Cakes & Bakes: Chocolate and beetroot cake

Slice of home-made chocolate and beetroot cake | H is for Home

We’re still in the throes of our love affair with the humble beetroot! The two previous recipes we shared here were savoury bread products. Today it’s a chocolate and beetroot cake.

Grating fresh beetroot | H is for Home

I borrowed a recipe from Jamie Oliver – it’s a ‘healthy eating’ one that he devised for cooking with children.

Melting chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of water | H is for Home

Instead of flour, it contains ground almonds and there’s a minimal amount of sugar as the beetroot gives sweetness.

Separated egg yolks, grated beetroot and dry ingredients | H is for Home

The beetroot also gives it a deep and slightly earthy flavour – and works surprisingly well with chocolate.

Chocolate and beetroot cake batter in a loose-bottom cake tin | H is for Home

It doesn’t have a light and airy consistency, it’s more like brownie than sponge cake – even with carefully folding in the egg whites…

Cooked chocolate and beetroot cake cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

…not that I’m complaining – it was really, really good!

Home-made chocolate and beetroot cake with chocolate drizzled over the top | H is for Home

If you have kids (or even adults!) that won’t eat their vegetables – this is a wonderfully clandestine way of sneaking some into their diet!

Click here to save the recipe to Pinterest for later!

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!

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!

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

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.

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.