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Isle of Man – “Spooks and Sparklers!” Write-up

At the previous Isle of Man Clandestine Cake Club event, I had asked the bakers and their guests to come up with ideas for the next theme.  Well, as was only to be expected given the time of year, Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night were the most popular suggestions.  Debating over which would be better for Cake Conception and Creation, someone suggested we combine them – and the result was “Spooks and Sparklers!”

The last line of the event invitation was “So, let your inner demon loose and devilishly decorate or ignite the light and let your colours burst, Katy Perry style!”  All I can say is that the IOM Cake Clubbers are obviously a devilish lot.  We had a wicked witch, pumpkins a-plenty, spooks, skeletons and ghouls, a graveyard, hell-bound bats and a Hop-tu-Naa (more of that later!) lantern.  Then, just when I was beginning to feel sorry for Katy Perry, along came a bonfire, some yummy toffee apple and a fabulous firework!

We were at a new venue for us, Franklins Deli in the Tower House Shopping Centre.  ‘Shopping Centre’ doesn’t really do this building justice – there is a beautiful central glass atrium and Franklins Deli have prime position in the centre of the ground floor, overlooked by three floors of shopping space lined with elegant balconies.

By day a lively café, they have also been known to host events such as Chamber Concerts which I can only imagine would be wonderful, given the acoustics in the atrium.

At Franklins Deli,, they believe that the products they use, wherever possible, should come from local suppliers and local growers because that is the right thing to do.  They believe in good honest cooking and understand the benefits of low GI, low dairy and super foods (clearly they made an exception for CCC night!) and so their menus offer just that.  They are based in Liverpool as well as the Isle of Man and are well worth a visit.  Steve looked after us beautifully on the night.  He had set out one long table for us and then decorated it with ghouls, witches and tealights.  Thankfully Bethany saved us all from going up in smoke when the decorations caught fire early on in the evening….but enough of that little bonfire, on to the cakes!

There were twelve cakes to sample amongst sixteen of us – a great ratio! – and such wonderful creations too.  I apologise for the photos, some are a bit blurred and some have been cropped a little too brutally (wordpress not me), but I hope you enjoy looking at the cakes as much as we enjoyed eating them.

Bethany – Bats out of Hell Cake.  Bethany turned up in a fabulous witch’s hat and purple wig, carrying a wonderful cake.  She had built a mountain, complete with eerie bat cave – from which hordes of black bats streamed over and around the cake, with jelly snakes writhing beneath them on the icing!  I could have done with a flash on my camera to pick out the detail Bethany had put into the cake.


Tracy L – Bewitching Chocolate Cake.  This cake, featuring a wicked witch half buried under a pile of loose ‘earth’, earned the prize for best opening line at a CCC event yet.  “Don’t eat the witch – she’s made out of plasticine not fondant!”  Tracy’s daughter, Emma, came along to make sure her mum brought home leftovers of her favourites on the night.


Amanda W – Chocolate Graveyard Cake.  This was an adaptation of a Martha Stewart cake in that I pinched her idea and then cheated by using a different cake recipe and buying biscuits instead of baking my own!  I did use her ‘bleeding chocolate glaze’ recipe which was really rich but didn’t bleed over the edges of the cake like it was supposed to….ah well!


Andrea R – Firework Fiesta Cake.  Andrea earned the respect of us all on the night when she confessed it had taken seven, yes, seven hours to make her amazing rocket firework.  I missed the lighting of the rocket as it was swiftly blown out again – HUGE flames apparently, for the second time that night!  The inside of the cake was just as impressive, with red and yellow layers to match the icing.



Sally M-M – Hop-tu-Naa Lantern Cake.  Hop-tu-Naa is the Manx celebration of Hallowe’en, we have our own song and we make lanterns out of turnips rather than pumpkins.  Sally’s cake was yummy although, like me, she had had icing issues.  Hers hadn’t set even though she had tried everything she could – adding ALL the icing sugar she could find in her house, then popping it in the freezer!  It still tasted yummy even if it had all slid off the lantern.


Ruth P – Orange and Chocolate Bonfire Cake.  New baker Ruth came along with a wonderfully realistic bonfire cake.  Matchmakers took the place of the wood, melted boiled sweets were the flickering flames and there was even a forlorn little Guy Fawkes peering out from the centre -which I only actually noticed after I took the photo!


