Christmas Traditions – December 2019

For our December event this year, our bakers shared their Christmas baking traditions with us.

Christmas Traditions bakes

On the savoury side, it seems sausage rolls are a hit with our bakers at Christmastime (right in step with this year’s Christmas Number 1) as we had three different kinds!  Christmas Sausage Rolls Heather gave us Christmas sausage rolls complete with ham, sage and rum-soaked raisins (mmmmmmmm….) which remind her of her family’s annual Christmastime trip to her favourite restaurant in Keswick.  Chelsea made her chestnut and apple stuffing into a sausagemeat plait (it’s the only thing she’s cooked every single Christmas since was first introduced to stuffing that didn’t come out of a packet by one of her University housemates).  And Jan made her family favourite vegetarian sausage rolls (filled with all manner of tasty things including mushrooms, walnuts, onions, sundried tomatoes) into a beautiful Christmas wreath.  Move over Great Christmas Bake Off!

Mandy introduced us to Jerusalem Kodafa – Christmas Bakinga kind of cheesecake made with a cous cous base and flavoured with pistachios and honey.  Apparently it’s one of the few foods associated with the Jewish festival of Hannukah that isn’t deep fried!

Taking us into Europe, we had Marina’s traditional Lebkuchen (German spiced biscuits) and Cat impressively managed to produce Panforte, the Italian Christmas classic containing honey, nuts and dried fruit which originates from Siena and is notoriously difficult to bake.  For an interesting history of panforte, see this link:  https://www.thespruceeats.com/panforte-ancient-christmas-sweet-from-siena-4082544

Tina also went with those warm spiced festive flavours, giving us gingerbread biscuits, traditionally baked in her house to accompany the decorating of the tree.  In a twist on the traditional though, we had Gingerbread Darleks – because there’s always a Dr Who Christmas Special!  Finally, Faye took us back into more traditional territory with an elegant Christmas Cake.

Christmas Cake

We hope you enjoyed your Christmas baking too.  We’re back in the New Year with our Something New event on Tuesday 14th January.  A chance to try out a new recipe, work with a new ingredient or perhaps try a new piece of kit.

The full list of Christmas Traditions bakes was:

Heather – Christmas Sausage Rolls

Jan H – Vegetarian Sausage Christmas Wreath

Chelsea – Chestnut and Apple Stuffing Sausagemeat Plait

Mandy – Jerusalem Kodafa with Pistachio and Honey

Cat – Panforte

Marina – Lebkuchen

Tina – Gingerbread Darleks

Faye – Traditional Christmas Cake

Tea, Coffee and Hot Chocolate – November 2019

One of the good things about these long dark evenings and the nights drawing in is cosying up indoors with a nice hot drink and a slice of cake.  This month we combined the two, with our theme of Tea, Coffee and Hot Chocolate.  Unsurprisingly, it did lead to a lot of brown bakes!  But comfort food is another one of the things that’s good about winter, right?

Most of our bakers went for sweet bakes for this one, but (determined to do something savoury) Chelsea tried her hand at smoking some chicken and then used it to top some homemade blinis so we were able to start the evening with canapés!  (Although she did say it would have been easier to smoke the chicken if she’d had a round rack…) 

Many of our bakers thought this was a difficult theme to bake a savoury for – what would you have baked?

Representing tea, Earl Grey was certainly the order of the day featuring in no less than five bakes.

We had an elegant iced tea loaf from Naomi and a simpler version from Chelsea (made as a back up in case she oversmoked the chicken and it was too acrid).  Jayne wasn’t a fan of her Earl Grey and Citrus Knot Rolls but the rest of us loved them!  For her first time joining us Rose gave us a tasty Earl Grey and Chocolate Torte and Heather’s offering (yay – not brown!) was an Earl Grey and Lemon Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream.

Also using two of the three flavours were the Coffee and Chocolate Iced Squares, the Irish Cream and Chocolate Cheesecake and Cat’s complicated frozen dessert of Chocolate Meringue with Espresso Parfait and a Whisky Caramel Sauce.  I wish I’d got a better photo of it!  Vicky was determined to do something other than a cake this time, giving us some beautifully presented Coffee and Nutmeg Biscuits whilst poor Jan made her Mocha and Hazelnut Cake twice as it didn’t rise properly the first time.  I’m pleased to report that this one was absolutely divine.  (In fact it was so good, we asked her for the recipe – here it is:  https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1900/mocha-hazelnut-cake )

We’re all looking forward to our next meeting on Tuesday 10th December when we’re baking to the theme of Christmas Traditions – can’t wait to hear all the lovely Christmas memories that go along with the bakes.

