Bolton Clandestine Cake Club

10 Sep

I freaking adore cake. Coming from a long line of cake eaters with a tremendous capacity for the sweet stuff, there isn’t a cake I’d turn down I think. My Dad in particular is a cake fiend of legendary deed and derring do, the most noteworthy being his ability to ingest whole wagon wheels at any given time. The cupboard was always full of classic like bourbons, custard creams and numerous treats from Mr Kipling, so naturally, I picked up the mantle and dedicated my pocket money to the local bakery and my waistline to the bin.

It wasn’t until I was exposed to the more advanced food skills and sophisticated tastes of the wider family that my own kitchen capabilities developed, so my first foray into baking came whilst I was still at university, when I received my first ever baking book and almost killed my flat mates with a brick like attempt at scones. Never one to be defeated, I persevered, and have developed some pretty keen skills (especially in buttercream icing and the classic sponge), though working with sugar paste is a skill I will never master.

With the mad rise in the popularity of home baking, it’s been fun to watch the country go cake crazy, taking part by indulging in the nation’s never ceasing love for all things cupcake, watching The Great British Bake Off like a woman obsessed and observing with awe the numerous enthusiast driven baking groups which have cropped up, firmly cementing this most delightful hobby back into the national psyche and making cake much more readily available for us all to eat. Huzzah!

Now, other than baking for work colleagues and making the occasional birthday cake or treat, I have never really challenged myself, making the same old cakes and bakes for years, but with the appearance of a Clandestine Cake Club back in my home town of Bolton, I knew I had to get involved. Run by the lovely Rachel McGrath of Dollybakes fame, I have watched for months as the Bolton group posted pictures of their incredible creations, all baked around a certain theme and enjoyed at a do hosted in a secret location.*

Being September, this month’s theme was back to school, so instead of heading down the traditional route, I wracked my brain for school time treats. My mind instantly wandered to other tuck shop sweets I enjoyed in my youth, and atomic fireballs and sherbert dib dabs aside, the one that stuck was cherryade. I loved this cloyingly sweet pop so much I once vommed from a particularly overindulgent session and haven’t touched the stuff since, so pairing it with cake seemed the ideal way to bring it back into my life.

I won’t lie. Trialling and testing recipes was a bitch. I had two cake fails and three different icing recipes on the go before my cake came together at the eleventh hour, only after a fairly desperate phone call to the baking guru that is my Aunty Em, who suggested using a drizzle rather than incorporating the cherryade syrup into the cake mixture, which kept on causing the sponge to burn. The effort paid off though. I ended up rocking up with a super sweet, pink marbled cake that tasted exactly like my favourite childhood drink, and thankfully got some great feedback from the other bakers.

Cherryade Cake: Marbled Pink Sponge, Cherryade Drizzle, Pink Cherryade Buttercream and Pink Edible Glitter and Popping Candy

The cake club itself was fantastic. People really go to town, with the themes inspiring new levels of creativity in the attending bakers, in turn giving you more ideas for your own bakes and opens up some of the most fascinating conversations around tips, techniques and flavours. In the space of two hours, I learnt how to make honeycomb, as well as inhale over nine (small) slices of cake, including an incredibly light spotted dick and custard cake, a donut bundt cake and a sticky toffee concoction that blew me away.

Rachel warned us to take it easy, taking small slices to allow yourself a little bit of everything you fancy, but even with a pint of water and the teeniest of slivers, the cake shakes followed, with only an afternoon nap sorting out the severe carb coma that resulted from the troughing that took place. Don’t let this put you off however. An afternoon of cake and lovely people is nothing to be scoffed at, and if these cakes don’t tempt you, nothing will…

Spotted Dick and Custard Cake: Spotted Dick Sponge and Custard Filling

Donut Cake: Sponge Bundt Cake with a Chocolate Topping

Conkers and Marble Cake: Moulded Chocolate Sponge Cake with Chocolate, Nut and Sherry Truffles

Wagon Wheel Cake: Sponge with a Jam and Marshamallow Filling coated with Chocolate Ganache

* Lending the club its clandestine nature, but secretly preventing hungry onlookers from gate crashing, I suspect.

5 Responses to “Bolton Clandestine Cake Club”

  1. laurencoulman September 10, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

    Thanks ladies! I’ll most certainly be along again, next time with my Aunty Emma.

    Dad, get your own blog!


  2. Chris Coulman September 10, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    Being a follower of the talented Dollybakes, I regularly read about the CCC’s exploits and watch in admiration as it’s numbers and fame grow. I positively drool whenever I see the photo’s of the latest masterpieces, and as I stare wistfully imagining the taste of each lovingly baked confection, I secretly hope that Dollybakes will invite me to be the official taster at each event. Dolly hasn’t rung yet.

    It is therefore a complete joy that my daughter has joined this elite band of Cake Maesters, which gives me some hope that I may have a way in.
    I recognise that I could easily join if I baked a cake. Alas, my skills do not lend themselves to this craft. My contribution to this art will only ever be as one that tastes (hoovers sometimes) and greatly appreciates the fact that you took the time to make it. I can only promise that feedback to anyone that gives me cake, will be effusive, sincere and honest.

    It should be noted that the Waggon Wheel cake wouldn’t have reached the tablecloth. That was definitely a tin to mouth cake for me. Actually, what am I talking about, none of them would have got to the tablecloth without a slice missing.

    The addition of a pot of Yorkshire Tea as a perfect accompaniment to the CCC’s triumphs would complete my idea of heaven.

    So, a solution is required of which the following are possibilities:-

    1 Get Lauren to steal some of each cake for me
    2 Adopt Dollybakes
    3 Go with Lauren to each CCC as her assistant/official food taster.
    4 Learn to bake
    5 Plead with Dollybakes to be her little helper (hardly little, I’m built like an Ox)

    I will think up more over the next few days.

    Lauren, you have my complete admiration for everything you do. I love your blog.
    I have followed your cake making challenges on twitter, and must say I was relieved when you cracked it on the third attempt. (Please steal some cake for me) x

  3. Emma Jones (@IndigoMagic_) September 10, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    Was so lovely to meet you and I’m glad you liked my SP&C cake! Would be great to see you again!!!

  4. GoodEggFoodie September 10, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    It was great to meet you! Your cake was awesome- hope you become a regular attendee in Bolton! Sounds like your dad would haev loved the wagon wheel cake 🙂
    Claire x

  5. Kat September 10, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    Great cake idea! Looks really tasty too 🙂

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