Vintage Clandestine Cake Club

Vintage black forest cake

After several months of no Clandestine Cake Club action, as soon as Cornwall’s September event was announced I knew I wanted to go, but the fact it was to be held at a winery made it 100% essential that I did.

Knightor Winery is the only winery in Cornwall with it’s own restaurant, which was our venue for the morning. Sadly with work to go to I couldn’t sample the wines, but I’ve heard extremely good things, especially about their sparkling wines – a must-try for the future for sure.

The theme was vintage, either as in wine or as in retro, which seemed like the perfect opportunity to attempt to recreate the stunning cake demonstrated by Charlotte White at the Cake and Bake Show.

Burlesque Baking with Charlotte White

Compared with Charlotte’s it was far from perfect, but overall I was definitely pleases with the result, especially considering it’s only the second time I’ve properly attempted a full iced and decorated cake like this.

Inside were three layers of chocolate cake, sandwiched with a cream cheese icing and my special cherry jam, given to me by one of the host families I stayed with in Romania earlier in the year.

It seemed to go down pretty well with the other cake-clubbers and there wasn’t a lot left to take home at the end of the day which is always a good sign!

There were some super tasty cakes on offer, I think my favourite was the coconut and berry, or maybe one of the coffee and walnut… although the two red wine chocolate cakes were delicious too! Here are some of the treats I had to choose from:


Thanks again to Ellie for organising, and to Knightor Winery for hosting – can’t wait for the next one!

Chocolate, date and pistachio cake for Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club

Chocolate, date and pistachio cake

This week has been a rather relaxing one in the world of the Hungry Hinny – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off work with nothing planned except baking and Christmas preparation. Lovely!

On Tuesday, I baked a chocolate, date and pistachio cake, ready to take to a meeting of Cornwall’s Clandestine Cake Club.

Cake club is always great fun, but this month was especially good as it was held at the Origin Coffee roastery in Helston, where we were able to see the beans go through the roasting process and chat to staff to find out everything you could ever need to know about coffee.

As a confirmed coffee addict this was super exciting, and I think the most interesting thing I found out was that the quality of coffee starts to deteriorate a mere 2 minutes after being ground – so you really do need to grind it cup by cup as you want to drink it!

Back to the cakes, and the theme was Arabian Nights. There were 9 cakes in total I think, with a lot of dates but also including turkish delight, lemon, chocolate, carrot, coffee and pistachio – here are just a few…

lemon and pistachio cake

turkish delight victoria sponge

spiced coffee and date cake

chocolate turkish delight cake

spiced ginger and pear cake

carrot and pistachio cake

After an initial oh-my-god-what-am-I going-to-make panic when I found out the theme, I realised I had already a chocolate and date cake which could be updated to fit the theme.

I added pistachios and extra dates, baked in a smaller tin for a higher cake, and made more ganache to completely cover it. I finished it with edible gold balls in what I hope was a vaguely Arabian-inspired design which I thought turned out pretty well.

It seemed to go down well with the other CCC-ers and there was only a small slice left to take home (although hungry coffee boys may have had something to do with that).

It’s a very dark, dense and moist cake, which I think is definitely improved by the occasional crunch of pistachio and is even better with a dollop of clotted cream on the side, accompanied by a (freshly ground) coffee.

Thanks to Origin for hosting us and to the lovely Ellie for organising another fab event!

Chocolate date cake (originally adapted from Under the High Chair)

  • 350g pitted and chopped dates
  • 300ml strong hot black coffee
  • 165g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 120g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 50g shelled pistachios, chopped

For the icing

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 200ml creme fraiche
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar

Start by pouring the hot coffee over the chopped dates and leave to soak while you do everything else. Cream the butter and two sugars together until light and fluffy, then beat in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Sift in the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder and fold until just combined.

Transfer the date/coffee mixture into a food processor and blitz until it turns into a puree. Add to the cake mix along with the chopped pistachios and stir until completely combined. Pour the mixture into a greased and lined 8″ round tin, and bake at 175 degrees for an hour and 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out nearly clean. If it’s browning too much cover with foil until it’s cooked through. Leave to cool completely before removing from the tin.

