Pink Champagne & Meringue Celebration Cake!

The month of May is just a couple of months away, and that means a big family celebration for us. It’s my lovely Grandma Mary’s eightieth Birthday and the whole family are heading to Whitby for the week to celebrate. Of course, I want to make a cake for the occasion and I wanted to plan something special, for such a special occasion! I wanted to choose a cake that wasn’t a traditional Birthday cake, but a cake that we could all enjoy as a dessert or with afternoon tea in the cottage that we have hired.

When I think of a celebration I think of toasting the occasion with champagne or some other sparkling wine, and so I wanted to incorporate this into my celebration cake. My Grandma loves cake and even came along to the first Clandestine Cake Club meeting last year to taste some the delights. I know that she also enjoys a glass of bubbly too, so I am hoping she will love this cake!

Champagne is a sparkling wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France and Pink Champagnes are produced either by leaving the clear juice of black grapes on its skins for a brief time or, more commonly, by adding a small amount of still Pinot noir red wine to the sparkling wine! Of course champagne is expensive to buy and the market is dominated by big brands such as Moët, who generally age the wine for
several years and then blend it to create a consistent house style, year after year and so I would most definitely save making this cake for a special occasion when you can enjoy a glass of bubbly too!

I decided to make a sponge cake which was soaked with a pink champagne syrup and also filled with a pink champagne buttercream. I chose this because the flavour of the champagne so intense and decedent would flavour the cake perfectly! I decided the cover the cake with a white chocolate ganache because not only does white chocolate go well with pink champagne, it also added depth to the intense flavours which is extremely moreish, especially when served with a flute of bubbly on the side as I plan to!

Whilst this cake is perfect for a celebration, it is also a lovely cake to make for no reason at all, although I’d recommend using other types of sparkling wine such as Cava or Prosecco to keep costs down, although the flavour in the cake and filling would be less intense It can be made in any shape, and if wished the ganache could be omitted and the buttercream used on it’s own. I used pink champagne as I thought it added a lovely sweet flavour, but any type of champagne works well.

For the decoration, I decided to add some mini meringues and some fresh strawberries for a lovely Summer feel. However, I think any type of berry or sugarcraft decoration would work well for the topping, so for that special occasion, be creative! The cake serves 12-14 so is perfect for a party or special family gathering.

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Ingredients

Sponge:

3 large free range eggs
175g butter
175g caster sugar
250g self raising flour
3 tbsp milk
Few drops red food colouring

Champagne Syrup:

85g Sugar
175ml water
120ml Champagne
Few drops vanilla extract

Champagne Buttercream:

250g butter
500g icing sugar
Few drops vanilla extract
4 tbsp champagne
Few drops red food colouring

White chocolate ganache

500g white chocolate (Must be good quality!)
200ml double cream

Decoration:

Mini meringues
Strawberries or other berries

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200c/fan or gas mark 6, the grease a 18cm cake tin

2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, and add the eggs(beaten) slowly.

3. Sieve the flour and gently fold into the mixture until combined. Stir in the food colouring and milk.

4. Place the mixture into the baking tin and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes. Using a knife or skewer inserted into the centre coming out clean to determine if the cake is ready.

5.To make the champagne syrup add the sugar, vanilla and water to a small pan over a low heat. Heat gently until the sugar has absorbed, add the champagne then leave to cool.

6. Once the cake has cooled, pour approximately 150ml of the syrup over the cake and allow to soak for an hour or so.

7. For the champagne buttercream, mix together the butter and icing sugar then add the champagne and the vanilla and food colouring

8.Finally make the white chocolate ganache. Heat the cream until simmering (not boiling), poor over the broken chocolate into a heat proof bowl, stir until melted and set aside to cool.

9. Cut the cake in half and spread a large dollop of the buttercream over the sponge, and spread using a pallet knife. Add a layer of the ganache over the top of the buttercream layer and then place the other half of the sponge on top and repeat the process.

10. Place the cake in the fridge for an hour or so to chill and firm, then use the remaining ganache and buttercream to layer the side of the cake.

11. Decorate the cake with mini meringues and berries

12. Enjoy with a glass of bubbly!

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Clandestine Cake Club 9.3.14 ‘Places’

Today was cake club day! Rather than meeting in a restaurant or café, for a change I decided to hold the club meeting at my house! (I spent most of last night cleaning the carpet for the occasion, but suppose it did need doing anyway!) As we had lower numbers than usual attending this month, it worked well holding the club at home and it also meant that Gabriel and Willow had ready access to cake once the meeting had finished!

We had six bakers attend along with their delicious cakes. The theme for this month’s club was ‘Places’ and that could be interpreted however each baker liked. We had a lovely afternoon and I can’t wait for our next meeting now, the theme is going to be ‘Films’ so I need to get thinking of a suitable cake!

Here are the cakes we tasted over tea, coffee and chatting this afternoon:

I made a cake based on the famous Manchester Tart. I made a custard flavoured sponge, filled with homemade vanilla pod custard, and raspberry jam then topped with icing and coconut. A Manchester Tart is usually made with pastry, rather than sponge, but this variation is pretty tasty. I used Birds Custard powder as a flavouring, and it made the sponge a rather bright yellow colour, which was.. fun! I enjoyed making the custard filling from scratch as it is something I rarely have time to make anymore and it tasted delicious with enough left over to have later with the cake (and also with a slice of Louise’s cake, see below!)

