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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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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SOLD OUT! Whoop! Whoop! Praise for Harringay Market!

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Well…obviously the title says it all right!?!  Today was the first day of the much anticipated Harringay Market.  If you’re reading this and are not local to North London and more precisely the Harringay Ladder or its surrounding areas, then you probably have no idea what I am referring to.  Saying this, this sadly means that you’ve missed out on a fabulous day – the beginning of a vibrant food/art and crafts market which is here to stay.

I woke up this morning and realised that I had returned to my innocence, the innocence of being excited about the unknown.  Deep inside I knew that my first market experience was going to be great but didn’t put too much thought into the expectations, as secretly I didn’t want to disappoint myself.  So with my cakes in tow we made our way down to Falkland Road.

When we arrived a few stall holders were battling the winds with their gazebos.   Thankfully I didn’t opt for the cheap £20 Homebase option and bought a descent pop-up gazebo which stood firm throughout the winds and frequent showers. Up it popped and I proceeded to arrange my table.  My inspiration for my table was the typical West Indian dining room table, with doilies, vases with flowers and cake plates before they became ‘vintage’.  I wanted my table to look like the table I remembered when I was growing up. Obviously it also had to be filled with cake too!

I kept the menu small today to get a feel for what was popular.  Each week I will sell a speciality cake, which could be either my latest experiment or a firm favourite with a difference.

On the KayTea’s Cakes menu today:

Earl Grey TeaLemon Drizzle

Dark Chocolate

Vanilla Cake

I’d like to say that floods of people came pouring through the gates at 11am, but this simply wasn’t true.  Rather, small groups scattered the playground initially, then as noon past the crowds grew.

At first the appetite for cake was dormant, but this changed. The Dark Chocolate cake seemed to be the most popular then along came the most delightful lady who told me that she had ‘old’ friends coming over for tea and wanted to treat them to cake.  She liked the look of my Lemon Drizzle and bought the whole cake! From then on the slices disappeared.

I had officially ‘sold out’  at 1:40pm.  What a success it was!  But not just for me but for many others.  (Note to self: must get a ‘sold out’ sign and/or bake more cakes for next week.)

Crumbs!

Courtesy of Harringay Online

Courtesy of Harringay Online

The market really had so much on offer and as per the conversations that I had with some locals was ‘much needed in the area’ .  So it goes without saying really that Jessica – Foxy Cooks deserves all the praise that she receives.   Her little thought about the lack of a foodie market in North London, sparked this idea which has led to many of us local people gaining the opportunity to share our talents and produce with an audience.  Plus, it has all happened in such a short space of time.  So thanks Jessica for giving me the opportunity.

Gratitude really is a special feeling and I really am feeling this now for my friends and family.  They offered support, surprised me and my family even bought me a little gift to say congratulations! I love the thoughtful doily card.

We’ve copyrighted the caption by the way – so no stealing!

Now if you are ever in the area do come down to the Harringay’s new market, which will grow rapidly.  What’s different about this market is that you can buy farmed produce, a variety of cheeses, bread, fish, cakes plus a selection of street foods from around the world including Brazil, Japan and Sri Lanka to name a few.  For more information check Harringay Market but whatever you do – do come and visit soon. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Every Sunday from 11am-3pm
North Harringay Primary School
Falkland Road
N8 0NU

Whimsical Wonderland…Wow!

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Sunday was the first ever Clandestine Cake Club event in Bounds Green & Bowes Park, the 100th CCC that has been set up and my first time hosting an event.  By the looks on the bakers faces, it was a huge success!

For me the whole weekend involved baking.  I started on Friday, baking cake samples to get the seal of approval from Jessica for the new Harringay Market.  This went well and got my excitement levels racing again.

Secondly my good friend had a little party and I baked a ‘special’ cake for that too!

Now the big event was the Whimsical Wonderland themed Clandestine Cake Club. There were ten cakes between eleven people.  So we were really challenged!

Madhatter’s Hat

The youngest member being just 13 years old, made a Madhatter’s Hat cake, which was a delicious moist pound cake. The cakes included a Caramel cake, Blueberry & Soured Cream cake, Choreo cake (a chocolate and oreo combination), Victoria Sponge with a Caramel Frosting, Madhatter’s Tea Party cake, Chocolate & Orange Marble cake, Sticky Wicky Coconut cake, a Toadastical Delight and my Topsy Turvy Black & Pink Layer cake.

It was great to see how all the bakers interpreted the theme and added their personal touch.  All the cakes looked so gorgeous and colourful.  What was even better was the attraction that the cakes generated in The Step.  There were looks of interest, complimentary comments and one booking for the next event which is just a few weeks away.

Chero Cake

Chocolate & Orange Marble cake

Victoria Sponge with Caramel Frosting

Madhatter’s Tea Party

Jubilee Jubilation is the fitting theme for the  next CCC event on Sunday 10th June. Cakes will need to be dressed for a Queen. I cannot wait to see the amazing cakey constructions next time, especially as one guest left on Sunday saying they already know what they are making for the next one.

Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how hungry I am) my fridge is full of leftover cake. I am wondering how long it will take to disappear but by no means do I feel like I need another challenge.  One thing that I have finally realised this weekend is: although cake is delicious,  even I cannot eat all the cake I’d like to.

I have to thank Lynn Hill for thinking of the Clandestine Cake Club and sharing it with us.  It is such a simple idea really and one that almost anyone of any age can access and enjoy. I mean really, is there any human that doesn’t like cake?  It’s a rhetorical question, therefore I do not want any cake-haters to reply with messages of contempt.

Many thanks to The Step, a lovely new café which is becoming a firm favourite amongst the locals.  Last and a much needed thanks to all the bakers that attended – you were the vital ingredients! I thoroughly enjoyed hosting my first event and hope that there will be many more.  I have a huge list of ideas for themes but if you have any more please let me know.

Until next month…