For the icing, chop both chocolates and mix together in a bowl, then heat the creme fraiche and brown sugar in a saucepan until almost boiling. Pour over the chocolate and stir until all the chocolate has melted and you have a nice smooth ganache. Leave to cool to a spreadable consistency then completely cover the cake. Decorate however you fancy!

Hummingbird Cake

Last week, I went to another brilliant Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club, and have been terribly slack in posting about it – apologies!

Held at a gorgeous farmhouse near Tintagel, the Cornwall and North Cornwall branches of CCC came together for a 4th of July all-American spectacular. Just look at this spread of cakes – and that was before everyone had even arrived!

I decided to make a Hummingbird cake – apparently Southern Living magazine’s most requested recipe, so it must be a true American classic!

I was a bit worried someone else would do the same, but luckily they didn’t. For those of you who haven’t heard of or tried a Hummingbird cake, it’s basically a super-charged banana cake, with added pineapple, pecans, cinnamon and cream cheese icing –  an inspired combination!

This is probably one of my favourite things I’ve baked recently, as all the elements just work really well together – the bananas taste delicious and make it smell heavenly when it’s baking, same for the cinnamon which I love in pretty much anything; the pineapple makes it extra-moist, the pecans add a nice texture contrast, and cream cheese icing is my all-time favourite frosting.

Hopefully everyone else who tried a bit liked it – I took a slice home with me at my boss’s request, and even his banana-hating son approved so it must have been pretty good!

Just in case the giant flag the pony made to go in my cake wasn’t enough to let people know what it was, I made a little hummingbird to go on top, although my lack of artistic skills may have just left everyone more confused…

Hummingbird Cake (adapted from Southern Living magazine)

  • 360g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400g sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 250ml vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g can crushed pineapple
  • 100g chopped pecans
  • 450g chopped over-ripe bananas (3 large bananas)
  • 500g cream cheese
  • 250g butter
  • 250g icing sugar

Start by greasing and lining four 7″ sandwich tins – I only have two so I baked in two batches. Sieve together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, sugar and cinnamon into a large bowl. Whisk together the eggs, oil and vanilla and stir into the dry ingredients, until just combined. Fold in the banana, pineapple and pecans and stir to make sure they’re all distributed evenly, then divide the mixture between the pans and bake at 180 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until risen and springy to the touch.

For the icing, beat the butter to soften, then add the icing sugar and half the cream cheese. Using an electric mixer, beat for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy and no lumps remain, then quickly add in the rest of the cream cheese and beat until just combined. Chill in the fridge until thick enough to spread.

To assemble the cake, level off each of the cake layers, then stack with a layer of cream cheese icing between each, and cover with the rest of the icing. Keep in the fridge until half an hour or so before serving.

Rapunzel castle cake & Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club

Last night, I attended my second Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club.

For those of you unfamiliar with Clandestine Cake Clubs, they are essential monthly gatherings where everyone bakes a cake, takes a cake and eats lots, and lots of cake.

The theme this month was ‘A Fairy Tale’, and the venue was perfect – a yurt in the middle of the forest! There were some fabulous cakes there, and between the pony and I we managed 12 slices on the night and brought another 5 home with us. Never let it be said that we can’t handle our cake!

This Rapunzel castle cake was a bit of a mission, and took 2 days to bake and assemble, but it was a labour of love and I think it was worth it!

If anyone wants the specific recipes I used to make this just give me a shout, but here’s the basic rundown:

Two layers of chocolate fudge cake, sandwiched with chocolate raspberry ganache and frosted with milk chocolate fudge icing.

Black fondant icing for the door and window slits, and chocolate shortbread for the bricks and roof.

Squares of brownie to make the battlements…

… covered in more icing and biscuits.

A tower of chocolate cake baked in a baked bean tin, covered in yet more icing and biscuit bricks.

And finally, a Rapunzel on top, in all her golden-haired glory.

(Yes, my fondant people need a little work!)

