Cakes & Bakes: White velvet cake with creamy mascarpone frosting

Slice of home-made white velvet cake with creamy mascarpone frosting | H is for Home

My chicken-sitting ended yesterday, I really enjoyed looking after them, they’re all such characters. During my 10 days of fostering, we must have got almost 100 eggs! We gave a few away and ate loads of omelettes, French toast and plenty of fried/boiled/poached eggs.

Baked white velvet cakes in their tins | H is for Home

Last week, I made a delicious all-yolk layer cake and, as promised, this week it’s an all whites one. It’s Rose Levy Beranbaum’s white velvet cake. Sometimes with this type of recipe, what you’re trying to achieve is a cake as white as pure, fresh snow. If that’s the case, you can make a few minor adjustments to the original cake recipe below.

Home-made white velvet cake with creamy mascarpone frosting | H is for Home

Instead of using vanilla extract, use white caster sugar that has been stored in an airtight jar along with a split vanilla pod for a few weeks so that the flavour infuses. Some people swear by the use of shortening such as Stork which gives less colour than butter. Other people who care more about the taste than the colour say that butter is far superior.

Have a look at the pair of YouTube videos below the recipe where Rose herself shows us how it’s done!

White velvet cake
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Cook Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
For the cake
  1. 4½ large egg whites
  2. 240ml/8½ fl oz milk
  3. 2¼tsp vanilla extract
  4. 300g/10½oz bleached cake flour*, sifted
  5. 300g/10½oz caster sugar
  6. 1tbsp + 1tsp baking powder
  7. ¼tsp salt
  8. 170g/6oz butter, softened
For the frosting
  1. 275ml/9¾ fl oz whipping cream
  2. 225g/8oz mascarpone
  3. 125g/4½oz icing sugar
  4.  
  5. Home-made white velvet cake ingredients
  6.  
For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350°F/Gas mark 4
  2. Grease two 23cm x 4cm (9-in x 1½-in) cake tins, line the bottoms with parchment paper, then grease again and flour
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, lightly combine the egg whites, ¼ of the milk and vanilla extract
  4. In a large mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend
  5. Add the butter and remaining ¾ of the milk. Mix on a low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened
  6. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1½ minutes to aerate and develop the cake's structure
  7. Scrape down the sides
  8. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure
  9. Scrape down the sides again
  10. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans should be about half full
  11. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted near the centre comes away clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the centre. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven
  12. Allow the cakes cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes
  13. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto two other greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, flip over again so that the tops face up. Allow to cool completely before frosting
For the frosting
  1. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk the whipping cream until stiff peaks form (be careful not to overbeat, or the cream will become grainy)
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and icing sugar until smooth
  3. Gently fold the whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated
  4. Use immediately to frost the top of one cake
  5. Place the other cake on top of the first and frost the top & sides
Notes
  1. *If like me you're based in the UK and find it hard to find bleached cake flour in the shops, have a look at Kate Coldrick's meticulous method to make your own version
Adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cakes
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/
part I
 
part II

Cakes & Bakes: Yellow layer cake with buttercream icing

Slice of home-made yellow layer cake | H is for Home

Our neighbours have gone on holiday this week and have asked me to look after their chickens again. They have about twice as many chickens as they did last time… so that means twice as many eggs every day.

Separated eggs | H is for Home

I’ve been looking into recipes where you use lots of just yolks and just whites – as I don’t like to waste half the eggs. I found a couple of recipes by Rose Levy Beranbaum that fit the bill. I’ll be attempting her favourite yellow layer cake this week.

Flour, butter & sugar in a food mixer bowl | H is for Home

I decided to make the yolks-only cake first as I discovered, on my online travels, that egg whites can be easily and successfully frozen for use at a later date. Yolks take a little more effort. The yellow layer cake I made today – as you’ve probably deduced – uses just egg yolks.

Yellow layer cake batter in an orange vintage Kenwood food mixer | H is for Home

It also uses bleached cake flour, something you don’t tend to find in supermarkets here in the UK. I took a lengthy detour on the website of Rose’s Devon-based friend, Kate Coldrick, who shows you in great detail how to make your own substitute.

Yellow layer cake batter in a round baking tin | H is for Home Yellow layer cake cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

I followed both Rose’s and Kate’s instructions almost to the letter, hoping that I’d produce a cake like never before.

Yellow layer cake sliced in half horizontally | H is for Home Yellow layer cake with buttercream icing in the centre and on the top | H is for Home

The sponge was light & airy and the texture was crumbly. I teamed it with a vanilla buttercream icing which complements, not overpowers the flavour.

Detail of a yellow layer cake with buttercream icing | H is for home

Stay tuned next week Thursday for my egg white recipe!

