Clandestine Cake Club – Christmas Cakes from 3 Counties

 Logo created by Anita Mangan Inspired by her designs for the CCC Cook Book. Linked to her website ‘The Cooper Family’ where you will see more of Anita’s design work.

It was time to get festive with our cakes and being such a friendly bunch we decided to get together for our Christmas meeting of the Clandestine Cake Club. The groups of Sheffield, Chesterfield, and Newark & Sherwood span three counties so it was rather fitting we met at the winter wonderland that is Christine’s house which borders all three counties. My apologies for the terrible photographs but I had to use my mobile phone (sack me).

Sheffield group organizer Karen Perkins made us her ‘Deconstructed’ Chocolate Yule Log. It was covered with chocolate ganache and filled with ginger cream. She also came with a cautionary tale as the round plate her cake was on was that morning a cake stand but the bottom fell off! Thankfully the Yule Log escaped unharmed.

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We were encouraged to seek inspiration and ingredients from our three countries and Jean and Nick came with their cakes with a local and festive twist. Jean looked to Derbyshire and made a Christmas version of a Cherry Bakewell Cake. This was a sponge cake filled with rich morello cherry jam and looked very effective with the snowflake, (inedible) holly and glacé cherry berries.

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Nick decided to go to Nottinghamshire for his cake inspiration. It was a ‘Rufford House Welcome Cake’. The idea was that visiting monks would have brought exotic ingredients back from their travels and they would have been made into something special. This was a gluten-free cake made with ground almonds, tangerines and poppy seeds.

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Our hostess Christine made a similar cake but used her current favourite festive fruit of clementines. To achieve the intense citrus flavour in this moist, flourless cake Christine had to boil five clementines for over two hours.

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Another Christmas favourite is Panettone and Helen made an impressively tall version. It was flavoured with white chocolate, cranberries, almonds and mixed peel.

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Robyn came with a sorry tale of a festive chocolate orange nut cake which never made it out of the house as apparently it was a disaster! Determined to come as a baker and not just an eater Robyn whipped up her husband’s favourite Chocolate Guinness Cake.

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There were Christmas ingredients aplenty in Barbara’s cake. Her iced cake contained dates, orange and pecans.

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We had our own Christmas Bake-off with the appearance of two Stollen Wreath Bundt Cakes from the same recipe. Thankfully the rules of Clandestine Cake Club state no judging! Carol and Amy made the first one…

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and Chesterfield organizer Fiona the second cake. Filled with dried fruits and nuts it was topped with marzipan. Fiona gave us the tip of putting the marzipan on the cake and then pressed the cake tin back down on it so it forms the shape.

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The famous Derbyshire mineral of Blue John gave Steph the inspiration for her Lavender and Lemon cake. The name Blue John derives from the French ‘bleu-jaune’ meaning blue-yellow and points to the colouring of the mineral. To give the cake extra natural yellow colouring Steph added some saffron.

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Colin used to live in Aberdeen and and remembered some Hogmanay traditions with his Black Bun. This has a rich dried fruit interior like a traditional fruit cake but is incased in pastry.

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For Silvana’s cake she went back to her Italian heritage with her Panettone. Her sculptured version was covered with citrus flavoured custard.

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My local ingredient was some 3 Counties Honey I bought from Clumber Park. To incorporate this into a cake I made a Spiced Orange and Honey Cake. This had some candied peel in it and was topped with some blanched almonds.

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The Junior Baker made her customary chocolate cake by turned it into a winter scene with some icing. Chocolate Snowmen and Snowdogs from Derbyshire based Thorntons finished off the frosty setting.

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Many thanks to Christine for opening up her house to us. I hope you have cleared up all the cake crumbs by now! Join us in 2014 for some more great cake gatherings.

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