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Rachel made a Bakewell Cake. Inspired by a recent holiday to Derbyshire where she ate lots of Bakewell Cake and developed a taste for it! The cake was delicious and was made using ground almonds, a very thick batter and frozen raspberries (placed into the cake batter frozen, not defrosted). Rachel placed the almonds on the cake and baked the cake for about an hour and it was perfectly light and tasty. The cake is definitely something I shall be making myself sometime and in my opinion is Rachel’s best cake yet! (and I loved her chocolate orange cake at Christmas..)

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Amy made a Madeira cake. The sponge was light and fluffy and tasted perfect, delicately flavoured with lemon and almond. Amy decided to decorate the cake with very pretty icing, made with freshly squeezed oranges and icing sugar. This Madeira cake was the perfect soft, buttery and citrus-y afternoon treat! Amy always decorates her cakes well, it must be her fantastic creative side coming out!

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Louise treated us to a Somerset Apple Cake. As soon as I tasted this cake it was obvious just how much delicious apple was inside it! It was divine, and had just the right amount of spice, and wasn’t too sweet. Louise topped her cake with sugar and honey. It looked lovely and rustic wrapped in checked ribbon and in true Louise style, she had the most fabulous cake dome, which I NEED!

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Annette made a Yorkshire Triangle Rhubarb cake. She sandwiched together rhubarb sponge cakes together with fresh cream, and topped with fresh rhubarb and a flapjack-type nutty topping. It was delicious and worked well. Annette made the cake in the shape of a triangle because the ‘Rhubarb Triangle’ is a 9-square-mile (23 km2) triangle in West Yorkshire, England between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell famous for producing early forced rhubarb. Rhubarb is in season at the moment, so why not give this cake a go for something different! I loved that the cake fitted the theme in shape and flavour, a double tick!

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Linda made Battenberg. An amazing chocolate version! Chocolate and vanilla sponge in a distinctive two by two checked pattern, wrapped in marzipan. It looked and tasted wonderful! Linda used white marzipan rather than yellow and I think it went perfectly with the chocolate sponge. Linda used chocolate spread to ‘glue’ the cakes together, it was yummy! Linda has made Battenberg a lot in the past, and you can certainly tell she is a whizz at this little number! Gabriel certainly approved of the cake, and ate a huge slice all to himself!

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If you like the look of cake club, have a look at the website ClandestineCakeClub.co.uk for more information and to see if there’s a club in your area! We meet in secret locations to eat and talk cake!
If you are local and fancy joining our club, please email me m_crowther@ymail.com for more information.

More fabulous cakes next month!

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I’ll Be Scared of the Dinosaur Cake Mummy!

Yesterday I had a very lazy morning with Gabriel. We had some lovely cuddles, read some books and I also took the opportunity to talk to him about his Birthday, which is at the beginning of June.

Although it’s quite a few months away, I like to be organised, and I know that if we are going to hire somewhere we’ll need to get a move on and book it!

For the last few weeks I have been looking on Pinterest for ideas of themes and plans, there’s so much to see on there that at times I’ve felt overwhelmed, so I spoke to Dave about choosing a theme. At first we thought maybe ‘Cowboys’ as Gabriel loves Woody from Toy Story, but when I looked for ideas I was uninspired!

The next idea we had was a dinosaur party. I looked online and found some wonderful photographs, pictures and ideas! Yes! This would be perfect I thought, especially as Willow likes dinosaurs too.

So, I asked him. ‘Gabriel, would you like to have a dinosaur party for your Birthday?’ And he replied, ‘Yes please Mummy.. But I’ll be scared of the dinosaur cake!!!’

Well. I did not know what to say to that! So we laughed together. Not only his vocabulary amazed me, but his thought process. He is two years old and I am still shocked when he speaks to me with opinion!

Gabriel has very much a love-hate relationship with dinosaurs. He adores Peppa Pig and of course, George’s dinosaur, and he loves all his dinosaur soft toys and books. Although he does seem to have it in his head that he should in fact be scared of them, he has a few dinosaur toys that make scary noises and flash bright lights and so I think this is where the scary dinosaur stage started! Although that said, he has no trouble pushing them in Willow’s face and scaring her with them!

I decided to show Gabriel some photographs of some dinosaur cakes online. I had visions of presenting him with a cake at his party and him bursting into tears so I think it’s best I know what type of cake he would be scared of! Gabriel showed me these ideas for his cake, some of which are a little more complicated than others, so we shall see how that works out, I do love a cake challenge though…

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Turns out, the smiley dinosaur kind were okay, and he also loved this dinosaur melon character, and so we’ll definitely be giving this a go, I think it’ll make a fantastic centre piece!

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So, a dinosaur party it is! I think we’ll have great fun planning it because Gabriel is now old enough to choose aspects of the party himself. He has already decided that myself, Daddy, his Grandma, Willow and his best friend Alfie can be invited and I imagine he will be making lots more decisions in the coming months.

