Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Clandestine Cake Club at The Art of Tea

Last week was another Manchester Clandestine Cake Club hosted by yours truly! This time the venue was the lovely Art of Tea in Didsbury, which I'd really fallen for when we popped in for breakfast one morning.

As it was such a cute place with such great drinks and lovely staff, I asked if they'd be interested in hosting an event. The manager Phil was very helpful and professional, he even invited me in for a meeting beforehand to discuss our CCC needs! Very organised.

On the day we were a full house which is actually unusual for CCC as there are inevitably one or two last minute drop outs on the day. I was slightly concerned at one point that we were going to be like sardines! But actually once everyone had gotten themselves their drinks and the first helping of cake was out of the way it was great and I quite enjoyed being up close and personal with my fellow cake clubbers.

The Art of Tea was a great venue with a really relaxing atmosphere. Their range of drinks was excellent - they had a different tea for every stage of my sugar high and I know a few people appreciated the opportunity to have a nice glass of wine - I've never had booze at cake club before but I think I will try it out if I get the chance again.

Now onto the important topic of the cakes! Thanks to The Art of Tea's bookshop I'd decided to go for a "Cakes inspired by Books" theme. Even though I'd come up with the theme, I myself found this a really difficult one - it took me ages to come up with my Hansel and Gretel Ginger Cake and a few cake clubbers told me they'd struggled too. However, everyone had been really imaginative and come up with some incredibly creative cakes ideas. I say this every time but we really are lucky with our Manchester group!

Included in the list were two citrus cakes. This didn't matter a jot as they were both delicious and really different from eachother anyway. There was Karolina's Iced Lemon Curd Layer Cake inspired by The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. I really loved the soft sponge, the sticky lemons on top and the lemon curd oozing out of the layers.

The other citrusy offering was Sheila's Meringue-topped Lime Cake, inspired by the Chabela Wedding Cake in Like Water for Chocolate. The meringue was amazing and was so lovely and sticky I kept wanting to stick my finger in. I was very impressed when Sheila told me she had made the meringue using only old fashioned elbow grease!

I couldn't help but chuckle when I saw Claire's Chocolate Guinness Cake inspired, of course, by The Guinness Book of Records. Very tasty it was too - not too sweet but still moreish.

Avril's Dolly Varden Cake inspired by Barnaby Rudge was an absolute stunner - so carefully decorated and you could hear the gasps as she whipped it out on arrival! Avril had brought a lovely sign for her cake too which was a great idea. Cutting into the cake up was a treat too as it was made of so many layers!

Hayley brought a Carrot Cake inspired by The Tale of Peter Rabbit. I love a good carrot cake and this was an excellent one with smooth icing and different textures in the moist cake of nuts and fruit.

Sophie had the fabulous idea of making Miss Trunchbull's Chocolate Cake inspired by Matilda. This was another gorgeous one and also tasted fab - super rich, dark and chocolatey - very luxurious. I took a slice of this cake into school the next day and it actually caused some kerfuffle with two members of staff fighting over it and Iain spending the next few days telling me how delicious he'd found it!

Jess made a Raspberry and Lemon Curd Pop Cake inspired by The Magic Faraway Tree. I was super impressed with the height she got on that bad boy plus it tasted so light and fresh. I was glad I had a slice of it towards the end as the lemon and raspberries made me feel positively healthy!

Hannah's Roobarb and Custard inspired cake was another fruity delight - very moist and beautifully decorated.

Another cake that caused quite a stir at work the next day was Helen's Butterbeer Cake inspired by Harry Potter. I really loved the butterscotch flavour of this one and was interested to hear that Helen had mixed some soda water into the batter which was probably why it was so nice and light.

Kathy's Orange and Almond Cake inspired by Pear Shaped was almost like a cross between and dessert and a very moist cake and was really yummy.

I was impressed with Aileen who'd made her Chocolate and Orange Marble Cake inspired by A Clockwork Orange so fun and pretty when dealing with such a violent book! I am a big fan of the chocolate orange combo and this worked really well.

Finally I do have to say although all the cakes were ace there was one that really stayed with me and that was Emma's Bee Sting Honey Cake inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh. It was an incredible mixture of textures from crunchy to smooth to sticky to creamy and tasted amazing - like honey on toast. Bailey loved it and he doesn't even like honey. When I was hungover on Sunday following my birthday outing and I couldn't get out of bed to eat, this cake suddenly popped into my head and it filled me with a deep sadness that I wasn't chowing down on it there and then. Fortunately Emma has shared the recipe on her blog - I really recommend you give it a go!

So another successful CCC meetup in the bag! Bailey and I had a fantastic time and I hope everyone who attended did too. A huge thankyou to the staff at The Art of Tea for making it all possible and for being such excellent hosts on the night - we really appreciate it! Looking forward to the next one already!

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