Sweet Reads – Clandestine Cake Club

 

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There is nothing better than a cup of tea, a slice of cake (or two) and a great book.

It’s been quite a number of months since I held the last Clandestine Cake Club – Bounds Green and Bowes Park group, so yesterday was the first meet of more regular meetings. I think a six to eight week gap in between meetings is quite realistic right!?!
The venue this time was a wonderful book shop in Wood Green called The Big Green Book Shop; which has been open now for five years and is very popular among the locals in ‘the know’. The reason I say this, is because many people have said, ‘I didn’t know there was a bookshop there!?!’ Well one of my aims when holding a Clandestine Cake Club meeting is to promote local businesses to new customers. Tick.
Simon and Tim, the owners of Big Green Bookshop, kindly advertised The Clandestine Cake Club on the local community website which brought in a few extra people, which was great. At one point there were 23 people in total milling around eating cake, discussing cake and browsing books. This sounds like a great Sunday afternoon in my opinion.photo4

The theme this time was ‘Sweet Reads’  for obvious reasons. Each baker was asked to bake a cake which represented a book of their choice. There were 14 scrumptious cakes in total including one batch of ring shaped Ginger Shortbread biscuits. Sorry Lynn! I apologise because one of the rules of the Clandestine Cake Club – NO cupcakes, Muffins, Brownies, Cookies, Pies or Tarts.

The cakes were as follows:
Rainbow Apple and Caterpillar cake- inspired by The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Marble Cake – inspired by The Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Sticky Ginger Cake –inspired by The Gingerbread Man – Classic Fairytale
Ginger Cake – inspired by The Gingerbread Man – Classic Fairytale
Hazelnut and Blackberry Cake – inspired by Brambly HedgeIMG_3956
Gorilla Cake with a banana flavour – inspired by The Gorilla by Anthony Browne
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich cake – inspired by a Bill Bryson title
Ginger Shortbread biscuits – inspired by The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
St. Clements Cake – inspired by Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Good & Evil Mud Pie – Mississippi Mud Pie – inspired by The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
The Wizard of Oz Cake
Lavender and Lemon Cake
and two Coconut Cakes!

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As you can imagine I didn’t get to taste all the cakes but the ones I did were truly delicious.
Many thanks to all the bakers that attended yesterday, it really was a great afternoon. Secondly a warm welcome to all the new members and guests; please remember to officially join the Clandestine Cake Club website to stay informed of future events.
Last but not least, a HUGE thanks to Tara who was working yesterday at Big Green Bookshop and Simon and Tim for agreeing to host the event at their wonderful shop.

Big Green Bookshop

1 Brampton Park Rd, London, Greater London N22 6BG
Twitter – Big Green Books

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Foodie Penpals – October 2012

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Happy to see you

Originality was the theme of this month’s Foodie Penpal parcel. I was ill when my parcel from Lorraine arrived; I waited patiently until I was better so I could really enjoy my monthly experience.   My wait did not disappoint.

Lorraine a fellow baker, who runs her own tearoom in Wales, was my Foodie Penpal this month. Please follow her on Twitter @MillieMiggins. Based on the wonderful treats included in my parcel this month I think she should train as a detective!  How did she know these things about me? The package received from her included items that were original but very ‘me’. Once again I have been blown away by the care that has gone into producing the parcel.  I also think it is important to note that the communication during the process was and is crucial to the whole experience.  There is nothing better than giving and being thanked for your efforts (well after my next comment you’ll realise that there is).  Neither is there anything better than being thanked and your efforts being appreciated. So thanks AGAIN Lorraine for your parcel 🙂Look at the goodies I received above.  Lorraine did confess that she wrote a note to accompany the parcel but found it after sending it. So being the creative thinker that I am, I have added my own story to every item.

Fig Crackers – chosen because like I said, she is a secret detective and knows that I have recently discovered the taste of Figs and quite like them!  How did she know this? Der ner der ner…It is Halloween after all! Still, they will be enjoyed with cheese later in the week.

Crystallised Violet Flowers – I have to confess I had to google the name as I had no idea what the little hard purple things were; however I am now educated.  I will use them as decoration I think for a tea loaf.  How did she know that I like learning new things and that purple is one of my favourite colours!?!  (My other favourite colour is green.)

Milk Chocolate Pencils – This was a lovely touch.  I’m not sure if I mentioned that I was a teacher, but this tickled me when I saw it.  Immediately I started thinking of the many uses of the container once I had finished eating the pencil shaped chocolate inside.

Garden Critter Jelly Pop – Simply because I have a sweet tooth. Not much more to say really.Speciality Lasagne –  This had the wow factor!  I was impressed.  I have never seen pasta the colour of Twister ice-lollies before.  The label informed me that pink was the beetroot and the green was spinach.  Again I have recently got into beetroot and I love spinach. I’m looking forward to trying this out but need to think about the ingredients as the colours must look harmonious on the plate.  Choconchoc Chocolates – The coincidence item. I had bought  a similar item for myself earlier this month.  Delicious! Edible butterflies – Obviously my beloved butterflies had to feature in the parcel. Perhaps I should begin blogging about my butterfly bakes.  I will ponder on this…

Another month of appreciation.  Thanks again to Lorraine for creating a fantastic parcel.  I hope that hers was just as good.

