Posts Tagged ‘hearts’

Cakes & Bakes: Red velvet cake

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

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slice of red velvet cake with cup of tea | H is for Home

 For ages I’ve admired all the images of red velvet cakes that show up in my Pinterest stream. The cakes, which are an American phenomenon, look amazing but I had no idea what they tasted like.

unpacking red velvet cake with cup of tea | H is for Home

When we were sent these heart-themed baking accessories by Meincupcake, I decided that the day had arrived for me to embark upon my red velvet cake challenge!

red velvet cake with cup of tea | H is for Home

As far as I could tell from the photos I’d seen, most red velvet cakes adhere to certain rules; layers, cream cheese frosting and a propensity towards flamboyance!

red velvet cake dry ingredients | H is for Home

I need to point out, I used the Rowntree cocoa that I already happened to have in the store cupboard. It was Dutch processed, meaning that during production, it has been ‘alkalised’ to give it a smoother flavour. I could tell by looking at it that it had been processed because it’s quite dark brown. Unprocessed cocoa is often referred to as cacao and is much lighter in colour.

red velvet cake wet ingredients | H is for Home

Unprocessed cocoa is called for in the recipe (although it’s not absolutely necessary) as all kinds of alchemy are involved in the making of the cake! The cocoa, buttermilk, baking soda and vinegar all commingle to produce the most moist, light, heavenly cake you’ve ever tasted – with the brightest, reddest crumb!

adding food colouring to red velvet cake batter | H is for Home

Now that I’ve got the Dutched versus un-Dutched details out of the way, let’s get on to the business of cake-making!

adding buttermilk to red velvet cake batter | H is for Home

As I mentioned before, there’s a lot of science involved in making red velvet so the order in which the ingredients get added really makes a difference.

folding in egg whites to red velvet cake batter | H is for Home

The buttermilk and the vinegar add acidity to the mix producing a bubbly chemical reaction with the alkaline baking powder and helping make the red colour really bright.

folding in egg whites to red velvet cake batter | H is for Home

The eggs are separated and the egg whites whipped into peaks and folded in gently at the end to add even more lightness to the sponge.

red velvet cake batter in heart-shaped cake tins | H is for Home

I think I mentioned previously that big cakes are just too much for just the two of us (even with me being a greedy cake eater!). So, instead of making a 4-tiered cake, I made a large 2-tier and a smaller 2-tier cake, giving one of the cakes away to friends.

cooked red velvet cakes in heart-shaped cake tins | H is for Home

I wanted to use both my newly-acquired accessories in this recipe, so I thought I’d use the pastry cutters to make red, heart-shaped shortbread biscuits to adorn the cake.

making red, heart-shaped shortbread biscuits | H is for Home

 I love cream cheese frosting, especially on carrot cake. Next time though, I’ll tweak the recipe so the mixture is firmer and less runny.

making cream cheese frosting | H is for Home

It’s delicious either way, but when it’s firmer you’re able to pipe the frosting on the top and have a thicker layer of it in the middle.

frosted & decorated red velvet cake with cup of tea | H is for Home

The resulting cake was so MASSIVE, we didn’t have a big enough plate to hold it!

detail of frosted & decorated red velvet cake with cup of tea | H is for Home

I think I remained very restrained with my cake embellishments – I was considering red edible glitter, hundreds & thousands… in the end, I just studded it with a few little chocolate beans.
frosted & decorated red velvet cake with cup of tea | H is for Home
I’m really happy with my first attempt and can’t wait to have another go!