Here are a few of the ideas that he loved so far for his GABRIELOSAURUS REX 3rd Birthday Party! He’s roaring a lot already, it’s going to be a long few months!

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A Very Special First Birthday Party

On the 15th December we held Willow’s Birthday party at our home. The day started out rather stressful because I stupidly had given myself little under two hours to make the Birthday cake, arrange a buffet and tidy the house!

We got there though, and we had a lovely afternoon celebrating our baby girl’s first Birthday with all our friends and Family. Unfortunately, after a slight misunderstanding about who was on camera duty, we didn’t actually take very many photographs, but here’s a selection of photographs from the day!

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Gabriel insisted on wearing his frog hat for the whole party, which was hilarious because our house was full of lots of adults, toddlers and babies and it was HOT! Luckily most of the Children were able to play in the playroom and they all played so nicely together, which makes a change to them all fighting over our Little Tikes coupe car, or throwing sand everywhere!

Willow received so many lovely presents, we really do have lots of generous Family and friends. She also now has more clothes than me I think which of course, I am rather jealous of! She loved tearing the paper from her gifts and cards, and wore her Birthday Girl badge with pride. We were very proud of how much of a big girl she was all day long.

I chose a ‘woodland’ theme for the party, which meant lots of hedgehogs, toadstools, butterfies and trees as decorations. I also decorated the Christmas tree in this theme for the Kitchen, so it would all match. We had been so torn as to whether or not to incorporate Christmas into the party. Dave and I wanted to keep both occasions separate, but in the end we decided a Christmassy Birthday, is a special Birthday! So we just went for it and made the house look Christmassy too.

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When it came to Willow’s Birthday cake, I’d known for ages what I wanted to make. A toadstool house! I have for the last few months, had a rather big obsession with toadstools. I am not sure why but I just love them. How hard could it be?!

I baked the sponges the night before, and placed them in the fridge (no room in the freezer) so that they would not crumb.
At this point, I’d just like to to add that if you fancy giving this cake a go, you are probably best allocating yourself more than twenty minutes to decorate it. It was quite tough going (as bakers will know) especially seen as to make any icing red, it takes a LOT of red food colouring and mixing to make a decent shade of red.

Also, trying to pile sponge on top of each other, decorate like a house and recreating a toadstool-like structure can be tricky, so take your time! The cake was slightly rough around the edges, but nothing a pallet knife and some coloured sugar balls could sort out! I was pleased with the result, having been so short on time. Willow seemed pleased with her cake and gave me a huge smile when she saw it, which was good enough for me.

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For Willow’s party bags, I bought some kraft bags and printed some labels for the fronts along with a picture of a rainbow and a personalised message from Willow. I made some toadstool pegs by gluing tiny toadstools to brown pegs and used them to secure the bags. Inside I filled the bag with homemade sweet cones and pots of bubbles. We stored these in a gorgeous wicker hamper and handed them out to guests as they left, they looked very sweet all lined up!

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After several hours of drinking Prosecco, eating lovely food and catching up with friends and their Children it was time to sing Happy Birthday to Willow, as per tradition my best friend Caroline made the video so sorry about the footage of the stairs prior to the singing. I did consider removing it, but decided it was quite amusing to keep.

Happy Birthday Willow! We hope you enjoyed your party.

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The Crowther Christmas Cake!

This week I baked our Christmas cake. It was later than usual because I have been so busy with other festivities. October brought Keighley’s ‘Spooky Halloween’ themed cake club, and this meant much of my time was spent planning and experimenting with my chocolate fudge graveyard cake! As usual, the standard of the cakes brought to cake club was excellent, in fact they were scarily good!

As it has also been Bonfire night, I’ve also been making lots of treacle based treats at home, and delicious homemade hot caramel apple cider so I have been very busy in the kitchen lately!

When it came to making our Christmas cake, I wanted to create a recipe that could, if needed be made without alcohol, this meant I could make a separate cake for my Children to enjoy too. I decided to use hot, strong tea in the cake, and as part of the ‘feed’ hence the hot toddy reference! My first cake has been made laced with Brandy as below, although my second version will be made with orange juice instead of Brandy.

The fact that the mixed dried fruits are soaked in strong tea mixture the night before baking too, means an extra depth of flavour is added to the cake, it also adds extra moisture, making the cake delicious! Of course the best fruit cakes are matured for at least a month, and ‘fed’ each week with alcohol, but if you are short on time, this cake can be enjoyed straight away without problem.

Fruit cakes made solely from dried fruit will keep for several weeks, although fruit cakes that have been matured and fed with alcohol can be stored for a year or more.

Once the cake has been ‘fed’ sufficiently and it’s ready to be eaten, remove from the paper and airtight tin, and decorate using marzipan and icing. I’ll then be serving ours with lots of Wensleydale cheese. Perfect!

TOP TIPS!

* Make sure the batter is heavy enough for the dried fruit to be suspended in it, because if it is too thin, the fruit will sink. You can add flour if it is very thin, or drench some of the fruit in flour.

