An interview with Emma Boon, organiser of CCC Vienna
What attracted you to the Clandestine Cake Club and how long have you been involved?
My friend in Ashford, Kent had just signed up to start the local branch of CCC. I thought it sounded wonderful but was unable to attend the first meeting as I was emigrating to Austria. I could not find anything similar in Vienna when I thought, why don’t I start a Vienna branch myself? I contacted Lynn Hill to find out if a club could be formed, under the CCC banner, outside of the UK and was delighted to hear that the answer was yes! Vienna’s first CCC meeting was held in June 2015 with the theme, ‘Childhood birthday cakes’ and we have had a pretty much full house at every event since.
What has been your favourite CCC event to organise (and why)?
My favourite CCC event I have organised so far was celebrating the launch of the CCC’s second book, ‘A year of cake’. Each registrant was given a month and they had to interpret that month into a cake. At the event, we also staged a few photographs that were fun to act out and to look at later. For example, for the month of August, a member baked a pool cake, a popular cake in Australia in summer, which looked like a swimming pool (hence, the name!) with blue jelly as the water. A member donned her mask and snorkel, and pretended to dive into the pool cake.
What is one of your earliest memories of baking?
Probably getting the lick the spoon of cake batter from a cake that my mum was baking. I also had a thing for butter icing; and still do! My mum always seemed to make too much vanilla butter icing and so would put the excess into the fridge. I used to sneak into the fridge and dip my finger in. My mum still reminds me about the finger marks she used to find in the butter icing.
Who taught you how to bake?
I am not sure anyone has taught me how to bake. I used to watch my mum make Victoria sponge cake a lot. I am learning by doing. I would not say I know how to bake, even now. I have a ‘have-a-go’ attitude when it comes to baking.
Have you had any memorable kitchen disasters?
Ha ha! Every month I have a kitchen disaster. My friend always texts me on the eve of a CCC event and asks what is my baking disaster this month. The most memorable is probably when I baked a gingerbread cake for our ‘Winter Wonderland’ theme and took it out of the oven too soon, even though I had tested the middle with a knife and it had come out clean. It sank. My husband suggested cutting the middle out, so I did and he ate it. It was now a gingerbread ring cake. I covered it in icing and no-one could tell that it was an accident; well, until I told everyone of that month’s disaster. It is good to share.
Have you started to use any new gadgets recently which have changed the way you bake?
I do like gadgets. I have bought a chocolate melting pot gadget. It’s great! I don’t have to worry about any water hitting the bottom of the bowl, like I did when melting chocolate over the stove, or burning it, like I did when melting chocolate in the microwave. I bought a thermometer to help me to temper the chocolate. I was so excited and astounded by the results when I first used it to make fir trees to go onto my winter gingerbread ring cake, described above. I then became more adventurous the following month and made chocolate lace to curve around my ‘After Eight’ cake.
What would be your top recommendation for somewhere to go for a sweet treat/ cake in Vienna (and why)?
There are so many great places in Vienna to go for cake! We have traditional konditorei (patisserie) with wooden interiors; modern, minimalist cake shops; and take-away cake shops. You have to look past the usually grumpy service, which Vienna is famous for, and straight to the glorious cakes. My top recommendation for a special treat would be to book a table at Demel, located on Kohlmarkt. Make sure you sit downstairs as the interior has beautiful wood to admire. There are so many cakes to choose from there. For everyday cake, I would recommend one of the chain shop bakeries, such as Ströck, Anker or Der Mann; great value for money and the cakes are beautiful and delicious.
What’s your favourite item in your kitchen (and why)?
My current favourite kitchen item is my Nutri-bullet. I loved fruit and vegetable juices but was conscious of the waste my old juicer was making. All that fibre in the bin! We all have to aware of the amount of sugar we intake, including fruit sugar. Using my Nutri-bullet allows me to enjoy juicing in a healthier way.
Do you have a favourite cookbook and why do you like it?
I have many cookbooks but usually end up on Pinterest to find recipes. I also like the BBC Good Food recipe website because it allows users to score the recipes and give feedback on what worked well, what not so well, and any changes/improvements they made. I like this interaction.
What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
Butter icing or frosting! I can sit there and eat it with a spoon. Yum!