The full list of bakes for our Tea, Coffee and Hot Chocolate event was:

Marina – Coffee Squares with Chocolate Icing
Jan – Mocha and Hazelbut Cake
Vicky – Coffee and Nutmeg Biscuits
Rose – Earl Grey and Chocolate Torte
Heather – Earl Grey and Lemon Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream
Chelsea – Tea Smoked Chicken Canapés with homemade Blinis, and Lady Grey Tea Loaf
Jayne – Earl Grey and Citrus Iced Knot Rolls
Naomi – Iced Earl Grey Tea Loaf
Cat – Chocolate Meringue with Espresso Parfait and Whisky Caramel Sauce
Tina – Irish Cream and Chocolate Cheesecake

Hallowe’en Spooktacular – October 2019

There were ghosts, ghouls and gore galore at our Hallowe’en Spooktacular event in October!  Our bakers really entered into the spirit of the evening, producing some fun and colourful bakes and a great mix of savouries and sweet treats for us to enjoy too.

Using the pumpkin as her centrepiece, Cat made some tasty pumpkin houmous accompanied by homemade savoury cracker biscuits.  We enjoyed rye and pumpkin seed Frankensteins and scare-dey cats, plus fennel and poppyseed pumpkins and spooks, all beautifully presented as well.  Pumpkin was also the base for Heather’s Spooky cupcakes featuring spiders, cobwebs and tombstones.  Heather also treated us to Strawberry and White Chocolate ghouls as a little extra!  Vicky’s Chocolate and Ginger cake, dripping with blood, also featured broken ‘glass’ inventively created from melted Glacier Mints!

Jayne’s monster Eyeball Pie was suitably gory as well as satisfyingly tasty – packed with pork and apricots and served with a fruity rhubarb chutney.  And Frankenstein featured again with Chelsea’s little Mint Chocolate Mini Rolls which were a fun addition to the evening.

We may have been a small gathering this month, but I think you’ll agree the bakes looked great!

Next time, we’re meeting on Tuesday 12th November and the theme will be Tea, Coffee and (Hot) Chocolate.  If you fancy joining us, new bakers are always welcome.

The full list of bakes for our Hallowe’en Spooktacular was:

Cat – Rye & Pumpkin Seed Crackers plus Fennel & Poppyseed Crackers with Pumpkin Houmous

Jayne – Pork and Apricot Eyeball Pie served with Rhubarb Chutney

Vicky – Chocolate & Ginger Gore Cake with Glass Shards

Heather – Spooky Pumpkin Cupcakes and White Chocolate Strawberry Ghouls

Chelsea – Mint Chocolate Frankenstein Mini Rolls

2nd Birthday: Famous Doubles – September 2019

We enjoyed some classic combos and some more unusual offerings for our Famous Doubles event, celebrating our 2nd Birthday.

Famous Doubles 2nd Birthday Bakes

On the savoury side, Cheese & Onion was the flavour of the night, with Cat producing cheese and onion flapjacks: tasty and topped with seeds, a really unusual twist on that classic flavour.

Savoury Bakes

We also tucked into a comforting cheese and onion pie, oozing with beautiful melting cheddar.

Bridging the gap between sweet and savoury was Jayne’s stunning Almond Fruit Cake, served with slices of cheese, together with an Egg & Bacon flan topped with fresh figs.

Almond Fruit Cake with Cheese

Then it was full steam ahead into a variety of cakes and biscuits.  Variations on the Bakewell theme proved popular with Cherry & Almond biscuits and an Apple and Blackberry Bakewell Tart.

Sweet Famous Doubles

Another combination clearly much loved by our bakers is Chocolate and Raspberry, with both double chocolate and raspberry brownies plus a White Chocolate and Raspberry cheesecake.  Finishing off the evening with elegance and style was Naomi’s tastefully decorated Coffee and Walnut Cake.

It was a shame that one of our regular bakers was unable to join in the celebrations because she’d managed to book a belated birthday Afternoon Tea treat on the same day.  She said her capacity for cake was limited and she didn’t think she’d manage two cakey events in one day.  Really??!

Over the two years we’ve been baking together, more than 20 bakers have joined us – new faces are always welcome.

