Saturday, 7 September 2013

Stamford Clandestine Cake Club's harvest festival

Who needs the Great British Bake Off when you could be at the Stamford Clandestine Cake Club? 

Combine harvesters in the fields, children going back to school, the time is nigh for mists and mellow fruitfulness... And in the spirit of all those wonderful autumnal themes, the Stamford Clandestine Cake Club met at The Bull and Swan at Burghley for a 'Cracking crop of cakes'. We missed the third episode of GBBO to meet up, but I'm pretty sure we all watched it on iPlayer when we got home afterwards. 

The pub provided us with our most sumptuous surroundings to date. We holed up in their dining room, on a spectacular T-shaped table, with gorgeous cutlery, cake stand and presentation boards, candles, and the most magnificent cake knives we've ever seen. Decorations in the room alluded to it being the base for an historical drinking society – how appropriate!

The staff at The Bull and Swan looked after us brilliantly, and we may even have a couple of new recruits... They certainly appreciated the plate of cake we provided them with, served on the biggest plate I have ever seen – apparently it is what they serve their Sunday roast on, which means I'm definitely going there for Sunday lunch soon.  

We considered ordering the evening with a Mad-Hatter type change of seats every five minutes, but we decided this was too much exercise when so much cake was to be eaten. There were 16 cakes to be tried and tested: 

Marrow cake - Mel
Tractor cake - Jon (with the registration plate Crap1, it was renamed the Craptor)
Pear, honey, and walnut cake - Vic L
Chunky apple cake - Kelly F
Plum and cardamom cake, without the cardamom - Judith 
Carrot cake - Anthea
Courgette cake - Vicky R 
Apple upside-down cake - Louise 
Parsnip cake - Kerry 
Apple and ginger wine cake - Kelly M 
Apple and pecan cake - Kat 
Berry crumble cake - Jennifer
Sticky lemon cake - Danielle 
Apple cake - Sarah
Apple cake - Amanda 

Well done to the two bakers, Amanda and Sarah, who managed to bake a cake with only a few hours' notice, due to a couple of cancellations. Judith's cake was a star of the night, despite not being able to find ground cardamom in the local shops. Congratulations to Jon, who graduated from long-term guest and taster to fully fledged baker with his tractor cake. Kudos to me for decorating my cake with some corn, hastily nabbed out of a local farmer's field (thanks, Mr Farmer). 

A couple of quotes from the evening included "This would be good with a cup of tea" and "I've got a sharper knife if you need it" - you have to love the self-deprecation of bakers and their cakes. 

It was good to have a couple of new faces, plus a couple who haven't been able to make a few meetings. We're enjoying how each month the different venues change the dynamics of the group, meaning no two cake clubs are the same. 

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