Thursday, 29 March 2012

Cakes for a Book Swap

Liskeard, amazingly, has an annual arts festival, the Vital Spark. The driving force behind this festival is Lois Taylor, a very talented local dance artist. I say it is an annual festival, but 2012 was only it's 2nd year and a very successful one it proved to be. One of the many events was an afternoon book swap organised by our excellent local bookshop. To make it even more convivial, I was asked to provide cake. Cake and books combined? It doesn't get much better than that and I was easily persuaded.

Of course the big questions were what to make and how much to make? I had no idea how many people might turn up to this event - might be two (my wonderful mother and lovely friend who very kindly came along to make tea) or twenty or a lot more?

After much dithering, I went for six bakes, trying to get a good contrast in flavour, size, colour and texture as well as a gluten free offering just in case.

Jean had a good tip on her blog Baking in Franglais; in her experience, Coffee & Walnut was always the most popular cake for this type of thing. So, I made a large coffee & walnut cake using my go to recipe from Gaia's Kitchen by Julia Ponsonby. Jean was absolutely right, this was the first one that people went for and the first one to disappear. I was told by a reputed coffee & walnut cake aficionado that it was a very "good" one.

Next in popularity were the Matcha & White Chocolate Cupcakes that I've already posted about. I wanted something unusual that might become a talking point. I managed it with these: what is matcha? What is the green colour? Green tea in a cake? Luckily, people were not only intrigued enough to try them but thought they were delicious too - phew!

The gluten free contribution was a chocolate & raspberry polenta cake and I shall be posting about this at a later date. I am so glad I made it as there was indeed someone there who was gluten intolerant and she was absolutely thrilled to be catered for, stating that she normally just had to watch others eat cake and there was never anything for her.

French honey & marmalade cakes also made an appearance. I've become a real fan of  these Nonnettes, since I first made them at the end of last year. They are egg free and totally delicious. This time I omitted the white chocolate, as I did feel some sort of chocolate balance was in order! And they were still delicious.

Brownies just had to make an appearance. As my all time chocolate cake favourite, no cake event is complete without them. This time it was peanut butter brownies and I shall be posting about them at a later date.

Lastly, but by no means least, were lemon and poppy seed cake slices - the same ones that I had made back in October last year for the very same friend who runs the bookshop.

The turn out was somewhere between thirty and forty people in the end. It was a hugely enjoyable experience and most of the cake disappeared which was highly gratifying. In fact I was beginning to worry that CT wasn't going to benefit at all, but with five pieces left, my pride was in tact and CTs belly assuaged. It was lovely to get such good feedback from the participants who all seemed to have a very enjoyable time of it.

39 comments:

  1. That looks like an awesome spread of cakes! I'm surprised about the coffee and walnut cake being the favourite, not that I doubt it was delicious but I think I must have a picky bunch of friends as coffee and nuts are probably the top two things people tell me they don't like!

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    1. I'm with your friends and am not a fan of coffee. Weirdly CT doesn't like coffee but does love coffee & walnut cake, so I often make it for him as a birthday treat.

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  2. Lucky Liskeard folk for benefitting from your imagination and baking prowess...it all looks very good indeed! x

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    1. Susan thank you, you do say the nicest things. Not feeling as though Liskeard folk are particularly lucky at the moment, just found out today two more shops have closed down AND they are the ones where I buy my baking supplies such as local eggs, flour, salt & milk amongst many other things.

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  3. this is just like cake porn... and the next one is a sexy chocolate number... isn't she just marvellous!... I love all the cakes!... coffee cake is a big seller at Gunby Hall so I can imagine it being popular over your way too... luckily I like it... carrot cake is the next big one too (I think people think it's slightly healthy!)... nice work C!

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    1. Dom, you don't think I can convince people that chocolate cake is good for them?

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  4. Have to say I do like a good coffee and walnut cake...

    Well done you on the event-all the cakes sound absolutely fab!!!

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    1. Thank you GD, it's just as well really that we don't all like the same thing, life might get terribly dull!

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  5. What a fantastic treat for all the people attending, (and a great event!) your amazing to have baked all those fabulous cakes. I'm very impressed. Jude x

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    1. Thank you Jude. Ridiculously, I felt rather nervous to begin with, but those wore off as soon as I started to get feedback!

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  6. Wow 6 bakes! Impressive all of them and I am glad it went well for you. The gluten free one caught my eye do you have a recipe for that?

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    1. I do, I do. I will be writing this one up again, but it was one of the first posts I ever did. The only difference being that I used a bar of Divine's dark raspberry chocolate.
      http://choclogblog.blogspot.co.uk/2009/02/chocolate-polenta-cake.html

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  7. all of your cakes look amazing and so well thought out to cater for all tastes and proclivities..if i could only try one piece i would have a slice of the chocolate and raspberry cake because i love the texture of a good gluten free cake..

