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

 

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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

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

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.

 

Apple Frangipane

I didn’t think I could possibly be SO behind on my GBBO challenges – but here we are – I’m only just posting this recipe which was made on the show roughly 6 weeks ago! (maybe even more) and to make things worse I still haven’t seen the final! But I know who wins thankfully.

So a big apology for being so rubbish at keeping up with my challenge – I blame the re-decoration of my house which took over my life for around 4 weeks – But I don’t feel too bad as I now have lovely carpets and painted walls 🙂

Anyway, enough chit chat – here’s my take on apple frangipane!

Ingredients

  • 200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 200g soft butter, plus extra for greasing
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped lemon zest
  • 4 eating apples
  • 1 tbsp smooth apricot jam

Method

  1. Sift the flour into a bowl and dice 100g butter into it. Add the salt. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in 1-3 tbsp cold water until the dough seems to want to cling together. Knead lightly to make a ball, dusting with flour if it seems wet. Chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4.
  3. Generously butter a 24cm-diameter flan tin with a removable base and dust with flour. This makes the tin non-stick. Roll out the pastry, line the tin, and trim the edges. Cover with foil and half-fill with dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the foil, and bake for 5 minutes more.
  4. Meanwhile, beat together 100g butter and 100g sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time. Fold in the almonds and lemon zest and tip into the pastry case. Halve and peel the apples, carefully cutting out the cores. Place flat side down and slice thinly across the width. ‘Plant’ the apples in the tart and spread out the slices slightly. Melt a knob of butter, paint the apple halves with it and dredge with caster sugar. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the frangipane is puffy and golden and the apples just cooked. Paint the apples with the apricot jam, and leave in the warm, switched-off oven, with the door ajar, for 15 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

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.

 

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