Retro Recipes – January 2019

The theme for our January event was Retro Recipes and we all enjoyed baking things we remembered from childhood, or looking through old school recipe books – laughing at the number of dishes using aspic.  They look so unappealing to us now but were clearly the height of sophistication at the time!

Cheese Fondue with Parsnip Soda Bread

Most of us opted for sweet bakes this month, but Jayne treated us to a true 1970s classic; a cheese fondue made with raspberry beer, accompanied by a parsnip, cheese and sage soda bread.  It was truly delicious and a good social start to the evening with us all tucking in together, laughing at whoever dropped their bread off their fork into the fondue pot.  Wasn’t there supposed to be some sort of forfeit for that?

After the glorious cheesiness of the fondue,

Sweet Retro Recipes

it was onto the sweet stuff – lemon curd tarts, a Battenberg cake (personally that always reminds me of cricket teas when my Dad used to play and my Mum used to do the sandwiches), a Bakewell Tart, Garibaldi biscuits, a Lemon Meringue Pie, a Seed Cake (using caraway, now that’s a flavour that takes me back), a Pineapple Upside Down cake and Fondant Fancies in a choice of lemon or lavender.

We all marvelled at the straightness of the Battenberg until Cat revealed she had help from a special tin, which has dividers so that you can make each section of the cake individually.  I was reminded of the brief period of time when I worked at the factory making Mr Kipling cakes.  Turning the sponge on the Battenberg to invert the top layer was the one thing they couldn’t automate.  The machines used to squash the sponge, so it all had to be done by hand!

Retro Recipes

Our look through the Hamlyn All Colour Cook Book revealed just how much recipe books and recipes themselves have changed over the years.  Recipes written by giants such as Delia Smith and Mary Berry are simply presented alongside all the rest with no nod to their authorship.  There was clearly no cult of the celebrity chef at that time!  The index was virtually useless unless you knew the name of the dish you were looking for, and the ordering of the recipes was also strange – there is be a chapter on ‘Cooking with Cream’ for example, which features Salmon Mousse alongside Mocha Eclairs, and Pork chops with cider next to Chocolate Cream Gateaux!

We all enjoyed our walk down memory lane.

The full list of bakes for this event was:

Cat – Battenberg Cake

Vicky – Seed Cake and Garibaldi Biscuits

Jayne – Parsnip, Sage and Cheese loaf to accompany a Beery Cheese Fondue

Michelle – Bakewell Tart

Jan – Lemon Curd Tarts

Faye – Lemon Meringue Pie

Alison – Lemon and Lavender Fondant Fancies

Chelsea – Pineapple Upside Down Cake

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Sweet Treats and Edible Gifts – December 2018

Our December event was a real treat – Sweet Treats and Edible Gifts to be precise!  Naturally this led most of us towards the sweet end of the baking spectrum but there were also a fair few cheesy favourites too!

Gift Boxed Savoury Biscuits

Some contributions came beautifully packaged– stilton shortbread in a box with a bow from Jan, individual packets of vanilla fudge from Abigail, and a stunning canape most of us had never tasted before from Sue: olives stuffed with smoked anchovies encased to cheese pastry.

Pastry Wrapped Olives

Can you imagine how fiddly it is to wrap olives individually in pastry?  They were seriously tasty though.

Continuing our occasional efforts to create colourful food and avoid an all ‘brown food’ evening, Jayne tried her hand at Raspberry Caramels.

International Bakes

Red, sticky and surprisingly made with Belgian fruit flavoured beer!  The international influence continued with Stollen, Black Forest Gateau (from newbie Annabel – she can definitely come again!) and Lebkuchen from Germany, and Italian ‘Baci di Dama’ (Ladies Kisses) – little hazelnut biscuits sandwiched together with chocolate.

Sweet Treats and Edible Gifts

There were also more traditional Christmassy flavours with Mince Pies, Oat and Mincemeat Cookies,

Florentines and muffins

Mincemeat Muffins, Cranberry and Macadamia Florentines and Clementine Fudge plus sweets in the form of Rose Marshmallows, Peanut Cookies and Tablet.

Traditional Sweets – fudge, tablet and marshmallows

This theme seemed to inspire a number of bakers to try out a couple of different bakes so we had a huge ariety to choose from.

 

The whole evening was given a true flavour of fun by Jayne who kindly supplied everyone with light up Christmas necklaces to get us truly into the spirit of the season.