* The dried fruit will scorch and become bitter if the oven temperature is too high, so ensure the cake is cooked slowly, at a low temperature, in a double lined baking tin

* If cake is browning too fast, place a sheet of foil the top of the cake

* Cool the cake completely in baking tin and remove once cooled.

* Use fresh good quality ingredients and make sure spices are nice and fresh

*The last ‘feed’ should be at least one week before you cover the cake with marzipan

For the cake

225g butter
225g dark Muscovado sugar
225g plain flour
4 eggs, beaten
600g mixed dried fruits (sultanas, raisins or dates all work well)
100g mixed peel
100g chopped dried apricots
100g ground almonds
125g glacé cherries
2 tsp ground mixed spice
2 tsp ground cinnamon
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
150ml hot, strong black tea
4 tbsp good-quality orange marmalade
3 tbsp Brandy (optional)

To feed the cake

2 tsp caster sugar
20ml hot black tea
1 tbsp Brandy (orange juice can be used instead)

Method

The day before:

Mix the hot tea, Brandy and marmalade in a large bowl until the marmalade melts. Stir in all of the dried fruit, peel and cherries, then cover and leave to soak overnight.

The next day:

1. Grease and double-line with baking paper a 20cm round, deep cake tin.

2. Either by hand or with a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition.

3.Fold the flour, ground almonds and spices into the mixture, followed by the lemon zest and soaked fruit. (You can also add the remaining liquid that has not been absorbed by the fruit)

4.Spoon into the prepared tin, and then bake for approximately 1½ hours. Then, turn the oven down to 140C/fan 120C/gas 1 and bake for another 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

5,Cool on a wire rack in the baking tin.

6.Dissolve the sugar in the tea, add the Brandy (or orange juice) This makes the ‘feed’. While the cake is still warm, use the skewer to pepper the cake with holes, poking it all the way down, then spoon the ‘feed’ over the surface of the cake. (These actions are repeated for each feed).

7. As you have made the cake ahead of time, feed it every week, but take care not to make the cake soggy. Can be kept for a month well-wrapped in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

8. This cake is still delicious if eaten after originally baked, and can be decorated with marzipan, and festive icing, if desired.

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Clandestine Cake Club: Spooky Hallowe’en!

October’s Clandestine Cake Club in Keighley had a Hallowe’en theme. All the spooky bakers attended to the Coffee Stop in Crosshills, for a very lovely meeting.

We had the largest number of cakes in attendance yet, twelve cakes!! Interestingly, there was a lot of chocolate too, which was great to taste.

With the theme being Halloween, I had been very excited to see what each baker would make, and I was right to be, the standard and the variety was great.

The Coffee Stop is a very sweet and welcoming café on Main Street in Crosshills, and they opened just for us! The café specialises in flavoured coffee, and I can also vouch for the lovely cups of tea. We sat in their downstairs seating area, around the fire, the setting was perfect for the Spooky theme!

Here are the cakes!

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I made a chocolate fudge graveyard. Made in a square tin, and covered in chocolate fudge icing, it was very moist! I added chocolate fingers around the edge, to look like fencing, then iced wafers with RIP and stuck them into the cake, surrounding them with crushed Cadburys twirl as the ‘mounds’ of earth. Lastly, I created a path lined with silver decorative balls and filled it with popping candy, for a spooky surprise!

Sarah made a pumpkin cake. This was both decorated as a pumpkin and also made with pumpkin. It was great! Very colourful and fun, but it also tasted really nice. Sarah told us it contained a LOT of pumpkin relative to the other ingredients, but you really could not tell. It had a similar texture to a carrot cake, and the orange icing sweetened it up perfectly.

Amy made a chocolate chip spider’s web cake. The cake was tasty and full of delicious chocolate chips. It was a nice change actually and a good idea. Amy decorated the cake in chocolate buttercream, and then iced on a spider’s web. She also decorated the stand with cobwebs (fake!) and plastic spiders. It looked great and very spooky!

Linda made a spicy bundt cake. It looked amazing and was decorated so it looked really pretty. Linda told me it is a recipe that she has been using for years, and it tasted divine. The after taste from the cake tasted just like bonfire toffee, which was from the treacle in the recipe. Just the right amount of spice! It was great. I loved the taste of this cake.

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Louise a chocolate chilli spider cake. The cake was lovely and moist, and it contained chilli in the mixture. Louise covered the cake with chocolate ganache, also laced with fresh chilli. The cake was really nice, and the heat was perfect. It was like a fiery after-taste and suited the cake and the chocolate really well. Louise make the spider’s eight legs from liquorice, then presented it on the most amazing wooden display board. It looked fabulous!

Amy made a coffee coffin cake. The shape looked great, and the coffee taste was perfect. Any decorated her cake with icing ‘cobwebs’ and her lovely buttercream filled the cake. Amy placed a skull on the top of the cake for extra Hallowe’en fright! The amount of icing and buttercream was perfect for the cake, really enjoyed the flavours of this one.

