#1 – 48 Recipes Challenge: Recipe 26 – Gin and Tonic Drizzle Cake for Clandestine Cake Club
This month’s post does include a new recipe, but the main focus is actually the experience – May saw me attend my first meeting of the Clandestine Cake Club! For the last couple of years I have belonged to a virtual cooking group where we share recipes, hints & tips and photos of food we’ve cooked or amazing food we’ve eaten but we’re scattered all over the globe so rarely get a chance to meet face to face or to taste each other’s creations. It does make for fascinating discussions of different recipes and techniques, food based customs and special occasion meals but it’s sometimes frustrating not being able to share the flavours. So, when a friend invited me to join a local branch of the Clandestine Cake Club, I jumped at the chance.
It’s not necessarily an obvious choice for me. I’ve said before that I tend to prefer savoury cookery to sweet baking, not to mention the fact that baking an entire cake when you live on your own is not ideal because you’re never going to get through it all before it goes stale. But really that’s just an excuse – if I’m honest I usually tend to avoid baking because it often requires a degree of precision in the finish that I am too impatient to do properly. But now I’ll have to.
Since CCC not only has a website but also lists the cakes that will be brought to each meeting I wondered what was ‘clandestine’ about it, but it turns out that secret bit is the location; advised only to those attending, just a couple of days before.
Having signed up online and registered with my local branch I was accepted to attend the May meeting, the theme of which was ‘Boozy Bakes’. Absolutely perfect for me! Thinking to make a cake featuring my favourite tipple, I settled on a Gin & Tonic Drizzle Cake. It was to be made in a loaf tin, didn’t require any buttercream, icing or fancy finishing so I thought it would be a simple, undemanding debut bake for me. I’ve made drizzle cake before, it turned out fine and tasty. Couldn’t fail.
The assembly process seemed straightforward. Weigh four eggs then beat together with equal amounts of flour, butter and sugar before stirring in gin, lemon juice and lemon zest and turning into a tin to bake. Once baked through, pour on the drizzle made up of gin, tonic, lemon juice and sugar. Wait for it to set. Simple.
Here’s the result:
DISASTER! I decide I absolutely cannot turn up to my first meeting of the Clandestine Cake Club with this seriously untidy offering, but it’s bedtime by now and I haven’t really got time to make the whole thing again. Could I top it with buttercream to hide the cracks or maybe stick it back together with lime icing? I give up for the night, pop the leftover drizzle (which once the sugar has dissolved is effectively a gin and lemon syrup) in a g&t and set the alarm for 6am. Incidentally I highly recommend the lemon syrup G&T…
Unsurprisingly the cake didn’t look any better in the morning and had crumbled even more. I felt a rescue attempt would just look like desperation (plus I wasn’t at all sure that gin and buttercream would work – too rich against the astringency of the gin?) so there I am, 6am, making another cake. I decided the four egg mix was probably too big for my loaf tin, so dropped to three eggs. Fortunately Version II turned out much better.
Version I went to work for my colleagues to eat and was pronounced delicious, despite its appearance. In some ways this was a relief, although it was a pain having to cook it twice, at least I wouldn’t be turning up to CCC with no idea whether my bake tasted good.
Given the dramas with the cake, I didn’t really have time to be nervous about actually going to the meeting. That kicked in once I arrived at the venue. I hadn’t given much thought as to what to expect; if anything I think I expected the WI. I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a lovely group of young women, including professionals and mums, all with busy and interesting lives and a great passion for cakes and baking. CCC is open to anyone whether professional baker or amateur cook, male or female. It’s not a competition and there’s no judging.
Here’s the mouthwatering selection of cakes that greeted me:
From the top: Amaretto Cream Cake, Chocolate Guinness Cake, my Gin & Tonic Drizzle Cake, Tia Maria and Mascarpone Cake, Chocolate Cointreau Cloud Cake, Ginger and Brandy Chocolate Mousse Cake, Strawberry Margherita Cake, Clementine and Cointreau Cake baked in a particularly fine bundt tin and Pimms Cake.
The Clementine Cake was fab as it came with a pouring glaze but my absolutely favourite of the night (which arrived after the photo was taken) was a Boozy Cherry Cheesecake – absolutely divine. Another recipe to add to my wish list!
We were, of course, expected to sample each of the cakes and as we did so the conversation wove around the recipes, general food and cooking stories, places to eat and other interests people wanted to chat about. Luckily we cut only small slivers of cake to share because there was so much to try but I was still regretting having had dinner beforehand! All too soon we’d sampled the last cake and the evening was drawing to a close – but not before we’d packed up a few slices of each of the cakes we liked best to take home for family, friends and colleagues.
It was lovely to meet a group of people who are as fascinated by food and flavours as I am, to learn from them and to be able to try their bakes. I have a serious case of cake-paraphernalia-envy so I may be soon investing in new cake plates and cake carriers and I’ve already signed up for next month’s meet, the theme of which is Ice Cream Flavours. I’m currently getting excited about various Mint Chocolate Cake recipes!
To learn more about Clandestine Cake Club and see if there’s a branch near you check out:
And if you’d like to try the Gin and Tonic Drizzle Cake, here’s the recipe. Even if you don’t make the cake I highly recommend using the drizzle as a syrup for an excellent g&t!