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
This will be my final recipe celebrating Sourdough September – fitting really, that it’s a recipe for a dessert – sourdough coffee chocolate cake. I’ve lifted the instructions from one of my new favourite websites – King Arthur Flour. Their recipes quick-convert between Imperial, metric and US cups – a really useful feature!
As well as Sourdough September, this cake also honours International Coffee Day which happens each year on 1st October… and while I’m at it, why not honour Chocolate Week which runs from 9th-15th October. There… I’ve covered all the bases and no one was left out!
Another good thing about this recipe is that it calls for ripe sourdough or discard. I love using up leftovers! It also lists espresso powder as an ingredient; I ground some espresso beans on the finest setting and that worked perfectly.
The resulting sourdough coffee chocolate cake is HUGE – almost a kilo of icing alone! You may want to halve the recipe. The two of us will be eating a slice every day for a week… not that I’m complaining. It’s soft, moist, sweet and gorgeous!
There are three separate parts to the process; the cake, the icing and the drizzle. If you don’t think you’ll have enough time in a single day to do all three, you can break it up into stages across two or even three days.
This would be a great one to make as a celebration cake. You could even divide the batter into two tins and make a layer cake if you prefer.
- 240g/8½oz sourdough starter, ripe or discard
- 225g/8oz whole or evaporated milk
- 240g/8½oz plain flour
- 300g/10½oz granulated sugar
- 200g/7oz vegetable oil
- 2tsp vanilla extract
- 1tsp salt
- 1½tsp baking soda
- 65g/2⅓oz unsweetened cocoa
- 1tsp espresso powder (optional)
- 2 large eggs
- 680g/24oz icing sugar
- 170g/6oz butter
- 115g/4oz plain yoghurt or buttermilk
- 1tbsp + 1½tsp espresso powder
- 15g/½oz hot water
- 50g/1¾oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces
- 15g/½oz milk
- 20g/¾oz golden syrup
- Combine the starter, milk and flour in a large mixing bowl
- Cover and rest at room temperature for 2-3 hours
- Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350°F/Gas mark 4
- Lightly grease a 23 x 33cm (9 x 13-inch) cake tin
- In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, vanilla, salt, baking soda, cocoa and espresso powder - the mixture will be grainy
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition
- Gently combine the chocolate mixture with the starter/flour/milk mixture, stirring until smooth. It will be gloopy at first; however, the batter will become smoother as you continue to beat gently
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin
- Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes away clean
- Remove the cake from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool while you make the icing
- Sift the icing sugar into a large mixing bowl. Set it aside
- In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter and add the buttermilk/yoghurt
- Dissolve the espresso powder in the hot water, add to the pan, and bring the mixture just to a boil
- Immediately pour the simmering liquid over the icing sugar in the bowl, and beat until smooth
- Pour the warm icing over the cake. If you wait too long and the icing stiffens up, just spread it over the cake with an offset spatula
- Combine the chocolate pieces, milk and golden syrup in a microwave-safe container. Microwave until the chocolate softens, then stir until smooth (a couple of 10-second bursts)
- Drizzle the chocolate sauce over the icing
I’m staying with the Sourdough September theme again this week with these sourdough crumpets. I hate wasting food and I despair at throwing away half of my sourdough starter each time it needs refreshing. To that end, I went in search of recipes that use this ‘discard’ and found this one for sourdough crumpets.
Crumpets aren’t my thing; I find the shop-bought ones rubbery and tasteless. To be honest, I only made these because Justin loves crumpets… slathered in butter, of course!
There’s been a set of metal rings in my baking station for ages, and I’ve not known quite what they were originally used for. This recipe called for ‘crumpet rings‘ – something I’d never heard of before. A quick internet search later – low and behold – I think that’s what my rings are!
If you don’t own crumpet rings, use cookie cutters – just make sure you oil them well before using. Also, if you don’t have a griddle (I used my pizza steel), a cast iron frying pan will do the job fine.
I don’t mean to boast, but these were miles better than any I’ve eaten before. Perhaps it was because I ate them straight off the griddle. They were lovely and soft and chewy without being rubbery – and the sourdough gave them a delicious depth of flavour. Crumpets have won me over!
- 270g/9½oz sourdough starter
- 1tbsp runny honey
- ½tsp salt
- ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Mix together the starter, honey and salt then allow the starter to start bubbling
- Rub your griddle and crumpet rings with a little vegetable oil, then place over a medium heat
- Stir in the bicarbonate of soda into the batter. It should start bubbling
- Once the rings are hot, pour the batter into them, leaving a ½cm gap at the top to allow for rising
- When the edges are cooked (about 5 minutes), remove the crumpets from the rings and flip them over and cook for a further 3 minutes. Repeat the process until all the remaining batter has been used up
The sweet caramelised onion is a wonderful addition – and you can intensify the flavour further with the substitution of onion salt (instead of ‘plain’) to the dough.
I often find timing sourdough bread proofing stages challenging. So, although I specify rises in this recipe at room temperature, I sometimes have to put my loaf in the coldest room (believe me, it can get really chilly!) in the house for an overnight rise. Then, first thing next morning, I switch the oven on to pre-heat and get baking. This long, slow prove makes the taste of the loaf even more delicious!
We’ve had this loaf as an accompaniment to a tomato pasta dish – it makes a great mopper-upper! The following day we had what was left with goats cheese and salad.