Jenny made a chocolate orange pumpkin and pecan cake, decorated with a lovely, friendly pumpkin face! The cake was fruity and really nice. Jenny filled the cake with lemon curd and then used chocolate orange cream cheese icing as the topping. It was a nice combination of chocolate, fruits and pumpkin!

Steph made a chocolate Oreo grave cake. The decorative grave was made using fondant, which an added ingredient which helped the fondant set quickly. The grave looked fantastic, I was really impressed with the marble effect and the ‘earth’ type textures from the buttercream and the crushed Oreo biscuits. It tasted great too.

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Tracey made a Victoria sponge sandwich cake and filled it with bright red coloured fresh cream. It was so light and easy to eat! Tracey decorated her cake using a homemade stencil which read ‘trick or treat’ and using icing sugar to decorate. It looked fabulous and I was very impressed with her stencil making! The cake was a lovely change from all the chocolate cakes we had been sampling!!! Tracey also added some very special homemade meringue ghosts, they were extremely cute!

Kate made a death by chocolate fudge cake. The cake had a middle layer of white chocolate fudge brownie inside and the whole cake was covered in ganache decorated with biscuits ‘drowning’ on the top. The cake looked so delicious and naughty! It was really moist and the different layers worked really well. A chocoholics dream cake!!

Claire made a ‘brain food’ cake. Her very own creation, which also included a surprise. This was the added gore inside the cake as pictured below. Once the cake was cut open, jam poured out of it to represent the blood inside the head! Although Claire had been worries about her cake taking a long time to cook, it certainly had a ‘ooooh’ reaction from all the fellow bakers once it was sliced open!
Claire decorated her cake with pink and white buttercream, and splashes of red food colouring, to represent blood!

Annette made a chocolate coffin cake, and whilst it was decorated with chocolate buttercream, inside was added gore. Annette had added a pie filling of apple and raspberry to the inside of the cake, to make it look like body remains inside the coffin (how disgusting, but a great idea)! Annette used plastic hands to appear to the ‘opening’ the coffin too. It looked very spooky!

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We had a great afternoon at the Coffee Stop, and very much enjoyed tasting some spooky cakes!

We are looking for new members, so if you live near to Keighley and would like to join us, please email me m_crowther@ymail.com for more information, or find your local Clandestine Cake Club at clandestinecakeclub.co.uk

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Remember, Remember the Vegetarians on the 5th November

I love tradition, so it’s probably no surprise that I love celebrating Bonfire Night. I find the whole concept so interesting, the history of Guy Fawkes’ plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament being foiled and the tradition of placing a ‘Guy’ on top of bonfires across the country as a burning effigy every year in order to commemorate the failure of the plot.

Bonfire Night is not just all about setting fire to wood or old furniture in fields, schools, pubs or back gardens. It’s also become an opportunity to socialise over an ‘occasion’. This socialising often includes wrapping up warm and heading outside, watching firework displays, lighting sparklers and tucking into lots of scrummy, warming foods.

When I was little, we would all head to my Grandparents house and light a bonfire. My Grandma would make a buffet of ‘Bonfire Night’ foods and we would light fireworks in her huge garden. The latter almost always ended in some sort of controversy; either a Catherine Wheel flying off the fence mid-spin, the yearly competition as to who had brought the biggest firework, or perhaps the time someone added fuel to the fire (BAD idea) but we had so much fun, and I have a lot of happy memories from those days.

The food my Grandma made always included pie and peas, bonfire toffee, parkin and toffee apples, and although I do love a nice vegetarian pie, I have decided to put together a few more ideas for a Vegetarian-friendly Bonfire Night gathering.

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Chickpea & Spinach Curry

This recipe is my all time favourite curry. Protein intake is extremely important for us in order to grow effectively and it also encourages our bodies to repair themselves and promote healthy cells. If red meat is not eaten, protein can be found in legumes, dairy products, leafy green vegetables and nuts. Chickpeas are pretty versatile and are a very popular choice for using in curries.

This recipe can be made in a slow cooker, which makes it super easy to prepare and serve at a party or gathering. Non Vegetarians will love these flavours too. Serve the curry with chopped naan breads or rice if preferred. Add Crème fraiche if the curry is too spicy for Children.

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5201/chick-pea-and-spinach-curry

Courgette Chips

These are a great alternative to traditional chips made from potato. The batter is light and the courgettes cooks quickly, so they are very simple to make and taste great without an complex flavour adding to them. Courgettes are a variety of curcarbita, and play a role in promoting a well-rounded cardiovascular health. It is rich in nutrients like magnesium and potassium which help normalize blood pressure. So swap those potatoes for courgette and get snacking!

http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/537520/crispy-courgette-fries

Chilli Veggie Dogs

Use Vegetarian hotdogs (available frozen or chilled) cook, and add to bread buns. Then top with this amazing tasty Vegetarian chilli. Chilli dogs are great for young and old alike, and although they can be rather messy, they are extremely warming and fun to eat! The Chilli can be made beforehand and kept in a slow cooker or on the hob, so guests can hep themselves for the various ways it will be served!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/vegetarianchilli_6544

Veggie Chilli in Tortilla Bowls

Who wants to wash up after entertaining?! Make your guests a bowl they can eat from and then eat! Not everyone wants to eat Chilli dogs, so pop some flour tortillas onto a cupcake tray (upside down, see photo) and place in a hot oven until they are crisp and look capable of holding liquid. (Usually about ten minutes or so). Add the Chilli (from the recipe above) to the ‘bowls’ garnish with fresh coriander, salad and crème fraiche, then hand to your guests!

