I’ve made & posted a version of red velvet cake on the blog before. Today, I’ve used an alternative recipe to produce a natural red velvet layer cake.
I’ve done a lot of research into getting that bright red colour naturally. Beetroot powder instead of red food colouring and un-dutched cocoa powder instead of the usual alkalised type found more usually in the shops.
You see, this cake is all about chemistry. It’s the pH magic that’s created when the acid of the non-alkaline cocoa powder, the buttermilk and the vinegar are introduced to the bicarbonate of soda. As an aside, our local supermarket was out of buttermilk so I had to make my own. It’s really simple and a good tip to remember. Add a tablespoonful of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup (235ml/8⅓fl oz) of milk, allow to stand for 5 minutes – there’s your home-made buttermilk!
The cake wasn’t the radioactive shade of red that you get when using food colouring. I think I’d add a little bit more beetroot powder next time to get a slightly redder shade however – my natural red velvet recipe is work in progress! Some people comment on an ‘earthy’ taste to their cake when using beetroot, but I can’t say I noticed any. A delicious taste was detected that’s for sure!
- 200g/7oz unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
- 420g/15oz plain flour
- 75g/2¾oz cocoa powder
- 50g/1¾oz beetroot powder
- 375g/13oz golden caster sugar
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1½tsp vanilla extract
- 335ml/11¾ fl oz buttermilk
- 1½tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1½tsp white distilled vinegar
- 75g/2¾oz unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 450g/1lb icing sugar
- 190g/6¾oz full-fat cream cheese, chilled
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
- Grease 4 x 20cm sandwich tins and line with baking parchment
- Combine the flour, cocoa and beetroot powder in a large bowl and set aside
- In another large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together
- Slowly whisk in the beaten eggs, then the vanilla extract
- Start adding the flour mixture to the butter mixture in batches, whisking well but slowly after each addition
- Add the buttermilk and stir until smooth
- Working quickly, combine the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar in a small bowl, then fold it into the cake mixture
- Once incorporated, divide the batter between the prepared cake tins
- Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean
- Remove and cool slightly in the tin before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely
- Trim the cakes so they're level
- Rub the butter into the icing sugar to resemble fine breadcrumbs
- Add the chilled cream cheese and beat until smooth
- Stir in the vanilla extract
- Fit a large piping bag with a plain nozzle and fill with the frosting
- Place the first cake on a cake stand or plate and pipe large pearls of frosting on the top, starting at the outside and working your way inwards
- Top with the next layer of cake and repeat until all the layers are lined up and the top is fully decorated with frosting
We’ve just about made our way through last week’s mammoth sourdough coffee chocolate cake. This week, Justin has requested another afternoon tea cake – so I’ve obliged with this Swedish almond cake… one of his favourite flavours!
I came across the loaf cake on the food blog, BakingBar. It’s a family recipe, passed down by David’s grandma.
I only made a couple of little tweaks to the original recipe; I omitted the ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon, added a sprinkling of flaked almonds and divided the batter into two, smaller loaf tins.
As they baked, the smell of almond wafted through the house – I could barely wait for them to be taken out of the oven before I was ready to slice and devour!
Do sit tight and be patient though, allowing the loaf to cool for half an hour or so really does make all the difference. Brew yourself a lovely cup of tea, cut a couple of slices, take a set, put your feet up and tuck in!
- 280g/10oz caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 160ml/5⅔ fl oz milk
- 1½tsp almond extract
- 150g/5¼oz plain flour
- 115g/4oz butter, melted
- ½tsp baking powder
- 30g/1oz flaked almonds
- Preheat the oven to 175ºC/ºF/Gas mark
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg
- Beat in the milk a little at a time
- Beat in the almond extract
- In a separate, medium-sized mixing bowl sieve together the flour and baking powder
- Add the dry mixture to the wet and combine
- Fold the melted butter into the batter
- Pour the batter equally into two greased & lined 500g/18oz loaf tins
- Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top of both
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes away clean
- Remove from the oven and allow the loaves to cool on their tins for 20 minutes
- Dredge with icing sugar, cut into slices and serve
We planted a rhubarb crown in a dolly tub in our garden about 3 years ago. Gardening/allotment experts say you should allow a young plant at least a year without harvesting to encourage vigour. We’ve finally felt able to pick a few stalks this year.