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Red velvet cake
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for the cake mixture
  1. 475ml/16fl oz vegetable oil
  2. 3 large eggs, separated
  3. 1½tsp vanilla essence
  4. 6tbs red food colouring
  5. 450g/15½oz granulated sugar
  6. 440g/15½oz self raising flour
  7. 60g/2oz cocoa powder (preferably not Dutch processed)
  8. 1½ tsp salt
  9. 250g buttermilk
  10. 2tsp baking soda
  11. 2½tsp white vinegar
for the frosting
  1. 280g/10oz cream cheese
  2. 125g/4½oz butter, softened
  3. 250g/9oz icing sugar (sifted to remove any lumps)
  4. 2tsp vanilla essence
for the shortbread
  1. 125g/4oz butter
  2. 55g/2oz caster sugar
  3. 180g/6oz plain flour
  4. 1tsp red food colouring
to decorate
  1. chocolate beans, glimmer sprinkles or heart confetti (all completely optional!)
for the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/ºF/Gas mark 4
  2. Grease cake tins well (I used the 25½cm/10-inch and 30½/12-inch heart-shaped cake tins)
  3. Separate the eggs and set aside
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the vegetable oil and sugar until dissolved
  5. Mix in the egg yolks before carefully adding the food colouring (you don't want to splash red all over yourself!)
  6. In another mixing bowl, combine the flour cocoa powder and salt
  7. Add these dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two batches, alternating with adding the buttermilk
  8. Using an electric mixer in yet another mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed. Set aside
  9. In a small bowl or teacup, mix the baking powder and vinegar
  10. Add to the batter
  11. Carefully fold the egg whites into the batter
  12. Divide the batter between the cake tins
  13. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes away clean
  14. Allow to cool completely in the tins
  15. Carefully remove from the tins and slice each cake in half horizontally using a large serrated knife (like a bread knife)
for the frosting
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and cream cheese
  2. Gradually add the icing sugar until completely mixed in
  3. Cover with cling-film and keep refrigerated until you're ready to use
for the shortbread biscuits
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar and food colouring together until smooth
  2. Add the flour and mix until the the colour is uniform and the dough comes together into a large ball
  3. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently roll out thinly until the mixture is about ½cm/⅕in thick
  4. Form into shapes (I used the smallest size heart-shaped pastry cutter) and place onto a greased baking sheet
  5. Sprinkle liberally with caster sugar before chilling in the fridge for about 20 minutes
  6. Bake for 5-8 minutes, or until pale pink
  7. Allow to cool on a wire rack
Adapted from New York Times
Adapted from New York Times
H is for Home Harbinger


Happy Valentines Day

Friday, February 14th, 2014

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vintage red enamel coffee jugdecorated with little white hearts

We love you vintage enamel coffee pot

Tammis Keefe teatowel

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

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detail from a Tammis Keefe teatowel with red & white hearts and the words, "Home is where the heart is"

We’ve long admired the designs of Tammis Keefe. No relation to Justin, although you may not have to go too far back in history before their family trees meet. It’s interesting that her middle name was Thomas – and her father’s name was Thomas – and that she adopted the name Tammis which we think is a Gaelic form of Thomas. Justin has the same marked tradition of Thomas Keefes & O’Keeffes in his family. Father, grandfather, great grandfather, great-great grandfather – stretching back to the 18th century.

Tammis Keefe teatowel with red & white hearts and the words, "Home is where the heart is"

Anyway, we’ve promised ourselves an example of Tammis Keefe’s work many times and it arrived recently. It’s very dangerous buying that first piece as it can be the start of a mad collecting frenzy. We’ve resisted for years, but this gorgeous “Home is where the heart is” tea towel was just the final straw! We had this piece shipped over from the States where most examples are to be found. It will look great when framed and be perfect for the kitchen wall – combining a vintage touch with warm sentiments. There’s also something very Christmassy about it so we might even save it for festive season appearances.

Tammis Keefe teatowel showing her signature

Tammis Keefe was born Margaret Thomas Keefe in Los Angeles in 1913 and, after initially studying maths at college, transferred to the Chouinard Institute of Art where she studied painting. Her early career was spent at Disney Studios – she then moved onto the influential Arts & Architecture periodical. Then followed a spell in the studio of textile artist Dorothy Liebes who was well known for developing the work of young designers. This was obviously a significant move with regards to her future career.

detail from a Tammis Keefe teatowel with red & white hearts

Her work from the 40s & 50s is very distinctive – full of wonderful graphic detail, colour, charm & wit. It was used on a great variety of home furnishing textiles, tea towels, place mats, napkins & handkerchiefs. Also clothing, crockery & glassware, wallpaper, stationery, product advertising & packaging. Sadly, she died relatively young in 1961, but has left such a wonderful legacy. And we’re pretty sure that this won’t be the last piece we acquire!

Here’s a list of further reading and examples of her work:

NWFestival | Making it Fun | Tammis Keefe | Flickr group