Hand Me Down Recipes – March 2018

For only the second time in our history, we had all sweet and no savoury bakes for our ‘Hand Me Downs’ event in March.  The idea behind this month’s club was to share a recipe that you had been given by someone else and we had a lovely variety of classic family recipes as well as recipes gleaned from friends and colleagues.

A table full of Hand Me Down recipes

Cat said that baking her Mum’s Apple Crumble Cake made the whole house smell like her childhood home – isn’t it interesting how some smells can instantly transport us back to other times and places?  Jan also chose a family classic, remembering being given scones and tea at her Gran’s, so treated us to pecan and raisin scones with a rhubarb and ginger jam.

Scones, cupcakes and shortbreads

Jan was struck by how simple older recipes are and how little flavour some baked goods had; perhaps a reflection of the far more limited range of ingredients available to bakers back then.  Do we realise how lucky we are now to have such a range of flavours available to us?

Mandy also drew on her family heritage to give us Kugel – a baked pudding in principle a little like rice pudding but using pasta or noodles baked with cottage cheese, cream cheese, apple, raisins and cinnamon.  This was literally a hand me down – Mandy learnt to make this by watching her mum and aunts cook and doesn’t use a recipe, just simply knowing how it’s done.  It wasn’t entirely traditional though – Mandy is so determined not to give us brown food so she added red food colouring to the cooking water for the noodles!

Kugel – untraditionally red

The Kugel was kindly delivered to us hot, straight from the oven, and it was delicious.  It also eats well cold as I found out the next morning when it was a bit of a treat for breakfast.

All this reminiscing about childhood foods led to a discussion of words/phrases which are used in a particular way within your family but which would mean nothing to an outsider – it would seem we all have them.  Cat’s family’s Frog Crunch doesn’t of course contain frogs (crunchy or otherwise), but it is apparently a very good description nonetheless.

Getting back to the cake, Vicky chose to make a Carrot and Sultana Cake from a hand me down recipe book given to her by a colleague, and our other bakers used friends’ recommendations to produce ‘Disappearing’ cookies (they really did), shortbread and cupcakes.

Carrot and Sultana Cake
Apple Crumble Cake
‘Disappearing’ Pecan and White Chocolate Cookies

The theme for our April event is ‘The Spice of Life’ – perhaps that’ll persuade a few of our bakers to go savoury!

The full list of ‘Hand Me Down’ bakes was:

Jayne – Mantecados (Spanish shortbreads with sesame seeds and ground almonds) and Raspberry and Honey Salted Shortbread

Tina – Gin Drizzle and Lemon Drizzle Cupcakes

Chelsea – Disappearing Cookies (Pecan and White Chocolate)

Cat – Apple Crumble Cake

Jan – Pecan and Raisin Scones with Rhubarb Ginger Jam

Mandy – Kugel

Vicky – Carrot and Sultana Cake

Deb also made a Chocolate Fudge Cake but was unable to join us on the night due to work pressures – we were sad not to be able to share it but hope she enjoyed eating it.

See you all again on 17th April (a week later than our usual second Tuesday meet up – this one’s the third Tuesday).

A Celebration of Pancakes – February 2018

In February we met on Shrove Tuesday so our theme simply had to be ‘A Celebration of Pancakes’.   Pancakes are traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday because, as the last day before Lent, it was customary to use up all the ‘fat’ or rich foods before the Lenten fast.  In other countries, this is Mardi Gras (literally ‘Fat Tuesday’) when not only are rich foods are eaten but there are also carnival celebrations with music, dancing and costumes.  The Carnivals in Rio and Venice are famous examples of this.

But, back to our bakes.  Some thought this would be a difficult theme but our bakers rose to the challenge, showing off a variety of cakes and bakes.

Celebrating Pancakes!

Nutella is obviously a popular choice of pancake topping for our sweet-toothed bakers as we had three Nutella bakes –

More Nutella than banana in this loaf!

a beautiful Nutella and Hazelnut Twist bread, Nutella and Banana Loaf and Nutella cookies.  Other sweet bakes featured blueberries, lemon, honey and chocolate.

