European Bakes – May 2019

This month our European Bakes theme celebrated the ‘love it or hate’ Eurovision song contest, which hadn’t taken place at the time we met – although I don’t think any of us were surprised with our subsequent poor showing!  Despite it all feeling slightly ironic amidst the current Brexit chaos our bakers managed to cover a good spread of European countries with their bakes both sweet and savoury.  This time, for the first time in our nearly two-year history, we didn’t have any actual cakes!  (Jan’s Polish Apple Cake actually being more similar to a pie or tart.)  We also had a last minute change of venue due to a staff shortage at our usual home, and were kindly welcomed and made to feel at home at the Hyde Tavern.

A good spread of savouries included lamb kebabs with homemade flatbreads (Greece),

Flatbreads, kebab, pizza, quiche

a Tartiflette pizza (combining the Italian classic of pizza with a traditional French Alpine recipe), a Quiche Lorraine – chosen because that was the most exotic thing Faye’s family used to eat when she was growing up – and an Irish Guinness Wheaten Bread, made to Naomi’s Mum’s own secret recipe.  It was delicious with a good spreading of butter.  Naomi had worried that she wouldn’t meet her Mum’s high standard, but she said it was a good one and we all agreed, many of us going back for seconds.  Bonus points for the Irish flag too – lovingly made by Naomi’s housemate.

Guinness Wheaten Bread

Then it was onto the sweet treats.

Buns, bread, tarts

A thickly iced indulgent tray of Nordic Cinnamon Buns from Tina, working with yeasted dough for the first time in a long time, a Ruffled Milk Pie (a sort of baked custard affair with filo pastry) from Vicky, an intriguing Szarlota (Polish Apple Cake) from Jan which uses grated frozen pastry on top to create a crumble like texture, and a true labour of love from Michelle with a Povitica; a Croatian bread flavoured with walnuts and spices and layered into beautiful swirls.  This had to be rolled out to the length of one metre and the recipes advised doing this on a bedsheet to facilitate the rolling up.  The metre long dough sausage is then layered into a loaf tin to create the pretty swirled sections of the bread.  (Apparently, on his return from school, Michelle’s son wanted to know why his dinosaur duvet was downstairs and covered in flour!)  This recipe was once used as a Technical Challenge on the Great British Bake Off so it was a brave bake to attempt, but Michelle definitely gave the Bake Off contestants a run for their money.  Just look at those beautiful swirls:

Povitica – Croatian Walnut Bread

We next meet for our Love Local event on 11th June – each bake should feature at least one ingredient made, grown or produced in Hampshire.  Luckily, there’s A LOT of choice!

Here’s the full run down of European Bakes:
Faye – Quiche Lorraine (France)
Jayne – Lamb Kebabs with Homemade Flatbreads (Greece)
Chelsea – Tartiflette Pizza  (France/Italy)
Naomi – Guinness Wheaten Bread  (Ireland)
Vicky – Ruffled Milk Pie (Greek)
Jan H – Szarlota Apple Cake (Poland)
Tina – Iced Cinnamon Buns (Norway)
Michelle – Povitica Walnut Bread (Croatia)

Easter Egg-stravaganza! – April 2019

This month our bakers did us proud with an Easter Egg-stravaganza, producing some traditional celebration bakes alongside some really good, fun bakes featuring eggs, chocolate and even lambs!

Only one savoury bake this month but it was a definite triumph – a clever twist on the Roscon de Reyes (or King Cake) which features in Spanish Epiphany celebrations but is also part of the New Orleans Carnival tradition in the period leading up to Lent.  Traditionally sweet, Jayne turned this one savoury, creating layers of beautifully pillowy dough filled with ham and cheese and decorated with olives and peppers.  Most of us went back for seconds!

Another traditional bake was little Simnel Cakes, complete with the 11 little spheres on top said to represent the disciples of Jesus.  (Judas, of course, is not included in their number, being considered a traitor by this point in the Easter story).  We also had an Easter Egg Challah – an enriched, braided dough traditionally made for the Jewish Sabbath and for important holidays.  Three braids represent truth, peace and justice.  This particular recipe (not entirely traditional) had sugar in – and the leftovers made amazing French toast!  Our final traditional bake was these pretty star shaped Pardulas, an Easter treat in Sardinia; pastry filled with a ricotta cheese and sugar mixture, flavoured with saffron and citrus.

After all that culture, we descended into pure decadence with a riot of chocolate, mini eggs and these very cute little lamb and butterfly cupcakes.  New baker Naomi created these with the help of Pinterest and they were almost too pretty to eat.  We also tucked into a Chocolate Orange Nest cake (made with All Bran so it must be a little bit healthy, right?), a Chocolate Guinness Cake, Cardamom and Lavender Easter Cupcakes (made with eggs from Barbie’s own chickens) and a very indulgent Italian Tres Leche Cake – named for the three milks (condensed, evaporated and double cream) poured over the sponge after it’s baked to soak it through.

The full list of this month’s bakes was:

Jayne – Savoury Roscon de Reyes

Mandy – Chocolate Guinness Easter Cake

Vicky – Simnel Cupcakes

Chelsea – Easter Egg Challah Bread

Naomi – Lamb and Butterfly Vanilla Cupcakes

Sharon – Italian Tres Leche Cake

Ann – Chocolate Orange Nest Cake

Cat – Sardinian Pardulas

Barbie – Cardamom and Lavender Cupcakes

Next month we’re celebrating Eurovision with Continental Classics.  Who knows what our creative bakers will come up with for that!

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

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

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