the next morning.

silicon castle cake mould recipe freshly baked and cooled cake turned out of the tin perfectly

perfect intricate detailing from silicon castle cake mould recipe brickwork turrets and door

The texture of this cake was perfect and I’d definitely use again – easily changing the flavour with some cocoa powder; orange or lemon rind and juice; spices such as ginger, cinnamon; coconut… the list is endless!

To ice, I wanted a flavour that would complement the vanilla, but also a look that would go with the brickwork effect of the castle.

I’ve used the Primrose Bakery‘s caramel icing recipe many times, it bubbles up wonderfully to a delicious sugary brown and cools to a lovely smooth texture. I adapted it slightly here to thin down slightly so it would flow into the intricate design of the cake a bit better.

Ingredients

75g butter
150ml milk
350g soft brown sugar
350g icing sugar

Method

– Put the milk, butter and brown sugar in a saucepan, and heat on high until boiling. Stirring constantly, allows to boil for one minute.

primrose bakery caramel icing easy recipe and how to

– Take off the heat and beat in half the icing sugar, sieved. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before beating in the remaining icing sugar.
– Continue cooling until it reaches the consistency desired for your cake. If it cools too much and gets too thick to pour or spread, simply heat up again for a few seconds at a time.

boiled caramel icing recipe and how to perfect for drizzling over cakes and desserts

I covered my cake using a combination of pouring and spooning over and into the detailed sections, all with the cake on a wire rack over a cling film-covered baking tray, to catch any drips. It was quite a sticky job so no in-progress photos!

rear of malory towers castle cake back door and windows made out of black chocolate foundant caramel icing

For the finishing touches, I added black gel colour to some chocolate fondant, and cut out the required shapes.

Windows for the towers:

black chocolate fondant details windows doors and archways castle cake malory towers enid blyton

…archways:

black chocolate fondant archway on castle cake brickwork detail sticky caramel icing frosting

… and of course a suitably grand front door!

malory towers enid blyton castle cake with black chocolate fondant details front door surround and windows

castle cake birthday party ideas full recipe instructions and method vanilla bundt with caramel frosting icing and fondant details

And for a final finishing touch, well, no castle is complete with flags!

malory towers flags on castle cake caramel icing turret tower enid blyton

enid blyton's malory towers castle cake recipe and method using silicon mould vanilla bundt with caramel frosting

And, flags or no, I think it’s a pretty good replica of Lulworth Castle, which the Malory Towers books are rumoured to be based on.

Lulworth_Castle_in_1999 Malory Towers possibly source goodreads dot com

This months cake club was held at the lovely Kay’s Tea Room in Willington – a delightful little venue and one I’ll definitely be returning to.

kays tea room willington derbyshire villages cake club venue

And the selection of cakes was equally as fab – with lashings of ginger beer of course!

derby clandestine cake club october 2013 enid blyton theme magic faraway tree famous five lashings of ginger beer and lemonade

How amazing are these Famous Five figurines?

famous five crabbies ginger beer cake icing figures clandestine ccc

And the castle went down such a treat! Out of that huge cake there was just a lone tower left for me to take home to Rob.

perfectly baked inside from castle cake made using silicon mould vanilla recipe

Treacle, Ginger and Mango Bollywood Nights Cake

bollywood nights themed cake treacle ginger mango clandestine club nottingham 2013 edible pearls print stencil

Oddly timed on the last day I actually lived in the city, yesterday marked the first event of the new Nottingham City Clandestine Cake Club, of which I am a proud co-organiser! More on the move to follow in due course I’m sure…

As our first event was to be held in a private room at an Indian Restaurant, the very hospitable Mogal E Azam, we decided a Bollywood Nights theme would spark up everyone’s imagination, and give way to some great flavours, colours, and of course plenty of glitter.

Not being too great on spices and what to do with them, I kept the cake quite simple but vamped up the outside. Sorry for the lack of step-by-step pictures, but in the midst of packing I was a little rushed, and the kitchen wasn’t really in a fit state to be photographed either!

The recipe I used was Woman & Home’s Sticky Ginger and Treacle cake – as I followed it exactly (obviously omitting the praline and cream cheese icing steps) and in the interest of moving-house-constricted time, I won’t retype the recipe but leave you to click through. It was incredibly easy to make and baked like a dream, giving me a firm but so deliciously moist base for my Bollywood decorations.

To fill I simply sliced in half, and filled with copious amounts of mango buttercream, tinted orange to contrast with the dark treacle colour of the cake. I also covered the sides and top to give a good base for the red fondant to stick to.

The red fondant was pre-coloured, luckily I had a couple of packs left over from my Speed Sign cake, as the vibrancy and depth of colour would have been quite hard to achieve using white fondant and colouring it up.

And to decorate – would you believe it was incredibly simple! As you may know from previous posts, I’m a subscriber to My Cake Decorating Magazine. There is a free gift with every issue, so I’m slowly building a large stash of decorating items, some of which I’m not sure when I’ll ever use – until now!

First up was the pearl mould – I mixed a little tylose powder with some fondant so it would set firm, dusted the mould with corn flour, and carefully pressed in.

pearl silicon mould from my cake decorating magazine use with fondant icing  bollywood theme edible pearls

Because the mould is made of silicon, it’s really easy to bend back on itself to pop out and reveal a super-cute string of edible pearls!

edible fake pearls red fondant icing my cake decorating magazine silicon mould how to

Using a little edible glue I put them all round the bottom edge of the cake, and finished with some edible glitter for true Bollywood glamour.

edible glitter pearls red fondant icing bollywood theme cake for clandestine club ccc nottingham

For the top – another great free gift – this intricate circular pattern stencil.

my cake decorating magazine large circular stencil intricate pattern used for bollywood themes

I simply mixed up some orange royal icing (royal is much better as it sets hard), and, holding the stencil firm, smoothed the icing all across with a cake smoother, ensuring all the gaps were filled, before carefully peeling away to reveal the pattern.

bright colours orange indian print ethnic stencil my cake decorating magazine on red fondant cake spiced bollywood nights

And of course, finished with another generous sprinkling of edible glitter!

orange royal icing and edible glitter detail on bollywood nights treacle ginger and mango spiced cake recipe

clandestine cake club nottingham red bollywood nights spiced treacle and ginger cake

True to the Bollywood theme of bright colours, intricate details, and lots of sparkles – I was very happy!

red fondant iced bollywood nights treacle ginger and mango cake stencilled decoration

And inside – a beautiful contrast of the red fondant, orange mango buttercream, and brilliantly moist, sticky and spicy treacle ginger cake.

dark treacle and ginger cake with mango filling and red fondant bollywood decoration clandestine cake club

And I’m pleased to report that our first Nottingham City CCC was a huge success! The bakers completely rose to the challenge with a great range of cakes (yes that one does have fairy lights), and we had such a lovely evening eating and chatting.

nottingham city clandestine cake club first meeting bollywood theme five cakes with fairy lights

Where will the next cake club take us? Well, watch this space… (or sign up to the club page to join in: http://clandestinecakeclub.co.uk/groups/nottingham-city/ )