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

All American Bakes – July 2019

July’s theme was All American and our bakers once again came up with an impressive array of both sweet and savoury classics.

All American Bakes made by our bakers

On the savoury side we were treated to two types of cornbread, both of which were delicious.  (Note to self, must look out a recipe and bake some sometime.)  Cornbread predates modern American history as Native Americans were grinding and using corn well before the Mayflower sailed.  There’s a debate over whether it should be plain, or whether cheese and chillies should be added.

Cheddar and Jalapeno Cornbread
Cheddar & Jalapeno Cornbread

Having had exemplars of both on the night, I think they were both tasty in their own right (and trust me, I ate enough of it to know!)  Cornbread tends to be thought of as a southern speciality now, but according to this article in the Guardian, (which also contains a recipe) there is a northern version too:  https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2014/sep/18/how-to-cook-perfect-cornbread

Jayne also introduced us to Hush Puppies – no, not the shoes.

Hush Puppies and Corn Muffins

These are delicious little fried scraps of cornmeal batter, mixed with whatever is to hand.  In this case, bacon.  What’s not to love?

Legend has it they were literally made by fishermen and soldiers to throw to their dogs to try to get them to quiet their barking!  Most of us had never heard of them before, but we’re all big fans now.  They certainly kept us quiet!

Black Bottom Cupcakes, Apple Pie and Brownies

You’re probably already getting this idea that none of this food was exactly low calorie, and that continued with some indulgent sweet treats.  We enjoyed both Apple Pie and Pecan Pie, plus some classic Brownies and (new to some of us) Black Bottom Cupcakes – which are essentially rich Chocolate Cupcakes with Cheesecake mix swirled through them.

Pecan Pie
Pecan Pie

It was really good to see another new face this month, we’re a friendly bunch and we’re always open to new members.  We’re united by a love of baking and trying recipes out, plus we love eating the results.  If it tastes good we’re not worried whether it looks like the picture in the book or not!  Some of our members like to challenge themselves to try new recipes or techniques, or practise something they’ve learnt.  Others like the opportunity to bake without having to eat it all themselves, and others still are just cake fiends!  So, if you’ve been thinking about joining us but haven’t yet please do come along and say hello.  Our next event is 13th August when the theme is Summer Lovin’ and then on 10th September we’ll be celebrating our 2nd birthday with a Famous Double theme!

Full list of bakes for our All American event:

Marina – Brownies

Jayne – Corn Muffins with Bacon Jam, and Hush Puppies

Faye – Apple Pie

Cat – Cheddar and Jalapeno Cornbread with Sour Cream

Tina – Black Bottom Cupcakes

Chelsea – Pecan Pie

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!

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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.