vCake – Regional Favourites
Because we are such a geographically diverse group I thought it would be a good idea to have a theme of regional favourites in the hope of discovering more about traditions of baking from different areas. My theory was that perhaps we’d see links to what has traditionally been grown in the localities but then I struggled myself to find a large cake that was native to North Wales where I’m living at the moment. Similarly Clare (Hertfordshire) and Susan (New Mexico) were a bit stumped. Being a historian I’m immediately drawn to ponder the socio-economic reasons behind this, but instead I drew on my Lancashire heritage for cakey production and Clare and Susan were similarly resourceful as you’ll see! Ellen drew on her own heritage and treated her St Louis friends to Ozark Apple Cake with Browned Butter Caramel Icing, topped with pecans. (left photo) She says “My vEvent was a complete success! Everyone who came was happy to participate, completely intrigued by the idea of CCC and maybe interested in forming one here in St. Louis. The Ozark Mountains (really big hills) are located in central Missouri going down into Arkansas. Since I am from Missouri, I thought that would be a good regional favorite. One friend I invited is a wonderful baker and she made a lovely Walnut Sponge with Glazed Fresh Fruit. It was light (except for the whipped cream she provided as an accompaniment!) and quite delicious.” (right photo) If her friends’ email responses are anything to go by, Ellen definitely has the makings of a new CCC! If you scroll down to the bottom of this post, Ellen has shared the recipe for this lovely cake with us. Thank you Ellen! x
Sam, celebrating her wedding anniversary up there in Yorkshire, revealed her Nottinghamshire roots with her desire to bake a Nottinghamshire Bramley Apple cake. Failing to track down the traditional recipe however, she turned to her faithful Clandestine Cake Club Cook Book and whipped up a Dorset Apple Cake instead. She says “I baked it in a large traybake tin as I couldn’t find the bottom to my springform circular one! [We all know that feeling - Katie!] It still got cut up easily into 16 large slices though. The apple pieces burned on the top but it didn’t take anything away from the taste and we ate a slice each, warm for pudding with some custard after some roast pork. There was plenty left over which I’ve put into a box to take into work tomorrow to share with my colleagues!” Did you know that the Bramley Apple variety originates from Nottinghamshire? I heard that on the radio, not long after Sam had sent in these photos. http://www.bramleyapples.co.uk/bramley-apples-history/
Meanwhile, down in Hertfordshire, Clare’s vCake event was very much a communal family effort. Although they drew a blank on large cakes native to Hertfordshire they showed great lateral thinking by using strawberries from their own garden. As she says “Can’t get more regional than that!” Top thinking Clare! She explains “The cake is the ‘Strawberry Shortcake’ recipe from the CCC book and as you can see it turned out very much like the picture. The children made it mostly by themselves and it turned out really well. There was a bit too much cream for our liking but it’s a lovely summery cake and I’m sure we’ll make it again and maybe try some different fruit next time.” I have to say, it does look just like the one in the CCC book – Clare, you obviously have a family of budding bakers! Next stop the Great British Bake Off?
So far we’ve all (including me) gone back to our roots for inspiration. However, Susan in New Mexico decided not to be put off by the lack of large cakes in her adopted State and took her inspiration from the official state cookie! Her research revealed that “Biscochitos were brought to New Mexico by immigrants centuries ago. They are almost like a sugar cookie but to be traditional you have to make them with lard, anise and cinnamon.” In true Cake Club style she decided to start with something which is not a cake and come up with a cakey version. She tells me “I’ve learned from CCC write-ups (which I LOVE reading!) that you can put almost anything in a cake, between the layers or on top so I improvised. I baked a large biscochito, cut it into the size of my cake pans and put it between the layers of a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Not surprising it tasted like cake and cookie (different textures!). It was an experiment but I don’t think it will catch on (not like cookie bits in ice cream!) …” Well, whether it catches on or not I’m very impressed with your ingenuity Susan!