Blueberry Cake

 

 

 

Maple Bacon Brownies were an unusual recipe featuring this month and didn’t taste as odd as you might expect; the bacon simply acted a bit like the salt in salted caramel.

We had two savoury bakes this month – one featuring actual pancakes (I know it’s not strictly baking but if the Great British Bake Off can do batter then so can we).

Polish Pancake Croquettes

Pancake Croquettes, a Polish recipe, stuffed with sauerkraut and mushrooms and served with a mushroom sauce was our actual pancake bake and our other savoury was a delicious King Cake filled with a white pudding sausage made with turkey mince and herbs.

Savoury King Cake

The pastry for this apparently has yeast in and it made for a very light, crisp and tasty little pie ring.  King Cakes (whether sweet or savoury) are a traditional Mardi Gras food and are also related to the Galette des Rois we saw in January for Epiphany.

The full list of bakes this month was:

Mandy – Blueberry Cake

Cat – Banana and Nutella Loaf

Tracey – Savoury King Cake

Jayne – Nutella and Hazelnut Twist

Louise – Lemon and Poppyseed Bundt

Vicky – Nutella Cookies

Faye – Honey and fruit Belgian buns

David – Maple Bacon Brownies

Chelsea – Polish Pancake Croquettes

 

P.S. Apologies for the lack of photos – a technical issue with the camera (sadly largely due to operator error) meant I lost most of them.  Must do better next month when we’re baking ‘Hand Me Downs.’

Something New for the New Year

January’s theme of ‘Something New’ gave our bakers a chance to try out new recipe books they’d been given for Christmas, or to start the year by having a go at a recipe they’d been meaning to try for ages but somehow hadn’t ever quite got round to.

Cakes and Fizz

Luckily none of the nine of us appeared to be on the healthy eating bandwagon (or at least we were prepared to take the day off) and, given that we meet in a wine shop, dry January wasn’t much in evidence either.  In fact, since we were all experimenting with something new, it was more like Tryanuary – which, let’s be honest, is much more fun.  And try we most certainly did, tucking in to a lovely array of bakes, again with a good mix of sweet and savoury on offer.

January’s savoury bakes – dahl and naan, cheese biscuit elephants, turkey ham tarts and chicken sausage rolls

We started with a beautifully presented lentil, coconut and tomato dahl served with homemade coriander naan, and progressed through chicken sausage rolls, savoury tarts and Mandy’s beautiful and bright Rainbow Bagels.  After I mentioned that the photos of our last meeting were very ‘brown food’ dominant, Mandy was determined that wasn’t going to be the case this month, as you can see!

Rainbow Bagels

These were definitely a labour of love with each of the doughs needing to be coloured and kneaded separately before being twisted back together, shaped, boiled then baked.

Jayne also made us a really fun bake, trying out her new 3D biscuit cutter to give us cheese biscuit elephants.

January’s sweet bakes – spice date and walnut bundt, egg nog loaf, macarons, galette des rois and coconut macaroons

On the sweet side, we enjoyed macarons (a brave bake as they’re notoriously difficult to get right), a spiced Date and Walnut Bundt cake, coconut macaroons, and Galette des Rois, a French puff pastry tart with boozy almond cream in the middle traditionally made for Epiphany, which was just a day or two before our meeting.  Despite clearly not having sealed the pastry properly and a substantial amount of the almond cream having streamed out all over my oven I was relieved that some had remained inside the galette so it did actually taste good.

We also enjoyed two very unusual bakes – an Egg Nog loaf cake which was absolutely delicious and a Tuscan Spinach Tart.

Tuscan Sweet Spinach Tart

Given that the ingredients included spinach, ricotta cheese and pine nuts it was a bake you would normally expect to be savoury, but it in this case the tart was served sweet.  Tuscan food is traditionally peasant food – hearty and wholesome, designed to fill tummies with cheap and easily available ingredients, so it’s possible this dish resulted from people trying to do something new and different with ingredients they used all the time.  A great choice therefore for ‘Something New’ as it was certainly new to all of us and surprisingly tasty.

