Newsletter – October 2019

Great Village Bake Off 2019

Congratulations to Lea Madgwick, who was awarded Star Baker for her Manchester LGBT Community Bee Honey Cake.

From left to right, Misty Chance, Howard Middleton, Kevin Sergeant and Lea Madgwick
Congratulations to Lee Madgwick, Star Baker of the Great Village Bake Off 2019, from left to right, Misty Chance, Howard Middleton, Kevin Sergeant and Lea Madgwick

This year’s Great Village Bake Off had three categories, Beginners Cupcake and Loaf Cake, LGBT or ally business or community group and LGBT Rainbow Showstopper.

“I took my inspiration from the LGBT Community Bee”

Lea entered the Rainbow Showstopper with her magnificent Honey Bee cake. She wanted to do something different than just a rainbow cake “I took my inspiration from the LGBT Community Bee in Sackville Park. Once I hit upon the idea of the Manchester LGBT Bee, I knew it just had to be a honey cake” she said.

The construction took some planning and Lea bought a special cake stand to allow the bee to attach to the dome “which I had to bake it in a metal mixing bowl to get the dome shape”. After baking the main cake, Lea realised she also had to make a honey syrup to keep the cake moist, then came the carving and decoration.

“I started at 7am on the Saturday morning and finished at 5pm”

The cake took an impressive 2½ kilos of fondant icing and a whopping 10 hours to decorate, “I started at 7am on the Saturday morning and finished at 5pm” said Lea.

Lea came first in the LGBT Rainbow Showstopper Category and went on to win Star Baker for the Bake Off beating the other two category winners, James Maynard who won the beginners cupcake and loaf cake category with a delicious banofee loaf cake and Marlene Oliver from Wythenshawe FM who won the LGBT and ally business or community group category with a gorgeous Caribbean Cake.

Clockwise from top left: Toby's Stonewall Celebration Brick Cake, Lea's LGBT Community Honey Bee Cake, Tom's Tiered Layered Veggie Picnic Pie, Sam's Rainbow Cake and a quote from Howard Middleton who said The standard of bakes was high as ever
Clockwise from top left: Toby’s Stonewall Celebration Brick Cake, Lea’s LGBT Community Honey Bee Cake, Sam’s Rainbow Cake and Tom’s Tiered Layered Veggie Picnic Pie

Great Village Bake Off Judge Howard Middleton, Great British Bake Off contestant from season 4 said “the standard of bakes was as high as ever. There were some very clever, tasty and tasteful interpretations of the brief including a beautiful Stonewall brick with immaculate rainbow buttercream inside.

“Lea has been vying for the top spot for some time and it was lovely to see her finally nail it with a delicious honey cake in the shape of Manchester’s LGBTQ+ Queen Bee. I love a savoury bake and Tom ticked all the boxes with his classy stack of veggie pies. And of course it wouldn’t be the Village Bake Off without somebody completely ignoring the principle of ‘less is more’ and producing a fabulously kitsch multi-tiered extravaganza of glitz and unicorns.

The event had some great media coverage this with both radio and internet coverage and ticket sales were up 111%, not everyone who got a ticket turned up but we did have 42 people attend and we’ve had some great feedback.

“Seeing all the fantastic bakes and meeting new people”

“Meeting new people, loved the community spirit of the event”

“Everyone was so welcoming. It was lovely to go to an LGBT event that didn’t revolve around alcohol”

“The fantastic entries and lovely atmosphere”

So we’ll see you all again in 2020 for next year’s Great Village Bake Off.

Village Bakers Birthday Party

Happy 7th Birthday to the Village Bakers

Can you beleive that the Village Bakers will be seven this November. That’s right, we’re celebrating seven years since the first ever Village Bakers meeting. So our Sunday Social on 10th November will also be our birthday party. There’ll be a fun quiz party games like pass the parcel and lots of cake, we are the Village Bakers after all.

“I set the group up whilst watching The Great British Bake Off”

The Village Bakers was the brainchild of Kevin, our current chairperson. So where did the idea come from. “I set the group up, whilst watching The Great British Bake Off, and felt that I wanted to meet new people and broaden my personal social circle, the issue I faced was that every social group I could find was a sports group or a book club. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not in the slightest bit sporty and haven’t picked a book up since university. I decided to focus on my interests and set up my own group. The idea was really simple, I loved baking and wanted to share food with other people and that way make new friends and broaden my social circle.” And so the village bakers was born.

The Village Bakers is proud to call The Molly House its home, it was the venue for the very first meeting. “the Molly House were great and came to my rescue with a venue, as they loved the idea of the group.”