Sarah W – Pumpkin Patch Cake.  Another newbie, Sarah came along with a marvellously decorated cake.  She too said she wasn’t very happy with her icing although Sally and I did enviously note that, as well as tasting divine, hers had actually stayed where it was supposed to!  She had also added little black bats and bright orange pumpkins which we did check were fondant and not plasticine.

Maria D – Spiced Pumpkin and Chocolate Cake.  A very pretty and very accomplished bundt cake, and I am qualified to comment having suffered the trauma of making my own bundt cake.  Maria’s cake came out of the tin in one piece, unlike mine, but almost didn’t make it to the event in one piece – having nearly slid off the plate as she drove round a corner.  It was a wonderfully moist cake, marbled sponge inside and double iced outside.


Joann O’B – Spiced Pumpkin Cake.  Supplying the third of our trio of pumpkin cakes, Joann had excelled herself with a lovely moist pumpkin sponge, icing that had done exactly what it was supposed to do (!) and amazingly expressive fondant pumpkins complete with leaves.  As I said last month, I have always been suspicious of adding vegetables to desserts but will definitely be giving pumpkin a go after tasting her cake!


Michelle T – Spooky Coconut Cake.  A third newbie to Cake Club, Michelle’s cake featured spooks (Ferrero Rocher chocolates covered in white fondant), fondant pumpkins around the sides and her pièce de résistance, gravestones with skeletons crawling round the edges.  Amazing icing skills (honed in classes she’s been taking with Sarah W from a local, shhhhhh!, cupcake maker!) but sadly the photo doesn’t do them justice – all you can see is one skeletal arm!  Sorry, Michelle.



Mark W – Spooky Spirit Bundt Cake.  Well, I baked it but it was at my husband’s request.  “Are you ever going to use that tin you bought….?” was how I think he phrased it!  I used a Dollybakes (CCC Bolton) recipe and substituted rum (for the spooky spirit) for vanilla and lemon essence.  It was a yummy cake but it was a nightmare to get out of the tin.  80% came out fine and then a thick dredge of icing sugar was needed to try and hide the crack where I stuck on the remaining 20%.

Sarah J – Sticky Toffee Apple Cake.  This was the second cake Sarah baked for the event, having confessed to burning the first one during an extended Sunday lunch – she blamed timing issues and her baking tin, I blame the wine!!  She sacrificed Monday morning to start all over again and it was well worth it.  A delicious cake with a yummy toffee sauce topping.


And that was another evening gone in a blur of cakey chat.  It was really nice to all sit around the same table too, with the cakes in the middle, which is a first for us.  Not all venues would be able to fit us in like that but I may ask the bigger ones to set this way in future.  What do you all think??

The next event is “A Christmas Carol” and will be on Monday 10th December.  Details will be up on the website soon and I hope to see you all there with your seasonal interpretations…


  1. Amanda

    Yay – Lynn worked her magic with my photos and you can see much more detail than I thought. Thanks, Lynn :)

  2. Michelle

    Hi I just wanted to say thank to all for the warm welcome we newbies received on Monday night you were all so friendly and welcoming. Andy how impressed I was with all decorating of the cakes and how delicious they were! My only comment is – I wish you would have warned me to starve myself all day monday so I had room to try out all the cakes! However, taking a slice of each home was a good idea and the scores on the doors for all of them were high :) See you at the Christmas themed evening.

  3. Sarah

    I, too, wish I had not eaten my evening meal before CCC…it was a great night with an incredible array of beautifully decorated cakes – and brilliantly organised, Amanda, as always. I might even forgive you for suggesting my burnt offering was the fault of my Sunday lunch wine habit…….hahaha! :)

  4. Maria

    Another great write-up Amanda and the evening was lovely. I would agree about the table setting too. It made for a very sociable event!

  5. Amanda

    Next event up on the website now, Sarah, hope you can make it..? Let me know :)

    Thanks for the comments, ladies, I thoroughly enjoy organising these events and, of course, baking and eating the cakes – and it still amazes me how much fun you can have through such a simple and effective idea as the CCC.

    Congrats (and huge thanks) to Lynn Hill…again!! 😀

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