Sunday, 9 September 2012

Clandestine Cake Club - Bury St Edmunds - 8th September 2012

Since my post a few days ago where I was thinking about Autumn and beyond I've had to eat my words as the latest Bury St Edmunds Clandestine Cake Club meet was held during one of the warmest and sunniest weeks of the whole summer!

The morning of the 8th of September saw myself and eleven other cake enthusiasts meet at the ever-welcoming apex in the centre of Bury St Edmunds. I've probably said it before but the apex is a fantastic venue - bright, airy and spacious with lovely helpful staff. The upstairs cafe/bar area is a lovely place to visit for a sit down and a coffee if you're out and about in Bury.

As the summer holidays are over now the theme for this month was "B is for Back to School" and everyone was invited to bring a cake beginning with the letter B. As always we were treated to a wonderful selection of cakes...

First we have Shauna's Hummingbird Banana Cake. Aswell as banana one of the ingredients in this cake is pineapple which no doubt helped to make it so moist and light.

Helen brought this lovely looking and lovely tasting Banoffee Cake which had a swirl of caramel running through it.

Lynda brought Bara Brith which was delicious spread with a generous amount of butter!

This cake is Rene's Butterscotch cake. I loved the flavour of this one.

Lisa brought not one, but two cakes. One banana, one chocolate and banana, both delicious!

Philippa brought a Battenburg Cake. For some reason I never thought of making a Battenburg, even though it's one of the most well known cakes beginning with B! I loved how sweet and sticky this was.

This one is a Beetroot and Chocolate cake covered in cream cheese icing brought by Ann and her daughter. This cake had a wonderful chocolatey flavour with a hint of the beetroot in the background and the icing provided a lovely contrast to the rich cake.

This is Nathalie's Banana Walnut cake with Vanilla icing. I loved the nutty flavour of this one and the extra sweetness from the icing.

Finally, my contribution was a Boston Cream Pie. This recipe comes from Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess book and is a simple, but effective, combination of vanilla sponge, creme patissiere and chocolate ganache. As you might be able to tell from the picture the creme patissiere wasn't as firm as it should have been and a lot of it oozed out of the sides of the cake. I guess I'll need to cook it for longer next time. I was still fairly happy with how this turned out though as it did taste pretty good.

A big thanks to everyone who came and shared their wonderful cakes and to the apex for letting us use some of their space.

If you are interested in finding a Cake Club local to you then have a look at the Clandestine Cake Club website here. There are now more that 100 clubs around the country and even overseas so there's a good chance you'll find one close by.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Cherry Cheesecake

When I made the Black Forest Gateau for the Clandestine Cake Club in July I was left with almost an entire jar of Cherry Jam to use up. We don't eat very much jam but luckily I had just the recipe to help me use it up.

This is another Nigella recipe that a friend made for a dinner party some time ago and I had been meaning to try it ever since.  As with so many Nigella recipes this one turned out almost exactly as I'd hoped (my only slight complaint was that it wasn't as deep as I was expecting) and it tasted wonderful.

Aswell as tasting great this cheesecake also has a whiff of nostalgia about it. Those of you old enough might remember those ready-to-assemble cheesecakes you could buy in boxes back in the 70s or 80s. Each box contained a sachet of biscuit crumbs for the base that you added butter to, a sachet containing the filling (I can't remember if this was in powder form or not) and a sachet of fruit topping. We had these quite often and I loved them so I was very pleased to discover that this cheesecake tastes almost exactly the same!

You can find the recipe here on Nigella's website.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Apple Amber

Does anyone else feel like they're done with summer? As soon as we got back from our holiday and hit back-to-school mode my thoughts turned to Autumn and beyond and I've spent much of the last week or two looking at winter clothes, planning a trip in December and even, I confess, thinking about Christmas. The arrival of a big pile of logs for the fire and the increasingly dark evenings aren't helping either.

I'm thinking more and more about autumn food aswell. After taking an unexplained sabbatical last year our two apple trees are now producing a bumper crop. I love cooking with apples (although peeling  and coring them is one of my least favourite kitchen tasks) and I'm looking forward to plenty of apple cakes, crumbles and pies.

This recipe is one I've been meaning to make for years but never quite got around to, partly because the recipe includes a few tablespoons of cake crumbs and I rarely have these to hand. This time, however, an unsuccessful batch of cupcakes that got consigned to the freezer provided the missing ingredient and I had everything I needed.

The recipe is very simple, but delicious, and fills the kitchen with that lovely apple/cinnamon smell that will have you thinking about scuffing through autumn leaves and turning the clocks back before you can say "Bonfire Night".

Apple Amber
(adapted from The Dairy Book of Home Cookery)

450g/1 lb cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 tbsp water (I found I needed a couple more tablespoons to stop the apple getting too dry)
25g/1 oz butter
50g/2 oz caster sugar
3 tbsp stale cake crumbs (plain cake is best)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 egg yolks

For the meringue topping
2 egg whites
100g/4oz caster sugar

1) Put the apples, water and butter into a saucepan and cook until soft and pulpy, then beat until smooth.

2) Add the sugar, cake crumbs, cinnamon and egg yolks and beat well. Transfer to a 900ml/1 1/2 pint ovenproof dish.

3) To make the meringue, beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff and peaky. Add half the caster sugar and beat until the meringue is shiny and stands in firm peaks. Add the remaining caster sugar and beat until the meringue is very stiff and silky-looking and the texture is fairly close. Cover the apple mixture with the meringue.

4) Bake at 150c/300f/gas mark 2 for 30 minutes or until the meringue is light gold.  Serve with fresh double cream.

Serves 4