Lancaster Clandestine Cake Club reviving the Great British Cake

It is not just the Great British Bake Off that has us all keen on cake. There is a secret society in Lancaster devoted to it. Emma Mayoh investigates

Like Fight Club, the first rule of the Clandestine Cake Club is that you don’t talk about the Clandestine Cake Club.

While the ladies of the Lancaster branch might welcome a guest appearance by the film’s star, Brad Pitt, the resemblance between the two organisations ends there. We are talking baking, not boxing.

Lynne Molloy’s partner, Andrew, doesn’t have a sweet tooth and her daughters, Sarah and Kathryn, have flown the nest. That leaves a gap in her life. She loves baking cakes, but there is no one to bake for.

‘Cooking has always been a really big part of my life, and baking has been a big part of that,’ says Lynne, 56.

‘I wanted to find a way of still doing the hobby I love. I went to a Clandestine Cake Club in south Lancashire. I loved the idea and thought I should give it a go myself.’

Despite being just two meetings in, there are dozens already wanting to be a part of the group. But Lynne is also keen to keep numbers restricted so members really get to know each other.

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Rules are simple - you don’t talk about club because the venue of each meeting is only revealed at the last moment. The second is you must love cake.

This is not a problem for members of the Lancaster group. We were lucky enough to tuck in to many cakes in the Brief Encounter Refreshment Room at Carnforth Railway Station. It was the perfect venue for a vintage themed meeting with members from across north Lancashire displaying their baking skills.

Carol Creed, from Overton, chose a Porter Cake, a traditionally boozy recipe which uses stout. The 60-year-old, who used a beer from nearby Lancaster Brewery in hers, baked her first cake – a Russian sandwich - when she was just seven. It was something she often did with her mother, Janet, and has been hooked.

‘It was such a thrill for me and it was lovely spending that time with my mum. She also gave me skills for when I first got married. We didn’t earn that much so if we wanted good food, we made it.

‘What I love about the cake club is that there is such a vast age range. The younger members tend to pass on newer techniques and trends and the older members give those important tips they have been using all of their lives. It’s a fantastic mix.’

As well as giving an opportunity to try lots of cake – I counted almost 20 on the night we visited – it also offers members the opportunity to meet new people. This has been the case for Hungarian Aggie Molnar. The 27-year-old, who teaches in Lancaster, has also introduced her fellow bakers to traditional Hungarian baking, including a Dobos cake, a layered sponge named after pastry chef Joseph Dobos.

The meetings aren’t just for women -the Lancaster branch has a few men. David Ash went along with his wife, Louise, both from Lancaster.

He said: ‘What better way is there to spend an evening than trying lots of different cake? It’s fantastic.’

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