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

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!

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