March 2014

March 2014

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Neapolitan cake

Last Friday (May 24th) I was ready to throw in the towel. It was wintry, cold and miserable and, like a lot of other people, we resorted to turning the heating back on! That night, cocooned and snuggled under ‘the thicker duvet’, I longed for the cold to be gone and the promise of warm early summer days to return.  Wouldn’t it be just glorious to open all the windows in the house, allowing it to breathe!? Wouldn’t it be just wonderful to see the return of favourite plants in the garden after their winter sleep? Wouldn’t it just be too much to hope for that we could enjoy an al-fresco meal over the Bank Holiday weekend? Well, I must have been a good girl that day because most of my wishes came true! On Saturday morning, blue skies returned and we had the promise of early summer.

Years ago, my Gran, on warm sunny days would produce - from the tiny ice-box section at the top of her gas fridge - a block of Walls ‘Neapolitan’ striped (chocolate, vanilla and strawberry)  ice cream. It was wrapped in a cardboard jacket, which she opened, before slicing the brick-like confection and placing it between two rather nasty wafers that tended to stick to ones lips! Like me, I wonder if other ice cream lovers made a conscious decision as to which order to eat this triple taste delight? In my case, the chocolate was always left to last!

So, back to present day and my own kitchen – what to bake for the weekend? It seemed appropriate to attempt a recipe that I had seen in the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook, aptly entitled ‘Neapolitan Cake’. I had most of the ingredients but had run out of pink colouring, and so decided upon flavouring one third of the mixture with orange extract instead. 

As you can see, once cooled and slathered in chocolate, it was a bit disappointing when sliced that it more resembled a marble cake rather than a reminder of Napoli – my own fault as I think my loaf tin is rather narrow - but it was fun to prepare.  Now then, do I nibble around the edges of my piece and leave the chocolate section until last – well, why not?!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

First Birthday

I don’t usually stagger and fall when leaving a party – well, not these days – but I certainly did this week after a meeting of my local branch of the Clandestine Cake Club. Could it have been the result of over-indulgence in a creation laced with alcohol? Sadly not, just my own stupidity when carrying too much to the car! Fortunately, I didn’t break any bones, just my lovely cake stand, but at the moment I feel rather sorry for myself with bruises, grazes and strains from head to toe. 

Who would have thought that baking could be so dangerous!

Anyway, our ‘First Birthday’ was a glorious evening and I hope enjoyed by everyone that attended. It doesn’t seem like a whole year has passed since we first met in May 2012 and I thought it would be appropriate to return to Jeyes in Earls Barton as the venue. Just as with our inaugural meeting, the Jeyes family surpassed their brief with the party tables bedecked with goody bags and ribbons, as well as a giant number ‘one’ balloon and a pretty birthday card for us all! They had prepared a variety of dainty sandwiches and served these with crisps from tiered stands before we delved into the fantastic display of cakes. It was almost like sitting in Betty’s tea room in Harrogate. 

Yorkshire Tea had also been very generous with their sponsorship of the evening and there was plenty of tea for everyone and some lovely Yorkshire Tea merchandise for a few winners. The Jeyes family and their miniaturist staff had also prepared a Yorkshire Tea display especially for us, and I can’t thank them enough for their continued support and generosity.

Our 18 birthday cakes were mouth-wateringly splendid – each one I sampled more delicious than the last and every one baked with imagination and skill.  It was so hard to know when to stop!  As you will see from a few of the photographs taken, all these confections came in a myriad of shapes, sizes, and flavours; all washed-down with brimming teapots of Yorkshire Tea. Yet another triumph for Northants CCC cake-makers!

Further pics taken on the night will be seen very shortly on

Monday, May 13, 2013

Fuller's walnut cake - UPDATE

When I was a child my mother worked in the City of London and, on special occasions, she would bring home a large and glorious Fuller’s walnut cake for tea. It was seen as a luxury and, I believe, cost a whole six shillings! An even bigger treat would have been to be taken to one of the Fuller’s tea shops and I could then sit and take in the fairly elegant surroundings, with tea and cakes served by waitresses with white pinnies and frilly headgear. In the 1950s I believe Fuller had 82 shops and continued to expand until they were finally taken over by Lyons at the end of 1968. Sadly, their cakes were last produced commercially in 1969.

This week my local cake club celebrates its first birthday and I have decided to recreate - and share with my members - my special ‘Fuller’s’ memories with the sight, taste and aroma of a Fuller’s-type walnut cake. Let’s hope that my baking skills do justice to this legendary cake! 

UPDATE 15th May 2013: Well, my take on this famous confection has now been made and covered in American frosting this morning - here it is ready for devouring at our Clandestine Cake Club event tonight.