Friday, 27 February 2009

Red Velvet Cake

Firstly a huge thank you over to Ruth at Ruth's Kitchen Experiments, for a fantastic evening doing some fun baking. We made a red velvet cake, with cream cheese frosting. I've wanted to make this cake for ages, but struggled to find a recipe which doesn't use American cups, which I don't have. I made a valiant attempt to convert them using the internet, but it proved just too awkward; then Ruth suggested a joint bake-a-thon. Her write up can be seen here.

The Red Velvet Cake is a distinctly American cake, with a bright red colour. Or should that be color? The hue originally came from the vinegar and buttermilk reacting with the cocoa, turning it reddy brown. As a more alkaline cocoa became available, this became less pronounced and artifical colouring was needed.

We used the recipe from Equal Opportunity Kitchen, with only one variant being that it makes 3 layers as shown in the pictures and not 2 as stated in the text.


1/2 cup butter softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp white vinegar
3 large eggs
1 (1-ounce) bottle liquid red food colouring (tasteless variety)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk


1. Beat butter at medium speed with stand mixer (paddle attachment) or electric mixer until fluffy.
2. Gradually add sugar, vanilla and vinegar, beating well.
3. Add eggs, 1 at a time beating until blended after each addition.
4. Add food colouring, beating until combined.
5. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition.
6. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9 inch round cakepans.
7. Bake at 350F for 20 - 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes; remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Here's what the batter looked like: That's some serious e numbers.

They didn't loose this when baked either! After cooling I flipped 2 of the 3 layers upside down, and couldn't help but think they looked like 2 burgers.

Next came the cream cheese frosting, which was a bit dissapointing. The butter had been warmed to make it spreadable, perhaps a little too much because loads more icing sugar than the recipe had to be added, and it still dripped down the sides.

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (16 oz) package powdered sugar (2 cups)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (if you want your icing to stay pure white use clear vanilla extract)
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Beat cream cheese and butter until creamy; gradually add sugar and vanilla, beating well.

Though I have to say, I think the final result looks pretty good!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Birthday Cake

It was my first attempt at a 2 tiered cake, and proved really interesting. I ended up making 4 cakes, 2 layers per tier. To fit everything in I ended up making the top tiers on Monday and freezing them; it was a good opportunity to see how this worked. They turned out fine, I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.

The top layers are orange madeira cake with orange buttercream, and the bottom layers are chocolate madeira with umm nutella chocolate spread! The orange cake had orange juice in it and was lovely and moist. The chocolate one I'll reserve judgement on. It used real chocolate and I think it hardened a little before I got the mix in the oven, plus it was a bit dry. I might try it again and use some more milk.

Anyway, the recipes are from 'Ultimate Cake' by Barbara Maher. It's not a bad book. The instructions are well explained and the pictures helpful, but the pictures are at the front and the recipes at the back which I found a little odd. Also, though not very important I suppose, but the colour scheme is a bit weird, pale pink and green cakes make me feel a bit quesy, but maybe that's just me. I suppose the indictor of how good I think it is, is that i've had it a year or two and only made one other cake out of it. Unfortunately I couldn't find the recipes online.

In the past my cakes tend to have a camber on the top, so I trimmed the top off them both and inverted the top one before covering in jam and fondant icing. This gave a really good flat top.

I used dowells for the first time, but they weren't exactly level, so it was lucky madeira cakes are fairly sturdy! I need more practise I think.

I went for a pink and brown theme just because I think it looked nice, and as you can probably see it was for a 50th birthday.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Baking Valentines

Not being a great fan of the merchandising event that is Valentines (bah humbug or whatever the equivalent is) I'm afraid I have no heart shaped cakes or biscuits to share. To prove I am soft on the inside (like a macaroon perhaps?) i'll offer this picture to all the romantic souls out there. Enjoy!

Cherry and Almond Cake

I've made this cake before and remember the smell above everything else. At the time I hadn't read the last line of the instructions "leave to cool in the tin" meaning that with 1 hour until I had to leave the house I ended up sitting on the bus with it wrapped in foil and a tea towel getting odd but envious looks.

The recipe is from Australian Womens Weekly Cooking Class Cakes. I'm a big fan of the WW series, the cakes are great everyday ones with notes on how to make special variations, store and serve them. The step by step pictures make it really easy to follow and there's guidance about lining a cake tin etc... The only significant drawback is that they insist on putting the calories and fat per slice on the bottom of each recipe. That's just unneccessary, especially as 'serves 12' is unlikely to stretch that far in my house!

I'd have to say that out of all my books, this is the one I use the most.

The recipe I used can be found here, with a few small variations. The main one is that the book's recipe is for a slightly smaller cake and that there's no need to add flour with each egg. It might curdle, but the mix'll sort itself out in the oven. Don't be put off by the awful picture on the website, look at mine instead lol

One thing I always do with glace cherries is washing them and drying them with a paper towel. Without the syrup they don't sink much and make the cake less soggy.

P.S. It's worth getting different coloured glace cherries to make it look more interesting, and saving some almonds to sprinkle on the top.