Yellow layer cake with buttercream icing
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Cook Time
35 min
Cook Time
35 min
For the cake
  1. 4 large egg yolks
  2. 160g/5½oz sour cream
  3. 1½tsp vanilla extract
  4. 200g/7oz bleached cake flour*
  5. ½tsp baking powder
  6. ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  7. 200g/7oz caster sugar
  8. ¼tsp salt
  9. 170g/6oz butter, softened
For the icing
  1. 250g/9oz butter, softened
  2. ½tsp vanilla extract
  3. 300g/10½oz icing sugar
  4. 1tbsp milk
For the cake
  1. Grease a 23cm/9-inch spring-form cake tin then line it with parchment paper
  2. 20 minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 175ºC/350°F/Gas mark 4
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, lightly combine the yolks, about ¼ of the sour cream and the vanilla
  4. In a stand mixer bowl, with paddle attachment, combine the cake flour, caster sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt
  5. Mix on a low speed for 30 seconds to blend
  6. Add the butter and the remaining sour cream and mix on a low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened
  7. Increase to medium speed, or high speed if using a hand held mixer and beat for 1 minute to aerate and develop the structure
  8. Scrape down the sides
  9. Gradually add the egg mixture in 2 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition until fully incorporated
  10. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the surface. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes away clean and it springs back when pressed lightly in the centre
  11. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes
  12. Loosen the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula, and remove the sides of the spring-form tin
  13. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and flip it again onto a second rack it so that the top faces up
  14. Allow to cool completely before slicing in half horizontally and icing the middle and top
For the icing
  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and vanilla essence
  2. Blend in the icing sugar, a quarter at a time, beating well after each addition
  3. Beat in the milk and continue mixing until light and fluffy
  4. Keep the icing covered until ready to use
Notes
  1. *If like me you're based in the UK and find it hard to find bleached cake flour in the shops, have a look at Kate Coldrick's meticulous method to make your own version
Adapted from The Baking Bible
Adapted from The Baking Bible
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Double espresso brazil nut cake

Slice of home-made double espresso brazil nut cake and double espresso in vintage 'Black Velvet' china | H is for Home

We’ve been enjoying a very successful British summer of sport so far with Andy Murray winning Wimbledon (and Heather Watson the mixed doubles), Danny Willett taking the golf US Masters title and Chris Froome dominating the Tour de France. The England cricket team have been performing well, Lewis Hamilton leads the Formula One championship… and our Olympic prospects are looking bright.

Boiling milk and coffee in a saucepan | H is for Home

Chopped brazil nuts | H is for Home

What could we incorporate into this week’s Cakes & Bakes to mark the start of the afore mentioned Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro? Why brazil nuts of course!

Double espresso brazil nut cake mixture in a pair of round cake tins | H is for Home

Cooked double espresso brazil nut cake layers cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

I trawled all my cook books and the internet and eventually found Dan Lepard’s double espresso brazil nut cake recipe in the Guardian website’s Food & drink section. If you’re a fan of coffee & walnut cake, you’ll love this!

Making the sandwich filling for the double espresso brazil nut cake | H is for Home

Chocolate icing filling ingredients | H is for Home

His instructions call for a coffee water icing but I found a chocolate filling that I fancied (from my Little Books of Delight: Chocolate Cakes), so I combined the two together. I also added some whole and chopped brazil nuts to garnish the top. Serve it with a double espresso, what else?!

Iced & decorated double espresso brazil nut cake | H is for Home

Double espresso brazil nut cake
Serves 8
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For the cake
  1. 100ml/3½fl oz milk
  2. 2 level tsps instant coffee
  3. 1 tbsp fine-ground roasted coffee beans
  4. 175g/7oz butter, softened
  5. 100g/4oz light soft brown sugar
  6. 100g/4oz caster sugar
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 100g/4oz plain flour
  9. 100g/4oz spelt, rye or wholemeal flour
  10. 2 level tsps baking powder
  11. 75g/3oz brazil nuts, finely chopped
For the chocolate cream filling
  1. 100g/4oz butter
  2. 25g/1oz cornflour
  3. 25g/1oz cocoa powder
  4. 300ml/½pt milk
  5. 50g/2oz dark chocolate
  6. 100g/4oz caster sugar
  7. 8 whole brazil nuts
  8. 10g/⅓oz chopped brazil nuts
  9.  
  10. Home-made double espresso brazil nut cake ingredients
  11.  
For the cake
  1. Butter two 20cm Victoria sponge tins and line the bases with discs of non-stick baking paper
  2. Combine the milk, instant coffee and ground coffee in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave until warm
  3. Beat the butter, brown sugar and caster sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time
  4. Beat in the coffee mixture until evenly combined
  5. Sift the two flours and baking powder together two or three times, then beat this through with the chopped brazil nuts
  6. Divide the mixture equally between the tins, heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4 and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes
  8. Remove from the cake tins and cool completely on a wire rack
For the filling
  1. Cream the butter until light and fluffy
  2. Mix the cornflour and cocoa with enough milk to make a smooth paste
  3. Put the chocolate and remaining milk into a saucepan and bring to the boil
  4. Pour on to the cornflour and cocoa mixture
  5. Return to the pan and simmer for at least 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the sugar and continue to simmer until the mixture reaches the consistency of a thick custard
  6. Cool, then gradually beat the custard into the butter
  7. Use some of the filling to sandwich the two cake layers together before using the rest to cover the top and sides
  8. Decorate with the whole and chopped brazil nuts
Adapted from The Guardian: Food & drink
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Rhubarb and custard tart