The full list of bakes from this event was:
Cat – Cheese & Onion Flapjacks plus Cherry & Almond Biscuits
Faye – Egg & Bacon Flan with Fresh Figs
Tracey – Cheese & Onion Pie
Jan – Apple & Blackberry Bakewell Tart
Heather – Double Chocolate Raspberry Brownies
Jayne – Almond Fruit Cake with Cheese
Naomi – Coffee & Walnut Cake
Chelsea – White Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake

A Life of Pie – March 2019

Our March theme was ‘A Life of Pie’, and rather than an evening full of pastry, our bakers surpassed themselves with creative interpretations of the brief alongside more traditional classic pies.  We shared a tasty and varied feast with a good mix of both sweet and savoury bakes.

A Life of Pie

Those who chose savoury experimented with different types of pastry and usual fillings.

Savoury Pies

We had a classic suet pudding, filled with Beef, Ale and Parsnip – far from being stodgy the crust was surprisingly light and fluffy.  Jayne introduced us to Cuban pastry (made with cream cheese) for her delicious little lamb patties and Cat produced a splendid Chicken and Chorizo pie with a difference – the filling was solid, almost like a pate, and beautifully layered (providing some colour in what was otherwise very much a brown food month!).  Check out the chorizo and peas.  Intended to be served cold, this would make a wonderful picnic pie.

Chicken and Chorizo Picnic Pie

The sweet bakes also ranged from the traditional to the unusual.

Sweet Pies

Ann, joining us for the first time, treated us to a classic Apple and Blackberry Pie (although apparently her son got into a great deal of trouble for stealing a slice before she brought it along to our event!) – we can confirm it was definitely worth getting into trouble for!  Jan made a Key Lime Pie and Vicky got creative with both Ginger Whoopie Pies and the most creative bake of the night, these tasty Custard ‘Pi’ biscuits.

Custard Pi-es

Not only a great shape but a great taste too, with custard powder in the biscuit mix.

 

On the night we all enjoyed what was effectively a delicious three course meal – starting with the lamb patties and dip, through the other savoury pies to a choice of desserts.  Of course we all tasted them all!  (Well, that’s what Cakes and Bakes is all about…)

Next month we’re expecting another good variety of different bakes – looking forward to an Easter Egg-stravaganza!  What would you bake?

The full list of bakes from the Life of Pie event was:

Vicky – Custard ‘Pi’ Biscuits and Ginger Whoopie Pies

Jan H – Key Lime Pie

Jayne B – Cuban Pastry Lamb Patties with Aubergine and Feta

Ann – Winchester Apple and Blackberry Pie

Chelsea – Beef, Ale & Parsnip Suet Pudding

Cat – Chicken and Chorizo Picnic Pie

Baked with Love – February 2019

Love is in the air during February, and our bakers were no different!  Our Baked with Love event was a true Valentine’s feast of hearts and flowers, chocolate, pinks and reds – and not only did it look good it was all extremely tasty too.  We really were feeling the love.

Baked with Love

We started the evening with our two savoury bakes – both very creative!

Love for Home Grown and Home Made

Sue’s homemade bread croutons served with Egg Mayonnaise and Goats Cheese on a bed of Cavolo Nero and featuring squash as ‘the Crown Prince’ was made with her love of home grown and home prepared – and presented with its own little menu of Love.  And Jane chose to use all of her favourite flavours to create fantastic heart-shaped Cheese and Bacon Burger Pockets.  Imagine the flavour of the best burger you’ve ever had wrapped in gorgeous soft dough….  Mmmmmm…..

Hearts and Flowers

The heart-shaped theme continued with the sweet treats: Chocolate Cheesecake Swirl Brownies, Lavender Biscuits (with locally grown lavender from the lovely Long Barn at Alresford), a Chocolate Chestnut Torte and Shortbread.  New baker Barbi bought along some stunning pink and sparkly Rosewater Cupcakes – they were so amazingly light and fluffy, we had to ask her to share her secret with us!

Summer Fruits Pavlova

And Cat chose a very special bake for us.  She treated us to a Summer Fruits Pavlova – because it was the dessert served at her wedding.  A true romantic.

Perhaps this will give you some inspiration for your own Valentine’s baking.

We all had a lot of fun with our bakes this month, and we’re looking forward to a very different challenge next month.  It’ll be all about the pastry for A Life of Pie!

The full list of February’s creations, ‘Baked with Love’, is:

Sue – Egg Mayonnaise with Cavolo Nero and Squash served on homemade croutons

Jayne – Bacon Cheeseburger Heart Shaped Pockets

Cat – Summer Fruits Pavlova

Vicky – Chocolate Chestnut Torte

Faye – Shortbread Hearts

Barbi – Rosewater Cupcakes

Jan H – Lavender Heart Biscuits

Chelsea – Chocolate Cheesecake Swirl Brownie Hearts

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