Red Velvet Cake

rvc 3

 

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.

 

rvc

 

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.

Ingredients

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)

 

rvc 2

 

Method

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.

 

 

Advertisements

Rocky Road Cookies

 

rrc 3

This, my first gluten-free recipe, are beautifully ooey and gooey and downright delicious. In fact, they’re so gooey that I actually couldn’t get them off the greaseproof paper that I had baked them on, as you may be able to tell from the photos; I had to cut around them and then scrape them off into a bowl to eat! Nevertheless, they tasted absolutely perfect, with the right combination of crunch and chew that rocky road should have.

The marshmallows on top are my favourite part – they soften and caramelise on top like they would if you toasted them over an open fire. Putting a few on top of each cookie before they go in to bake rather than mixing them in means that they don’t disappear into the batter.

Ingredients

  • 365g icing sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 65g almonds
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 220g chocolate chips (milk or dark depending on your preference)
  • 65g toasted flaked almonds
  • 60g mini marshmallows or marshmallows cut to size

rrc 2

Recipe

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the icing sugar, cocoa powder and salt.  Lightly beat the egg whites, add the vanilla and whisk until combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips and almonds.

Spoon out small mounds of the mixture on to the parchment paper, then top each cookie with 4-5 marshmallows.  Putting them in the freezer for a few minutes at this stage will help them to not spread too much in the oven – this mixture is very runny so don’t expect perfectly round cookies!

Bake for 12-13 minutes until the marshmallows are golden brown.  Let the cookies sit on the paper for a few minutes to set, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

rrc

Black and White Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

 

cheesecake bars 2

 

Happy New Year!!! Since it’s not New Year without an ill-fated resolution or two, I decided to firstly, improve my post-uploading frequency and secondly, I chose the old favourite of eating healthier and keeping fit. Unfortunately, the post below shows how short-lived that was – I succumbed within twelve hours. We all knew it was going to happen though, right? So better late than never. This recipe was completely worth it though.

It’s a traybake with a chewy, dense chocolate base, almost like a brownie, with a white chocolate cheesecake topping and extra dollops of the chocolate dough spread liberally over the whole thing. It needs a few hours to set, so leave yourself plenty of time to put it together. From past experience, it still tastes really good after a couple of days stored in an airtight container. This serves well as an indulgent teatime snack or as a dinner party dessert.

This recipe yields 12-15 bars. Use a 23x30cm (9x12in) baking tray.

Ingredients

For the base:

  • 250g (90z) unsalted butter
  • 420g (15oz) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 380g (13oz) plain flour
  • 60g (2oz) cocoa powder
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the topping:

  • 80g (3oz) white chocolate chips
  • 300g (10.5oz) full-fat cream cheese
  • 60g (2oz) icing sugar
  • 1 large egg

 

cheesecake bars 1

 

Method

Using a hand-held electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure every bit of the mixture is incorporated.

Sift together the remaining ingredients, then add to the batter into two batches, mixing in the freestanding mixer or folding in by hand.

Cut off approximately one-quarter of the dough, cover with cling film and place in the fridge. Line the baking tray with baking parchment, then press the remaining dough into the tray. Create a lip around the sides of the tray to hold the cheesecake mixture once it’s poured in and try to make this base as even as possible. Allow it to set in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 170°C (325F), gas mark 3.

Remove the base from the fridge and bake for 20-25 minutes. Don’t worry if it sinks in the middle – you’ll be covering it with cheesecake later anyway so it won’t make a difference. Allow to cool completely in the tin before adding the topping, but keep the oven on for cooking the finished cheesecake.

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Using the electric whisk, mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and mix thoroughly, then stir the melted chocolate into the cheesecake mixture by hand.

Spread the mixture on to the cooled base, then remove the reserved dough from the fridge and crumble in large pieces over the cheesecake.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the cheesecake has set, then allow to cool completely before placing in the fridge for a few hours to set. Once set, cut the cheesecake into squares or rectangles to serve. Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to eat it.

 

cheesecake bars 3

 

 

 

 

Boston Cream Cupcakes

DSCF2512

As soon as I laid eyes on this recipe, I knew I had to try it! Taking flavour inspiration from the Boston cream pie, these light vanilla sponges are filled with a vanilla custard and topped with rich chocolate frosting. Although the typical method of creaming butter and sugar together first to incorporate air isn’t used here, the cakes are amazingly airy and delicate, and as an added bonus (as if I needed to say more) they stay wonderfully moist in an airtight container for a good few days – I actually thought they tasted better the day after I baked them.

I discovered these beauties in Cake Days, a book of recipes from the brilliant Hummingbird Bakery, which you can purchase here.  It’s full of really interesting flavour combinations and I can guarantee that I’ll be posting many more recipes from the book on this blog in the weeks to come!

NB: If you prefer your frosting to be less sweet, simply change the ratio of icing sugar to cocoa powder, but make sure that the two quantities should still add up to 500g.

 

Makes about 12-16 Cupcakes

 

For the sponge:

•80g unsalted butter, softened

•280g caster sugar

•240g plain flour

•1 tbsp baking powder

•¼ tsp salt

•240ml whole milk

•2 large eggs

•1 tsp vanilla extract

 

For the filling:

•250ml whole milk

•½ tsp vanilla extract

•2 large egg yolks

•50g caster sugar

•1 tbsp plain flour

•1 tbsp corn flour

 

For the frosting:

•400g icing sugar

•100g cocoa powder

•160g unsalted butter, softened

•80ml whole milk

 

Equipment

•One or two 12-hole muffin tins

•Piping bag

•Muffin cases

 

Recipe

Preheat the oven to 190°C and line a muffin tin with cupcake cases.

Using a hand-held electric whisk, mix the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt on a low speed until the mixture starts to look like fine breadcrumbs.

Whisk the remaining ingredients in a jug, then pour in ¾ of this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix on a low speed. Increase the speed to medium and keep mixing until the mixture becomes smooth and thick, scraping the sides of the bowl to ensure all the ingredients are incorporated. Add the remaining milk mixture and beat until combined and smooth.

Spoon the batter into the paper cases, filling them by two-thirds. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until well risen and springy to the touch, then leave to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the filling. Pour the milk and vanilla extract into a saucepan and bring to the boil. In the meantime, whisk the rest of the ingredients by hand in a bowl until smooth and well combined.

Once the milk is boiling, remove the pan from the heat and pour 4-5 tablespoons of the mixture from it into the egg yolk mixture to loosen, then add this mixture to the pan of hot milk, stirring well.

Return the pan to the heat and bring to the boil, whisking constantly so that lumps do not form. Boil for at least a minute to make sure that the flour is cooked out completely. Once thickened, tip the custard into a bowl and leave to cool completely for 30-40 minutes.

To make the frosting, use an electric whisk to beat together the icing sugar, cocoa powder and butter at a low speed until it takes on a sandy texture. Add the milk slowly before increasing the speed to high and whisk until the frosting becomes soft and fluffy.

Using a sharp knife, make a hole in the centre of each cupcake about 2cm in diameter and 3cm deep, keeping the scooped-out pieces of sponge. Spoon the custard into the hole in each cake, then replace the sponge lid, trimming it to ensure the top is fairly level.

Smooth the frosting over the tops of the cupcakes with a a palette knife and add a swirl. Sprinkle with grated chocolate to decorate.

DSCF2508

 

Let me know how you get on if you try this recipe!