Tuesday 8 January 2013

The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook by Lynn Hill

The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook by Lynn Hill
This time last year I was bored. Really bored. Then I discovered the Clandestine Cake Club. Within a year it has transformed by life beyond recognition. I now run the Bolton branch; a tantalising mixture of bakers, all giddy about cake. Some always had the bug for baking. Most had little confidence in their own ability. Others heard of our venture and baked for the first time to join us. By September I was stood in front of the other organisers in Leeds doing a lecture on bundt cakes, and now we have a book.

We meet once a month in secret locations only revealed to attendees a few days before the event. We bake a cake on a specified theme and try a bit of each others. What is left is taken home in the cake 'trough' (as it's known in our house) and enjoyed later.

Nothing gives me more pleasure to review our very first book. Our creator Lynn Hill has worked incredibly hard to build the club up from a group of friends in a Leeds cafe to a menagerie of clubs spanning the globe. She sat back, and saw that it was good.

At cake club we love nothing more than to sit and have a natter over (several) slices of cake and a brew. We chat about our cakes, ideas, recipes and our general gluttony. It's not a competition. It's hugely supportive, and I can genuinely say that I have met some wonderful new friends. This is what life is all about. Sharing what you have with those around you in a happy environment.

I know Lynn has worked incredibly hard on this book. She gathered the recipes, made countless trips to the publisher in London, tested cakes (well you have to...) and probably the hardest thing of all... had to keep the recipes a secret for ages!
The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook by Lynn HillWhen I received the book I was flabbergasted. It's absolutely beautiful. I was a little concerned that by making our cakes in a professional kitchen, that it might lose some of our home made feel. I'm sure you'll agree that the pictures I have sampled capture all of the warmth, humour and utter unctuousness that comes with a club cake. There are tales of mishaps and wonderful little tips from each baker. They are all achievable. Every one.

The book is split into:
  • Victorian Cakes - pretty bakes inspired by historical tales. Pastel Battenberg, floral concoctions and tales of the empire remind us of the very first meeting held in Leeds in 2010.
  • Fruity Cakes - ahem... they're part of your five a day... A chapter jam packed with beautifully moist cakes including rhubarb, plums, pears and apples. Pretty as a picture!
  • Global Cakes - we take inspiration from our friends overseas and look at everything from Finnish Christmas cake to Japanese tea...
  • Chocolatey Cakes - the cakes we only ever manage a slither of at cake club, yet somehow have the strength to devour a whole slice later that night... Oozing centres and glossy ganache fill these pages.
  • Celebration Cakes - it's all about the pomp and ceremony here! We celebrate all year round with a variety of wonderful cakes, including champagne, spices and of course some beautiful festive bakes.
  • Creative Cakes - we love a bit of imagination at cake club! Our varied themes mean that we never get a plain sponge. Expect crazy colours, toppings and variations on a theme here.
  • Classic Cakes - there is a very special place in our hearts for a classic which is well executed, perhaps with the baker's own little twist or finishing touch. Even the sponge in this section is listed as curious...
  • Zesty Cakes - perfect for any occasion and a real crowd pleaser. So popular in fact, they have a section of their very own. 
We have all bases covered. There is a recipe here for every occasion; each one painstakingly created by a cake clubber ready for their meeting. And remember folks, we have done all the swearing so you don't have to! All the cakes in the book have been tested by us and the publisher's culinary wizards to ensure they are book-worthy. What's really nice is the recipe credits both the creator and the club they come from too. 

I have a ridiculous amount of baking books at home, and I can honestly say that none are as comprehensive or creative as this. There may be no competition at cake club, but we all take a great deal of pride in our work. I think it shows.