With all new bakes and a new member who says she’s coming back again, this was an exciting start to the year.  Our next meeting is taking place on Shrove Tuesday so in February we’re celebrating pancakes and pancake flavours.

The full list of bakes from our January ‘Something New’ meeting was:

Something New for January

Faye – Macarons with vanilla buttercream

Mandy – Rainbow Bagels

Lynn – Coriander Naan served with Tomato, Lentil and Coconut Dahl

Vicky – Spice Date and Walnut Bundt Cake

Tina – Chicken Sausage Rolls and Turkey Ham Tarts

Cat – Tuscan Sweet Spinach Tart

Jayne – Egg Nog Loaf Cake and 3D cheese biscuit elephants

Jan – Coconut Macaroons

Chelsea – Galette des Rois

Festive Flavours – December 2017

The theme for this month’s Cakes and Bakes was ‘Festive Flavours’.  This time of year is such an exciting time for homebakers so we were all excited to try something new, or share family favourites with each other.  Not only did our bakes reflect Christmas traditions and flavours, but our meeting on 12th December also happened to fall on the

Latkes
Happy Hanukkah! Celebrating with Latkes

first day of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah so Mandy treated us to latkes – a deep fried treat eaten with either soured cream or apple sauce.  Fried food is traditionally eaten at Hanukkah since it is a festival which celebrates the miracle of the oil.  Mandy explained that a small group of Jews, fighting for their religious freedom, found themselves in hiding with only enough oil for one day of heat and light but miraculously this oil lasted for seven days.  Now, Hanukkah is celebrated with lighting of candles and lamps, and eating of foods fried in oil.  It was interesting to hear this story and be introduced to this festival, which most of us knew very little about.

After starting with the lovely latkes (which Mandy managed to get to us warm, despite terrible traffic problems!), we had some more savouries to enjoy before diving into the sweet treats.  Jayne made a festively decorated Christmas tree of Cheese, Bacon and Cranberry scones (which were so delicious some of us may have indulged ourselves with more than one..) and Tracey put in a huge amount of effort, making her own filo pastry for her sausagemeat, brie and cranberry parcels.  I’m not sure anyone else fancies trying filo as frankly not even professional chefs make their own, so we’re glad that Tracey has tried this and reported back to the rest of us!

Sausage, Brie and Cranberry Parcels
Sausage, Brie and Cranberry Filo Parcels
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Cheese, Bacon and Cranberry Scones

Once we’d sampled the savouries, it was time to dive in for the sweet stuff.

Christmas Tea Loaf
Christmas Tea Loaf

Our bakers treated us to a cornucopia of Christmassy flavours including marzipan, dried fruits, spices, nuts, ginger and of course just a little bit of booze.  We were thoroughly spoilt for choice (not to mention thoroughly stuffed) after sampling Banana, Pecan and Rum Caramel self-saucing pudding, Stollen, Rum and Cranberry Cheesecake, Christmas tea loaf cake and Lebkuchen.

Lebkuchen
Iced Lebkuchen
Rum and Cranberry Cheesecake
Rum and Cranberry Cheesecake

It was one of those months where nearly everyone had something go slightly wrong with their bake, from putting in too much of one ingredient to leaving out an ingredient, textural issues and minor collapses due to time pressure – but it didn’t matter in the least.  Everything was really tasty and since we’re just people who enjoy baking (and eating) it wasn’t in the least a problem that some bakes weren’t perhaps as perfect as we may have hoped.  Actually, it was very funny as everyone arrived looking downcast, worried that they’d done something wrong.  We all started to laugh in the end as we realised we were all in the same boat!

