Baking novice's experience of the Clandestine Cake Club

Baking novice's experience of the Clandestine Cake Club

Daniel Darlington

Baking novice's experience of the Clandestine Cake Club

Secret cake clubs are springing up across the country. The Windsor and Maidenhead branch of the Clandestine Cake Club was started earlier this year by Fionnuala Lawes. Baking novice Daniel Darlington headed along to the club's 'Birds and Bees' themed night at Bird Hills Golf Club on Monday.


My policy towards cake has always been strictly to have cake and eat it.

Baking was something done by other people; Masterchef contestants, Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, home-proud housewives and my girlfriend's mother - but never by me. Never ever by me.

So when the Advertiser's news editor twisted my arm to bake a cake for the newly formed Clandestine Cake Club, I grudgingly agreed - but only when told there would be lots of cake to eat.

Popping my Cherry Bakewell in front of a room of strangers, keen bakers at that, didn't fill me with confidence, especially as my kitchen experience consisted of baked beans on toast and heating canned soup.

However, my first experience of baking proved to be a revelation.

The first of the underground clubs was established by Lynn Hill in Leeds in 2010.

Her mission was to bring people together to 'bake, eat and talk about cake'. Since then CCC's have sprung up across the country.

Fionnuala Lawes, an accountant by day, set up the Windsor and Maidenhead branch this year when the Reading club became oversubscribed.

The idea is that every club meeting has a different theme, the location is only disclosed a few days prior to meeting and everyone has to bake a cake.

The theme for my first session, held at the Bird Hills Golf Club on Monday, was 'The Birds and the Bees'.

My colleagues warned me to avoid baking anything too raunchy as the theme was to reflect the joys of spring rather than anything more 'adult'.

I chose to make an apple upside down cake and shunned friends' calls to watch the football on Sunday, instead rolling up my sleeves for an afternoon of baking.

I followed a recipe online; coring, peeling and slicing up apples which I carefully arranged around the cake tin. I then furiously whisked together eggs, flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter to create the cake mix, which was poured on top, and the whole thing was slapped in the oven. My first ever cake was baked, done and dusted in an hour.

I proudly showed it off to work colleagues on Monday but was still nervous it would be bland, or worse inedible, when compared to other members' cakes.

I needn't have worried. My cake was possibly both those things, but everyone was polite and said how delicious it was.

The rest of the cakes - various sponges, iced and intricately decorated - looked and tasted amazing.

Too amazing really, my eyes were bigger than my belly and I piled my plate high with cake which left me with bloating, a slight sickly feeling and a massive sugar rush.

I was sat beside Louise Entwistle, who baked a three-tiered zesty lemon cake and Ele Crossland, who went for a temptingly rich chocolate cake topped with raspberries.

Everyone present spent a lovely evening chatting about cakes, swapping baking tips and recipes and talking about the Great British Bake Off.

I left feeling full, happy and content and would heartily recommend the Clandestine Cake Club to others.

Fionnuala added that said she'd love to see new faces at the club.

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