You never forget your first bake, and neither does Kevin. He baked a Gateau Saint Honore which is a French dish of choux pastry, filled will crème patisserie and finished with caramel, a dessert originally created to celebrate the French patron saint of bakers, it is said that when baked it brings good luck to the baker. “I felt it was appropriate to bake this to bring Village Bakers good luck. I guess 7 years later it worked, someone is looking after us!!” said Kevin.

“I love seeing people at Village Bakers getting along”

So what does Kevin think about the Village Bakers now “I love seeing people at Village Bakers getting along, I love seeing them chatting, finding common interests and socialising with each other. In some cases, people may be new to Manchester and you can see friendships forming, as they are welcomed into the group.

“I love seeing how peoples baking improves, to see people who do not bake have a go and make their first cupcakes and bring them along. I love seeing how proud people are of their bakes and the effort, care and attention they go to, to make them just perfect.

“Its amazing seeing how a simple slice of cake can start a conversion, break down differences, and build into friendships or develop in love.”

And talking about love, James, another of the original Village Bakers met his fiance, Tim, at one of the Sunday Socials. James went along to the very first meeting to support his friend Kevin.

“I’ve learn’t that it is far less stressful to bake on the Saturday before each meeting, not Sunday morning!!!”

James admits he’s not got much of a sweet tooth and although he prefers savoury, for the first meeting he made a Bakewell Tart “I remember because I dropped my first pastry base on the floor whilst taking it out of the oven, so had to start all over again making me late for the first meeting. I’ve learn’t that it is far less stressful to bake on the Saturday before each meeting, not Sunday morning!!!”.

Another baker to go along to the very first meeting was Joe. He followed one of Nigella’s recipes and made a Chocolate Guiness Cake. Joe finds baking a good way to de-stress, he finds the kneading especially theraputic and he likes to bake cheesy breads and bagels and takes inspiration from his Jewish heritage.

If you are baking something to bring and share in November we encourage you to think about bakes you’d find at a typical birthday party. Lea, as Star Baker from the Great Village Bake Off gets the honour of baking our birthday cake.

Look out for the event posting on Facebook. Come along, bring your friends and family and help us celebrate seven successful years of baking, bringing and sharing.

Recipe Corner


As its Bonfire night soon, we thought we’d share our favourite parkin recipe. Parkin is a traditional Yorkshire ginger cake but its also associated with North Lancashire and its usually eaten on or around bonfire night. You can make it round, you can make it square or it can be a tray bake, depends on how you like it. One thing’s for sure though, the longer you leave it, the stickier it gets. You’ll probably get to optimum stickiness after about 5 days, if you can resist eating it for that long! Store it in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


  • 200g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 200g golden syrup
  • 85g treacle
  • 85g light soft brown sugar
  • 100g medium oatmeal
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger


  • 22cm square cake tin
  • Baking parchment to line the tin
  • Large saucepan
  • Mixing bowl


  1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3.
  2. Butter a deep 22cm square cake tin and line with baking parchment. Beat the egg and milk together with a fork.
  3. Gently melt the syrup, treacle, sugar and butter together in a large pan until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.
  4. In the bowl mix together the oatmeal, flour and ginger and stir into the syrup mixture, followed by the egg and milk.
  5. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 50 mins to 1 hr until the cake feels firm and a little crusty on top. Cool in the tin then wrap in more parchment and foil.

Easy Christmas Cake

And of course as the winter nights draw in, we start thinking of Christmas. And if your thinking of making your own Christmas cake we have an easy but delicious recipe for you. It doesn’t need feeding (never understood why its called feeding when all you’re doing is plying it with booze), but it doesn’t hurt if you want to add a bit more Christmas spirit in the run up to the dig day.


For the cake

  • 250g softened butter
  • 250g light soft brown sugar
  • 250g sultanas
  • 250g seedless raisins
  • 250g currants
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 125g diced mixed peel
  • 125g glace cherries
  • 3 large eggs
  • 50ml sherry (or apple juice if you want to make this alcohol free)
  • 1 very heaped tablespoon golden syrup
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

For the icing (optional)

But you wont need this until closer to Christmas and after youve finished feeding the cake.

