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!

Click here to pin the recipe for later!

White velvet cake
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 sugarHome-made white velvet cake ingredients
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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
Print
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! Click here or on the image below to pin the recipe for later!

Yellow layer cake recipe | H is for Home

Yellow layer cake with buttercream icing
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
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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
Print
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

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 upside-down cake
Serves 8
Ingredients
  1. 80g/3oz diced unsalted butter and a bit more for greasing
  2. 140g/5oz soft brown sugar
  3. 4-5 stalks rhubarb
  4. 150g/5¼oz caster sugar
  5. 175g/6oz plain flour
  6. 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  7. 150ml/5 fl oz sunflower oil
  8. 2 large eggsHome-made rhubarb upside-down-cake ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  2. Grease a 30cm/12-inch cast iron skillet with a little butter
  3. Scatter the brown sugar and butter over the bottom of the skillet and put it in the oven for 5 minutes
  4. Remove the skillet from the oven and press the raw rhubarb into the melted butter and sugar
  5. Mix the sugar, flour and baking powder in a large bowl
  6. In a measuring jug, beat the vegetable oil and eggs together
  7. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix well
  8. 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
  9. 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
Print
Adapted from The Guardian
Adapted from The Guardian
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.

Pretzel loaf
Yields 1
Ingredients
  1. 500g/17 oz strong bread flour
  2. 1tbsp sugar
  3. 2tsp instant yeast
  4. 1¼tsp salt
  5. 250ml/ 9fl oz full-fat milk
  6. 125ml/ 4½fl oz warm water (blood temperature)
For boiling
  1. 2L water
  2. 3tbsp brown sugar
  3. 2tbsp bicarbonate of soda
For the topping
  1. water in a spray bottle
  2. pretzel salt (I used smoked sea salt flakes)Home-made pretzel loaf ingredients
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Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast
  2. Mix for a couple of seconds on low to combine the dry ingredients
  3. With the mixer on low, carefully pour in the milk and water. Continue mixing on low until you have a smooth, soft, slightly tacky dough
  4. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover with cling film or put it inside a large, clear plastic bag and set aside somewhere warm to rise until doubled in size (about an hour)
  5. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400°F/Gas mark
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface
  8. Lift the dough, gently pull the edge of the dough down and tuck under. Turn the dough a ¼ turn and repeat. Do this until you've formed a cohesive round. Place the round on the clean surface and use your hands to gently turn and tighten the dough down over the surface
  9. Place on the prepared baking sheet, cover with a clean tea towel or length of oiled cling film and allow to rise while the oven preheats
  10. Bring 2 litres of water to a boil in a large stainless steel or other non-reactive pan (enamelled cast-iron, tempered glass etc.)
  11. When the water comes to a boil, add the brown sugar and bicarbonate of soda
  12. Gently lift the loaf and carefully ease the dough - top side down first - into the boiling water
  13. Simmer for about 3 minutes, flip the dough over using two spatulas or slotted spoons and simmer on that side for another 2 minutes
  14. Use the two spatulas or slotted spoons to carefully lift the dough out of the water and transfer back over to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  15. Spritz the loaf with water and sprinkle with the coarse salt
  16. Using a lamé or a sharp knife, slice along the contours of the bread about ½cm/¼-inch thick.
  17. Bake for 35 minutes or until deep brown
  18. Transfer the loaf to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before slicing
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Adapted from Foodie with Family
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!

Bakewell tart
For the pastry
  1. 425g/15oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  2. 1 egg, beaten
  3. 2 egg yolks
  4. 250g/9oz unsalted butter
  5. 100g/3½oz caster sugar
  6. ½ tsp salt
  7. 50g/2oz ground almonds
For the filling
  1. 400g/14oz ground almonds
  2. 175g/6oz caster sugar
  3. 8 eggs, beaten
  4. ½ tsp almond essence
  5. 3 tbs raspberry jam
  6. 50g/2oz flaked almondsBakewell tart ingredients
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For the pastry
  1. In a food processor, add the flour, salt, sugar, butter and almonds and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
  2. Add the eggs & yolks one at a time and pulse until a smooth dough is formed
  3. Bring the dough together into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for half an hour
  4. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/360ºF/Gas mark 4
  5. Grease & flour a 23cm/9in loose-bottomed tart tin
  6. Unwrap the chilled pastry and roll out onto a cold, floured work surface (this is a very 'short' pastry and at first will be difficult to handle)
  7. Line the tart tin with the pastry and trim off any excess. Prick the base with a fork, then cover the pastry lightly with a round of baking parchment. Cover the parchment with baking beans (I use dried chickpeas) put into the oven to bake blind for 15 minutes
  8. Remove the pastry base from the oven, pour out the baking beans (or chickpeas) remove the baking parchment and set aside to cool. If the base is still a little underdone, return it to the oven for a minute or two to dry out
  9. Reduce the oven temperature to 165ºC/330ºF/Gas mark 2
For the filling
  1. Put the ground almonds and caster sugar into a bowl and combine
  2. Add the beaten eggs and almond essence and combine well
  3. Once the tart pastry base has cooled, spread a generous layer of raspberry jam onto the bottom
  4. Pour the filling mixture over the raspberry jam to fill the pastry case almost to the top
  5. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is baked through and golden-brown all over
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve warm or cold
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/