Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Putney Bake Club - Southwest London's Own Social Gathering for People Who Love to Bake

Last week I attended my very first meeting of the Putney Bake Club. I found out about the club from Twitter pal and PBC organizer Stephanie who pens the blog Riverside Baking. Though I love to cook and feel quite confident in my skills at putting together delicious meals, I'm not much of a baker. Not because I can't, but mostly because I don't... I mean, if I bake it, who's going to eat it? Me? Not an ideal situation when watching one's girlish figure. Intimidating as this club sounded to me, I grasped at the chance for a bit of practice without the consequence of eating an entire cake myself - the worst that could happen is that my baked offering sucks, but I meat a lot of lovely people. 

Though many of the cakes looked and tasted professional, I was delighted to find that the environment wasn't as scary as I'd made it out to be in mind. Several of the people there had never been before, so I wasn't the only newbie and there was no competitive feeling about it. It's just great people bringing their baked goods together to taste, chat and have a drink. It's all in good fun! 

In an effort to impress my potentially new baking friends, I knew I had to do something special. There's no way I could make a cake that would measure up - I generally make my cake from a box. So I pulled out one of my trusty Gwyneth Paltrow cookbooks and decided to make Fudgy Brownies. These may not sound particularly special without mentioning that they're sugar free, wheat free and without the milk chocolate sprinkles they'd be dairy free and vegan as well. Yep, that's right - no sugar, milk, eggs or any of the normal things that usually go into brownies other than dark chocolate (70% or more). 

The Putney Bake Club meets once a month and each meeting has a theme. Guests are encouraged to bring anything they'd like to bake whether sweet or savory as long as it fits in with the theme. This month's theme was Fairtrade.

I used Fairtrade coffee and Green & Black's Organic Cocoa Powder (Fairtrade as well) in the recipe.   These brownies weren't hard to make at all. I literally whooshed them together and threw them in the oven just before the meeting and got ready while they baked. Because the recipe instructs you to line the baking pan with parchment paper, they pop out of the pan easy peasy, even while they're still warm and there's very little fuss (and not a messy pan in sight)!

The brownies turned out okay. Because I couldn't get my hands on dark chocolate chips as the recipe suggested, I had to settle for mixing white chocolate and milk chocolate, but it turned out just fine. You could probably sprinkle them with just about anything and they'd be alright. People seemed to like them, but personally I wasn't a fan of the recipe. You can definitely tell they're different to normal brownies. They're really dense, a bit stodgy and not at all flaky on top like a traditional brownie. However, if you have food allergies, food intolerances, you're vegan or on a special diet, Gwyneth's brownies are a worthy substitute and depending on your needs, just might work for you!

The Fairtrade theme was a great choice! Participants got really creative with what they brought to the table (pun intended). Everything from a Fairtrade wine cake decorated to look like the logo (pictured above) to cheesecakes, tea cakes using Fairtrade tea and tarts. It was great to see (and taste) how each person interpreted the theme individually.

What's also quite impressive about Putney Bake Club is that if you have food intolerances or special dietary requirements, people are willing to help you enjoy yourself. There were a few people on gluten-free diets in the crowd and several of us have agreed to bake gluten-free goodies for the next meeting so everyone can enjoy plenty of sweets. The next meeting is this evening and the theme is 'Surprise Insides'.  I'll be making Nigella Lawson's Flourless Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with a gluten free surprise inside that I can't reveal until after the meeting.

If you're interested in trying out the Putney Bake Club, it's completely free. Each meeting is held in a different local business or restaurant and all you have to register your interest via the website. It's a lot of fun, a great way to meet new people and I highly recommend it!

Click here for more information on Fairtrade.


  1. I love this! Really wish there was something like it near me. I'll have to look around. Or start one myself!

    1. Will let you know details of the one in July. You should come with me. They're usually on a weekend afternoon and people come from all over - only once a month anyway! xx

  2. This looks like so much fun!! I really need my own cake club in Leeds :-)x


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