Clandestine Cake Club ‘Club Tropicana’

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In early 2011 I met Lynn Hill, the founder of  The Clandestine Cake Club. I was doing research into pop-up events and other ways of doing things.  I was interested in setting up a home based professional development training company for creative people – but wanted to see ‘how things worked’.

The Clandestine Cake Club (CCC to those in the know) is a simple but elegant idea.  Bake, meet and eat cake.  Why Clandestine?  Well, you don’t know until a day or so before where the event is taking place.

There were not any CCC’s in the East Midlands at that point, so I decided I’d like to set one up in my home town as a way of testing out some of my new ideas. I got in touch with Lynn, received very useful instructions, and set to it, having found a willing accomplice in my sister Anne.

Our first event involved art and we chose ‘Club Tropicana’ as the theme for the first Clandestine Cake Club event in Leicestershire.

The lilies were out in bloom and the sun shone as people gathered in the kitchen and garden having travelled from across the region.  Maxine Greer had arrived a few hours earlier with The Flock – hundreds of white paper sparrows which colonised the garden, kitchen and cake stands in search of tasty crumbs.

There was a lovely buzz as people sliced and discussed cake – the conversations soon moving to other subjects. It turned out that a lot of people shared an interest in the arts and crafts, as well as baking.

The cakes had a tropical theme with fruit, coconut, pineapple and the odd splash of rum.  There were some very imaginative names – an Almond Layer Cake named ‘Daphne’, and a ‘Courgette Sliding Lemon Drizzle Cake’ – the top had been anchored in place by two cocktail sticks during the hot drive from Stamford in Lincolnshire.

One baker took her inspiration from the Bounty Bar advert dedicating her confection to Mr. Le Marchant, her sixth form drama teacher who is in the advert.

Another made a Devil’s Food Cake topped with glitter as a nod to the Wham ‘Club Tropicana’ video that she took part in while on holiday in Ibiza in 1983.

People enjoyed exploring the hidden corners of the garden, sitting with the birds on the lawn, and drinking tea or elderflower cordial made with elderflowers gathered from the local woods earlier in the year.

Maxine and I set the greenhouse up as up a ‘Bird Booth’ where people could find out more about The Flock and Maxine talked to people, gathering memories and stories about their travels and encounters with birds all over the world.

These are the recipes for some of the cakes we shared:

Almond Layer Cake (called Daphne) with Crushed Raspberries

Tropical Chocolate Cake

Cardamom and Cherry Cake  From Anne’s blog

Hummingbird Cake

To find out more about the Clandestine Cake Club, the adventures of the Loughborough group and how to get involved go to