  • 100g of shredless marmalade or smooth (no chunks) apricot jam
  • Pack of ready rolled marzipan
  • Pack of ready rolled fondant icing
  • Any decorations you want to add


  • A large mixing bowl
  • Two smaller mixing bowls and a little bowl for the cherries and the Marmalade/jam
  • A jug
  • A 20cm / 8 inch cake tin
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Thick brown paper, cut into 4 pieces about 2 inches bigger than the base of your cake tin.
  • Baking sheet
  • A skewer
  • A cooling rack
  • Pastry brush
  • Syitably sized cake board


  1. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale.
  2. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, ground almonds and spices.
  3. Wash the sultanas, raisins and currants and place in a third bowl together with the chopped mixed peel.
  4. Rinse and dry the cherries. Place in a small bowl and dust with a little flour (to stop them sinking in the cake).
  5. In a jug, mix the eggs, golden syrup and sherry (or apple juice).
  6. Line the base and sides of a 20cm / 8inch cake tin with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper, having greased the tin first. Make sure the paper which lines the sides stands 7cm above the rim of the tin.
  7. To ensure the cake does not have a hard base, line a baking sheet with 4 layers of thick brown paper.
  8. Preheat your oven to 165C / 145C fan / gas mark 3 / 325F.
  9. Add a handful (or large spoonful) of the flour to the creamed butter and sugar. Then add a small amount of the egg mixture and a handful of the fruit mixture and work together well, ideally with your hands (but you could do it with a wooden spoon if you don’t fancy the idea of getting your hands messy).
  10. Repeat this process until all the ingredients are well mixed, then finally add the cherries and mix again.
  11. Put the mixture in the prepared tin and flatten down evenly.
  12. Place the cake tin on the prepared baking sheet and put into your preheated oven for 1 hour.
  13. Reduce the heat to 150C / 130 fan / gas mark 2 / 300F and cook for a second hour.
  14. Cover with a little hat of greaseproof paper and bake for a third hour.
  15. Remove from the oven and check it is cooked properly by inserting a skewer – the skewer should be clean when removed.
  16. Trim the greaseproof paper back to the level of the tin’s rim and place on a cooling wire upside down still in its tin.
  17. Leave until completely cold (ideally the next day).
  18. Slide the cake out, wrap securely with foil and store in a cake tin until Christmas.


This great tutorial shows you step by step how to apply marzipan and icing to a fruit cake.

  1. Put the marmalade or apricot jam into a small bowl and blast in the microwave for a few seconds until it is runny and can be brushed over the cake.
  2. Cover the top and sides of the cake in warmed shredless marmalade or apricot jam.
  3. Place the ready-rolled marzipan onto the cake and gently smooth down the sides. Trim off any excess. Lightly cover and leave for 1-2 days, ideally.
  4. Lightly brush the marzipan with water and place the ready-rolled icing on top of the cake. Gently smooth down the sides and trim off any excess.
  5. Decorate if desired.


As well as the regular Sunday Socials we have a couple of special events coming up.

We’re having a Members Only Halloween Social on 26th October at Velvet on Canal Street. It’s a free event but you will have to pay a £5 deposit which you’ll get back on the night along with a free cocktail. For more details checkout the facebook event or the Halloween Social page on the Village Bakers Website.

The Village Bakers is 7 this Novembernext month so our November Sunday Social is also our Birthday Party with a quizz, party games and as usual lots of gorgeous bakes.

There won’t be a Sunday Social in December because that’s the Village Bakers Christmas Lunch at Velvet. We’re offering a three course menu for £24.95 (£27.48 inc. booking fee for Eventbrite). For more details checkout the facebook event or the Christmas Lunch page on the Village Bakers website.

Meet The Bakers

We asked Liz, one of our newer members a few questions

VB: How did you find out about the Village Bakers?

Liz: I picked up a leaflet at the LGBT Foundation. It was Spring 2018, I was finishing my Masters and I was finally starting to understand and embrace my queerness. I started trying to put myself out there in Manchester and try new things – I tried about ten social groups in two weeks! – but the Bakers was the one that I stuck with.

VB: What made you come along to the first meeting?

Liz: I always loved baking with my mum, but since being at Uni with more limited baking equipment and ingredients, I had done less of it and was inspired to try again.

VB: How did you feel after your first meeting?

Liz: I felt really happy and welcomed – and in awe of some of the group members’ baking talents! They made the Bake Off showstoppers look tame!

VB: What made you come back?

Liz: Everyone was incredibly chilled out and friendly, the Molly House was comfortable and quiet and made a refreshing change to the louder Village venues I’d visited, and a lunch spread provided by passionate bakers… need I say more?

VB: How would you describe your baking skills/expertise?