My fellow North Walean, Caroline, was inspired by regional ingredients to celebrate her mixed heritage (tut, now why didn’t I think of that? Lack of lateral thinking there Mrs Cakey Lench!) and her cake was taken to her sister’s house as part of a meal and cards night. I’ve met Caroline’s sister – she does love cake so I’m sure she was delighted! (Well, don’t we all?) Caroline reports “Going with the regional theme I made a Stout and Chocolate Cake with Irish Buttercream (Bailey’s) Like you Katie, I live in Wales so I chose to mix it with my Irish roots (both my parents are Irish). I used Welsh Stout in the cake and, you guessed it, the Bailey’s is the Irish element. The cake part was a great success – it had that rich taste too without it being too heavy, but the cream was a disaster it just would not thicken up no matter what I did with it. It is an American recipe so I clearly got some of the measurements wrong. Anyway it tasted fantastic it just did not have that wow factor!!” (Caroline’s having trouble uploading her photos from her phone, so for the meantime I’ll just post this cute little label from North Wales Brewery from one of their Stout bottles). It is tricky working with different measuring techniques – I’m always Googling things like ‘a stick of butter’, but at least they all had a cake that they could enjoy, which is the main thing.
For myself, I can’t claim the same level of inventiveness as Susan – luckily the CCC recipe book came to my rescue with a (Lancashire) Manchester Tart Cake recipe a vanilla sponge with jam and (my first ever) homemade custard in the middle and coconut sprinkled icing on the top. I think I used almost every cooking utensil and bowl in the kitchen but it was worth it in the end. It makes a laaaarge cake, which unless we get some visitors soon, the No.1 Husband and I will have to eat all by ourselves. Oh dear, our poor waistlines!
And so, I sign off from our second vCake event.
Even if we can’t be together, it’s lovely to know that we members are baking at the same time, for the same reason all over the world.
Hopefully we’ll grow from strength to strength!
Ozark Apple Cake
(You can make half and put it in a 9- inch round or square pan. Don’t forget to half the icing too.) Bake 25-40 minutes; a cake tester should come out pretty clean with a few clinging crumbs. 1 ½ cup sugar ¾ cup dark brown sugar ¾ cup butter 3 eggs 3 cups flour 3 tsp. baking soda 1½ Tbsp. water 3 tsp vanilla 2 tsp. cinnamon ½ tsp. allspice ¼ tsp. cloves ¼ tsp. salt 4 ½ cups chopped peeled tart apples ¾ cup chopped pecans 1. Line two 9 Inch straight sided pans with parchment and spray with Pam. Set aside. 2. Mix flour, soda, spices and salt together and set aside. 3. Grate apples in food processor or by hand. Set aside. 4. Beat sugars and butter together until light. Add eggs one at a time, beating lightly after each addition. Add water and vanilla, mixing until blended. Mix in dry ingredients, stirring last remaining streaks in by hand. 5. Gently fold in apples and nuts. 6. Pour into the 2 prepared pans and bake 30 minutes until tester comes out clean. Let cool 10 min., then remove from pans and let cool fully on racks 7. Set one layer on serving plate and top with about 1 cup browned butter caramel icing. 8. Top with second layer and ice cake with remaining frosting. 9. Decoratively arrange pecan halves on top for garnish. Browned Butter Caramel Icing 2 cups packed light brown sugar - Ellen, for us Brits, can you elaborate on ‘packed’ – does that mean you have to really pack it down into the cup? 2 sticks butter - what weight would a stick be? ½ cup whole milk 4-5 cups powdered sugar - I assume that this is what we would call icing sugar Melt butter until it becomes a deep golden brown and nutty smelling. Add brown sugar and stir until fully melted. Carefully pour in milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Place powdered sugar in mixing bowl and pour the hot mixture over it. Beat with electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Use immediately to frost cake. If it hardens, place over low heat and stir until it loosens up.