Red Velvet Cake

Hello to my lovely readers! It has CERTAINLY been a while! I’m so sorry for the huge gap in time since my last post. I have still been baking when I can, however things have been rather busy recently with the addition of our new Jackapoo puppy – Maggie! She is only 4 months old and has been full on since the get go! I’m talking night time toilet training, teaching commands and mastering the art of ‘fetch’! But she is so lovely and I’ve been moaning about wanting a dog for the last 6/7 years so it’s about time 🙂

So I have finally gotten round to sitting down at my computer and blogging a few of the recipes I have managed to find the time to cook 🙂 And the return of the Great British Bake Off is enough to get anyone back into the swing of things 🙂

The first is a 4 tiered red velvet cake that I recently baked for my lovely Granny’s 90th birthday party. It was the first time I had made a red velvet cake and I have to say I was surprised at how easy it was. The only issue I had was fitting in Maggie’s walk and icing the 4 tiers all before 1pm (taking into account baking and cooling time of the cakes!)

We had an afternoon tea round at my mum and dad’s house to celebrate and ate lots of cakes, sandwiches and drank Pimms whilst listened to Scottish music in the garden – wonderful!

The cake was so huge that I had to take it in to work the next day and fed it to my youth theatre (without telling them about the secret ingredient – BEETROOT!!) They ate up the cake happily whilst trying to guess the mystery ingredient, one lad even called his Nan for a clue as to what it was. Once they found out – they suddenly seemed suspicious of the giant red coloured cake and weren’t sure if they really did enjoy it after all…

Why not give it a try and see what you think!?…You won’t regret it 🙂

Ingredients:

For the Sponges:

  • 250g Butter
  • 200g Dark Chocolate (broken into pieces)
  • 500g Plain Flour
  • 500g Golden caster sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200g Natural yogurt
  • 400g cooked beetroot (in its own juices, not vinegar)
  • x2 28ml red food colouring

For the Frosting:

  • 200g Full fat cream cheese
  • 250g Butter (softened)
  • 40g Icing Sugar
  • x2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Make the first batch of sponges by greasing and lining 2 x 20cm round tins. Gently melt half the butter and chocolate together in a saucepan. Mix half the flour, sugar, cocoa, bicarb and ¼ tsp salt in a large mixing bowl. Whizz one egg and half the yogurt and beetroot in a food processor or blender until fairly smooth. Put the kettle on.
  2. Tip the beetroot mix into the dry ingredients along with the melted chocolate mixture and 150ml boiling water, then stir to combine. Stir in half the food colouring, if using, and divide the mixture between the tins. Bake for 25 mins until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cakes on a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 to make 2 more sponges or if you’re lucky enough to have 4 x 20cm sandwich tins you can bake in a big batch all at once.
  4. To make the frosting, briefly beat together the soft cheese and butter, then beat in the icing sugar and vanilla. Use a little to sandwich the cooled cakes together, then swirl the rest all over the sandwiched cakes and decorate with sweets, if you like. Sit the cake somewhere cool (not the fridge) to set a little before serving.

Thanks for stopping by! Let me know what you think 🙂

Holly xx

 

Sugar Cookies

I was asked to do a little baking for my nephews christening this weekend, so I decided to make buttercream cupcakes, chocolate brownies and some cookies. But which cookies? I had been given a set of ‘baby shower/christening’ themed cookie cutters for my birthday in the shapes of baby feet, baby hands and a pram. So I thought I would choose a cookie recipe that can be cut out and ideally iced, for inspiration I headed over to Jane’s Patisserie and came across the perfect recipe – Sugar Cookies! They were so easy to make and even easier to ice. I have to admit, that by the time the cookies were iced and ready to go, I forgot to take any photos as I was rushing out the door to work, so I only have a few snaps of the cookies looking a little ‘naked’ but never the less – it gives you an idea! A big thanks to Jane for the recipe 🙂 Enjoy xx

Ingredients:

  •  255g Unsalted Butter
  •  200g Caster Sugar
  • 1tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 425g Plain Flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 400g Royal Icing

Method:

1) Preheat your oven to 200c/180c Fan and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper

2) Cream together the Butter and Sugar until light & fluffy, then gradually beat in the egg and vanilla so that the mixture is smooth. Add in the Plain Flour and beat again till the dough is combined.

3) Roll the mixture out on a lightly floured work surface to the thickness of around 6mm – I had been given a new Joseph Joseph rolling pin from my girlfriends that you can adjust the ends so that it rolls to a specific depth – Oh my gosh, genius! Does anyone else know about this!? – cut them out in the various shapes that you want. Place them onto the lined baking trays and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until they are starting to go golden around the edges – Leave to cool on a wire rack.

