Sheffield Clandestine Cake Club – ‘Healthy Cakes’
After a night of snowfall the hardy members of the Sheffield branch of the Clandestine Cake Club made their way to the first meeting of 2013. Many peoples’ thoughts once the new year dawns turns to diets and healthier eating so the theme for the month was quite aptly ‘Healthy Cakes for a New Year, New You’. Low fat, wheat or gluten-free, vegetable ingredients, superfood fruits and brain enhancing nuts and seeds – there was plenty of choice of cakes for us to bake. Karen Perkins, our hardworking organizer known to many as @fabcoach on Twitter, found us a rather unique venue for Sheffield in the Pure on Raw café.
Located on Shalesmoor, the Pure on Raw café serves locally sourced, organic food as per the vision of owner Inga Dirziute. Despite the freezing temperatures outside Inga gave us a warm welcome to her fresh and bright café. Inga gave us a talk on how a raw food, vegan diet had benefited her family. She also gave us some of samples of her raw cakes to try. After this it was onto our cakes!
Even though I have a mantra of ‘Cake is good for you’, I decided to make a cake which ticked as many healthy boxes as possible – wheat, egg and diary free, vegan and low fat. My Castagnaccio cake is an Italian chestnut flour cake from Tuscany. As it has no eggs or other rising agent it is quite a dense but moist cake. The flavour of the cake comes from the raisins, flaked almonds, pine nuts, rosemary and orange zest on top of the cake. The only added fat in the recipe is a tablespoon of olive oil.
As ever my protégée wanted to make a chocolate cake. In order to fit in with the criteria standard wheat flour was switched not for the standard ground almond substitute but instead ground Brazil nuts. The chocolate used was 72% dark chocolate, which is linked to improved cardiovascular health, stress reduction, lower blood pressure; need I go on?
Our organizer Karen made a low fat version of Sunday tea favourite, the Victoria sponge. Karen made it a fatless but very light sponge by using just flour, sugar and eggs. The filling was a low fat fromage frais with fresh blueberries. To finish it off was a dusting of icing sugar and a sliced strawberry.
The very pretty Blueberry Madeira cake was made by Deb. It was a lovely moist, gluten-free cake made with cornflour and ‘Doves Farm’ Gluten & Wheat free self-raising flour. On top were some more blueberries and edible glitter.
Anne found a perfect way to combat a snowy Friday night by spending it by preparing her orange and almond cake. The oranges have to be boiled for 3 hours, left to cool and then the pulp puréed. The ground almonds replace the wheat flour and no butter or other fats are needed. The resultant cake was very light and moist and extremely orangey. Thankfully Anne had the foresight of bringing copies of the recipe with her. I for one will be making that cake in the future.
Another one of our young bakers, Fleur, baked a carrot and date cake made with gluten-free and wholemeal flour. The topping was made using Delia Smith’s low fat carrot cake recipe and was a combination of low fat cream cheese, vanilla extract, a pinch of sugar and a dusting of cinnamon.
In the late nineties a lady named Linda Kearns from West Yorkshire developed a recipe for a HRT cake designed to be eaten every day instead of taking HRT drugs. The idea is that the ingredients in the cake contain the nutrients required to mimic female hormones, just like HRT. Christine made us a version of this cake which has a dizzying array of ingredients – Soya flour, wholemeal flour, rolled oats, linseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaked almonds, raisins, Soya milk and malt extract to name a few!
Hannah made her twist on a carrot cake in the form of a courgette and walnut cake. Based on Rachel Allen’s recipe in her book ‘Bake’, the recipe has no butter but uses oil instead. The loaf cake had a delightful soft texture to it. You would never be able to tell that the cake contained courgettes.
Our baking couple of Paul and Moira came with a superfood blueberry cake. Made with spelt flour and sweetened with agave nectar, it was dairy free and contained no eggs or butter. Deliciously moist, the blueberries were scattered throughout the cake.
Our final cake came from our second Karen. Her cranberry, orange and pecan cake was made using just 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of sugar. The icing sugar glaze was flavoured with orange juice. If you’re not a fan of traditional Christmas fruit cake this would make a great festive but light alternative.
Despite the difficult travelling conditions it was wonderful so many people had braved the elements to make it into the city centre to share their cakes with each other. Thank you to Inga for opening especially for us and to Karen for organizing it. If you like the idea of meeting in secret, baking cake then sharing and eating it with others, join us next month for ‘Stir up some Passion Cakes…My Chocolate Valentine’ on Saturday 23rd February.