Stollen
Stollen
Banana, Pecan and Caramel Pudding
Banana, Pecan and Rum Caramel self-saucing pudding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were also supposed to have been able to enjoy an actual Christmas Cake from Faye, but sadly she was ill and unable to join us at the last minute.  She sent us this photo though:

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Christmas Cake

It looks delicious so it was a shame we were unable to try it, but hopefully Faye will make a quick recovery and be able to join us again in the new year.  Our January meeting is ‘Something New’ so we’re all looking forward to trying out a bake we haven’t made before.  I don’t know about everyone else but my problem is going to be selecting just one recipe from the huge list I’ve built up of recipes that I’d like to try one day!

Merry Christmas all!  We’ll be back with more bakes in 2018.

 

The full list of bakes from our Festive Flavours meeting was:

Mandy – potato latkes with sourced cream or apple sauce

Tracey – Sausagemeat, Brie and Cranberry Filo Parcels

Jayne – Festive Cheese, Bacon and Cranberry Scones

Louise – Banana, Pecan and Rum Caramel Self-Saucing Pudding

Chelsea – Stollen

Vicky – Christmas Tea Loaf Cake

Jan – Rum and Cranberry Cheesecake

Cat – Lebkuchen (soft spiced gingerbread biscuits)

Faye – Christmas Cake

All Saints and All Souls – our November meeting

The theme for our November meeting was All Saints and All Souls, so bakes were inspired by Hallowe’en, Day of the Dead and Remembrance – reflecting the number of festivals at this time of year which focus on remembering ancestors.  Ten bakers, including four attending the club for the first time, enjoyed a range of tasty and creative bakes.  We had cakes, scones, breads, cupcakes, cookies and even a pancake!

IMG_8100

Music is my Life Blood cake
Music is my Life Blood cake

The most creative interpretation of the brief was from Mandy, who said that festivals make her think of music so she created this clever ‘Music is My Life Blood’ chocolate cake which also incorporated an unusual ingredient – mayonnaise!

We had another unusual ingredient from Cat in the form of a Rosemary Remembrance cake.  Vicky majored on pumpkins and gave us both a sweet and a savoury bake.

 

 

Coffin cake
Coffin cake

David, for his first bake with us, produced a stunning coffin cake and another first timer, Abigail, treated us to her grandmother’s tea loaf complete with the original handwritten recipe.  We had the battle of the breads as both Bailey and Chelsea chose to make Pan de Muerto, the Mexican sweet spiced bread made for Day of the Dead celebrations.  Bailey flavoured hers with star anise whilst Chelsea chose cinnamon, and both used an orange glaze.  This was Bailey’s first time making bread and she kneaded it by hand, so a lot of effort went into that.  Chelsea had mechanical assistance!

Breads and Loaves
Breads and loaves

Magie gave us a very traditional bake in the form of Soul Cakes – round biscuits marked with a cross which were traditionally given out at the door to children or the poor who begged for them in exchange for saying prayers for the souls of the givers.  Some believe this tradition to be origin of trick or treating, a more recent Hallowe’en custom which Louise referenced with her bake – Chocolate Orange Trick or Treat Cupcakes.  Delicious and decorated with Revels for the roulette element of the ‘trick’ – who would get the dreaded coffee cream?!  Allie’s apple pancake reminded us of the traditions of apple bobbing.

Scones and cakes and biscuits and a pancake
Scones and cakes and biscuits and a pancake

At our next meeting on 12th December we’ll be celebrating Festive Flavours.  Christmas is such an exciting time for homebakers so I think we’re all looking forward to a feast!

The full list of bakes for All Saints and All Souls was:

Mandy – Music is my Life Blood Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
Cat – Rosemary Remembrance Cake
Vicky – Pumpkin Scones and Pumpkin and Honey Cake
Bailey – Star Anise and Orange Pan de Muerto
Abigail – Grandmother’s Tea Loaf
Magie – Soul Cakes
Allie – Hallowe’en Apple Pancake
Louise – Chocolate Orange Trick or Treat Cupcakes
Chelsea – Cinnamon and Orange Pan de Muerto
David – Vanilla Coffin cake

A Tribute to the Great British Bake Off (October meeting)

The theme for our October Meeting was ‘A Tribute to the Great British Bake Off’, with our bakers invited to make any of the recipes which have featured on the show in the past.  It certainly inspired everyone, with some lovely bakes produced, although one of our number (who shall remain nameless) confessed to never having actually seen Bake Off – we were shocked!  We also welcomed three new bakers this month as well; so good to see even more new faces joining us.

