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

 

Stilton & Walnut Quick Bread

I can honestly say that I haven’t stopped thinking about baking this bread since Christmas. One of my favourite things about Christmas is the copious amounts of cheese, which by the start of January usually ends up going in the bin, in a bid to eat more salad leaves and go to the gym. Well, I say NO! Cheese should be enjoyed all the year through, especially in January when spirits are low and the days are short. So, here is my latest recipe, that celebrates British cheese in all of its glory! I’m also very happy to say that recipe is my own 🙂 Enjoy! And let me know what you think!

Holly x

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of strong bread flour
  • 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 & 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Stilton cheese (use as much as you like – I used a size about as big as a door wedge – specific as ever!)
  • 2 handfuls of walnuts – chopped

 

Method:

  1. Chop your walnuts and cheese in preparation for mixing into the dough
  2. Mix together the dried ingredients
  3. Mix together the wet ingredients
  4. Add wet to dry including the stilton and walnuts
  5. Bake for 40 minutes in a 200C oven

And enjoy! 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

 

Mince Pies

Merry Christmas all! Well, it’s been a very long time since I’ve posted on here, but that’s not to say that I haven’t been baking – I just haven’t been uploading, so apologies for the long delay. For Christmas I decided to make Jamie Oliver’s Mince Pies which include TWO different types of pastry. I have to say I didn’t make the pastry as Christmas is always very busy – so shop bought was my method. But never the less – here is Jamie’s recipe for the most beautiful looking mince pies going – really yummy with a cup of tea and just the right size so you don’t fill up before the Christmas cheese board 🙂

Merry Christmas all – more recipes to come!

Holly xx

Ingredients:

  • 100 g good-quality mincemeat
  • 25 g dried cranberries or blueberries , chopped
  • 2 clementines , zest of
  • 1 splash sherry or brandy
  • flour , to dust
  • 250 g puff pastry
  • 1 pack filo pastry
  • 50 g butter , melted
  • 1 free-range egg , beaten
  • 50 g flaked almonds
  • icing sugar , to dust

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400ºF/gas 6. Scoop the mincemeat into a mixing bowl and mix in the dried berries, the clementine zest and the sherry or brandy.

2. Dust a clean work surface with flour and roll out the puff pastry into a big rectangle about 20cm x 40cm and the thickness of a pound coin. Thinly spread the mincemeat over the pastry, leaving a 1cm gap around the edges. Tightly roll up the pastry, lengthways, like a Swiss roll, place it on a floured tray, and pop in the fridge to firm up.

3. Take two cupcake trays (for 12 cupcakes each) and butter each one lightly with the melted butter. Place one layer of filo pastry over the tray (you may need more than one sheet to cover each tray depending on the size of the sheets) and ease the pastry into each hole. Brush with the melted butter, then cover with a second layer of filo pastry. Brush with butter again.

4. Take the puff pastry roll out of the fridge and, with a sharp knife, cut it into 24 slices. Place each slice, flat-side down, into a filo-lined hole. Brush with the egg and sprinkle a few flaked almonds on top of each little pie, then pop both trays in the oven for about 25 minutes, until cooked and golden brown.

5. Leave to cool, then crack the individual pies out of the trays. Dust with a little icing sugar before serving.

 

Mini French Baguettes

Bread week challenge number 2! Mini French baguettes – Paul Hollywood style!

Ingredients:

  • 250g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 5g salt
  • 5g instant yeast
  • 180ml cool water
  • Olive oil for kneading

Method:

  1. Add the flour to a bowl and put the salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast on the other. Mix the dry ingredients together.
  2. Pour water in slowly and mix together using your hands.
  3. Knead dough until its elastic and can stretch to around 30cm long – this takes about 20 minutes
  4. Leave in an oiled bowl covered in cling film for around 2 hours.
  5. Tip the dough onto an floured and semolia’d surface and knock the air out of it using your knuckles.
  6. Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Shape each piece into an oblong by flattening the dough out slightly and folding the sides into the middle. Then roll each up into a sausage – the top should be smooth with ha join running along the length of the base. Now, beginning in the middle, roll each sausage with your hands.
  7. Place the baguettes on the baking tray. Put each tray inside a clean plastic bag and leave to prove for about 1 hour, until the dough is at least doubled in size and springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 220°C and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up.
  8. When your baguettes are risen and light, dust them lightly with flour. Then slash each one 3 times along its length on the diagonal, using a razor blade or a very sharp knife. Fill the roasting tray with hot water to create steam and put the bread into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the baguettes are golden brown and have a slight sheen. Cool on a wire rack.

