July has arrived, and with it a very small amount of sunshine (which then promptly disappeared again today – sigh). It does mean that it’s time for another catch up on what my baking club has been up to this month, and boy have I got some epic bakes to show you this time around.
But before all that – July actually marks six months since I set the baking club up! Can you believe it? Our first little milestone reached. It was something I’d been thinking about for a while, but eventually did so out a desire to create a little community, a community of people who loved baking and making a mess in the kitchen as much as I do. In today’s world (and my own world especially) we all spend so much time conversing online in that big open platform we call the internet, that the sense of community, and small pockets of people with similar interests can often feel lost. Even the blogging world, which was originally a community all of its own, has got so big it can sometimes feel like you’re just a tiny fish in a huge ocean with no real connections to the others swimming alongside you. This year, I’ve been making a conscious effort to get that side of it back for myself and meet up with and converse in real life with my fellow online wordsmiths as much as possible. And I guess the baking club was the same idea – about finding connections with real people around the world. And six months later, we’re still all baking along with each other which is pretty great!
Anyway that leads me nicely onto my future plans for the club, and how I want to go about taking it from an online community to a real life one, now that we’re six months old. First off, I’m going to host a baking club event. Yes I am, yes I am, yes I am. I know I’ve said it a few times before but I figure that if I actually write it down here then you can all hold me to it. Seeing as our actual club is quite wide spread I can’t imagine everyone managing to meet up, so it’s going to be more of an open event where anyone and everyone is invited as long as they bring cake. Sounds awesome right? I’m hoping to use it as a little promotional event for the club itself, get more people to join up and generally go somewhere cute, eat homemade cake and chat to a bunch of fun people one afternoon. I’m going to give myself a bit of time to organise it, and have already enlisted the help of my Mum so together hopefully we can create something fun in the next couple of months. And the best bit – you’re all going to be invited. Yes, all of you, whoever you are, wherever you’re reading. Meet ups are fun so if you like cake and you like meeting new people, this will be for you.
The second plan (which may take a little more time and organisation) is to make these cake and chit chat meet ups a regular thing across the country. So no matter where you sign up to the baking club from, there will be a real little community near you which you can eat cake with, natter with, and have fun with on a monthly basis. I’m going to be calling on some of my current members in the hope that a few of them might be keen to host a club in their own towns. If you think this sounds like fun, then leave me a comment on this post and I’ll get in touch!
So, while I leave all that excitement to settle in, let’s get back to the month of June shall we? If you remember, last month the reigns were handed over the the club and a theme was chosen at random. We ended up with ‘Free From’ which proved a roaring success. I said at the start of the month, when I shared my own Free From Chocolate and Berry Tart, that I wanted to come to you at the end of the month with an array of exciting and easy baking creations to show just how simple ‘free from’ baking can be, and I think I’m doing just that. Wait until you see what amazing creations the club cooked up this month – you’d never guess they were lacking in anything!
First up – brownies. Who doesn’t love a brownie? No-one that’s who. And if you’re new to free from baking, brownies, as we’ve all discovered, are one of the easiest things to make without flour and have still taste phenomenal. Remember our ‘baking with veg’ theme? A few of us baked brownies then sans flour and sans dairy and even sans sugar, and they definitely weren’t boring that’s for sure. Lovely Sophie, who blogs at A Lady Bakes, kicked things off this month with a Nigella recipe for flourless chocolate brownies and yes… they look epic. Anyone else drooling?
Talking of Nigella, it seems she’s a popular choice in the Free From aisle and has a few keen flour less recipes under her, well styled hair-do. Anne Marie had a go at her flourless chocolate cake recipe, and did one better by making it in this stylish bundt shape. A few cracks on top definitely can’t change the fact that this. looks. delicious!
Gone too are the days where light, fluffy and moist sponge cakes are deemed impossible in gluten free baking. I mean, you only need to take one look at Angela’s (from Only Crumbs Remain) genoise sponge lemon mousse cake, with it’s soft fluffy sponge to know that that’s utter nonsense. This talented lady has also made the sponge free from eggs by using a product called aquafaba – I’ll let you hop on over to her blog to read more about that.
Pavlova is always my first choice when creating a gluten free dessert, or any dessert for that matter – it’s just SO GOOD. So it’s no surprise that two of our club decided to show that free from baking doesn’t always need to require substitutes or fancy ingredients. Sometimes cakes are naturally free from. You could also use dairy free cream if you needed to. Emma, who blogs at Emma’s Picture Postcards, used her Mum’s fail safe recipe (because the best recipes are the ones that get handed down right?) and created a delicious kiwi and mango pavlova (P.S check out the little video on her post which shows her baking this – doesn’t it look like the perfect weekend?) and Linda, our resident coeliac, also chose a classic Pavlova, smothered in dairy free cream and mandarins. Anyone else really craving a slice of pavlova now? Shall I say it one more time? Pavlova? Yes please, I thought you’d never ask.