Home-made rhubarb and custard tart | H is for Home

One of the things that Todmorden is famous for is Incredible Edible, a group of local people who have started something of a revolution, growing food in public places in & around the town centre.

Incredible Edible rhubarb, peas, onions and chives growing in Todmorden Train Station car park

There are vegetables outside the police station and local community college, herbs along the canal tow-path and in the train station and an apothecary garden in the grounds of the health centre.

Stalks of rhubarb with metal colander

Everything is free for anyone to come along and help themselves – or even do a little weeding and clearing if the fancy takes them!

Measuring jug with eggs, custard powder and vanilla essence

The train station is on one of our daily dog-walking routes and it’s been lovely watching the progress of the peas, red onions, chives and the like.

Making custard

This week, along with the dog, I left the house with a pair of scissors and a carrier bag and cut a few stems of rhubarb – to use in a rhubarb and custard tart.

Pouring custard on tart pastry base

Rhubarb & custard is a classic British combination as is baked custard tart. I’ve put them together and come up with a delicious dessert.

Sticks of rhubarb in custard

I used the same pastry recipe as last week’s pear tart and made sure to add a tad more sugar than normal to the custard recipe… and a tablespoonful of Bird’s Custard Powder.

Home-made rhubarb and custard tart | H is for Home

The sweetness of the custard and the tartness of the rhubarb worked incredibly well – I’ll be making this one again before the end of the rhubarb season.

Rhubarb and custard tart
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Cook Time
40 min
Cook Time
40 min
For the pastry base
  1. 200g/7oz plain flour
  2. 60g/2oz icing sugar
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 125g/4½oz very cold butter
  5. 1 egg yolk
For the custard
  1. 400ml/14 fl oz double cream
  2. 100ml/3½ fl oz creamy milk
  3. 2 eggs, plus 2 yolks
  4. 100g/3½oz caster sugar
  5. 1tbsp custard powder
  6. 1tsp vanilla essence
  7.  
  8. Home-made fat rascals ingredients
  9.  
For the pastry base
  1. Put the flour, icing sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine
  2. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely - you'll have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pea-size pieces and that's just fine
  3. Stir the egg, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition
  4. When the egg is in, process in long pulses - about 10 seconds each - until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds
  5. Just before your pastry reaches this clumpy stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change, so listen out
  6. Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Very lightly and sparingly - make that very, very lightly and sparingly - knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing
  7. Butter the tart tin and press the dough evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the tin. Don't be stingy - you want a crust with a little heft because you want to be able to both taste and feel it. Also, don't be too heavy-handed - you want to press the crust in so that the pieces cling to one another and knit together when baked, but you don't want to press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly shortbread-ish texture
  8. Freeze the pastry for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking
  9. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/375ºF/Gas mark 4
  10. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminium foil and fit the foil tightly against the pastry
  11. Bake the pastry for 25 minutes, then carefully remove the foil. If the pastry has puffed up, press it down gently with the back of a spoon
  12. Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer the pastry case to a cooling rack; keeping it in its tin
For the custard
  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, slowly bring the cream and milk to a simmer
  2. In a large, heat-proof measuring jug, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar, custard powder and vanilla essence
  3. Pour the hot cream & milk mixture into the bowl, whisking continuously
  4. Carefully strain the custard on to the cooked pastry base (don't overfill)
  5. Slice the rhubarb into lengths and place into a pattern in the custard
  6. Carefully put the tart tin into the oven (rearrange the rhubarb lengths if they drift in the liquid during the move!)
  7. Bake for 40 minutes or until the top begins to brown
  8. Remove from the oven, sprinkle a little granulated sugar over the top and allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing and serving
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Fat rascals

Home-made fat rascals and mug of tea | H is for Home

We were in Ilkley today – collecting items from auction and having a mooch around the charity shops.

flour and cubes of butter in a mixing bowl

We wandered passed Betty’s Tea Rooms, but didn’t go in – the breads and cakes in the window certainly looked good though.