Hopefully everyone who tried a slice liked it – I certainly liked all the cakes I tried! In fact I may have to help myself to another slice of the pumpkin cake right now…

Here are some of the other fairy tale delights we had last night – big thanks to Ellie for organising and the Woods Cafe for hosting!

Fairy Godmother chocolate and rose cake from Choclette – brilliant to finally meet in person and a delicious cake with the perfect amount of rosewater!

Snow White’s Poison Apple Cake – definitely not poisonous but very tasty!

‘Cabin in the woods’ chocolate and cherry cake – the pony’s favourite

Cinderella’s Pumpkin cake – with crocodiles on top?!

Porridge and Honey Cake – was a bit sad the bear wasn’t a cake too!

Red Riding Hood’s Red Velvet Cake

Black forest gateau cake

Frankfurter Kranz

So as I mentioned in my previous post, the theme of this month’s Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club was ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’, and I decided to make a Frankfurter Kranz.

It took quite a lot of research to decide on a cake which was authentically German enough but also would look good – I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make a one-layer streusel cake look very attractive!

When I found this I went out and bought a bundt tin especially (which now I feel I have to make good use of, so be prepared for lots of bundt cakes in the future!) and started working out how I’d make the cake.

It’s not totally traditional, as I didn’t have any rum and couldn’t bring myself to use 6 egg yolks to make a German buttercream, but I think it’s close enough to count!

Frankfurter Kranz (adapting this recipe for the cake, with this recipe for buttercream)

For the sponge:

  • 200g butter
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 220g plain flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • zest of 1 lemon and juice of half a lemon

Thoroughly grease a 10″ bundt cake – I’m yet to master the art of getting the cake out easily. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add in the eggs one at a time, adding in a little of the flour if it looks like it might curdle. Beat in the lemon zest and juice, then sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in until just combined. Spread the mixture into the tin and bake for about an hour at 180 degrees, or until golden and springy.

For the buttercream:

  • 170g softened butter
  • 420g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • juice of 1 lemon

Beat the butter for a minute to soften, then add in half of the sugar and the milk and beat again. When it’s well mixed, add the rest of the sugar, lemon and vanilla and keep beating for 3 or 4 minutes until really light and fluffy.

For the almond praline:

  • 90g flaked almonds
  • 200g sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp butter

Spread the butter evenly over a baking tray and set aside. Heat the sugar and water gently until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil. When it reaches 115 degrees C (soft ball stage) add in the almonds, and keep on the heat, stiring, until the syrup caramelizes. Quickly pour it onto the buttered tray, then once it has cooled either smash up with a rolling pin or blitz in a food blender until it’s in small pieces, but not crumbs.

To assemble the cake

  • 3tbsp blackcurrant jam
  • 8 coloured marzipan balls

Once the cake has cooled, slice into 3 layers. Spread the bottom and middle layers with the jam, then with some of the buttercream, and reassemble. Use a thin layer of buttercream to crumb-coat, then spread the rest over the cake evenly. Arrange the marzipan balls on top, then cover the rest of the cake in the almond praline.

This cake took me 2 days to make, but I’m sure if you don’t have the inconvenience of a job it could be done a lot quicker!

Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club – Kaffee und Kuchen

Earlier this week, I went to my first ever Clandestine Cake Club.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the ‘CCC’, it’s essentially an all-you-can-eat cake-fest for bakers and their lucky guests, held monthly in locations across the country, usually with a set theme to bake to.

This was Cornwall’s second CCC, organised by the lovely Ellie Michell and held at 108 Coffee, a relatively new coffee shop in Truro.

The theme was ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’ – in other words, German cakes.

It took me quite a while to settle on a recipe as I wanted to do something traditional, but that would also (hopefully) look impressive.

I chose the ‘Frankfurter Kranz’, which is a cake baked in a ring and decorated with ‘jewels’ to resemble a crown. I’ll post the recipe soon, but for now here are a few of the other fabulous cakes which the friendly pony and I were lucky enough to sample – between us we had 6 slices on the night, and brought another 5 home – but I swear the pony ate most of them!