Caramel Apple Pie

This recipe is an apple pie, but with a Bonfire Night twist! The caramel and apple flavoured go so well together, reminding you of all those toffee apples you ate as a Child, but this is with pastry too. Oh so naughty, but oh so nice! Serve with custard or ice cream if preferred.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chef-johns-caramel-apple-pie/

Hot Caramel Apple Cider

This is THE best Bonfire Night treat for adults. Sweet, warming and alcoholic. Very Calorific but worth it, and the drinks look fabulous when piped with cream and decorated with the caramel sauce!

Ingredients
•8 cups apple cider
•¼ cup brown sugar
•¼ cup caramel ice-cream topping (I used Treat)
•whipped cream, optional
•extra caramel ice cream topping, optional

Instructions

1.In a large sauce pan, combine the cider, sugar, and caramel topping.
2.Cook over medium low heat until simmering stirring frequently. Simmer until heated and well blended.
3.Serve in latte glass cups or mugs. Pipe whipping/squirty cream on top and drizzle with additional caramel topping if desired.

Veggie Chilli Tortilla Jackets

Using the Vegetarian chilli, top either oven baked (or bonfire baked) potatoes and decorate with tortilla chips, sour cream and a sprinkle of paprika for comforting snack or supper. Baked potatoes are easy to make, yet always go down a treat! Wrap and cook in foil- they will keep warm for ages too, so hassle free! The chilli is not only packed with protein but also very low fat, so this option will be great for anyone watching their waistline.

Rocket Veggie Dogs

Simply wrap Vegetarian hot dogs in thin strips of prepared breadstick dough, or puff pastry if preferred and insert a skewer, letting it protrude at the top. Bake the dogs according to the dough package’s instructions. Add a triangle of cheese or pepper for a topper and squirt on stripes of ketchup and mustard.

Blueberry & Apple Sauce Muffins

Pop these muffins in a basket for people to help themselves at the party, They are also perfect for little ‘gloved’ hands and for those who don’t fancy or like the Chilli Chocolate cake! Sticking with the apple theme, but adding apple sauce to the old classic, Blueberry muffins. Blueberries are high in anti-oxidants and perfect for squeezing fruit into a Child’s diet without too much effort!

http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/make-melt-in-your-mouth-blueberry-applesauce-muffins/

Chocolate Chilli Jaffa Cake

This cake is fiery, and quite frankly amazing. Everyone like’s a Jaffa cake. This is the adult only version and it makes a great party dessert. It is slightly time consuming, but it is worth it! I created this recipe for my column in the local paper and have made it several times since, having had glowing reports! The cake is a chocolate fudge cake, with a hidden layer of orange (gelatine free please) jelly and topped with a chilli chocolate ganache.

http://crowtherclan.co.uk/baking-cooking/chilli-chocolate-jaffa-cake/

I hope you have a great Bonfire Night!

Follow us on Twitter @thecrowtherclan or like us on Facebook.com/crowtherclan

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Neon Star Cake!

A few weeks ago Keighley’s Clandestine Cake Club held our second meeting and we had nine bakers in attendance with their lovely cakes.
The theme of the event was ‘Colours’ and this could be interpreted how ever each baker liked. I decided to ask Christine Young, the lovely owner of Keighley’s craft based tea room, ‘Lavender Fields Emporium’ if we could hold our club meeting at her venue. To my delight, she said yes! I was especially excited to hear this because I felt the venue went well with the ‘Colours’ theme and I could not wait to announce the details the day before the event.

Christine and her Husband John were a great hosts, they rearranged the furniture and created a lovely space for us. Inside their tea room, they sell local crafts, and also lots of sweets so we were surrounded by lots of lovely things! We set out our cakes on the table and ordered our drinks. Soon we were surrounded in freshly brewed coffee and the individual tea pots with the cutest handmade tea cosies!

The cakes were all very colourful indeed! The cakes included a Neopolitan Cake,a Raspberry Cake, a Blackberry Cake, a Lemon and Lime Zebra Cake, a Whole Orange Cake, a Pink Strawberry Layer Cake, a Chocolate and Peppermint Cake and very aptly a Lavender Cake. I decided to make something I had not made before, which I called a Neon Star Cake. Basically I created a neon chequered effect inside a rectangular cake and decorated the cake in neon sugar stars shapes. The sponge flavour I decided to keep relatively simple with a vanilla flavour, but of course you can amend this and flavour the cake to suit your taste.There is also the option to make the cake is a circular cake tin, this does not alter the chequered effect inside.

I was quite nervous before I cut into the cake and quite relieved when I realised the desired effect had worked, it looked quite impressive and although it was rather time consuming, I think it’s worth it for the effect. I think it would be ideal for a special occasion like a Birthday, as it has a surprise wow factor!