4) To decorate your cookies – Loosen a few spoonfuls of the royal icing with a few drops of water just a little so that when you leave a trail of icing going through itself, it stays there for about 20-30 seconds – pipe this round the edge of the cookies, once they’re all done, leave the icing to harden slightly for about 15 minutes.

5) Once the icing has hardened, split the rest of the icing off into the colours you want to use – and loosen the icing again, this time adding slightly more water. Fill all of the gaps with the icing and then leave to dry.

Hope you enjoy!

Big love

Holly x

Baby Shower Cupcakes – with butter cream

My lovely friend Sarah is due on January 15th and as such we threw her a baby shower to celebrate. I made some baby shower cupcakes in pink and blue as they are having a surprise! The recipe was really easy to make but the mini baby prams on top did give me a little stress in the morning – cutting out mini bits of icing with hot hands = bad idea! But we got there in the end and it was a lovely day – lots of baby related activities and yummy food 🙂 I also watched a Christmas Marry Berry cooking programme over the holidays and learnt a nifty trick for getting equally sized cupcakes that changed my life! Scroll down to learn the secret! 🙂

 

Enjoy!

Holly x

Ingredients:

  • 115g softened butter
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 115g self raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon milk

For the frosting:

  • 175g unsalted butter softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 280g icing sugar (sifted)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Put 12 paper cases into a cupcake tray.
  2. Put butter and sugar into a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Sift in the flour and use a metal spoon to fold the mixture together. Add the milk to loosen the mixture.
  3. Here is the secret trick you have all been waiting for….Use an ice cream scoop (with a spring handle) to scoop out mixture from the bowl, flatten the mixture out against the side of the bowl and simply drop the mixture into the cases using the sprung handle – GENIUS!!
  4. Bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Place on wire rack to cool.
  6. To make the frosting, put the butter and vanilla extract in a bowl and use an electric hand whisk to beat until pale and very soft. Gradually add the icing sugar, whisking well after each addition. Add your required colouring – I used gel colouring as it stops the butter cream from becoming to sloppy.
  7. Spoon the frosting into a piping bag, fitted with a medium star nozzle and pipe frosting onto the cupcake – starting from the outside of the cake.
  8. Roll out white sugar icing and cut out 2 medium circles and 2 small circles. Cut 1 medium circle in half and the other into quarters. Using water, stick 1 half to 1 quarter, to make the pram. Add the 2 small circles as the wheels and decorate as you like.
  9. Enjoy! x

 

Crème Brule

I am VERY behind with my GBBO challenges – so this goes back a few weeks. I still have a bag of apples in my kitchen ready to be made into a frangipane. So here goes – here’s my take on Crème Brule – the recipe is taken from the BBC Good Food website. The only thing I cheated on was I used my jazzy blow torch for the toppings, which they weren’t allowed to do in the tent (but I think that’s more to do with the fact that it would be a lot of naked flames in a giant tent rather than a culinary challenge!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cartons double cream, 1 large (284ml) plus 1 small (142ml)
  • 100ml full-fat milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 50g golden caster sugar, plus extra for the topping

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4. Sit four 175ml ramekins in a deep roasting tin at least 7.5cm deep (or a large deep cake tin), one that will enable a baking tray to sit well above the ramekins when laid across the top of the tin. Pour the two cartons of cream into a medium pan with the milk. Lay the vanilla pod on a board and slice lengthways through the middle with a sharp knife to split it in two. Use the tip of the knife to scrape out all the tiny seeds into the cream mixture. Drop the vanilla pod in as well, and set aside.
  2. Put the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk for 1 minute with an electric hand whisk until paler in colour and a bit fluffy. Put the pan with the cream on a medium heat and bring almost to the boil. As soon as you see bubbles appear round the edge, take the pan off the heat.
  3. Pour the hot cream into the beaten egg yolks, stirring with a wire whisk as you do so, and scraping out the seeds from the pan. Set a fine sieve over a large wide jug or bowl and pour the hot ixture through to strain it, encouraging any stray vanilla seeds through at the end. Using a big spoon, scoop off all the pale foam that is sitting on the top of the liquid (this will be several spoonfuls) and discard. Give the mixture a stir.
  4. Pour in enough hot water (from the tap is fine) into the roasting tin to come about 1.5cm up the sides of the ramekins. Pour the hot cream into the ramekins so you fill them up right to the top – it’s easier to spoon in the last little bit. Put them in the oven and lay a baking sheet over the top of the tin so it sits well above the ramekins and completely covers them, but not the whole tin, leaving a small gap at one side to allow air to circulate. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the mixture is softly set. To check, gently sway the roasting tin and if the crème brûlées are ready, they will wobble a bit like a jelly in the middle. Don’t let them get too firm.
  5. Lift the ramekins out of the roasting tin with oven gloves and set them on a wire rack to cool for a couple of minutes only, then put in the fridge to cool completely. This can be done overnight without affecting the texture.
  6. When ready to serve, wipe round the top edge of the dishes, sprinkle 1½ tsp of caster sugar over each ramekin and spread it out with the back of a spoon to completely cover (Anne Willan’s tip for an even layer). Spray with a little water using a fine spray (the sort you buy in a craft shop) to just dampen the sugar – then use a blow torch to caramelise it. Hold the flame just above the sugar and keep moving it round and round until caramelised. Serve when the brûlée is firm, or within an hour or two.