Adding milk to fat rascal dough | H is for Home

Fat rascals are a famous offering from this establishment – and I decided to rustle up a batch when we got home. They’re quick and easy, so a perfect bake if you’re pushed for time (which I was if I wanted to get my Thursday recipe made, baked, photographed and written up in a couple of hours before posting in the evening.

fat rascals dough rolled and sliced | H is for Home

I used a traditional fat rascals recipe from Old Yorkshire Recipes by Joan Poulson (which you can get on Amazon for a penny!). It contained very sketchy instructions, so I checked some of my other recipe books. I found the exact recipe, with the exact, same instructions in Mary Hanson Moore’s A Yorkshire Cookbook. Even though Betty’s and Taylors of Harrogate trademarked the name ‘Fat Rascal’ in the 1980s, the pastries have actually been in existence since the 18th century at the latest.

Uncooked fat rascals on a baking sheet | H is for Home

We love this humble little bake – a bit soft biscuit, a bit rock cake, a bit scone. The Betty’s version is bigger and fancier with its cherry and almond decoration. My fat rascals have a simple sprinkle of sugar.

Home-made fat rascals cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

They’re absolutely perfect with a cup of tea – we found that eating them just very slightly warm with cold butter was our absolute favourite, but all manner of preserves would work well too.

Fat rascals
Yields 24
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Cook Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 300g/10½oz plain flour
  2. 150g/5¼oz butter, chilled
  3. 75g/2⅔oz currants
  4. 37g/1⅓oz brown sugar
  5. pinch of salt
  6. 100ml/3½ fl oz milk
  7.  
  8. Home-made fat rascals ingredients
  9.  
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6
  2. In a large mixing bowl, rub the butter into the flour
  3. Add the currants, sugar and salt
  4. Mix in the milk, enough to make a slack dough
  5. Roll out to ½" thick, cut into rounds and dust with icing sugar (I think caster sugar worked better)
  6. Put on to the greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned
Notes
  1. Gorgeous served still warm with butter and fruit jam!
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Custard Cream cupcakes

Custard Cream cupcakes | H is for Home

I saw a photo of Custard Cream cupcakes on Pinterest last week and just had to try them out. I found the recipe on the Jane’s Patisserie blog.

Custard Cream cupcake dough | H is for Home

I haven’t made cupcakes in absolute ages, so they made a lovely change this week.

Custard Cream cupcakes before putting them in to cook | H is for Home

The addition of Bird’s Custard Powder to the batter mix instead of vanilla essence made it taste like a Custard Cream in cupcake form! They’re perfect for an afternoon snack with a tea or coffee – and great for kids’ parties too.

Custard Cream cupcakes before topping with buttercream | H is for Home

I think I may try a similar thing soon, next time with Chocolate Bourbons or Oreos – they’re just such fun!

Custard Cream cupcakes
Yields 30
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Cook Time
18 min
Cook Time
18 min
For the cake
  1. 225g/8oz butter
  2. 225g/8oz caster sugar
  3. 4 eggs, beaten
  4. 200g/7oz self raising flour
  5. ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  6. 100g/3½oz custard powder
  7. 50ml/2fl oz milk
For the buttercream
  1. 200g/7oz butter, softened
  2. 400g/14oz icing sugar, sieved
  3. ½tsp vanilla extract
  4. 1-3tbsp milk
To decorate
  1. chocolate sprinkles
  2. Custard Creams
  3.  
  4. Home-made Custard Cream cupcake ingredients
  5.  
For the cake
  1. Preheat your oven to 180ºC/ºF/ Gas mark
  2. Line a muffin tray with 12-15 cupcake/muffin cases
  3. With a food processor or hand-held electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy Slowly add the beaten eggs, mixing continuously
  4. Sieve together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and custard powder before adding to the butter/sugar/egg mixture
  5. Add the milk one tablespoon at a time until the mixture becomes smooth
  6. Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases evenly (about ⅔ full) and bake for 15-18 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
  7. Remove from the muffin tray and leave to cool on a wire rack
  8. If you have leftover cake batter, repeat instructions 6 & 7
For the buttercream
  1. Beat the butter until smooth and gradually add the icing sugar stirring all the time
  2. Add the vanilla extract and the milk until your desired consistency
  3. Whisk again for 3-4 minutes until light & fluffy
  4. Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag, affix a piping tip, and decorate each cupcake with a swirl
  5. Scatter a little chocolate sprinkles
  6. Top each with a Custard Cream at a jaunty angle!
Notes
  1. Best eaten on the day. You can bake the cupcakes in advance, only decorating with buttercream and Custard Creams at the last minute.
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/