Our next event which is on the 27th October at 3pm, location to be kept secret until the day before! The theme is ‘Spooky Halloween’ and so I cannot wait to see the cakes!

Keighley Clandestine Cake Club is looking for new members. We meet every six weeks in secret locations in the Keighley area. Email Michelle m_crowther@ymail.com for more information or to book your place at the next event.

We are on Twitter @KeighleyCCC and more information on the Clandestine Cake Club can be found at http://www.clandestinecakeclub.co.uk/

So here is the recipe!

Prep: 80 minutes
Cook: 60 minutes
Serves 12-14

Ingredients

6 Eggs
10 oz Caster Sugar
12 oz Margarine
12 oz Self Raising Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
4 tsp Vanilla Essence

4 Colours to colour the sponge (Gel is best as much more vibrant)

For the Filling & Topping

5oz Butter, softened
12oz Icing Sugar

Method

1.Preheat the oven at 170c/35F/Gas Mark 3
2. Using a food processor, a mixer or by hand, cream together the margarine and the sugar until the mixture has turned light and fluffy
3. Mix together the eggs in a separate bowl/jug and whilst beating the mixture, add the eggs gradually
4. Fold the flour and baking powder and vanilla essence into the mixture
5. Divide the mixture into four bowls and add a different colour to each bowl (how much you will need will depend on the shade of colour you want, and what type of colouring you are using) Add the contents of each bowl to your greased rectangular cake tins (of the same size) or, bake separately using one tin.
6. Place each cake into the oven for approximately 15 minutes. To check if the cake is ready, press a knife into the centre, if it comes out clean the cake is cooked, if not leave for another 5 minutes and repeat if necessary
7. When the cakes are cooked, let them rest on the cooling rack, in the pan, for ten minutes. Then flip, cover, and stash them in the fridge to cool quickly. Whilst waiting, Mix together the buttercream filling ingredients and set aside.
8. Once all the cakes are cool, make three square templates out of paper to cut around which gradually reduce equally in size.
9. Cut each cake into four pieces using the templates
10. Insert each cake piece so that each layer has four different coloured ‘squares’ (See picture below!) and buttercream each square together. This is very important! Ensure the order of the colour of the pieces of cake is reflected both inwards and upwards.
11.Stack all the layers together, again using the buttercream to ‘glue’ each piece together.
12 Cover the cakes with the buttercream
13. Decorate the top of the cake with neon coloured sugar (available from Supermarkets) in either stars or other shapes of your choice. I used a cookie cooker as a template!

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Halloween! Veggie Spooky Snacks

Halloween used to be a time of the year where I got dressed up, generally as a cat and headed out to have a few drinks at a friends party. These days however things are very different! With two very young Children I’ve found myself preparing for Halloween in a very different way, by planning some scary snacks to amuse the Children with!

I’ve had such fun! My favourite by far, (and has amused my Husband greatly) is ‘Ghost on Toast’! So easy to make but looks so effective. In fact, I don’t think I will ever look at a poached egg in quite the same way ever again!

I’ve created a few snack style items in this blog that can be used for a spooky breakfast, snack time or even a Halloween tea party! As Vegetarians, it is hard to buy ready-made snacks that don’t incorporate meat or that are (reasonably) healthy, so here is The Crowtherclan offering of such!

All the food is DEAD easy to make and FRIGHTENINGLY realistic (well, maybe!)

Ghost on Toast
Who knew a poached egg could be so scary? Add some chopped mushrooms to make eyes and a nose and it’s done! A scary breakfast, which I healthy and satisfying. Place on toast, or serve with other delicious breakfast goodies.

Witch Wedge Hand
These would make great centerpieces at a Halloween tea party! Or perhaps as a meal accompaniment. I’ve used a spicy seasoning onto wedge cut potatoes, then over baked. Arrange in the shape of a hand, and ‘paint’ on some ketchup to resemble a witches fingernails. You could also design a severed hand?

Spooky Fruit
This is the healthy dessert or snack of the day! Cut bananas in half and using a little icing (or Nutella) stick on ‘faces’ of chocolate. For the pumpkin satsumas, make a stalk using celery or chives. Let the kids help themselves, and sit back knowing they aren’t snacking on sweets!

Spider Web Houmous
Blitz a can of chickpeas, a good squeeze of lemon juice, and two cloves of garlic to make a portion of delicious houmous. Once placed in a serving bowl, use sour cream to decorate the top in the shape of a spider’s web. Serve with tortilla chips at your Halloween party.

Breadstick Broomsticks
Take some breadsticks, snap them in half and wrap around a cheese slice, cut the bottom in the shape of a brush, tie in place with some chives. Hey presto! Calcium enriched snacking!

RIP Gravestone Pizza
To make the gravestones, I used a ‘gravestone’ cookie cutter, then simply smoother in tomato puree, top with mozzarella cheese and toast under the grill. For the RIP I cut out the letters from a few mushrooms, added them to the pizzas and finished under the grill. These went down a storm at our house!