 

Hazelnut & Chocolate Biscotti

My second GBBO recipe challenge was the beautifully scrumptious Italian Biscotti! This was surprisingly easy to make and is so yummy with a tea or coffee whilst snuggled on the sofa. I went for a hazelnut and chocolate flavoured recipe but for my next batch I think I’m going to try a coffee and walnut flavour. I didn’t have any oranges so I didn’t add the orange zest but I made up for it with a little vanilla extract to add an extra oomph. My jazzy camera is still out of action I’m afraid, so the photos aren’t as good as I would have liked, but none the less here are my biscotti! Recipe is taken from BBC Good Food.

Enjoy! xx

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • zest 1 orange
  • 25g toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 25g chocolate chips

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line a large baking sheet with baking paper. Whisk together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl, then add the orange zest, hazelnuts and chocolate chips. Fold into the egg mix to make a soft dough. Tip onto a lightly floured surface, shape into a 25cm sausage shape with lightly floured hands, then transfer to baking sheet. Flatten to a 3cm thickness, then bake for 30 mins until lightly browned on top.
  2. Remove and slide onto a chopping board, then reduce the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Cut the log into 1cm thick slices and return to the baking sheet, cut-sides up. Bake for 10-15 mins until crisp, then cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tin for 3 weeks.

Madeira Cake

My latest challenge in improving my cookery skills and potentially making myself ‘GBBO ready’ is to bake one or more of the GBBO challenges each week in the time constraints set for the contestants. So I decided to make a Madeira cake from the first episode of the new series.

 

I’ve been away on holiday for the last two weeks so I’ve had to buy a new tin and cook away from my home kitchen (without my jazzy camera – hence the slightly dodgy photos!) making baking slightly more tricky – but none the less I’ve given it a go! I made a chocolate and orange flavoured cake with an orange flavoured icing sugar on top. It tasted lovely although there wasn’t the infamous ‘madeira cake crack’ on top – I think this is because I baked the cake in a larger square tin rather than the traditional loaf tin. But this is what this challenge is all about – learning from baking mishaps! I hope you enjoy 🙂 x

Ingredients:

  • 175g butter
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • A few drops of vanilla extract
  • 100g chocolate chips
  • Icing sugar to decorate

Method:

  1. Whisk the butter and sugar together until creamy and light
  2. Ad the eggs one by one
  3. Add the zest and chocolate
  4. Add the flour and almonds
  5. Bake in a lined and greased tin at 170C for 55 minutes
  6. Enjoy with a cup of tea! 🙂

White Chocolate & Strawberry Cake

I looked in my fridge and saw a huge punnet of strawberries that was calling out to be baked in something. So I scoured through my cook books looking for the recipe that most satisfied me. Strawberry shortcake? Strawberry tart with crème patisserie? And then I found it….John Whaite’s white chocolate and raspberry cake. I already had white chocolate in the cupboard and figured that strawberries would do the same job as raspberries. The recipe was so easy to follow and the cake was so moist and moreish – I will definitely be cooking this one again (especially if the people in my office have anything to say about it!)

Ingredients:

  • 200g butter, chopped into small cubes, plus extra for greasing
  • 100g white chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 175g raspberries, fresh or frozen

For the cream filling:

  • 200g white chocolate, chopped
  • 250ml double cream
  • a little icing sugar, for dusting
  • (Although I just whipped up some cream and flavoured it with some vanilla extract)

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line the base of 2 x 20cm round, loose-bottomed cake tins. Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof mixing bowl, set over a pan of barely simmering water and allow to melt slowly, stirring occasionally.
  2. When the butter and chocolate have melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool for 1-2 mins, then beat in the eggs and sugar with an electric whisk. Fold in the flour and raspberries.
  3. Gently pour the mixture into the tins and bake for 20-25 mins or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean (the raspberries may leave a residue on the skewer, so don’t be fooled by their juiciness). Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 mins before turning out onto a wire rack.
  4. To make the ganache, put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl with 100ml of the cream, set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has melted into the cream and you are left with a smooth, glossy ganache. Leave the ganache to cool to room temperature, then beat in the rest of the cream.
  5. When the cakes have cooled, sandwich them together with the chocolate ganache. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Enjoy and please share if you like or bake this recipe! xx