If you’re interested in becoming a member of Foodie Penpals follow the link to Carol Anne’s blog Rock Salt to find out more.

Foodie Penpals – September 2012

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I can’t even start this post by saying, ‘it’s that time of month again!’ because although technically is the end of the month and the time we ‘foodiepenpal-ers/ists’ post about our latest experience, I am posting about the previous month!

Since the beginning of September, I have been busy with school, focussing on the beginning of term etc.  So apologies for not posting sooner.  The excitement was still there mind!

So, for the month of September, my Foodie Penpal was Catherine @kasariw who is a fellow cake-baker living with as she put it ‘a dedicated savouries man – Mr Soup.’  Please check out their blog as there are numerous heart-warming soups for the autumnal evenings.

Now Catherine was an absolute gem as she handmade butterflies for me…how thoughtful and special.

Every single item in my parcel was thoughtful and much appreciated.  The home-made tea flavoured biscuits  were eaten straight away of course! I was also given home–made marmalade too!

The flower teas are fantastic and I now need to visit Ikea to buy some lovely clear jars to keep them in. Plus I have been re-inspired (what a strange word but you know what I mean) to look for a glass teapot.  I feel a trip to Covent Garden coming on.

Catherine’s parcel catered to all my likes basically sweet and pretty things.  For future foodie penpals, having a nose around…I LOVE BUTTERFLIES!  So far all of my special parcels have featured a butterfly or two. Thanks in advance for keeping the tradition going 😉

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Foodie Penpals – August 2012

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Another month and another special package, chosen carefully by my great foodie penpal Lisa Clark.  This month I sent a parcel to Sally Johnson, who you’ll find on Twitter @sallycinnamon21  Like myself, she was happy with her parcel, which of course made me feel great inside.

Lisa is clearly one of those people who loves to select and buy gifts for people, taking careful consideration of their likes and dislikes.  My package this month brought a huge smile to my face.  Even the wrapping paper was delightful!

I love butterflies!

I loved everything in my package and that simply is it!  Happiness, joy, elation and gratitude was felt this month.

Lisa even included little wafer butterflies which I can add to my cakes.

I have categorised my package as follows:  tea, items for cakes, sweets and snacks.

Tea, locally baked shortbread, fresh Gunpowder Pinhead (Green Tea)

I was so excited to see the Gunpowder Pinhead as I use it in cake and needed to buy some more.  How did she know this?  The shortbread disappeared very quickly and I’m saving my chamomile flowers tea for ‘one of those days’.

Edible glitter and Posh Pearls

I will use the edible orange glitter and my orange blossom water on the same cake.  (I received the orange blossom water in an earlier foodie penpal parcel.)

Healthy Snack

This was my healthy snack element as opposed to my much appreciated Haribos!

One of the best aspects of foodie penpal is when you receive a package from someone who has really put thought into their choices and Lisa really did.  If you didn’t already know, I love butterflies and she tried her best to include them.  If you get paired with Lisa Clark next month or months to come you’ll be in for a treat.  Thanks again for a great experience.

Ottolenghi

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Finally I have been able to find time to get out and eat cake!  The original plan was to try Cake Hole Cafe at Vintage Heaven in Columbia Road, but as they are only open at the weekends my friend suggested Ottolenghi.

Ottolenghi, as featured in Tea & Cake London, is food heaven.  If you are a Londoner you NEED to visit this restaurant.  Yes, it is a restaurant and not a cake shop, but the cakes are to die for!

Briefly for the foodies that are reading I suggest you try the food here if you get a chance.  It is amazing!  Aubergines have never tasted so good. They have published two recipe books; Ottolenghi: The Cookbook and Plenty. After having a cheeky flick through them at the counter, I’d say that there are well worth a purchase.

It is very rare that you find an eatery that has a philosophy and theirs is ‘familiar and straight forward, yet highly innovative’.  Their food is as they say ‘uncomplicated’.  This is indeed true, however you should not confuse uncomplicated with simple.  Their cakes look simple, homemade, and rustic even, if you can describe cakes in this way, yet it is apparent that every fine detail has been carefully executed to precision.  Even the way the staff present and position the plates on your table appears to be an art.  Each plate is placed on the table and then rotated into position.

Moist chcoolate cake with Baileys cream

To eat, I chose the moist chocolate cake with Baileys cream, which I was drawn to not just by its attractive chocolate shavings, but as I too have made a Chocolate Guinness cake with Bailey’s frosting, I wanted to see how they did theirs. The Baileys filling was light and just right, complimenting the dark moistness of the chocolate. It was divine and worth every penny!

..divine and worth every penny!

