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

Summer Lovin’ – August 2019

This month we celebrated the flavours and occasions of summer, with bakes featuring fresh tastes of seasonal fruit and veg and reminding us of picnics.  It seems we are fairly similar in our tastes, with two impressive pies, and also two variations on the Lemon Drizzle cake!

Bakes made for Summer Lovin theme

We enjoyed a good balance of sweet and savoury.  Jane served her traditional pork pie with homemade chutney and piccalilli whilst Cat’s monster Three Bird Picnic Pie featured cherries: one of her favourite ingredients and of course only available for a few short weeks during the summer.

 

 

There was a real labour of love from Tracey who made her own puff pastry for her elegant Courgette and Pea tart and a colourful and tasty Beetroot, Spinach and Goats Cheese Tart from Chelsea.

 

On the sweet side, we enjoyed a Lemon & Elderflower Drizzle Cake to contrast with a Courgette & Lemon Drizzle Cake and a straight Courgette Cake, and an unusual but very moreish Banana Loaf with Almonds.

As Sue had a glut of cucumbers, she also kindly bought along an extra of cucumber smoothie made with cucumbers and yoghurt for us to sample.  It made for a really refreshing drink.

The full list of bakes was:

Jane – Pork Pie with Chutney and Piccalilli

Tracey – Courgette and Pea Tart with Homemade Puff Pastry

Cat – Three Bird Picnic Pie with Cherries

Chelsea – Beetroot, Goats Cheese and Spinach Tart

Sue – Courgette Cake

Tina – Lemon & Elderflower Drizzle Cake

Faye – Courgette & Lemon Drizzle Cake with Poppyseeds and Banana Loaf with Almonds

Next month we celebrate our 2nd Birthday with a Famous Doubles event!  See our Events page for full details of what’s coming up.

Love Local – June 2019

This year Hampshire Farmers Markets are celebrating 20 years, so we thought we’d join in with our June event themed ‘Love Local’. Each bake had to include at least one ingredient grown, made or produced in Hampshire and as usual our bakers did us proud.

cakes, tarts and scones made with Hampshire ingredientsMost of us edged towards the sweet stuff this time, although Cat gave us sunshine on a plate with this beautiful Goats Cheese, Tomato and Pesto TartGoats Cheese, Tomato and Wild Garlic Pesto Tart, featuring Isle of Wight Tomatoes and locally foraged wild garlic. Tina also gave us a savoury treat of Cheese Muffins featuring Old Winchester from Lyburn Cheese.

A good variety in the sweet bakes too, with Gin & Lemon Meringue Tarts featuring Bombay Sapphire gin, distilled in Overton just up the road from our Winchester base, a Honey Cake, Courgette and Lemon Muffins, an unusual (and tasty) Rhubarb Cake with a meringue topping, Lavender Scones with Longbarn Lavender (grown in nearby Alresford) and a Gingerbread made thick and sticky as it should be with Old Thumper Beer from Ringwood Brewery.

Adding a touch of colour to the proceedings, we also enjoyed this Strawberry & Cream Swiss Roll, Strawberry Swiss Rollmade with Hampshire strawberries. There’s nothing quite like the taste of an English strawberry in season, is there?

The full list of bakes for our June meeting was:

Cat – Goats Cheese, Tomato and Wild Garlic Pesto Tart

Tina – Old Winchester Cheese Savoury Muffins

Jenny – Gin & Lemon Meringue Tarts

Faye – Honey Cake and Courgette & Lemon Muffins

Chelsea – Strawberry & Cream Swiss Roll

Emma – Rhubarb Cake

Jan – Longbarn Lavender Scones

Vicky – Sticky Gingerbread with Ale

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)

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

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