Thursday, 27 October 2011

A Bonanza of Bakes

Well, I don't think I'd ever baked quite so many cakes for one event - I was almost, but not quite, caked out! Friends were hosting an Open Weekend to celebrate 30 years of living in their beautiful moorland house and had asked me if I would bake cakes for the event.

With a small kitchen and not that much equipment, little storage and no room in the freezer, planning eight bakes was quite a feat. What would keep the longest, where could I store the finished bakes, what selection should I make and how many eggs and bags of flour did I need were some of the things that went into the equation. I did it over two and a half days so I could enjoy the experience, rather than being in a total stress and vowing never to do it again. And, although the process was not without its drama, I really did enjoy it. It was fun to make a load of cakes that didn't have chocolate in them for a start - although I couldn't resist entirely and it managed to creep into three of them. Transporting them to the venue also proved to be a bit of a challenge, but they arrived in more or less one piece, despite the hilly and winding nature of the roads.

The response was positively effusive and I came away glowing from all of the compliments I received. This together with all the other good food and excellent company, a good time was had by all.

Here are the finished bakes. The labels came courtesy of CT. Which one would you want to try?

Pam Corbin's Orange & Earl Grey Cake from her excellent book Cakes. The orange cream cheese filling that I made with mascarpone was to die for. As you can see, I didn't make the icing quite thick enough, so most of it dripped off and pooled around the bottom! I was particularly intrigued by this one, but as I didn't get to try it, I might just have to make it again.

Sour Cherry Brownies adapted from Green & Black's Unwrapped. These turned out amazingly well considering the poor start I gave them. More on this in a subsequent post.

I made the apple and thyme cake I made last month, only this time I whizzed up the thyme with the caster sugar before creaming to make the taste more pronounced and left out the chocolate.

Dan Lepard's Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake from Short & Sweet - I managed to try a bit of this one and it was totally delicious light and lemony but with a bit of texture.

Lemon & Cardamom Shortbread Biscuits - the "home made" stamp worked a bit better this time, but I still have a way to go to perfect my technique!

The Apple & Choc Chip Rock Cakes that I'd made to such acclaim a few weeks back were specifically requested.

Nigella's sticky ginger cake with lemon icing from How to be a domestic goddess.

The star of the show was the Chocolate Cake with apple lemon curd filling and treacle fudge icing. This was one of the best chocolate cakes I've yet made - recipe to follow.

PS - Our friends have tried several times to comment on this post, but blogger has been playing up and they have been unable to do so. I'm therefore posting their message here as they wanted it to appear somewhere.

"Well, we were the very lucky friends to be recipient of this amazing ‘bonanza of cakes’.
I wish I had at the time taken a photo of the master cook and her partner as they walked up our front steps, just like the magi carrying gifts. They were both beaming with pleasure and delight, very pleased, and quite rightly too. Our open house was spread over two days. We displayed two cakes on the table straight away and the rest were hidden under it, brought out at various times to meet the ever increasing demand. But they  had to last for two days to ensure that the last visitor, who came on Sunday night at 9.30 p.m. could enjoy this delight too.
We have tasted good cakes in the past. But this was something else. The surprising ingredients – poppy seeds, earl grey, cardamom, thyme – alongside delicious lemon curd, chocolate, cherry, ginger and the wonderful presentation made these cakes exceptional. They were  in a totally different league and our guests were bowled over by them." 

27 comments:

  1. I may be re-visiting this post in the coming months. I'm may need to get sponsorship for the London marathon next year and my single fund raising idea so far is to sell cakes in the office each month - this one post has given me about 3 month's worth of ideas!

    They all look nice. However, I'll agree about your star of the show. Already sounding like a nice cake; the winner was 'treacle fudge icing', which just sounds marvelous.

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  2. What a fabulous person you are Choc. Lucky friends! It would be a very difficult decision to make when it came to choosing which cakes to try (and it would have to be plural). I think the earl grey and orange first, then the sour cherry brownies and then I would have to try the treacle fudge icing as well. Then the shortbread looks like it might need a taste. Oh dear and you say there was other food there too.
    VBB - I will sponsor you when the time comes. I am very pleased that you will be making more cakes too.

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  3. A great set of cakes! I'm sure everyone enjoyed them. I would have wanted a taste of everything!

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  4. Wow, beautiful set of bakes and cakes, amazing feat of planning and organisation too! You have very lucky friends!

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  5. They all look divine! You certainly rose to the challenge!

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  6. Your friends must have been delighted! They are look great - I love the sound of the orange and earl grey cake.

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  7. What a fantastic range - they all look fabulous - you should be jolly proud of yourself. Well done. Lots of inspiration for the rest of us too.