I know lots of cake clubbers have been waiting to see some of these fantastic pictures! These are only a tiny sample...
The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook by Lynn Hill
Please make sure you pre order a copy of the book which is out on 14th February. Amazon have it on offer at the utterly bargainous price of just £12.80 (RRP £20) at the moment. I think you'll agree it would be foolish not to buy a copy at such a price. No home baker should be without it.
Buy the book here

This review would not be complete without a huge thank you to Lynn. Without your vision, there would not be a band of baking enthusiasts meeting secretly every month, creating some weird and wonderful cakes. We've met new friends, supported our local businesses and learned new skills. Hopefully others can now share our passion and might be encouraged to join their local club, or indeed start a new one in their own area.

How to join the Clandestine Cake Club

More information on what happens at cake club

Please leave your comments below... x

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Publisher: Quercus, 2013
Hardback, RRP £20
Disclaimer: Although I am utterly biased because I am a cake club member and I have recipes in the book, I hope you all feel my genuine excitement that Lynn has put this collection of recipes together. We all hoped the publishers would do a good job, and they have. It's a beautiful book full of the joy and humour that is cake club.


  1. Sounds like a brilliant book, summing up not just lovely recipes but also the joy of ccc. Where would we be without our clubs now? Can't wait to get my hands on this!

  2. Wow, the book looks really good, think it may be my pay day treat :-) x

  3. Looks fantastic - I can't wait to get my hands on one!
    Helen (Bury St Eds CCC)

  4. Great review, think I might have to make a purchase! I've also been inspired to sign up for my first CCC meeting in London, watch this space! Kat x

    1. Oh Kat that's wonderful! You'll love it xxx

  5. Wow, amazing! Also: 'This is what life is all about. Sharing what you have with those around you in a happy environment.' I couldn't agree more, well summed up!!

  6. But how did you get to have a sneak preview - she says sulkily! Seriously great review Rachel, I am so looking forward to seeing it next month.

  7. Cannot wait to get my hands on this! Well done Rachel (and all other contributors) for getting your bakes published and well done Lynn for creating the best club ever! I love our cakey meetings :)

  8. Can't wait, looks fabulous, I started up the Manchester branch last year and then handed over three Manchester groups to three other CCC members when I couldn't cope anymore, it's been such a raging success. Lynn's going to be joining our "Cake-tastic Vintage Afternoon Tea Party" on Sat 9 March, it's such an interesting story I'm sure people who don't know CCC are going to be fascinated to hear about it, and hopefully inspired to get baking and join in too. Tickets on sale here (with apologies for shameless advertising!) http://www.wegottickets.com/event/198915

  9. Wow, beautiful pictures. Three cheers for Lynn and the Cake Clubbers.

  10. The book looks amazing - can't wait to get a copy.

  11. What a fabulous write up and giving credit where credit is due - all that hard work by Lynn and her cakey followers and fans. I've ordered my copies and can't wait for Feb 14th. It won't be a valentine card dropping on my mat which will see see me tearing down the stairs......a cakey mazeltov to all those contributors and of course Lynn Hill without whom none of this would have happened.

  12. Thanks, Rachel, for a lovely review and I can't wait to see the actual item with all those beautiful photos!

  13. Great review Rachel! Give up your day job!...whatever it is, your talents are wasted ;)

    Some of our group are hopefully promoting the book, (and offering cakes!), at our local Waterstones next month!

    I think Lynn and co will be busy towards the end of February :)

    Keep up the good work.


    1. Thanks Caroline, that's very kind. Let me know how you get on with the launch! Exciting times... x

  14. I really cannot wait to get a hold of the book! It's been sat on my amazon wishlist for ages! x

  15. Fab Valentines Day gift!


  16. Lovely looking cakes - I can't wait to see a copy when it comes out.

  17. I love books like this - tried and tested recipes by people who love to bake and the pictures look stunning too. Definitely on my wish list.

  18. GORGEOUS book and images! I am proud to say that I have a recipe or recipes in there! GREAT post! Karen

  19. Yay - it's a wonderful book! I love the vintage china...
    I think it's only £6.99 online at the Book People...
    Sally @Lavender Attic (contributor of the Battenberg recipe)


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