Liz: I feel very confident baking with my mum by my side, but on my own I am taking it a little at a time. In the year and a half that I have been attending the Bakers, my confidence has grown so much; I created a Fabulous Forest Fruits Loaf for the 2019 Great Village Bake Off and was so proud of it, especially when the lovely celebrity judge Howard Middleton praised it!

VB: What’s your favourite thing to bake and why?

Liz: I like making my mum’s fool proof muffin batter and adding new variations: dark chocolate and raspberry, apple and cinnamon – the possibilities are endless! Blondies are also close to my heart and were the first thing I ever brought to the Bakers – I love anything gooey, and like adding peanut butter for a bit of saltiness.

VB: What’s your least favourite thing to bake and why?

Liz: I don’t think there’s anything I don’t like baking, but there are techniques I haven’t tried yet that scare me slightly, like delicate chocolate work, fudge, toffee and spun sugar – they seem hard, but I hope to give them a go!

VB: Is there anything you’d like to try and bake?

Liz: As a veggie I am really interested in trying some savoury bakes that don’t rely on meat – maybe cheese muffins or scones, or something with onions and mushrooms. I have stuck with sweet so far apart from the odd quiche, but am ready to branch out!

VB: What other hobbies or interests do you have other than baking?

Liz: I write poetry and am working on a novel for young adults; I perform spoken word at open-mic nights around Manchester, and recently went on a writing retreat near Hebden Bridge that was very peaceful and empowering. I am also currently having singing lessons, which I love.

VB: What would you say to anyone that was thinking of coming to a meeting?

Liz: Don’t worry about being new, as you will be warmly welcomed, and there are often newcomers; also, don’t worry about baking the first time if you are stressed, as it is fine to donate instead. You don’t have to do a super-fancy bake – simple is fine! My early attempts were very ordinary and were still devoured! Please give the Bakers a try; I am so thankful I did. As I went from being at Uni to starting my job, the Bakers has been a constant and I always love spending time with everyone and catching up.

Here’s Liz with Howard and her Forest Fruit Loaf

Top Image is Village Baker Liz with Howard Middleton, bottom image is the Forest Fruit Loaf baked by Liz
Top: Village Baker Liz with Howard Middleton Bottom: Fabulpous Forest Fruit Loaf baked by Liz

Ask Fanny!

Dear Fanny1

“Dear Fanny, I’m at my wits end, no matter how hard I try I can’t get my choux buns to stay crisp. Please help, my husband has had enough of my soggy buns and has started pleasuring himself at Mark’s on the way home from the office. Yours in desperation, Concerned of Congleton”

Sadly, Connie, may I call you that? This is an all too familiar plea. My bag is fit to bursting with similar cries for help. Of course darling, no one wants a bun that is all brittle and hard, but equally, you need to avoid one that is too soft to handle.

Your buns should be pert and firm on the outside and soft and squishy on the inside.

Your buns should be pert and firm on the outside and soft and squishy on the inside and you should always feel that little bit of resistance and slight crunch when you bite into them. Honestly, if my buns aren’t absolutely perfect they’ll never see the light of day let alone be presented to all my guest at a dinner party.

When your choux buns or eclairs are cooked there is always some cooked but still wet pastry just under the surface and the inside is full of steam which will eventually leak out, but as it does it will soften your hard crisp exterior and all you’ll be left with is a mouthful of limp soggy bun, and no one wants that now do they?

The trick is to pierce your buns with a sharp prick as soon as they are come out of the oven. Give them a quick poke on the bottom with a sharp knife and leave them to cool upside down.

You don’t want cream leaking out of your buns

If you are going to store your buns a while before filling them store them in an airtight container and pop them in a preheated oven (200C/400F/gas mark 6) for 5 minutes to crisp them up again. Remember to let them cool down before filling them as you don’t want cream leaking out of your buns. That’s never a good look and something your guest’s should not have to see.

Your cooked buns can also be frozen for upto one month. Simply thaw them, spread your buns onto a suitably sized tray and crisp them up for 5 minutes in a preheated oven (200C/400F/gas mark 6)

Are you having a kitchen crisis? Do your baking efforts turn into a bunfoght with you and the oven? If you need help in the culinary department then why not Ask Fanny! send an email to

Member Offers and Discounts

Village Bakers can take advantage of the following discounts and offers on presentation of a valid Village Bakers Membership card.

  • 15% off all food and drink at the Molly House.
  • 10% all Hot food and hot drinks at Esquires Coffee
  • 10% off food and beverages (excludes exisiting offers) at Velvet

See the members card page on the website for more information about members discounts and offers.

If you have any ideas for things you’d like to see in the next newsletter please email