Red Velvet Cake

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Red velvet is seriously good. If you haven’t tried it yet, just…I don’t care what you’re doing right now, I mean RIGHT NOW, get your butt to a shop and get baking, ok?

Our baking ancestors would use agents such as bicarbonate of soda and vinegar or buttermilk to make cakes light and fluffy, as the acidic latter ingredients would react with the bicarbonate of soda to form bubbles, thus fluffing cake appropriately to make a light and delicious treat. However, the acidity wouldn’t only react with the bicarb, ohhh no. The red part of the name comes from the fact that the anthocyanins in the cocoa powder of olden times would turn redder in the lower pH, hence the sponge would turn out red.




Unfortunately, we have to add red food colouring to get the desired effect, as modern cocoa powder is manufactured with alkalinising agents which counter this reddening process. Fear not, you can still knock up a scrumptious sponge with cream cheese icing which will both taste and look stunning.


240g unsalted butter, softened

600g caster sugar

4 large eggs

40g cocoa powder

80ml red food colouring (such as Dr Oetker)

2 tsp vanilla essence

600g plain flour

2 tsp salt

480ml buttermilk

2 tbsp white vinegar

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

200g unsalted butter, softened

900g icing sugar

500g full fat cream cheese (such as Philadelphia)


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Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F), Gas mark 5, and grease two 20cm round cake tins.

Using a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Break in the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition and mixing in the scrapings from the sides of the bowl.

In a separate, small bowl, stir together the cocoa powder, food colouring and vanilla essence to form a paste. Add the paste to the batter, mixing thoroughly until the paste is completely incorporated.

Sift together the flour and salt in another bowl, then add the flour to the batter in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk and mixing thoroughly after each addition. Lastly, in another bowl, mix the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda together by hand and add it to the cake batter, mixing it in until it is fully incorporated.

Divide the batter between the two tins. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when lightly pressed. Allow the sponge to cool completely before you start frosting.

Meanwhile, using the electric whisk or freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment, and mixing on a low speed, beat the butter and icing sugar together until no large lumps of butter remain and the mixture is sandy in texture. Add the cream cheese and mix together slowly until everything is incorporated, then increase the speed to medium and beat the frosting until it is soft and fluffy.

Once the sponge has completely cooled, sandwich the two together with plenty of frosting, then proceed to cover the whole thing with frosting, or just the top if you prefer. If you like, you can slice a very thin layer of sponge off one of the cakes and whizz it up in a food processor, then sprinkle the crumbs over the top.



Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake


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I made this a few weeks when some family friends came to visit us from London. I wanted to bake something which wouldn’t be too heavy or sickly as we were going out for a meal shortly afterwards; I’m happy to say that this fit the bill perfectly. This cake is made with egg whites and less butter than you would usually use in a cake, which makes it wonderfully light and airy. You don’t have to put the glaze on if you’d prefer it too be less sweet, but it does make the cake look more appetising.

This is another Hummingbird recipe and serves about 12-16 people.


85g unsalted butter

245g caster sugar

grated zest of 1 1/2 lemons

15g poppy seeds (plus extra to decorate)

165ml whole milk

235g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 a teaspoon of salt

3 egg whites

For the lemon syrup:

juice and zest of 1 lemon

50g caster sugar

For the glaze:

Juice of 1 lemon

250g icing sugar


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Preheat the oven to 170°C and grease and dust your ring mould with flour.

Cream together the butter, caster sugar, poppy seeds and lemon zest in a large bowl. Slowly add the milk and beat well – it’s perfectly normal for it to look slightly split at this stage.

In a separate bowl, sieve the flour, salt and baking powder, then add to the butter mixture in three stages, beating well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and fold gently into the mixture.

Pour the mixture into the mould and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden on top. The sponge will bounce back when pressed once it is done.

Whilst the cake is cooking, heat the sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a saucepan until boiling and reduce to a thin syrup.

When the cake is cooked, prick the top with a fork all over and pour the syrup over it – this what makes the cake so moist. Leave the cake to cool for a while before turning out onto a wire rack.

Make the icing whilst the cake is cooling by mixing the icing sugar and lemon juice together until smooth and glossy. Once it has cooled, spoon over the glaze over the cake and let it run down the sides. Sprinkle with a few poppy seeds.


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Blueberry and Soured Cream Loaf

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This loaf tastes great whilst being really quick and easy to make. The soured cream gives it a slight cream-cheesy tanginess and the blueberries add extra flavour and moisture. It’s normal for the blueberries to sink during baking as you can see from the pictures so don’t worry if that happens to you. It also keeps very well for a few days without drying out.
Once again, this recipe is adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery’s Cake Days, which you can buy here. I promise I’ll start posting recipes from other sources soon!

Serves 8-10

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• 190g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
• 190g caster sugar
• 3 eggs
• 190g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 35ml soured cream
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 125g fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 170°C and grease your loaf tin with butter and dust with flour.

Using a hand-held electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together until lighter in colour and fluffy. Break in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each is added and ensure that you scrape the sides of the bowl often to make sure all of the ingredients are well incorporated.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together before adding to the creamed mixture in three batches, lightly mixing until just combined. Add the soured cream and stir the blueberries in gently, making sure that they are evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 50-60 minutes or until the sponge is firm and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for a short while, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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