Sunday, 10 February 2013

Book Review: The Clandestine Cake Club Cook Book by Lynn Hill

I've been a member of my local Clandestine Cake Club since last summer and I joined up as a way to get to know people in a new town. I already knew about the club but there wasn't one local to me before we moved but I was happy to see one in the town that would be our new home. We moved 200 miles last year and didn't know anybody here so I thought it would be nice to get to meet people who share my love of cakes and baking. I've been to 3 events so far and have blogged about two of the cakes that I've made for the cake club. My hidden design cake proved to be rather popular both on the day and on the blog, lots of you seem to have read that post. The other one was my Hallowe'en pumpkin cake which was great fun to make. The idea of Clandestine Cake Club for those who don't know is that a group of people meet in a secret location and each person brings a cake, there is usually a theme and the cakes can get quite creative. The club was started by Lynn Hill in her own home and has taken off on a global scale with clubs all over the world.

I was asked if I would like to review a copy of the book and naturally I got very excited by this! I was already planning to buy a copy but after having read the book from cover to cover I'm going to buy a copy for my Mum as well. A lot of the recipes have been contributed by members of cake clubs from all over the country and some international recipes as well. Many of the recipes come from fellow bloggers and there are links to their sites at the back of the book where you will find plenty more recipes.

The book has 120 recipes and is divided into 8 chapters for different styles of cake so you should be able to find a cake for any occasion. There is also a couple of pages of advice on how to rescue a cake wreck which is very handy to have.
Classic Cakes
Victorian Cakes 
Fruity Cakes
Global Cakes
Zesty Cakes
Chocolatey Cakes
Celebration Cakes
Creative Cakes

I spent a long time going through the book trying to decide which cake I wanted to make for this review, it was a difficult decision because there are so many fantastic cakes in the book. I purposefully chose a cake that was relatively simple to make because when I want cake just for the sake of eating cake I tend to fall back on the basic sponge recipe which although brilliant can get a little boring. I bookmarked several recipes including Raspberry Cakewell, Dutch Speculaas, Sweet Potato & Pecan Cake, Chocolate & Maple Brunch Cake. I'll be baking all of these at some point before moving on to the rest of the book. I can honestly say this is one book where I can see myself baking nearly all the recipes in the future as even the most elaborate cakes don't look too difficult to make. The cake I chose to bake was Soured Cream Coffee Cake. Despite its name this cake does not actually contain any coffee, instead it is a cake that is to be served with coffee. It's an American recipe from Lisa who I discovered from looking in the back of the book has a blog called The Yummy Yank. It's a vanilla bundt cake with a layer of sugar, cinnamon and chopped walnuts running through the middle and sprinkled on top. The original recipe tells you to use whichever nuts you fancy so I went for walnuts. This is something which I have never made before but which I know to be popular with fellow bloggers. I don't have a bundt tin but I do have a large bundt style silicone mould which I used for my pumpkin cake.
I've always got on quite well with silicone bakeware however I fear this mould is due to be consigned to the bin as the cake took forever to cook and was still raw in the middle. I did the skewer test in the middle of the cake and it came out clean, left the cake to cool for 15 minutes before unmoulding then realised the middle was actually still raw so it went back in the oven for another 45 minutes. Unmoulded again after leaving to cool for few minutes and it was still slightly raw in the middle so I put the whole thing on a baking tray to finish off. By this point the cake had fallen apart quite a bit which was a shame. Now I must stress that this is not due to the recipe, the cake is absolutely divine, quite possibly the best tasting cake I have made this year. I am confident that if I had the proper cake tin that mine would have turned out as good as it looks in the book. I'll be adding a bundt tin to my wishlist of things for my kitchen because I need to bake this cake again. Whilst it was baking it smelt a bit like the doughnuts you can buy from a stall at a fairground, the taste is similar as well and quite frankly it's addictive. My boyfriend had two large servings after I baked it so it won't last long. I managed to salvage a large piece of the cake to take a photo but it really doesn't do it justice.

The book is released on 14th February 2013 and the RRP is £20. You should be able to preorder it from all the usual book selling websites if you wish.

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher to review. I was not paid for this post and all views and opinions are my own.


  1. What a shame about your cake Jen, it sounds delicious. I've made a loaf one which sounds quite similar and we were all very taken with it.

    I am so enjoying the book.

    1. It really is the most delicious cake so I was disappointed that I couldn't do it justice with the photos.

  2. Great book review Jen. I might have to get myself a copy. I've followed a couple of fabulous US blogs of late and was very confused for a while about coffee cakes that don't contain coffee!

    1. It confused me for a while too but it does go very well with a mug of coffee

  3. I used to get confused about 'coffee cake' too! It's a great book isn't it? So many amazing cake to make and not enough time.

    1. It really is a wonderful book, I'm impressed with the level of creativity from all the bakers who submitted recipes.

  4. What a coincidence - I was eating a slice of the very same Coffee cake (which I baked last weekend using the recipe in the CCC cookbook) when I started to read your review! I do so agree with you, the flavour and texture is outstanding. Sadly, my effort, too, faltered slightly in it's final presentation in that it didn't quite hold its shape BUT the taste is sensational and it's a bake that I shall attempt again.

    1. That really is a coincidence, spooky! As much as I love that cake I can't let myself bake it again for while as it's disappeared too fast and there's only 2 of us eating it! There's still a couple of slices left but they won't last long.


Thank you for reading, please feel free to comment on any of my posts. I love to hear what you think! :)