Festive feeding!

For me, a delightful evening with an abundance of tasty treats that provided a great start to the season of parties and overindulgence!

Full List of Bakes:

Jan H – Stilton Shortbread and Cheddar Stars

Faye – Star Topped and Traditional Mince Pies plus Stollen

Mandy – Clementine Fudge, Peanut Cookies, Rose Marshmallows and Tablet

Abigail – Vanilla Fudge

Sue – Pastry Wrapped Olives Stuffed with Smoked Anchovies

Chelsea – Cranberry and Macadamia Florentines

Jayne – Raspberry Caramels and Cheese Stars

Vicky – Oat and Mincemeat Cookies and Mincemeat Muffins

Annabel – Black Forest Gateau

Cat – Lebkuchen and Baci di Dama

Bright Sparks – November 2018

As the dark November nights drew in, we thought we’d bring a bit of colour into our evening with our ‘Bright Sparks’ theme.  There are many festivals of light at this time of year – Diwali, Hanukkah, even Bonfire Night – many celebrated with candles and fireworks, so the idea was to produce a bake either linked to one of these festivals or simply celebrating light and brightness with colour at this dark time of year.

This was a theme that drew most of us towards sweet bakes, although Sue – joining us for the first time – gave us an interesting sweet/savoury mix of miniature apple tartlets with cheese pastry and chilli jam.  She thought the chilli would be perfect for the fiery theme.

Bright Sparks Bakes
Bright and Colourful Cakes and Bakes

Chelsea and Cat’s bakes referenced Bonfire Night – from Cat sticky ginger parkin, a bake from her Yorkshire roots, traditionally served on Bonfire Night.  And Bonfire Cupcakes from Chelsea – the buttercream ‘flames’ took ages to get right!

The colours theme was taken up by both Faye and Vicky, with a brightly coloured Funfetti Cake and a swirly Vanilla Cheesecake, and Abigail gave us some beautifully bright Red Velvet Cupcakes.

Jan’s bake was something a little different

Pinata Chocolate Cake

– again on the bright colours theme – but with a little surprise…  A beautifully decorated Pinata Cake so when we cut into it a cascade of rainbow Smarties fell out!

It was great to see some inventive bakes again this month.  Looking forward to Sweet Treats and Edible Gifts when we next meet on 11th December!

The full list of bakes was:

Faye – Funfetti Cake

Vicky – Rainbow Vanilla Cheesecake

Jan – Chocolate Pinata Cake

Abigail – Red Velvet Cupcakes

Chelsea – Chocolate Orange Bonfire Cupcakes

Cat – Sticky Yorkshire Parkin

Sue – Apple and Chilli Tartlets with Cheese Pastry

 

 

 

 

Harvest Festival – October 2018

With all the lovely produce abounding at this time of year, we thought we’d celebrate with a ‘Harvest Festival’ theme for our October event, with bakes celebrating different kinds of fruit, veg and grains.  We were a small but perfectly formed group, managing to evenly balance the sweet and savoury offerings.  Another meeting ‘on safari’ away from our usual venue which was unavailable this month, but Greens Bar and Kitchen were very friendly and welcoming.  Some of us very much enjoyed their Gin & Tonic Tuesday promotion!

A Harvest Feast!

We started of course with the savouries: a very cheesy Cauliflower Cheesecake from Jayne, Jan H’s Spinach Quiche with innovative Sweet Potato base instead of the traditional pastry (probably much healthier, and certainly very tasty)

Savouries – cheesecake, quiche and quinoa

and, celebrating the grain harvest not with bread but with quinoa, a twist on falafels made with quinoa, tomato, egg, chard, garlic and onion from Jan T.  Given that there were only six of us there we managed to make quite a big dent in all of these so I guess they must all have been good.  Luckily the Cheesecake was huge, so there was enough to take a slice home for the lunch the next day.  That’s one of the lovely things about Cakes and Bakes – sharing the leftovers means you get to enjoy the great tastes for a day or two afterwards!

Pumpkin, Banana and Maple Cake

Seasonal fruit was the theme for the sweet bakes, with both Chelsea and Vicky opting for pumpkin and Faye celebrating apples and pears with a Tarte Tatin.  Despite both using pumpkin, the other two bakes were quite different – a Pumpkin, Banana and Maple Cake and a classic American Pumpkin Pie with Maple Pecan cream.  There wasn’t much left of any of these either!  We even persuaded the bar staff to sample one or two of our creations.

