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In the (cake) club

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Lemon Rose Cake with Strawberry Gelée 2
Guest blogger Tamsin McCahill of Brighton Hobby Project on the rise and rise of the cake club – a home baking craze that’s sweeping the nation.

Clutching a huge Tupperware box, I crept through a cobbled mews at dusk, searching for a top secret location. My heart was racing. I didn’t know who – or what – I’d find when I got there.

No, I’m not a spy on a secret mission (although I did feel a bit like one). In the box was a banoffee Victoria sponge (my daring twist on the original). I’d lovingly prepared it that afternoon – and I was trying to find the location of a mysterious-sounding cake club, the address of which had appeared in my inbox just the day before.

With the popularity of programmes such as The Great British Bake Off, baking is now enjoying a huge revival. According to the Daily Mail, Lakeland’s sales of cake tins and icing bags rose by a third last year.

But while home baking is fun, it can be a bit of a solitary pastime. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could share the fruits of your labour with other enthusiastic home bakers, swapping recipes, enjoying each other’s company and sampling some buttercream-filled experiments?

That’s where the idea of the cake club was born. With names designed to add a bit of drama and intrigue to proceedings, such as The Secret Tea Room and the Clandestine Cake Club, these gatherings are springing up all round the country and everyone is welcome to join. All you need to bring is a cake – and perhaps some loose fitting trousers.

How it works
You can either go to an existing event like I did, or start your own. For example, do a search on the Clandestine Cake Club website to see if there’s a branch in your area. If not, the organisers will provide you with a template so that your meeting follows the same format. 

The cake club I attended was held in a beautiful gallery, and its leader not only supplied tea, she’d also brought a few bottles of Prosecco, which helped to give the proceedings an air of celebration.

There were about eight of us who’d made cakes (and some cake-loving supporters who were just there to sample) and, although it was made very clear that it wasn’t a competition, I think we all secretly judged. My unofficial winner was a lovely pistachio and rose water sponge. 

My fellow bakers were full of knowledge about recipes and I learned a lot about the latest wrist-saving home baking devices I should buy. But did I learn anything else? Oh yes. It turns out that after consuming eight slices, a phenomenon known among us bakers as ‘the cake sweats’ sets in. And the next day I had what can only be described as a cake hangover.

What you need
Although you can make tasty cakes with just a bowl and wooden spoon, baking can be a bit more enjoyable if you have a few pieces of equipment, such as food mixers and the right kind of tins. One way to help spread the initial cost could be by credit card, especially if you've got a card that offers a 0 per cent period on purchases or offers rewards as you spend. Just remember that if you don’t clear the balance outside the introductory period, you will be charged interest.

This is a sponsored post by Sainsbury's.

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