A taste of the underground with the Clandestine Cake Club
Eleanor Gaskarth takes inspiration from a group of guerilla bakers – and her mum – as she delves into some cake making.
Baking is not my forte. There’s something about the precision required, the array of equipment, the vast potential for error that diminishes some of the joy I feel when throwing things in a pan to see how they taste.
But in the pursuit of delicious treats we must triumph over such petty reservations and mathematical shortcomings. And a key component in this battle is a good, straightforward cookbook.
A new offering on the market, The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook, features over 120 recipes, some by South West bakers who belong to their local Clandestine Cake Club (CCC).
The CCC was founded by Lynn Hill four years ago when she invited a group of complete strangers to her Leeds home, each bringing with them a cake.
Since then, 159 groups have sprung up worldwide, with over 6,000 bakers regularly gathering in secret locations with a cake tailored to suit a different creative theme.
Cornwall’s CCC has nearly 90 members who gather at locations around the Duchy only revealed to attendees shortly before the event.
Sarah Milligan, a Property Manager from Newquay, had her buttermilk chocolate cake with white chocolate and mascarpone filling selected for inclusion in the new bakery tome.
She said: “I have always wanted a recipe in print so it is very exciting.
“I joined the club a couple of years ago and really love it. Everybody is on the same level – you’re not there because of what you do for a living or how useful somebody could be to you, it’s all about cake and enjoying talking to people.
“The first time I went I thought you had to sample some of each so I ended up eating 18 bits of cake. I felt sick for days.”
Another recipe, for a passionfruit cake, is featured by Cornwall member Nicette Ammar, whilst Devon member Marcus Bawdon shares his smoked chilli chocolate cake – featuring ancho chillies from the South Devon Chilli Farm.
I know that I should have chosen a local recipe to try first, but the colossal jar of homemade marmalade from my dearest mother has been sitting on the worktop for months and deserves using up.
The dark chocolate marmalade cake is not a thrifty recipe – calling for dark chocolate orange, chocolate orange segments to decorate and good quality dark chocolate for the icing – but there are worse ways to spend your money.
The cake, by Ely CCC member Catriona Roscoe, was inspired by her love of Jaffa Cakes. My finished result tastes rather good – rich sponge with a smattering of chewy bitter orange inside – but I’m thwarted yet again by an inability to follow instructions, having only used four medium eggs rather than the large specified, it’s a bit dry.
I also failed to find a Terry’s Chocolate Orange on my local high street, so buttons had to do. I’d better up my game before joining the Club.