I’d normally use it to make a crumble however, I’ve never made a rhubarb upside-down cake before and thought it would go down a treat.
I tweaked a recipe I found on the Guardian website. The results were so delicious, I’m already planning on reusing the recipe to make a pear upside-down cake next week.
I love the pretty patterns that you can make with fruit on the ‘top’ of upside-down cakes.
The cake batter is one of the easiest I’ve ever thrown together. It calls for vegetable oil instead of butter, a couple of eggs, caster sugar, flour and baking powder – just mix the wet into the dry ingredients. It takes all of about 3 minutes!
The soft brown sugar and butter in the base of the skillet came together to form the most wonderful, chewy caramelised edges.
It was lovely with a little pouring cream but it would be equally good – hot or room temperature – with vanilla ice cream or on its own.
- 80g/3oz diced unsalted butter and a bit more for greasing
- 140g/5oz soft brown sugar
- 4-5 stalks rhubarb
- 150g/5¼oz caster sugar
- 175g/6oz plain flour
- 1 heaped tsp baking powder
- 150ml/5 fl oz sunflower oil
- 2 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
- Grease a 30cm/12-inch cast iron skillet with a little butter
- Scatter the brown sugar and butter over the bottom of the skillet and put it in the oven for 5 minutes
- Remove the skillet from the oven and press the raw rhubarb into the melted butter and sugar
- Mix the sugar, flour and baking powder in a large bowl
- In a measuring jug, beat the vegetable oil and eggs together
- Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix well
- Pour the batter over the rhubarb in the skillet and return the pan to the oven for about 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes away clean
- Allow the cake to cool in the skillet on the top of the stove before running a sharp knife around the rim and carefully turning the pan upside down on to a plate
Never have I baked a cake that is more perfect for tea-time! As its name suggests, this Earl Grey tea and lemon cake is infused with oil of bergamot and drizzled with a lemon icing.
You begin by steeping Earl Grey tea in hot milk. We used a lovely loose leaf tea from Fortnum & Mason however Earl Grey teabags will suffice.
The recipe I used was by ex-Bake Off contestant, Urvashi Roe and it was originally for mini loaf cakes. I don’t have any mini loaf tins (yet!), so I used a single 500g/1lb loaf tin and upped the cook time to an hour.
I know that ‘lemony’ cakes often top the charts when it comes to people’s favourites (Justin included), but personally I’m not the biggest fan of lemon flavour – however, a little drizzle of the icing I could handle! I suppose I could supplement the lemon juice and zest with a little of my home-made elderflower cordial.
Teaming this cake with a cup of Earl Grey or full-bodied Darjeeling or Assam is tea-time heaven!
- 125ml/4½fl oz milk
- 4 tsp loose Earl Grey tea (or 4 tea bags)
- 115g/4oz butter, softened
- 225g/8oz caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 125g/4½oz self-raising flour
- 125g/4½oz plain flour
- ½ lemon, juice & zest
- 200g/7oz icing sugar
- Place the milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and immerse the Earl Grey tea in the hot milk. Cover the pan and set aside for 40 minutes to allow the tea to steep
- Strain the liquid from the leaves (or squeeze the liquid out of the teabags) and set the liquid aside to cool some more
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/355ºF/Gas mark 4. Grease and line a 500g/1lb loaf tin with baking parchment
- Cream together the butter and sugar using an electric whisk or free standing mixer with a paddle attachment. It takes a while - about 10 minutes and you'll need to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time
- Once the mixture is light & fluffy, add the eggs one by one and mix well. Add half the flour and half of the tea-infused milk and mix until combined. Add the rest of the flour and milk and mix until there are no traces of flour in the bowl
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared loaf tin
- Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
- Allow to cool in its tin on a wire rack
- Mix the lemon juice, zest and icing sugar together into a smooth paste. It should be quite gloopy so it doesn't dribble too much down the sides (though a little dribble is okay)
- Pour over the loaf and leave the icing to set for about 30 minutes
The first bag of Agen prunes I bought didn’t last me very long at all. I ate three a day, every day, from the day they arrived. I also used a handful or so of them in a prune and Armagnac tart. I’ve reordered the prunes from Amazon and this week and have made a prune and almond fruitcake; something a bit different to the traditional ones made using raisins, currants, sultanas and candied peel.
