Friday, 24 August 2012

Newcastle Clandestine Cake Club - First Birthday

This week Newcastle’s Clandestine Cake Club celebrated its first birthday at the Settle Down Café, the very same café where a year ago eight of us gathered to share four cakes. This time there were 16 cakes and at least 30 people.
I’d be lying if I said I managed to eat all of these cakes but special mention must go to the hazelnut torte, the honey cake, the sticky toffee pudding cake and the summer trifle cake. And Rose, if you think I’ve forgotten you promised me the raspberry macaroon cake recipe, you are very wrong.
This month’s theme was a cake fit for a birthday or a cake that you’d made for Clandestine Cake Club in its first year.  I made a lemon meringue cake in February that I liked; I decided to make a few changes to the recipe to turn it into a chocolate and lime meringue cake. It’s mine now, Nigella, MINE! The recipe is below. It looks like a pain in the chuff to make but it’s really not that hard.

Huge thanks to Lisa for all her hard work making the Newcastle cake club such a success. There are now several cake clubs in the north east in Gosforth & Jesmond, Bedlington & Morpeth, Whitley Bay & Tynemouth and, if you don’t get a nosebleed heading south of the Tyne, Durham & Dales. There are 140 cake clubs across the UK and abroad. Check the website for cake events coming soon near you.

Here’s the recipe for chocolate lime meringue cake:

For the cake:

125g soft unsalted butter
4 eggs, separated
300g plus 1 teaspoon caster sugar
90g self raising flour
10g cocoa powder
25g cornflour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Zest of 1 lime
4 teaspoons lime juice
2 teaspoons milk
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the innards:

150ml double or whipping cream

150g good quality lime curd

Buying a jar of the stuff is by far the easiest option but if like me you couldn’t find any in the shops, you can make your own. You’ll need:
  • 2 eggs
  • 120g golden caster sugar
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • juice and zest of 2 limes
  • Mix the eggs, sugar, butter and lime juice over a low heat for 12-15 mins, whisking frequently. Once the mixture is thick enough to hold a trail from the whisk or to enjoy an episode of Geordie Shore, sieve it and stir in the zest. Allow to cool.

160g dark chocolate ganache
  • 90g dark chocolate broken into little pieces
  • 70g double or whipping cream
  • Bring the cream to boiling point and then add the chocolate pieces. Allow them to sit there for a couple of minutes then mix it with a spatula into a smooth glossy ganache and allow to cool.

  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C. Line and butter two 8 inch sandwich tins.
  • Mix the egg yolks, 100g of the sugar, the butter, flour, cocoa powder, cornflour, bicarb, and lime zest. Add the lime juice and milk and mix again.
  • Divide the mixture between the two tins.
  • Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks form and then whisk in 200g of sugar. Divide the whisked whites between the two sponge-filled tins, spreading the meringue straight on top of the cake mix.
  • Smooth one flat, and with the back of a spoon peak the other and sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar over the peaks. Bake for 25 minutes.
  • With a cake-tester, pierce the cake that has the flat meringue topping to check it's cooked all through. Put the cakes onto a wire rack and let cool completely in the tins.
  • Remove the flat-topped cake from its tin and place it meringue side down on a plate.
  • Spread the sponge surface of the first cake with the lime curd, then the dark chocolate ganache. Whisk the cream and once it’s thick, spread that on top of the ganache. Lastly, place the second cake on top with its peaked meringue uppermost.
  • If you want to go all fancy, zigzag a trail of chocolate ganache over the top of the meringue and sprinkle some finely peeled lime zest on the top.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Edinburgh: cake and comedy

There are three loves in my life – cake, cats and comedy. I’ve spent the last five days and all my monies in Edinburgh indulging two of them (the cats didn’t want to come).

The Edinburgh Fringe is so jam-packed with comedy it’s like standing in front of a massive dessert trolley and being told you can only pick one thing. Ironically, it also has a huge number of cake shops. You need to choose carefully in order to avoid disappointment:
  • go to a venue that serves good quality stuff, like The Chocolate Tree or the Stand and you can’t really go wrong. I’d highly recommend the chocolate hazelnut tart or Tony Law
  • stick with something you already know you enjoy, like a chocolate brownie or Richard Herring. 
  • go with a classic, like fruit cake or Stewart Lee. Maybe not everybody's cup of tea but deeply satisfying if it's yours.
  • ask other people for recommendations, particularly other comedians who you like – without this I wouldn’t have found  the chocolate tiffin at Kilimanjaro Coffee Shop, or Markus Birdman, Celia Pacquola, Marek Larwood or Eddie Pepitone
  • if you simply can’t choose, go for one of those “three dessert” options or a sketch show like Pappys or The Three Englishmen
  • stick to your roots (Geordie in my case) and go for something local like a singing hinny or Seymour Mace, Gavin Webster or Simon Donald (OK I’ve made that up, I never saw hide nor hair of a singing hinny though there was Greggs, our proudest son)
  • remember that there are hundreds of Free Fringe shows, like Nick Doody or Trodd en Bratt. Picture that little biscuit that comes unbidden with a cup of coffee and remember to tip
  • there's also fun for all the family - everybody can enjoy a Victoria sponge, or Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and his Singing Tiger
  • avoid cupcakes.  A triumph of presentation over substance. The ridiculous hair topping does not compensate for the dull, slightly stale cake underneath
  • remain respectful – don’t shout on that your scone’s a bit dry or that you’re now so drunk you’ve lost your appetite for cake. You’ll be spoiling it for everyone else
  • don’t panic if what you want is sold out or padlocked, like the freezer full of Doddingtons ice cream at the Assembly Rooms or Daniel Kitson. They’ll make more
Clockwise from top left, going in a spiral like a game of Snake that’s about to end: Henderson’s vegetarian cafe on Hanover Street: also does vegan desserts; Bibi’s Bakery on Hanover Street: didn’t need a wedding cake but I liked their chocolate tray bake; Patisserie Valerie on North Bridge: there’s a reason they give you a knife & fork with the chocolate éclair - don’t try stuffing it in your face with your fingers; Kilimanjaro on Nicholson St: recommended by someone who knows his stuff as the best coffee in the city; The Square on the corner of York Place: if you see Tommy Sheppard in there, why not go up and tell him how happy you are The Stand has opened in Newcastle? I’m sure he’ll love that, Kate; The Elephant House: particularly good if you’re a fan of Harry Potter fans; Eteaket on Frederick St (the scone was a bit dry to be honest); The Chocolate Tree in Morningside: prepare to be dazzled.