Saturday, 18 January 2014

Clandestine Cake Club - Bury St Edmunds - Saturday 18th January

This month the Bury St Edmunds Clandestine Cake Club returned to a venue we visited in December 2012, although it has since been taken over by new owners and renamed. Cafe del Mar, run by Maria Crick, offers a wonderful, mediterranean-inspired menu which includes tapas and sharing platters aswell as paninis, soups and a selection of very tempting cakes. Maria also organises various themed events such as her upcoming Valentine's evenings.

I also discovered today that they were the first cafe in Suffolk to support "Suspended Coffees", a great way to give to charity. Have a look here for more details.

In the spirit of those virtuous New Year's resolutions that many of us make in January, the theme this month was "Healthy(ish) Cakes" with an emphasis on the ish. Obviously you can only take cakes so far down the healthy road but everyone came up trumps, bringing cakes that were both delicious and at least heading in the general direction of wholesome.

Here's what we tucked in to...

Rene's Lime, Yoghurt & Olive Oil "Happy Cake"

Jane's Fresh Orange and Passion Fruit Cake

Sophie's Raspberry Sponge Cake

Amelia's "Healthy" Chocolate Cake (made with oil instead of butter)

Megan's Chocolate & Beetroot Cake

Tamar's Wholemeal Banana Loaf

Trish's Greek Honey, Yoghurt & Pistachio Cake

My Overnight Tea Loaf

Thanks again to everyone at Cafe del Mar for making us feel so welcome. Don't forget to check out their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

For more details of the Clandestine Cake Club have a look at the website here.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Paul Hollywood's Rye, Ale and Oat Bread

Every so often, if you spend enough time in the kitchen, you produce something that makes you nod your head and say "wow, that it really good". Today, that thing was one of Paul Hollywood's bread recipes from his book of the same name.

Ever since the Beaters Hut Bakers Club held a bread themed event I've been inspired to improve my breadmaking skills. I haven't had successes every time but I just find the whole process so enjoyable that it doesn't really matter. And even the densest loaf can taste pretty good when warm from the oven and slathered with butter. I've made two or three of Paul H's recipes so far and the instructions have turned out to be pretty reliable. I've never quite managed to create a loaf with the super lightness of the ones you can find in the shops but, as I mentioned above, I don't mind too much and they all tasted pretty good.

The recipe in question today has to be the best so far partly because it's the most unusual I've tried. I often resort to a standard white loaf but I had a leftover bottle of ale in the fridge so thought I'd give this one a go.

The recipe tells you to expect a sticky dough and it wasn't wrong. The dough was really hard to work with at first but perseverance paid off and after lots of kneading (I gave it 20 minutes rather than the 5-10 suggested in the recipe) the dough lost some of it's stickiness and became a little bit easier to handle.

Slathering the dough with a mix of ale, flour and sugar prior to it's second rise was also a new experience but it paid off. The final loaf rose to perfection and had the most amazing, beery smell and flavour. As with most fresh loaves, I could have eaten the whole thing sliced and spread with butter but I resisted and enjoyed it with some Broccoli and Stilton soup.

You can find the recipe here. Interestingly, it's slightly different to the recipe in the book which suggests adding 200ml of the ale initially. This results in a very wet dough (and I did add a little bit more flour to mine) so maybe starting off with a bit less ale is a good idea. It also gives 2 hours for the first prove whereas the book says it can take up to 4 hours. I left mine for about 3 and half hours.

If you've ever thought about making your own bread but haven't quite got round to it then I say go for it! I think you'd be surprised how much easier and how much less time consuming it is than you might think.