A Slice of Pumpkin Pie
Apple and Pear Tarte Tatin

Thinking caps are now on for our next event – Bright Sparks on 13th November!  Celebrating the many festivals of light at this time of year (from Diwali to Bonfire Night) or, now that the long winter evenings are drawing in, just baking something bright and cheerful to liven things up.  New bakers are always welcome – it’s not a competition, we just bake because we like to.  (And because we like eating the results!)

A September Birthday Party

This month, Winchester Cakes and Bakes celebrated our first birthday!  What other theme could we have to mark this special occasion except ‘Birthday Party’?  Our bakers did us proud with an array of both sweet and savoury treats, we all enjoyed a cheeky glass of something fizzy, and we played some party games too.  With a special decorations too, it was a fun and special evening.

Most of us started the party food with the savouries – Faye’s lovely Sundried Tomato and Chilli bread and Chelsea’s Cheese and Potato Bread Twists.  Both were very popular.  Our ‘gateway’ bake, bridging the gap between sweet and savoury, was Aniseed Wafer biscuits; a really unusual flavour, using fennel with sugar, but very, very good.

Then it was onto the sweet treats and what an array to choose from: both Carrot Cake and Mojito cupcakes, Lemon Butterfly cakes (as Vicky said, you can’t have a birthday party without butterfly cakes!), scones and Chocolate Peanut Butter cookies.

 

Mandy kindly brought along some tasty homemade Rum & Raisin and Funfetti cupcakes and bags and bags full of coloured buttercreams fitted with her new special shape nozzles (an array of flowers, leaves, snowflakes, and ice cream amongst others!) so we could all have a go at using them and decorate our own cupcakes!  Much fun was had by all.

To mark the occasion in the bake itself, David piped a 1 onto his scones in green dough, Chelsea made 1 shaped Lime biscuits to decorate her cupcakes and Jayne bought us our lovely little blackboard stands for the labels.  Top marks however go to Cat for producing these tasty carrot cake cupcakes complete with edible ‘candles’ made from white chocolate and a shred of desiccated coconut!  A real labour of love this, involving cut down drinking straws, melted chocolate and a freezer.  Not easy to do I’m sure but they were definitely impressive.

We also enjoyed a traditional game of Pass the Parcel – with a few sweets inside every layer everyone was a winner but unwrapping the main present was Jayne – now Star Baker as she’s the proud owner of a set of star shaped cookie cutters.

Time has flown since we first met back in September 2017 for our launch event at which twelve bakers joined us with their ‘Signature Bake’.  Since then, 23 different bakers have joined us for events and we’ve seen everything from breads, buns, scones and cupcakes to biscuits, layer cakes, cheesecakes, traybakes, pies, tarts, and pastries.  Our themes have been varied: we’ve recalled Holiday Memories, celebrated All Saints and All Souls, got a bit tipsy with Boozy Bakes, paid tribute to the Great British Bake Off, feasted on Festive Flavours, had a Picnic, enjoyed Afternoon Tea, kicked off the New Year with Something New, marked Shrove Tuesday with a celebration of pancakes, livened things up with The Spice of Life and shared our favourite Hand Me Down recipes.  Here’s hoping many more bakers will join us in future.

The full list of bakes from our Birthday Celebration event was:

Faye – Chilli and Sundried Tomato Bread

Jayne – Aniseed Wafers

Chelsea – Cheese and Potato Bread Twists, Mojito Cupcakes with Lime Biscuits

David – Scones with jam and cream

Vicky – Lemon Butterfly Cakes

Tina – Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies

Mandy – Rum & Raisin and Funfetti Cupcakes for decoration

Cat – Carrot Cake Muffins with Edible White Chocolate Candles

 

Picnic – August 2018

In August, Winchester Cakes and Bakes enjoyed a Picnic themed event.  After the heatwave gave our bakers a few difficulties in July we were all left wishing it wasn’t quite so hot;  this time however we were praying for sunshine!  Luckily, although it wasn’t quite as sunny as it has been recently, the rain stayed away and we were able to enjoy a lovely evening, including welcoming first timer Jan.  She’s our second Jan so they’ll have to be Jan T and Jan H from now on!  So that we could picnic properly, we met at Richard Steel & Partners beautiful riverside garden, which provided a lovely setting for our al fresco feast.

