Last month the Downham Market branch of the Clandestine Cake Club held its inaugural meeting at Bluebell’s Florist. I read about it in the local paper, and was far too tempted to resist. So on Saturday morning I found myself, with cake tin clutched in hand, heading to the secret (or should that be clandestine) location. The idea behind the club is a simple enough one – groups of keen bakers gather in secret locations, to share good cake, good company and good conversation. The secret location was revealed earlier in the week to be Oxburgh Hall, a moated Tudor manor house, fifteen minutes outside of Downham. A lovely venue on any occasion, it seemed an even more appropriate choice for a clandestine club, once I realised we would have to pass through a walled secret garden to get to the hall itself. Finally, we crossed the moat before reaching our ultimate destination; the Servant’s Hall at the very heart of Oxburgh. As it was December, the theme of the meeting was rather unsurprisingly festive cakes. What was surprising however, was the sheer range of cakes on offer. There was Christmas Caribbean Teabread packed with tropical fruit, a Coconut and Malibu Cake, a German-style Apricot and Marzipan Twist and a spectacular three-tier Irish Christmas Cake made with Chocolate, Baileys, Whisky and Guinness. Table laden-down with Christmas Cakes and Festive Fare There was also a selection of more traditional Christmas Cakes but with a host of variations and secret ingredients to tantalise the taste-buds including mincemeat, brandy, marzipan pieces, cranberries and even chocolate. One of my favourite cakes had been made to look like a giant Christmas pudding, complete with a sprig of holly on top. My own offering was a Sticky Clementine Cake. I have to confess I had been worried about presenting my baking in such a public way but I needn’t have been. The group was incredibly friendly and welcoming, made up of a mix of proficient home bakers, learner bakers and even a couple of professional bakers. Members of the Downham Market Clandestine Cake Club With cakes photographed and formalities out of the way, the fun began. Trying to decide which cake to try first, then second, then third, then fourth….. With plenty of tea and coffee on offer thanks to the lovely people at the Oxburgh Hall tea-rooms we ate our cake, had a natter and wiled away a couple of very enjoyable hours. Oh, and at the end, any cake we didn’t finish, we got to take home with us! The Clandestine Cake Club is open to all, however places may be limited, due to venue-size, and will be reserved on a first come – first served basis. The next meeting of the club will be held in the New Year. For more information contact local event organiser Marie-Anne Crawley via the Clandestine Cake Club website.