Click here to save my caramelised onion sourdough recipe to Pinterest.
- 2 medium-sized red or brown onions, finely sliced
- knob of butter
- pinch of salt
- 450g/1lb sourdough starter (100% hydration)
- 175ml/6⅛fl oz water
- 450g/1lb strong white flour
- 7g/¼ salt
- On a medium heat, cook off the onions in the knob of butter adding a pinch of salt. Allow to brown before setting aside to cool
- Mix together the starter, water and salt
- Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the starter mixture
- Combine until everything is thoroughly mixed together and the dough begins to feel smooth
- Cover the mixing bowl and allow to sit for about an hour
- Fold the dough 8 times (8 single folds)
- Re-cover the mixing bowl and allow to sit for about 12 hours at room temperature or until the volume of dough doubles
- Turn out the dough out on to a lightly-floured work surface and stretch it out into a rectangle
- Spread the cooled caramelised onion mixture evenly on to the rectangle of dough
- With the short side facing you, fold the dough on to itself in four, equal lengths ensuring that the mixture runs throughout the dough
- Shape the filled dough into your preferred loaf shape (boule, batard, etc.) trying not to have any of the onion mixture poking through the top
- Place it into a well-floured (rice flour is preferred) proofing basket/banneton; cover and allow it to sit at room temperature for an hour or until doubled in size
- Preheat the oven to 260ºC/500ºF
- Once the dough is fully risen and the oven pre-heated, gently transfer the dough from the proofing basket to the baking tray, score the top of the loaf and bake at 260ºC/500ºF/Gas mark 10 for 10 minutes
- Turn the oven temperature down to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6 and bake for another 30 minutes
- Remove the loaf from the oven and put it on a wire rack to cool for at least an hour before slicing
I’m continuing with Sourdough September this week and making a sourdough beer loaf using a dark, delicious porter from Acorn Brewery in Barnsley.
I’ve been baking with sourdough – on and off – for a few years now and it can be hit & miss with the temperature of our house. This recipe that I’ve used talks about room temperature being 22ºC; we have a thermometer in our kitchen that never gets past 15ºC at the peak of summer! I’ve picked up a couple of tricks to improve the ambient environment for bread baking. In the winter, I simply put the proofing bowl/banneton near the wood-burner. In the summer I boil a mug of water in the microwave, remove it, put the bowl/banneton in and close the door. It usually works quite well.
The web page where I found this recipe has lots of photos of the finished loaf uploaded by all the people that tried it. Lots of lovely, round boules and shapely batards. As you can tell from my photos, mine was a bit of a ‘nailed it’ attempt! It wasn’t the temperature but the consistency of my dough that was to blame.
Starter hydration is described as a percentage – e.g. 100% hydration or 75% hydration. I wasn’t at school on the day percentages were taught and I’ve still not mastered them… maths was always my worst subject too! My starter is kept at the former percentage i.e. equal weight (not volume) of flour & water at each feeding. I don’t know where it went wrong to be honest. I should have gone with my instinct and added more flour – I could tell that I would have to pour my dough out of the banneton, almost as if it was a batter. Even so, it still managed something of a rise and tastes great! I will revisit this sourdough beer loaf recipe very soon and post the results below.
- 400g/14oz strong white flour
- 100g/3½oz wholemeal flour
- 345g/12oz bottle of beer (I used most of a 500ml bottle of Old Moor porter brewed by Acorn Brewery of Barnsley here in Yorkshire)
- 75g/2⅔oz water
- 80g/2¾oz sourdough starter
- 12g/½oz salt
- Pour 345g/12oz of room temperature beer into a bowl and mix thoroughly to release the carbonation
- Add the 500g/17⅔oz flour mixture to the beer and mix until thoroughly incorporated into a shaggy mass
- Cover and set aside (autolyse) at room temperature (22ºC/72ºF) for 2-3 hours
- Combine the salt, water and starter and mix thoroughly before adding to the dough
- Fold repeatedly until everything is thoroughly mixed together and the dough begins to feel smooth
- Cover the mixing bowl and allow to sit for about an hour
- Fold the dough 8 times (8 single folds)
- Re-cover the mixing bowl and allow to sit for about 12 hours at room temperature (22ºC/72ºF) or until the volume of dough doubles (optionally stretch and fold periodically)
- Turn out the fermented dough on a lightly-floured work surface and shape into your preferred loaf (boule, batard, etc.) and then place dough into a well-floured (rice flour is preferred) proofing basket/banneton; cover and allow to sit at room temperature (22ºC/72ºF) for about an hour
- After 30 minutes or so, place your preferred baking vessel, stone or tray (I used my pizza steel) in the oven and preheat to 260ºC/500ºF (or your vessel's maximum safe temperature).
- With the dough fully risen and oven pre-heated, gently transfer the dough from the proofing basket to the baking vessel, score the top of the loaf, and then bake at 260ºC/500ºF with top on (if using) for 20 minutes
- Turn the oven temperature down to 230ºC/450ºF and bake for another 10 minutes
- Remove the top of the baking vessel (if using) and bake for 20 minutes or until the colour of the crust is as desired and the internal loaf temperature is at least 90ºC/200ºF
- Remove the loaf from the oven and place it on a wire rack and allow it to cool for at least an hour before slicing
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