And onto the cookies. Personally I probably wouldn’t know where to start with a free from cookie, but Chloe made sure I didn’t have far to look for ideas with these tasty looking morsels – peanut butter protein cookies. Oh yes, these are gluten free, dairy free and egg free, and despite not normally being a peanut butter fan, I could eat these right up. They came from a recipe within the cook book Made with Love, which is written by a Mother/daughter duo and features an array of ‘free from’ recipes.
Cassie’s (from the blog Cassie Fairy) take on the humble cookie is a little different, and to say she’s elevated it to new levels would be a slight understatement with these chocolate chip cookie cups. I reckon I’d have to detox for a week after demolishing one of these, but that wouldn’t stop me, oh no. I’m kind of in love with the idea of shaping a cookie into a cup or pie shape before it cools – what a great idea! And then you get to fill it with whatever you like, in this case ice cream and smarties. Because if there’s one thing that a cookie needs on top, it’s ice cream and smarties.
Lovely Lyndsey, is currently going dairy free for her little one, who’s developed a bit of an allergy. What a good egg she is! Oh sorry, really bad pun alert! Anyway she made these gorgeous heart shaped dairy and soya free chocolate muffins this month to satisfy a sweet craving without milk or eggs. They were made using vegetable oil and almond milk instead, and the consensus? Definitely still satisfying those cravings, but keeping the little one happy too!
Energy bars was something I looked at baking ahead of this theme, not least because it was what Pinterest seemed to be swamped with the minute I typed in gluten free. It seems there’s a lot of people who choose to go free from for a specific diet such as Paleo, and energy boosting products that can keep them full of beans but don’t include those no-no ingredients are a must. Enter something along the lines of Betty’s date and banana energy bites (with a touch of chocolate on top for good measure, but easily omitted/swapped for dark if you want to go sugar free too). Betty blogs over at The Betty Stamp, and cooked up these healthy flapjacks for her boyfriend (lucky him!) and packed them full of dates and bananas to give you a boost ahead of the gym.
Finally, we’ve got these gorgeous raspberry and rose friands with lemon drizzle. I can practically smell these wafting off the screen, can’t you? Raspberries, rose, lemon, it’s all too much goodness. These tasty mouthfuls were baked by Sharon, who is over at Lily and Bloom. They were edited from a recipe in the book Clean Cakes by Henrietta Inman, and Sharon swapped the strawberries for raspberries, and the earl grey for rose, showing how versatile baking is – just switch things up until you find a recipe that works for you. I love friands, but they’re something I’ve never baked. They’re gluten, dairy and sugar free and if Sharon’s account is anything to go by, seem relatively easy to do. I’m sold!
I think you’ll agree there’s plenty of ‘free from’ inspiration there – showing that it’s high time those chain cafes (we all know who I’m taking about) started offering a bit more choice with their gluten and dairy free cake choices, am I right??
So what’s next? Find out the July theme below and don’t forget, if you want to join in just sign up at the top of the page and join the Facebook Group.
So this month’s theme was actually inspired by Emma, who baked her Mum’s pavlova recipe above. It got me thinking about how we all have those cakes and desserts that have become a bit of a tradition in our families, whether it’s that bake that no family Christmas seems complete without, or whether it’s a recipe that’s been handed down generations and that you’ve spent years trying to perfect.
I thought about how my love of baking probably stems from helping my Mum get ready for the Saturday market when I was young and how those bakes that are ingrained in my head and can be whipped out at any time without the need to look at a written recipe (like Pavlova, tiffin, Victoria sponge, toffee tarts, Scotch pancakes) are all things that were taught to me by a family member.
So this month it’s all about those family recipes – your Gran’s lemon drizzle or your Mum’s pavlova. Your Dad’s favourite Sunday pudding or your little one’s ideal birthday treat. The recipes that have made their way down the generations and that you’re keeping alive by baking every so often or the things that you have strong memories eating when visiting older relatives.
As always interpret in in your own way! Stay tuned for the newsletter later this week with lots of ideas, and hopefully my bake will be up in the next couple of weeks! Don’t forget to add your bakes to the link up in my post, the Facebook Group, and Twitter and Instagram if you wish using the hashtag #BBbakingclub!