A crew of cake lovers dedicated to sharing up to 30 of their favourite spongy treats each meeting will gather tonight to see who takes the crown at The Great British Bake Off.
The Clandestine Cake Club, founded in 2010 by retiree Lynn Hill, has spread across the world with Manchester boasting North, South and Central branches.
The popular TV show reaches its climax tonight and the cake mad bakers of Manchester will gather to see who triumphs in the final, however don’t expect to bring cupcakes or brownies.
The club has few rules but they are strict. Only proper cakes are allowed and the location of each event is kept secret from everyone but members of the group who themselves only learn about it a couple of days before.
The Manchester North club meets every six to eight weeks for a free event and each evening usually has a theme.
Manchester North organiser Helena Hornby said: “The events are usually on a midweek evening everyone arrives with their cakes and we all sample them and discuss them.
“There’s lots of ohhing and ahhing and people take photos and things. We are all usually impressed with each other’s baking and spend the first bit of the evening seeing which cakes we want to try first!”
The Manchester North branch was formed about 18 months ago when the original single Manchester group had too many members to allow everyone to taste all of the cakes that were bought!
It’s easy to over-indulge explained Helena.
“We do warn people not to go mad when they first come because you quickly get over fazed,” the mum-of-two said.
“It’s just a really nice joyful thing to do and we’ve made some really good friends through the cake club and we are always happy to welcome new people. You can be a complete novice and have never baked before but we want people to come along and join in.”
The Clandestine Cake Club has become so popular it’s even published its own book and with 28% of people in the UK baking every week the craze looks likely to stay.
Helena, who loves chocolate cake and anything with cream cheese icing, is keen to emphasise that the events aren’t about judging each other.
She said: “People can be a bit shy and maybe think they’re not good enough but we are always trying to say to people it doesn’t matter just have a go. It’s not about being judged it’s about sharing our passion for cake!
“It’s about making new friend and eating cake. You have fun making your cake and then fun eating it.”
The Manchester North group are planning a small gathering to watch tonight’s final and of course cake will be served.
As for who they’ll be supporting the North and South group organisers are split between Frances and Kimberley.
Helena added: “I’m going to be supporting Frances. I think she’s got a fabulous imagination and I think she’s been quite harshly judged on the whole style over substance debate.”
It does seem in keeping with the current craze the real winners are bakers and those who love cake and as Helena said: “Nothing bad ever came from eating cake!”