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    1. Thank you Hazel. The chocoalte polenta cake is one of my favourites - it's quite dense which I like and also has a lot of texture.

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  8. Liskeard has an arts festival? I had no idea. The cakes look fab, especially the brownies, although the gluten free option looks very tempting too. Not good news re the shops though. I found all the empty shops a bit depressing when I was there in February.

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    1. I know Lucy - it's amazing what goes on here really. Today we did a Cash Mob Liskeard which was fun AND we had a turn out of 40 people - our small attempt to counteract the empty shops. Although the two I use for most of my shopping, Taste Cornwall & the Organic shop closed last weekend and I am devestated. A Mary Portas bid has gone in though.

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  9. What a mammoth task making all those cakes and what a fabulous selection you provided - wish I had been there for a piece of one of those cakes!

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    1. Thank you Jennifer - now that would have been just lovely.

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  10. Ooh can't wait for the brownie and polenta cake recipes - they look incredible! Congratulations on such a feat of baking :-)

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    1. Thank you Little Loaf. The polenta recipe is already on my blog, once of the first things I put up back in Feb 09. The only difference being this time that I used dark chocolate with raspberries. I will be posting about it again though.

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  11. What a gorgeous selection of cakes. I am looking forward to the chocolate and raspberry polenta cake recipe.

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    1. Thank you Jean and thanks for your contribution to the proceedings :)

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  12. Well, I wouild definitely have had one of YOUR brownies (even though, as a rule, I don't touch them due to baking so many!) they look absolutely yum! So does everything else. So funny isn't it, about coffee & walnut cake? In all the years I've been supplying cake shops & cafes, the one thing people always say is that they hate coffee flavour most. And so many people are anti-nuts (always amazes me - people not liking them I mean. Every sympathy with true allergy sufferers. But how can someone just not like ANY nut?? they are so different!) However, as in your case, coffee & walnut cake is ALWAYS the bestseller when it's there. Bizarre! Happy weekend & lovely post x

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    1. You are so right, nuts are brilliant and where would we be without ground almonds for baking? Maybe it's texture rather than taste that people object too. I've heard this about coffee and walnut from several sources now, truly bizarre.

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  13. This is a fantastic lineup, Choclette! Those peanut butter brownies (and of course the matcha cupcakes) caught my eye immediately and I'm sure you had some very happy folks...

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    1. Thanks JW. It was the first time I've made peanut butter brownies and they were really good - not quite as good as the matcha cupcakes though ;-)

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  14. oh yay! That would have been fun Choc! And doing all the cakes too. Good on you. I'll bet everyone loved it :-)

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    1. Brydie, it was great fun - having people ooh and ahh over what you've made is such a pleasure.

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  15. They all look delicious - everyone was spoilt for choice! My mum often made cakes for cake sales and coffee walnut was always the first to sell out. I have no idea why - I can't eat walnuts and can't abide coffee, but it is obviously a universal truth ;-)

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  16. C - I just got very confused by Caroline and was wondering who on earth she was? This coffee and walnut thing is a very strange phenomenon.

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  17. Great selection of cakes - I admire your dedication. I'm so pleased that there are now two of us making nonnettes in GB. By the way, raspberry nonnettes work well, too.

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    1. Phil, we obviously need to do more to spread the word. I so wish I could find a good book of these types of cakes. When you say raspberry, do you mean adding raspberries or raspberry jam?

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  18. books and cakes sounds like a perfect weekend activity - love all your cakes (except the coffee one because I don't like coffee - but it seems like there really was something for everyone). Did you pick up any interesting books?

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    1. Thank you Johanna. I'm with you on the coffee. Stupidly I didn't really get a chance to get a look at the books; people were either talking about books to everyone or chatting amongst themselves and when they were chatting they were wanting cake!

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  19. Six treats!! Choc, you've been working hard! And it all looks as delicious as it must have tasted, if there were only five pieces left.. :)

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    1. Yes Celia, CT only just got a look in ;-)

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  20. Hi Choclette! I love your blog and recipes! Thank you for testing and baking all these lovely eats so we get foolproof recipes!! I absolutely adore Lemon Poppy Seed Cake, would there be a recipe for that one perhaps?? :) Susan

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  21. Hi Susan, thanks for saying such nice things about my blog - always appreciated. The lemon and poppy seed recipe comes from Dan Lepard's Short & Sweet - you can also find it on the Guardian website - http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2007/jul/28/foodanddrink.recipes1

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    1. Thank you so much!!! :D

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