What could be nicer than spending the afternoon eating cakes, making friends and then taking a massive box of baking back home to share with your family?!
That’s basically the simple recipe that sums up the Clandestine Cake Club .
Joint Bucks club organiser Margaret Knox from Aylesbury said: “We recommend wearing clothes with an elasticated waistband because we all help ourselves to everyone else’s cakes, have a cup of tea or coffee, talk about the recipes and enjoy each other’s company.
“There is no judging.”
Members meet up once every six to eight weeks at different venues all over the county. Each meeting has a theme, this month (February) it was at Waddesdon Plant Centre and the theme was ‘a drink inside a cake’ which resulted in plenty of alcoholic inspiration such as brandy, raisin and walnut; whisky max sponge; chocolate Guinness cake; and also an Earl Grey tea loaf and a cappuccino cake.
Members simply bake a cake, bring it along with a display stand and cake slice, tell everyone where they found the recipe and whether they had any issues with it, and then share it with everyone over a cuppa. Any cake left at the end of the two-hour meeting is available for people to take home in their Tupperware boxes.
The national organisation was set up two years ago, and although it was not inspired by the very popular television programme The Great British Bake Off, there is no denying the presenter Mary Berry is a bit of an idol where the cake ladies are concerned.
Joint organiser Jen Barber from Whitchurch admitted: “We want to invite Mary Berry to come to one of our meetings. ou can only ask, and she does live in Bucks. We have more than 50 members and they are a mixed bunch, ranging in age from their twenties upwards. At the moment they are all women, but we would like to get some boy bakers, after all in The Great British Bake Off the three finalists were all men.”
The group is extremely welcoming and very friendly – on the day The Bucks Herald visited there was much laughter. There were 10 ladies in attendance and three of them were brand new, but you would never have been able to pick them out, everyone mingled and chatted and was made to feel extremely welcome. It helps enormously that the joint organisers, Margaret and Jen, are fun loving and approachable.
It’s their job to find the venue for each meeting and come up with the themes. Next time, on Sunday March 17, it’s going to be ‘And the winner is ...’ in honour of the awards season. Because Homeland is Jen’s favourite television programme she’s going to make a Yorkshire Gold cake in tribute to Damian Lewis’s character Brody, who loves the brew.
Past themes have included childhood, summer holidays, the Jubilee and autumn fruits.
Two important things about the club is the non-competitive element, and the fact that members do not need to be fantastic bakers or concoct eleborate decorations.
The cakes on offer are simple, home made and delicious sponges, just like you might serve up for tea to the family. There are lots of single members too, and having the club is a great way to share their baking skills.
Margaret said: “You wouldn’t necessarily make a huge cake at home if you are single, so this is a perfect outlet to keep your baking skills and share your cake with others. The key to this group is friendship. The national motto is: meeting as strangers, leaving as friends.”
With no annual fee, members pay £5 at each meeting to cover the drinks at the venue, which is kept secret until the last minute. To go along to the next meeting visit the website and send an email to the organisers: www: clandestinecakeclub.co.uk/groups/buckinghamshire