The carrot and walnut cake looked delicious and moist too.  I think I will get that next time.  Oh yes there will be a next time.  Ottolenghi will be getting visits from my friends and I in the future that is certain.Ambience: 5      Taste: 5     Value for money: 5                                                          (Rating: Lowest = 1 Highest = 5)

I recommend that you visit soon. There are a few branches – Islington is the largest. Zena Alkayat writer of Tea & Cake London reviewed the Notting Hill branch.

Ottolenghi  287 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 2TZ

Check the website for more information Ottolenghi.  They also have a blog and I found a link to cooking classes too!

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Foodie Penpals – July 2012

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Yes…it arrived! Just in time for the July reveal day too!  Now there is a saying ‘the best things come in small packages’ and ‘all good things come to those who wait’.  Both of these sayings are very apt right now.

Last week, I was slightly concerned that my foodie penpals parcel hadn’t yet arrived but luckily on Saturday, Mr Postman left behind one of his little red cards informing me that my package was at the Post Office.

This morning it was my mission to retrieve my foodie penpals parcel in good time and to do my write up.Here we are then on reveal day.  This month I was sending to Lucy who writes a wonderful blog Porridge and Parsnips.  I received my package from Melanie who appears to be an expert in food and ingredients. Find out for yourself – go and read her foodie blog   ediblethings.

So this month my package flew in from The Netherlands which meant everything included in my parcel was new to me…excitement!

Melanie sent the most thoughtful package and considered my love of butterflies by sending me this lovely card.  She explained that she wanted to buy me chocolate butterflies but couldn’t find them anywhere so got the card instead.  I’m very happy with the card as it lasts longer than chocolate.

My Dutch contents were as follows:  A green peppercorn pate, my vegetarian item.  This is great as most pates that I see in supermarkets often contain pork. Speculas, a Dutch spice mix which is great for baking.  I will definitely try this out in a cake soon.  My treat was a Dutch apple and cinnamon bar which was eaten before I finished taking the photos for the blog! Gluten free too which ensured that I didn’t carry too much guilt around with me today. The chocolate flowers will be tried tomorrow on toast for breakfast.

Melanie sent me herbals teas, Jasmine and Hibiscus.  I absolutely love Jasmine tea.

Jasmine Tea

The hibiscus can be used to colour icing or used as an ingredient in a cake.  As I have more time on my hands at the moment I will try them in a cake.

Hibiscus Tea

Last but not least Melanie included some fish recipes for me to try and a pack of chervil seeds.  I’ve never heard of chervil before, but it is a herb from the parsley family that works well in fish dishes.  I will try it with some seabass; actually I will buy some lovely fish from Maximus Sustainable Fishing who are at Harringay Market every Sunday.  I will need to plant them first mind!

I have loved the variety in my foodie penpals parcel this month and I’m looking forward to trying out the various bits, especially as it involves baking.

Thanks very much Lucy and Melanie for a great experience this month.

Remember if you want to sign up to Foodie Penpals follow this link to Carol Anne’s blog Rock Salt and register – hurry!

Foodie Penpal – June 2012

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Second time and it’s just as good.  This month I was, coincidentally, paired up with fellow Clandestine Cake Club organiser Helen Jones who organised one of the first CCC’s. (I hope that’s the correct fact!)

We quickly got acquainted and before I knew it my foodie penpal parcel had arrived.   It contained very nice touches as her note explained and her daughter helped with the food selection.

The range of goodies.

My box

This package was very different to my first foodie pen parcel.  Immediately as I opened it, I spotted the herbs and I knew that this package was less of a sweetie box than my last. This parcel appealed to my ‘healthier’ side and contained more savoury products.

The oregano herb seeds will be put to good use.  I will plant these soon and look forward to adding them to tomato sauce and making an Italian sauce for spaghetti.  It’s funny as my mum likes to grow herbs and she always thinks that I take the ‘mickey’ out of her but look at me now!

M&S v Greek Faji

Next was the puy lentils and sun dried tomatoes.  This was particularly interesting as I have been working closely with a Greek colleague who regularly brings in a wonderful green lentil and rice dish called Faji. It is absolutely delicious!  Sadly it was her last day today so now I can have this instead.  If it is tasty it may quickly become a regular.  I wonder if it will replace Natalie’s Faji…mmm let’s see.

The cashew nuts were a nice little touch as nuts are often eaten in my household as a snack. I am also looking for a recipe which includes Amaretti biscuits.  So if anyone know of any please do let me know.  I’m looking forward to trying out a new dessert.

 

My next lovely foodie goodie was the Orange Blossom Water which I will experiment with soon. Hopefully, if I am successful the cake will be featured on my cake stall.  So watch this space!  Perhaps as suggested by Helen, I could use the Amaretti biscuits and the Orange Blossom Water ingredients together.

Now little Evie (Helen’s daughter) surely knows a good thing when she sees it as she chose the Hot Choc spoon.  So sweet!  This will be enjoyed after a long week at work.

Chosen by Evie

Although the Diamond Jubilee is over, it’s still officially the Jubilee month and so the Union Jack flag is much appreciated.  I must say that I have a new love for the Union Jack this year!

All is all this was a great foodie parcel with a variety of things to try and use.  Many thanks Helen @BakingAitch