These were surprisingly easy to make and super yummy straight from the oven! Enjoy! I’m slightly behind on my GBBO challenges so watch this space for crème brulees and even more! x

Caramelised Onion, Rosemary & Cheddar Quick Bread

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Here’s to my third Great British Bake Off inspired challenge – Quick Bread! I have made quick breads in the past and just never really knew they were called quick breads. I understood them more as a ‘lazy bread’ because when I first started baking I saw ingredients such as yeast as ‘effort’ – something I would need to go out and buy and have a stock of in my so called ‘larder’.  A few years later I have plentiful amounts of yeast in my cupboard and see myself as a fundamentally lazy baker back then. Turns out I was lazy, rather than the bread. So! This is my take on the third challenge from GBBO – I got the basic bread recipe online and added my favourtire flavours as taken from John Whaite’s caramelised onion and rosemary fougasse recipe – (click here to see my bake of this) It was utterly scrummy taken straight from the oven and slathered with butter. It’s safe to say that the entire loaf had disappeared by lunchtime the next day!

I hope you enjoy and please tag me if you make any of my bakes 🙂

Happy Baking! x

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of strong bread flour
  • 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 & 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1/4 cup melted margarine or olive oil
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary (or even better – fresh if you have it! Mine died in the garden a few weeks ago)
  • Cheddar (use as much as you like – I used a size about as big as a door wedge – specific as ever!)
  • 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

Method:

  1. Chop your onion into small pieces and fry off on a medium heat with some olive oil
  2. Add the brown sugar and vinegar and cook until translucent – around 10 minutes
  3. Mix together the dried ingredients
  4. Mix together the wet ingredients
  5. Add wet to dry including the herbs, onion mix and cheese
  6. Bake for 40 minutes in a 200C oven

Enjoy hot from the oven slathered in butter and in front of the telly – I would recommend something like University Challenge 🙂 x

 

Seeded Couronne Loaf

 

I’ve been wanting to make this bread for weeks and simply haven’t found the time to bake – time without baking is time poorly spent!

Over the next four weeks I am going to be taking you on a baking adventure -sharing recipes that tell a story – my story. As you know from my other blog posts, I work in theatre – to be more specific, I’m currently Assistant Director of Central Youth Theatre, Wolverhampton’s longest established youth theatre. I have gone from an 11 year old member to Assistant Director of this company and therefore it is an organisation that I hold dear in my heart.

Over the next 4 weeks we are running a huge crowd funding campaign called CYT Heart that I hope I might be able to gather your help with as well as sharing a few lovely bakes along the way 🙂

So, here is the start of my CYT story…

From the age of two I have wanted to be involved in theatre. I met my friend Jessica at play group and we would make up stories and plays using our dressing up boxes, wearing all manner of weird and wonderful outfits. We would create invitations and tickets for our enormous audience of four, made up of our worn out parents. This continued for many years until Jessica told me that she had been going along to a youth theatre group at the Newhampton Arts Centre and she thought I would really enjoy it. At the age of 10 I plucked up the courage and went along to their ‘James and the Giant Peach’ themed summer school programme. I absolutely loved it and was given the lead part of James (no comments here about looking like a boy please)

11 Year old me as 'James'

11 Year old me as ‘James’

At the age of two I had a little seed of theatre enthusiasm, something which grew, proved (a little baking connection here for you!) and developed into something which CYT nurtured. I knew that I had to carry on getting my drama fix with this weird and wonderful company and so my CYT journey began…

So in honour of that little seed of enthusiasm here is my first recipe for #CYTHeart – A seeded loaf. I have used the lovely John Whaite’s recipe that he uses for a plaited loaf in his book John Whaite Bakes but in this recipe I’ve halved all the quantities and added poppy and sunflower seeds on the top of the bread.

Please get baking and let me know how your loaf comes out!

and finally please head over to CYT’s indigogo page to find out more about the campaign http://igg.me/at/cytheart please donate and share the word.

Thank you!

Holly xx

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 7g fast action yeast (1 packet worth)
  • 10 g salt (1 teaspoon)
  • 300ml tepid water
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with a pinch of salt for glazing
  1. Put the ingredients (except for the egg yolk) into a bowl and bring together into a rough dough. Knead by hand for ten mins or in a mixer with bread hooks for about 6 mins until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Place into an oiled bowl and allow to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
  2. Turn the dough out and divide into 6 balls and roll these out into long sausage shapes of the same length. Press all the pieces of dough together at one end and begin the plait starting on whichever side takes your fancy. Take the outermost strand and place it under the next two, over the next one and then under the final two. Take the next outermost strand (always from the same side!) and repeat. Then tuck the ends under to neaten them off. Leave the loaf to prove for about an hour. Preheat the oven to 230C or gas mark 8.
  3. When the loaf has doubled in size glaze with the egg yolk and bake for about 30 mins or until bronzed. Once cooked it should have a hollow sound when you tap the bottom.
  4. Slice, slather with butter and enjoy with a cuppa!