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

 

 

 

 

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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.

Afternoon Tea – June 2018

Our June event saw us enjoying ‘Afternoon Tea’ – for most of us this meant sweet treats but we did have a couple of interesting savoury bakes too.  We were also joined by Marion, a local lady who demonstrates Thermomix, and who kindly brought along with her some carrot cake and a deconstructed lemon tart to fit with the theme of the evening.

Afternoon Tea – a table full of treats
Ciabatta Rolls and Savoury Scones

Our tea started with Faye’s ciabatta rolls and Vicky’s great tasting savoury scones – feta, spring onions and garlic no less.  We then moved on to the sweet stuff!

Mandy provided us with the classic English afternoon tea treat of Victoria Sponge, beautifully decorated with brightly coloured flowers, made using new nozzles she was trying out for the first time.

Sweet Treats

No Afternoon Tea would be complete without scones with jam and cream (or is that cream and jam?) – an emergency early morning bake by Chelsea as it didn’t look like anyone else was going to bring them along!  We also enjoyed a Dutch apple cake, Lemon layer cake, Caramelised Pomegranate and Carrot cake and Red Velvet cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting.  We all learnt a valuable lesson from Tina’s trials with this recipe:  make sure your cream cheese is room temperature before you start trying to beat it!

Debutante Steve made these stunning raspberry and elderflower eclairs

Raspberry and Elderflower Eclairs

(seasonal as well as beautiful) – very impressive for his first attempt at choux pastry and really tasty as the sweetness of the elderflower brilliantly balanced the sharpness of the raspberry.

Rhubard and Amaretto Flowerpots

Absolutely delicious seasonal recipe was Jayne’s Rhubarb and Amaretto flowerpots.  I must ask for the recipe for these!

A number of our members were fascinated by the Thermomix and what it can achieve.  Marion kindly demonstrated the range of operations that it can deliver by creating for us a frozen berry sorbet and hot custards (both vanilla and chocolate).  Her presentation was very relaxed and our bakers had a chance to get their hands on the machine and try it out for size.  It’s always nice to play with a new bit of baking kit, isn’t it!

Members enjoying the Thermomix demo

Another great event; lots of tasty bakes, baking chat, a little bit of learning and a thorough sugar rush by the end of the evening!  Thank you to Toscanaccio for hosting us.

Here’s the full list of bakes:

Jan – Dutch Apple Cake

Mandy – Victoria Sponge with Lemon Curd

Faye – Ciabatta Rolls served with prosciutto and pate

Jayne – Rhubard and Amaretto Flowerpots

Chelsea – Caramelised Pomegranate and Carrot Cake and Lemonade Scones

Cat – Lemon Layer Cake

Steve – Raspberry and Elderflower Eclairs

Vicky – Feta, Spring Onion and Garlic Savoury Scones

Tina – Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese frosting

And, if you’re local to Winchester and interested to find out more about Thermomix and perhaps even enjoy a demonstration in your own home, you can catch Marion on Instagram – she’s marions_kitchen_uk

Holiday Memories – May 2018

Our May event, gave our bakers the chance to revive some of their favourite food memories from their holidays, and we were treated to a range of flavours both exotic and closer to home – taking us from Morocco, to Argentina, on a tour of the UK and into Europe.

Holiday Memories!
Scotch Eggs

A firm favourite was Jayne’s Scotch Eggs – in Jayne’s family apparently every long car journey starts with a scotch egg in the car en route so they always make her think of family holidays.  The combination of a lovely crispy breadcrumb coating, tasty sausagemeat seasoned with chorizo and thyme plus perfectly cooked ‘just runny’ eggs was a winning recipe.  There weren’t any of these left at the end of the evening, which is the best possible endorsement from your fellow bakers!

Rye Bread and Homemade Seaweed Butter

We were also very impressed with Cat’s effort in making her own seaweed butter to accompany her rye bread.  The latter was chosen to recall many European holidays, and the seaweed in the butter evoked memories of Welsh holidays, so an interesting mix.  Cat tells us butter is really easy to make and she’ll be making more.  It was certainly delicious.

Empanadas, and Chapattis with Tagine

Chelsea was reminiscing about backpacking through South America with her Argentinean empanadas – Chorizo and Cheese, with Cheese and Sweetcorn for the vegetarians.  Jan’s recent trip to Morocco was her inspiration as she treated us to a Chicken and Prune Tagine with homemade Chapattis.

The sweet bakes were equally as well received

Welsh Cakes, Chocolate and Banana Cake and Bakewell Cake

Wales came up again with Faye’s tasty Welsh cakes, Abigail gave us Chocolate and Banana Cake inspired by holidays in Austria (who have a great heritage of producing gorgeous cakes in their historic coffee shops) and Vicky treated us to a Bakewell Cake because visits to her grandmother always involved Mr Kipling Bakewell Slices!  An unusual recipe as it was a cake rather than the more traditional Bakewell Tart but just look at that lovely layer of fresh raspberries in the middle.  Vicky had promised the leftovers to her colleagues – they didn’t get much!

It was another great evening – very relaxed, everyone tucking in and enjoying the bakes.

Members tucking into cake and more!

We’ve also just announced the themes for our summer events – in July we’ll be making Boozy Bakes, in August we’re going on a picnic and in September we’ll be celebrating our First Birthday!  Lots of look forward to!  Full details on our Events page.

The full list of bakes from our May ‘Holiday Memories’ event is:

Jan – Moroccan Chicken and Prune Tagine with homemade Chapattis

Jayne – Scotch Eggs with Chorizo and Thyme

Chelsea – Argentinean Empanadas: Chorizo and Cheese, plus Cheese and Sweetcorn, with Avocado Salsa

Cat – Rye Bread with homemade Seaweed Butter

Vicky – Bakewell Cake

Faye – Welsh Cakes

Abigail – Austrian Chocolate and Banana Cake

Next up it’s Afternoon Tea, on Tuesday 12th June, 7.00pm at Toscanaccio