Really special red velvet cake

This deep red vanilla cake with a light taste of chocolate, topped with cream cheese frosting is certainly a showstopper. I made this sweet treat recently for my husband’s birthday and it did’t hang around long!The buttermilk in this recipe makes it so incredibly moist and light.

Red velvet cake is also known as devil’s food cake as it’s so luxurious and rich it must be sinful! Personally I don’t know about that but helping yourself to a piece of this delicious cake , with luxurious creamy frosting lavishly spread between each layer is sure to put you into your own little piece of heaven.

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Ingredients

120g unsalted butter at room temperature
300g caster sugar
2 eggs
20g cocoa powder
4 tbsp red food colouring (I found that 40g of Dr Oetker Gel Food Colouring in Bright Red worked well)
1 tsp vanilla extract
240ml buttermilk
300g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tsp white wine vinegar

For the icing:
600g icing sugar, sifted
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g cream cheese, cold

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.

Put the butter and the sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy and well mixed. You can use an electric mixer for this, in which case, use it on the medium speed setting. Once it’s all mixed together, slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a very thick, dark paste. Add to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until evenly combined and coloured (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Then slowly pour in half the buttermilk.

Beat until well mixed, then add half the flour and beat until everything is well incorporated. Repeat this process until all the buttermilk and flour have been added then beat until you have a smooth, even mixture. Now fold in the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar and beat until well mixed. (I like to add a small pinch of salt as it brings out the flavour of the cake, I promise it doesn’t taste salty at all!)

Meanwhile, make the icing by beating the icing sugar the remaining 20g of the unsalted butter together until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat it until it is light and fluffy.  Do not over-beat, as it can quickly become runny.

Spoon the mixture equally between three 20-cm cake tins and bake for 25 minutes and bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. When the cakes are cooled, sandwich the layers together using the cream cheese icing, and top with the remaining icing.

I like to decorate my red velvet cakes with gypsophila, berries, freeze dried raspberry crumb and a gentle dusting of icing sugar.

Tip: With the food colouring, I’ve heard that there are a few around that work well. Just make sure that you avoid any ‘natural’ colours and check it is bake stable otherwise it will turn brown when cooked.

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Zesty Lemon and Raspberry Cupcakes

 After a quick break to sit my final year law exams at university I’m back! Seeing as it’s now officially summer time and raspberries are in season, I thought I’d upload my recipe for raspberry and lemon cupcakes. These cupcakes were inspired by the Hummingbird Bakery recipe but I’ve adapted it a little and made them my own way. I baked these cupcakes originally for my husband’s birthday and they turned out a treat! The sweet, juicy raspberries are a perfect pairing to the zesty lemon and together they add a yummy twist to the usual vanilla cupcake. They’re most certainly at the top of my list of favourite things to eat and they stayed moist for ages, not that they lasted very long with my husband around! You could also make this recipe into a large cake but I thought that cupcakes were more fun and less messy! Enjoy!

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Ingredients

110g softened butter or margarine
110g caster sugar (or xylitol for a sugar free version)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
110g sifted self raising flour
1-2 tbsp milk
the zest of 1 lemon

For the Icing:

140g softened butter
280g sifted icing sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
a few spoonfuls of raspberry jam
fresh raspberries or dried raspberries to decorate

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C and fill your cupcake tin with cupcake cases.
Mix the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs a little at a time and add in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.
Fold in the flour. Then little by little, pour in the milk until the mixture is of a dropping consistency. Spoon the mixture evenly into the cupcake cases until they are half full.
Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a knife or skewer inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

For the buttercream lemon icing, melt the butter and milk in a sauce pan. Once melted pour the mixture little by little, stirring continuously into a bowl with the icing sugar in it and beat until smooth.
Then fold in the lemon juice, adding more milk or icing sugar if necessary, until the mix is silky and creamy.
Once the cakes have cooled, cut a small hole in the tops of the cakes, and add some raspberry jam!
Spoon the icing into a piping bag and pipe onto the cakes using a spiralling motion. I decided to colour half of my icing with blue food colouring but you can use any colour icing you like or just leave it as it is!
I then decorated half of the cupcakes with fresh raspberries and the other with dried raspberries.

These are perfect for a summer garden party or for an afternoon tea sat outside in the sunshine.

Fresh, Crunchy Red Cabbage Coleslaw

One of my dad’s most requested recipes is his delicious coleslaw. He taught me how to make it and I’ve added a few extras into the mix. It’s a great side dish all year round and is incredibly versatile. It goes well with hot, buttered Jacket potatoes and is perfect for a summer barbecue. Personally I like mine on the side of a yummy lasagne, it may not be traditional but it’s super tasty! Homemade is so much better than anything you’ll find in the shops and it’s so easy and quick to make so give it a try!

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Ingredients

Half a red cabbage, sliced thinly
2 carrots, grated
Half a red onion, sliced into small pieces (optional but I like it!)
1 tsp of sugar or xylitol
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 large tablespoons of mayonnaise

Method

Place the sliced cabbage into a bowl and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt. This will draw out the water and make the cabbage slightly softer. Leave the cabbage to stand for a minute or two, then throw in the onion and the carrot and give it a good mix. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Leave the mix to stand for maybe half an hour for the flavours to combine and the vegetables to soften. Then it’s ready to go!

You could also add some grated apple or my grandma swears by adding fresh cucumber.

I like to serve this alongside a big salad, homemade baked beans and some tasty barbecued meat.

Classic Miniature Victoria Sponge Cakes

I’ve always been a massive fan of baking and you can’t beat a classic victoria sponge cake. It’s a perfect addition to a cup of tea whilst sat in the garden basking under the summer sun. These miniature victoria sponges are a lovely alternative to the usual cupcake and are so easy to make. My best friend introduced me to this vanilla sponge cake recipe and for that I will be eternally grateful. This recipe turns out perfectly golden and deliciously flavourful cake, which stays moist for days! I brought these cakes along whilst visiting a friend and he impressively ate five in one day! Happy baking!

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Ingredients

110g softened butter or margarine
110g caster sugar (or xylitol for a sugar free version)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
110g sifted self raising flour
1-2 tbsp milk

The filling:

140g softened butter
280g sifted icing sugar
2 tbsp milk
a few spoonfuls of strawberry or raspberry jam

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a mini sandwich tin with butter. Here is the link to the one that I used: http://www.lakeland.co.uk/15170/My-Kitchen-12-Cup-Mini-Sandwich-Tin.

Mix the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs a little at a time and add in the vanilla extract.

Fold in the flour. Then little by little, pour in the milk until the mixture is of a dropping consistency. Spoon the mixture evenly into the tin until they are half full.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a knife or skewer inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

For the buttercream filling, beat the butter in a large bowl until fluffy and soft. Add around half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth.

Then fold in the remaining icing sugar alongside one tablespoon of the milk, adding more milk if necessary, until the mix is silky and creamy.

Once the cakes have cooled, cut them carefully in half using a bread knife.

Spoon the icing into a piping bag and pipe the icing using a spiralling motion onto one half of the cakes. Spread the jam on the other half and then gently push both halves together. Dust with icing sugar and they’re ready to go!

Serve them on pretty vintage china plates with a lovely pot of English tea!