Between us we managed to produce a wider variety of bakes than last month, with a good mix of both sweet and savoury dishes on offer.

Our tribute to The Great British Bake Off

We basically enjoyed a three course meal, starting with Tracey’s excellent fougasse bread served with oil and vinegar for dipping, having an appetiser of Chelsea’s lamb, apple and rosemary sausage rolls with homemade puff pastry before indulging in a slice of Cat’s magnificent game pie with its amazing hot water crust.  We were spoilt for choice with dessert (although of course we tried them all!) – Mandy’s Chocolate Orange layer cake, Vicky’s Frosted Walnut cake, Faye’s Grapefruit and Ginger Meringue Pie and Bailey’s unusual Fresh Fig and Earl Grey cake.

Bake Off Bakes

Some of us even managed to accidentally reproduce similar conditions to those found in the actual Bake Off tent.  Cat can vouch for the fact that a game pie does indeed produce a lot of liquid, Chelsea learnt that there are no shortcuts with puff pastry and Faye that toasting meringue is a very delicate job requiring total and undivided attention.  Tracey produced her fougasse under a very tight timescale strongly resembling a typical Paul Hollywood Technical Challenge, having forgotten to start her dough the night before and therefore getting up extra early in the morning to prove her dough before work!

As lovely as our September cake fest was, this time I really enjoyed indulging in some savouries before hitting the sugar.  Somehow it seemed to allow more room for seconds too…

Our first Meeting

The first meeting of Winchester Cakes and Bakes was held on Tuesday 12th September , with the theme of ‘Your Signature Bake’.  Twelve bakers attended for a relaxed evening of sharing food and chatting.  Our hosts, Toscanaccio, made excellent suggestions for wines which would complement the food, whilst those who were driving enjoyed hot drinks.

Some of our Signature Bakes

For some reason, this month’s theme led all of us to cake so it was a very sweet evening.  We had a great time sampling each other’s bakes – most of us managed to try a little bit of all 12!

That’s what dinner looks like on a Cakes and Bakes night!

There were some good stories as to why this particular bake is a signature bake.  Jayne brought a cake that goes well with her favourite tipple (red wine) and Lynn treated us to her school Carrot Cake recipe which she has been using with reliable results for years.  Vicky made an unusual cake with parsnips because she is always trying to use up vegetables that she has grown, whilst Amanda’s cake is a favourite because it has only four ingredients and can easily be made from the store cupboard so is ideal for last minute visitors.

On the other hand, some of us had difficulty in choosing a Signature Bake as we constantly try out new recipes so rarely bake the same thing twice.

It was all about the cake!

Instead, we chose bakes related to the signature theme in other ways – Cat, our expert in Italian wines and drinks, produced a Campari and Orange Cake, I chose a bake sharing my name and Bailey made a cake from her favourite film, Walter Mitty!

 

 

Although this month it was all about the cake, we still managed to produce a good variety of flavours.  The full list was:

Rey – Chocolate and Banana Bread

Deb – Lemon Cheesecake

Lynn – Carrot Cake

Bailey – Clementine Cake

Jan – Dutch Apple Cake

Vicky – Parsnip and Syrup Cake

Cat – Campari and Orange Cake

Louise – White Chocolate, Lemon and Passionfruit Tart

Amanda – Orange and Almond Cake

Jayne – Chocolate and Fresh Ginger Cake

Chelsea – Chelsea Buns

Caroline – Lemon and Blueberry Cake

More cake
Helping ourselves to cake

 

 

 

 

 

Next month our theme is ‘A Tribute to the Great British Bake Off’.  With over 400 recipes in the Bake Off archives we are hoping there will be something there to inspire everyone.  Perhaps there will be more of a mix of sweet and savoury but we shall see when we meet again on Tuesday 10th October.  I’m looking forward to it already.