Justin, once again, requested an afternoon fruitcake to accompany a cup of tea. He likes to stop work for a short break about 3pm before charging back into his daily chores!
I had about 100 grams of marzipan leftover from my recent batch of simnel cupcakes so I sliced it into little cubes and spooned it through the cake mixture; a deliciously successful addition!
As with most fruitcakes, if you can resist the temptation of slicing and eating it straight-away, the texture and flavour improves if left for a day or two.
- 115g butter, softened
- 115g soft brown sugar
- 2 eggs, whisked slightly
- 175g self-raising flour
- ¼tsp almond extract
- 200g pitted prunes
- 1tbsp flaked almonds
- Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas mark 3
- Grease a deep 18cm/7-in spring-form or loose-bottomed round cake tin and line base & sides with baking parchment
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
- Pour the eggs over the mixture, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Add a tablespoonful of the flour between each addition to help prevent the mixture curdling
- Mix in the almond extract
- Fold in the rest of the self-raising flour and combine well
- Gently fold the prunes, stirring with a wooden spoon until well distributed through the mixture
- Spoon the mixture into the tin and level off the top with the back of the spoon
- Sprinkle the top with the flaked almonds
- Bake for 1&frac;12 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
- Once done, remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in its tin
- Store in an airtight lidded cake tin or plastic tub
A simnel cake is a fruit cake with a middle layer of marzipan and another layer on the top. Since Victorian times, the cake has been decorated with 11 or 12 little balls of marzipan. It was traditionally eaten on the middle Sunday of Lent – the 12 balls representing Christ and his 11 apostles (minus the 12th, Judas).
I have a confession to make, I’d never actually eaten a simnel cake until I made these. What have I been waiting for? They’re easy to make from scratch and are delicious! The idea of cooking them in used food tins is ingenious. A word of caution, however, try not to use ring-pull tins. They have a lip at the top that makes it difficult to ease the cake out after baking. I had to open the other end of the tin to get them out!
Even though I used small tins (150g Morrison’s own brand sweetcorn… around the size of small Heinz baked beans ones), we shared half a cake each.
- 150g/5oz ground almonds
- 200g/7oz icing sugar + extra for rolling
- 2tsp almond extract
- 1 egg white
- 115g/4oz butter, softened
- 115g/4oz caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 125g/4½oz self-raising flour
- 300g/10½oz mixed dried fruit ( any of currants, raisins, sultanas, mixed peel, glacé cherries)
- 1tsp mixed spice (I didn't have any, so I made my own mixture)
- 4tbsp apricot jam (I used some home-made plum jam)
- cocoa powder, for dusting
- Put the ground almonds, icing sugar, almond extract and egg white into a food processor and combine until a thick ball of dough is formed
- Turn the paste out onto a work surface and knead it a few times. Roll it into a log and wrap in cling film until the cake mixture has been made
- Any unused marzipan will keep for a month in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer
- Pre-heat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas mark 2. Line the base and sides of each tin with baking parchment
- Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy
- Add one of the eggs and combine until well mixed. Add the other egg with 1 tbsp of flour and mix again
- Stir in the rest of the four and all of the dried fruit
- Liberally sprinkle some icing sugar on a work surface and roll out the marzipan. Cut out 8 circles about ½cm thick and the same diameter as the tins
- Divide half the cake mixture between the tins and level the tops. Put a marzipan rounds on top of each and cover with the rest of the cake mixture
- Bake for an hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes away clean
- Allow the cakes to cool in their for 15 minutes before remove them to cool completely on a wire rack
- Trim the top of each cake with a sharp knife to make them flat
- Heat the jam and brush on the top of each cakes before cover each with the remaining marzipan rounds
- Make 36 mini balls with the remaining marzipan. Put 9 balls around the edge of each cake, using a little brush of jam to stick them in place
- Lightly sprinkle with cocoa powder