Time for a Picnic

For the first time since we started meeting, almost a year ago, the majority of the bakes were savoury.  We enjoyed a selection of pies, tarts, bread, biscuits and pastry, with the only sweet bake – White Chocolate, Cranberry and Banana Muffins – provided by birthday girl Vicky.

Corn Muffins with Avocado, Samosa Pie and Savoury Couronne Bread

Don’t you find that eating outdoors somehow increases your appetite?

Cheese Straws with Beetroot Dip, Feta and Pesto Quiches, Cheese Bites, Beetroot Tarts, Duck Sausage Rolls

We certainly all tucked in with gusto to the lovely duck sausage rolls, corn muffins, cheese straws, mini feta and pesto quiches, cheese bites, beetroot and ricotta tarts, ham and cheese couronne bread (do you get the feeling we all like cheese a lot?!) and Jayne’s magnificent Samosa Pie.  Top tip for bakers – consider adding flavour to your pastry.  Curry spices in the hot water crust for the Samosa Pie, orange zest in the sausage roll pastry and pesto in the quiches really made a difference.

White Chocolate, Cranberry and Banana Muffins

Once we’d finished basically stuffing ourselves with the savouries, there was just enough room to finish off with one of those lovely muffins.

Next month is our first birthday party, so we’ll be back with our usual hosts – Toscanaccio – for a Big Birthday Celebration!  I hope many of the bakers who’ve baked with us during this year will be able to

join us but it is also lovely to welcome new faces too..

Our bakers enjoying the picnic

The full list of bakes for our Picnic event was:

Mandy – Corn Muffins with Avocado and Cheese Straws with Beetroot Dip and Horseradish Cream

Abigail – Feta and Red Pesto Quiches

Jayne – Lamb Samosa Pie

Jan T – Beetroot and Ricotta Tarts

Chelsea – Savoury Brioche Couronne, stuffed with Mozzarella, Parma Ham and Basil

Jan H – Cheese Bites

Cat – Duck and Orange Sausage Rolls

Vicky – White Chocolate, Cranberry and Banana Muffins

Boozy Bakes – July 2018

We held our Boozy Bakes event during the record breaking July heatwave, which caused more than a few problems!  Our usual venue was somewhat warm and we were worried about whether the bakes would survive, so at short notice our friends at Cabinet Rooms (result – they have air conditioning!) kindly offered to host us instead.  We were very grateful for the lovely cool environment in their impressive and comfortable underground Foreign Office!

Enjoying cakes in the Foreign Office

Having to change venue at short notice wasn’t the extent of the problems though.  The heat did also cause a few of our bakers issues with their preparations: the jelly on the Jaffa cake melted, the cheesecake filling wouldn’t set (uh oh, the indignity of a soggy bottom) and the Tiramisu ended up more like Tiramisoup.  It was a bit like one of those Bake Off episodes where they’re all trying to work on their cakes actually inside the fridge.  We have a lot more sympathy now for a bunch of amateur bakers trying to bake inside a hot tent!

Boozy Bakes

Our Boozy Bakes theme inspired a range of bakes, using a good variety of different options from the drinks cabinet.  Bakes featured beer, tequila, rum, Marsala wine, amaretto and Cointreau.  No savoury bakes this month though.  I’m guessing the heat put our bakers off from making a steak and ale pie, or a beer bread for example.  Both perhaps a bit unseasonal!

Here’s a run down of the Boozy Bakes we enjoyed:

Let’s start with Mandy’s Beer and

Beer and Peanut Cupcakes

Peanut Cupcakes – beautifully presented, moist and tasty.  The peanut brittle stuff on top was particularly good.

Next Jayne’s stunning Mojito Cheesecakes, complete with a tequila shot and salt!  Check out that vibrant lime jelly.

Mojito Cheesecakes with Tequila shots

Cat’s Tiramisu was surprisingly her first ever.  Given her love of all things Italian we were stunned she’d never made this classic before – and it was

Tiramisu, Amaretto Sour Cake and Giant Boozy Jaffa Cake

gorgeous.  Authentic and tasty without being too rich.  Vicky’s Amaretto Sour Cake tasted just like a Bakewell Tart with that irresistible cherry and almond combination.  We all went back for seconds.  And despite looking a bit like a cowpat on a plate Chelsea’s Giant Boozy Jaffa Cake delivered exactly what it said on the tin.

Some great wines, beers and gins to accompany our bakes from Cabinet Rooms’ great selection rounded off a lovely, if somewhat boozy, evening.