Mummy Dogs
Using veggie hot dogs, or veggie sausages wrap in strips of puff pastry (I used ready-made, much easier and just as tasty) Brush with milk or egg, pop in the oven for 20 minutes and you have a mummy dog! Decorate with mustard. Delicious!


Spider Crackers

Using cream crackers, spreadable cheese and twiglets its amazing what you can create! Be creative and get the kids involved. Use raisins to decorate!

Scardey Cat & Eggy Bread Ghost
Simply cut out the shapes you want to make, I used cookie cutters from a Halloween set I have, dip them in a beaten egg, and a pinch of cinnamon then fry in melted butter. Not the healthiest snack, but very delicious. I make these in different shapes all year round, my Children love them!

Pumpkin & Cumin Houmous
Wondering what to do with all that surplus pumpkin? Peel and seed 500g of pumpkin, then roast in the oven and leave to cool. Add the cooled pumpkin to a can of chickpeas, lemon juice, 1 tsp of cumin and two garlic cloves then blitz in a food processor.(add a little olive oil if houmous is too thick) Serve with tortilla chips at your Halloween Party!

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I hope you enjoy these Veggie friendly spooky snacks

Happy Halloween!

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Clandestine Cake Club 15.9.13

On Sunday we held our second meeting! Some of the attendees from the first meeting could not make the second, but we also had three new bakers book a place, so it meant that we had nine cakes in attendance.

I asked Christine, the lovely owner of Keighley’s craft based tea room, ‘Lavender Fields Emporium’ if we could hold our club meeting at her venue. To my delight, she said yes! I was especially excited to hear this because I felt the venue went well with the ‘Colours’ theme and I could not wait to announce the details the day before the event.

Christine and her Husband John were a great hosts, they rearranged the furniture and created a lovely space for us.
Inside their tea room, they sell local crafts, and also lots of sweets so we were surrounded by lots of lovely things!

We set out our cakes on the table and ordered our drinks. Soon we were surrounded in freshly brewed coffee and the individual tea pots with the cutest handmade tea cosies!

So then it was time to sample the cakes, here’s some photographs before we cut into them.

I made a Neon Star cake. It was chequered inside with neon colours and covered in buttercream, then topped with neon coloured sugar in the shape of stars. The chequered effect was quite time-consuming but worth it for the effect it made! I was so very relieved once I sliced the cake and saw that it had worked! I had spent a few hours cutting squares out of four different coloured cakes and hoped it had been worth it.

cakeclubsept1

Lidia made a Raspberry Cake. It was delicious and looked very pretty! Lidia used raspberry puree in the icing then filled and decorated with the icing, fresh raspberries and pink sugar, it tasted very fresh and fruity, which I liked. The colour of the cake looked gorgeous, and very tempting!

Caroline made a Neopolitan Ice Cream Cake. I loved this idea, it looked just like the ice cream as Caroline has got the colours just right. Each layer was covered in its own buttercream, I especially loved the chocolate layer, it was gorgeous cake and gorgeous buttercream!

cakeclubsept2

Steph made a Lemon and Lime Zebra Cake. The zebra effect was fantastic, I hadn’t seen this done before. Gaining the desired effect sounds like it takes quite a lot of patience, but it was worth it! The cake tasted lovely too, very citrusy, topped with buttercream and fondant ‘Lemons and limes’

Jenny made a blackberry Cake. It was very rustic looking and tasted delicious. Jenny had used blackberries she had grown herself, we were all so impressed! The cake contained blackberries and was really nice, AND the cream cheese and blackberry icing that topped the cake was divine!

Annette made a Whole Orange Cake. I was interested to hear that this cake was made by boiling an orange for an hour, then adding the whole thing to the cake mixture. It sounds bizarre, but it was lovely! Annette filled the cake with fresh cream and orange marmalade infused with cinnamon (found in TK MAX!) then iced a pretty pattern on the top with an orange icing.

cakeclubsept3

Amy made a PINK! Cake. The cake was really pretty and smelt so amazing (I was sat right near to it!) Amy had made several cakes and coloured them different shades of pink and flavoured them with strawberry. Once we cut into the cake the layers looked great.

Louise made a Lavender Cake, which I was very pleased about, given the venue! It was such a pretty rustic looking cake! The ribbon and the sugared lavender flowers were very cute! Louise made the cake using lavender infused sugar, the flavour was delicate just as it should be with lavender and it was topped with lilac coloured icing and we all liked it a lot.
Again, Louise recycled her lovely cake label!

Linda made Chocolate Peppermint Cake. I have it on good authority that this cake is a Family tradition! The cake looked fantastic and the crystallised sugar mint leaves were fabulous! Once cut the green layers and the chocolate buttercream were to die for and the chocolate ganache covering was heavenly. Very calorific but very worth it!

Thank so much to all who came! Hope to see you at our next event which is on the 27th October at 3pm, location to be kept secret until the day before! The theme is ‘Spooky Halloween’ I cannot wait to see the cakes!

Email me m_crowther@ymail.com to book your place!

More information on the venue can be found at http://www.lavenderfieldsemporium.co.uk/
Many thanks to Christine and John for their hospitality. Pay them a visit if you are ever in the area!

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