Happy bank holiday Monday, I hope you’ve all had a lovely day? After all that talk of being rained out, the sun shone on us all day here, and despite being a little chilly it was a pretty perfect spring day. That feeling of spring sunshine on my skin, and being able to arrive home at 7.30pm with it still light out is exactly what’s inspired this new month’s baking club theme! Don’t you just love this time of year?
But before I announce the May theme, it’s time for a round up of the delicious cakes that were baked as part of April’s baking club. Our theme for April was travel delicacies and we set to work creating bakes which were synonymous with another country or culture. We had some really inventive creations this month, and once again a big thank you to everyone who took part. I honestly wasn’t sure exactly what would happen when I announced a baking club at the start of the year but it’s lovely to have a growing little community already (over 40 of us now!) and having fellow cake enthusiasts to chat to and get inspired by is just brilliant! I have a lot of love for all the folks who have been baking along with me since February and I’m still pretty dumbfounded that they don’t seem to have got too bored yet. Knowing that a baking club is at least of interest to some other people gives me the push I need to keep it going and grow it as much as I can. I’ve been putting some ideas together for how to expand it and I’ve even started working on the first baking club meet up so if you’d like to be part of the group and join in with the fun, please do sign up at the top of the post!
Anyway I should probably start this month’s round up with an apology as I was most definitely at the back of the class this month and had an epic baking fail. I for one am very glad that May is here, and not just because I’m hoping to see the back of April showers, but because April was one of the busiest months of the year so far for me. I was inundated with work, my cousin got married, my best friend had a baby, I was travelling for the blog and overall I learned that I need to be a bit more careful about just how much I take on. As a freelancer you often feel like you need to say yes to everything that comes along, and while I love being busy, I’m realising that I am still very much a one person show and there’s a limit to how much I can feasibly do. Ever feel like you need a life PA?
I feel a certain responsibility as the founder of the baking club to make sure I set the pace every month and bake something creative, but after a disastrous attempt at updating my French macaron recipe with a new batch, I just plain ran out of time for anything else this month. Defeated by a macaron, who would have thought it eh? As it turned out though, the rest of the club managed just fine without me and all put me to shame with some seriously accomplished baking. So today the floor is theirs and I get to show off their amazing skills rather than my own. So let’s go on a culinary journey around the world shall we?
Our first stop is Oz where the lovely Virginia made us a true Australian classic – the lamington. I had one of these cakes for the first time when I was in Melbourne for new year and it was delicious. Jam, sponge, coconut and chocolate, what’s not to love? This was actually my first thought when I came up with the travel theme, as being reminded of honeymoon is never a bad thing, but I ended up changing my mind and attempting macarons instead (and the less said about that the better to be honest). I feel as if a redeeming batch of lamingtons could definitely be on the cards in the next couple of weeks, even if it is off theme. And if I can get them to look as neat and perfectly proportioned as Virginia has, I’ll be pretty chuffed. Virginia followed the Jamie Oliver recipe, and you can follow her on Instagram here!
From Australia, we hopped over to the Carribean and were treated to a delicious looking sticky Jamaican ginger cake by Natalie. I love ginger cake, and apparently the trick with this one is leaving it for 24 hours after baking to make it even stickier. Although not tucking in to this straight away must take serious willpower! This came from a Mary Berry recipe (queen of cakes!) and you can find it on this blog.
The lovely Jennie actually resides in Hong Kong (oh yes this baking club is international!) and took us there virtually this month with these scrumptious looking little morsels – Hong Kong coconut tarts. I can just imagine tucking into one (or three) of these with a cuppa and you’ll find the full recipe over on Jennie’s blog, Scarlett Scorch Droppers should you want to give them a bash.
Hannah opted for a savoury bake this month and my mouth was definitely watering when she shared these sweet potato and spinach samosas. I had always imagined that making your own samosas would be a whole lot of fiddly work but Hannah makes them look easy. I feel the need to organise an Indian themed dinner party just so I can try them – anything with pastry is a winner for me. Find the recipe on Hannah’s blog, Tolley Bakes.
Seeing as my own macarons were less than perfect, I was totally in love with these pretty ones from Chloe, who showed how they should be done. Chloe followed Martha Stewarts recipe and I think you’ll agree that they turned out perfectly and look adorable. The only slight hitch is that Chloe mentioned she only got around 5 macarons from the recipe so if you give it a go perhaps double the portions.
Sophie, whose Instagram page I’ve got slightly addicted to over the last few months, has just started her own baking blog! Hurrah! I was really hoping she might actually, as her bakes are always so so pretty! Go check out her new online space, A Lady Bakes, and show her some love. For April, Sophie made a Greek sweet honey and pistachio cake which sounds (and looks) all sorts of amazing. Served warm, with a dollop of cream and strawberries makes it a perfect spring bank holiday treat to be honest. Find the full recipe here.
Sticking to Europe, we had this awesomely indulgent Swedish Kladdkaka from one of our new members this month, Betty (a fellow Betty – yay!). Betty runs The Betty Stamp, a great food blog and lifestyle blog you should all check out, and this cake had me drooling in an embarrassing way. I LOVE the look of that gooey centre – who knew the Swedes were such chocolate lovers? Find the recipe on Betty’s blog here.
What a month right? I hope some of the above inspired you to join in for May. I can’t wait to start afresh this month and make up for my macaron disaster with something I can be proud of.
I’m making a few little updates this month with how you can share your bakes with the group; I’m going to aim to blog my bake next Sunday and will be adding a link up widget to the post so if you’re a blogger then you can add your posts along the way and will be able to read those from others too! Don’t forget though – the baking club is open to EVERYONE not just bloggers so sign up at the top of the page, keep an eye out for the newsletter tomorrow, join the Facebook group and share your bakes on Twitter and Instagram using #BBbakingclub.
As the last two month’s theme were quite specific, I thought this month I’d keep it open and allow creativity to reign. With the last couple of weeks finally feeling spring- like, the sun shining (at least in London – sorry to the Scots who are drowning in snow!), the cherry blossoms blooming and light evenings spent outdoors almost upon us again, it’s about time for some spring inspired bakes. So this months theme is…
Spring has Sprung
The recipes which immediately say SPRING to you, the cakes which you only start eating once the blue skies roll around, and the treats you’d bring along to a picnic in the park.
Maybe spring to you is hot cross buns smothered in butter, or maybe it’s the first strawberry tart of the year enjoyed outside without feeling cold. It’s May, it’s sunny (at least for now) and I want to be inspired with a whole host of bakes which tell me winter is over!
I can’t wait to see what you all come up with!