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  8. I'm so impressed they all look great! I have tried to do big baking sessions for a party before and got myself in a right flap. I went off baking for a good few weeks. You seem to have managed it much better than me. I think doing it over 2-3 days in key, I didn't leave myself enough time.

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  9. Wow they all look gorgeous! Well done. I think i'd have to try some of all of them before making my mind up :)
    Love the sound of the choc, apple, treacle one though..

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  10. Fantastic effort! They all look very scrummy. Lucky friends ;0)

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  11. Your like a cake monster!!! They all look fabulous. Ilm having a hard time deciding my favourites.... Is it the Orange and Earl Grey or the Lemon and Cardomon? Fancy a job in our tea room?

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  12. I am so impressed, no wonder your friends were happy with you!
    I really like the look of your shortbread, the stamp effect is gorgeous. I would have had to try them all to give you a fair verdict but the orange & Earl Grey must have been delicious. Great effort!x

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  13. Wow well done, what a marathon challenge! Your bakes look divine.

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  14. oh..i love them all but if i had to choose it would be the orange and earl grey i think..mainly because i've never tasted that combination before..

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  15. You deserve a medal !!
    We have a charity cake stall at work for Children in Need and I am always on the lookout for ideas. Mind you, I have to say that it's always the chocolate cakes slathered in tons of icing that sell the best. The people who buy our stuff don't do healthy !!

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  16. That is some serious baking! Particularly love the last cake with this little stars on top...is the treacle fudge icing recipe from Short & Sweet? Loving that book at the moment!

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  17. Erm, can I choose all of them? Seriously, that chocolate cake is a triumph. But I love apple cake and gingerbread too and they look wonderful. You are a great friend to those folks, lucky them and hope you got to have a cuppa and soak up the glory after all that hard graft

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  18. VBB - Yo! I knew you'd get the cake bug ;-) That treacle fudge icing is splendid - I shall be using that again and again!

    Kath - thank you. The orange and Earl grey is proving to be a popular choice.

    Suelle - thank you. I rather wanted a taste of everything too ;-)

    Hannah - thank you. It was fun.

    FoodyCat - thank you. I was hoping to make a 9th, but ran out of time and tins.

    MCB - thank you. I wanted to try that orange & Earl grey, so will just have to make another one at some point.

    Jennifer - thank you very much for your kind comment.

    CakeFairy - I'm so glad I gave myself a bit of time. When I've had parties in the past I've tried to do too much in too short a space of time and that can be stressful.

    Katie - Thank you. I did manage to try a bit of that one and it was seriously good.

    Chele - thank you.

    Dom - Ooh, cake monster, I like that and thank you for the offer but I want my OWN tearoom.

    Laura - Thank you. I'm pleased with the stamp, but still need to perfect the technique.

    Janice - thank you.

    Hazel - yes, that was the one I most wanted to try - for the same reason. I'll just have to make it again one day.

    Jean - thank you. That's a good tip if ever I bake for a charity event.

    Little Loaf - thank you. It is indeed from S&S and it's well worth making. I shall be using that one again and again. A great book indeed. There's a twitter bake along thing going if you're interested #shortandtweet

    Oxslip - Thank you. I was well rewarded :)

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  19. Goodness, you have been working hard! What an amazing array, Choc!

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  20. can you please email me and let me know where i can get one of those "home made" stamps, my email is tb_trowbridge@yahoo.com.au
    thanks!

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  21. I'm gob smacked! What a feast of cakey loveliness and with labels by CT too.

    Very interested in that Orange & Earl Grey Cake, I didn't know PC had a book out, must have a look for it. Sticky ginger cake, oh yes,,,, I want that one and the star cake... yes yes yes.... YES!!!

    (and I haven't had breakfast yet, shouldn't read your posts before breakfast. Well done you!

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  22. Celia - thank you. It didn't all go entirely to plan, but I was nonetheless pleased with the results.

    Anon - I bought mine through Amazon.

    Joanna - Brilliant, thank you. Gobsmacked is just about the best complement to have ;-) Pam's book Cakes, no 8 in the handbook series is very well worth having. Everyoe seems intrigued by that orange and Earl grey cake - including me!

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  23. They all look brilliant. Wish I had been there to sample them :-) I'm loving Pam's book - lots of lovely ideas in there!

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  24. Sour cherry brownies and gingerbread with lemon icing icing would be my first ones to try. Yum Choc, and an awesome effort making them all.

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  25. C - thank you. Pam's book is one of the best.

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  26. fantastic - I love them all - I made the apple and thyme without the chocolate or thyme last week and loved it! would have loved to have been at the open house - also was curious about the order in which you decided to make these

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  27. Johanna - Thank you. Great to hear you made the cake - it really doesn't need the chocolate AND to hear you like it.

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