Have you heard of the Clandestine Cake Club? No? It's like a book club, only calorific! Basically a theme is set, you bake a cake to that theme then take it to the specified venue at the specified time and you all taste each others cakes and chat about them. You need to register your interest in the first place, then the host emails you to tell you the time and date and theme of the next meeting. There's always a limit to the number of attendees, and usually each baker is offered the option to bring along an 'eater' - i.e. someone who won't bake, but simply eat the offerings. So it's a first-come, first-served kind of idea, and the clandestine part is that the confirmed invitees don't learn the actual location of the event until 24-48 hours before the event. The theme and location changes each time too, to maintain the interest and intrigue.
So, I got on the list for the first event (well, that's a bit modest, I actually am the co-host of the entire Dundee enterprise, with my new friend Jac of Tinned Tomatoes fame) and Jac chose the theme - Getting Fruity. Why, I hear you ask. Simply because she likes fruit in cake, need there be a better reason? As the time for the event got closer, we all had to tell her the cake we planned to bake, to ensure not too many of the same type.
I wanted to do the Blackberry, Lavender, Rose & White Chocolate one from Fiona Cairns' book The Birthday Cake Book (sorry but I can't find a link for this cake anywhere online) as it sounded tasty. I had done it as a practice run a few weeks ago, and hadn't been impressed. There was barely a hint of either of the flower flavours and the white chocolate ganache was far too creamy and thin for my liking. Here's the cake I did in March...
As you can see, I wasn't too particular with smoothing the ganache. It was more interesting to see how far it spread. I made notes on the recipe for future reference (I, and Mr Becca, always do that - do you?) and left it at that.
So to yesterday's efforts. This time I made the compote for the filling from scratch and thus had to leave it overnight to infuse with the lavender. I had previously used my friend A's homemade Blackcurrant and Lavender jelly, but evidently not enough. This time I again used her lavender, but actual blackberries. Even after 24 hours they were still distinctly berries in syrup, so I mashed them and made them more spreadable (once the liquid was drained off).
Not long after doing the last cake, a friend had posted a photo of her chocolate ganache which was really thick so I asked her what I may have done wrong, because mine was really runny. After some discussion, we realised I hadn't let mine cool long enough, so this time it got 30 minutes in the fridge then a further 45 in the freezer. Job done, as far as texture was concerned, but that meant it barely spread at all. Eek! I ended up with enough to just do the filling and the top of the cake, and so was really quite upset about the look of the cake, as I hadn't taken any care with the filling - imagining that it would be totally covered up. When asked his opinion, my darling husband stated politely that 'he had seen better work from me' and 'it looked like someone's first-ever cake'. Gee, thanks. But after a good night's sleep and some encouraging words from other bakers (including the founder of Clandestine Cake Club herself - reminding me that it wasn't a competition and we weren't there to judge, simply to eat and enjoy), I decided it wasn't that bad at all and took it along to Cake Club...
Where it sat proudly on the table with all the other delicious cakes the other bakers had made. Those are hand-made chocolates if you were wondering. I made them by melting white chocolate, adding some food colouring them popping them in my mould and freezing them. I'm still working on getting all the air bubbles out (but from this distance you can't really see them anyway).