Tag Archives: hummingbird bakery cookbook

Wedding season is upon us…

The last 2 weekends have been devoted to matrimonial celebrations…a whirlwind of gorgeous dresses, buffets, booze, confetti and cakes, topped off with a healthy dose of air guitaring and shape throwing on the dancefloor ūüôā

I realise that the standard protocol for wedding presents is to buy the happy couple something from their wedding list but…I don’t like to conform and instead decided that a home baked cake was a far better present! Once again I put my cake-transporting-on-London-buses skills to the test and somehow managed to get this little beauty all the way to Whetstone unscathed…

I was very proud of of the finished cake, although the perfectionist in me was a bit disappointed in the slight non-uniformity of the heart and…I was told by a guest that I wouldn’t cut it as a plasterer! the cheek! But it’s the thought that counts right? and whether it actually tastes any good (which it did!).

What you can’t see from the photo above is that beneath the layer of gorgeous cream cheese frosting is a triple layer red velvet cake….

I followed the Hummingbird Bakery recipe, which I’ve used previously to make these cupcakes.

To make an 8 inch cake you need…

120g unsalted butter

300g caster sugar

2 eggs

20g cocoa powder

40ml red food colouring (the recipe recommends Dr Oetker red food colouring but I used concentrated gel, which means you can use a lot less)

1tsp vanilla extract

240ml buttermilk

300g plain flour

1tsp salt

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

3tsp white wine vinegar (weird I know but stay with me here)

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and line an 8 inch cake tin. I made do with 1 tin and sliced my cake into 3 but if you’re lucky enough to have 2 or 3 tins you can make the layers separately.

Put the butter and the sugar in a freestanding electric mixer or use a handheld version to beat them until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix on a lower speed until they are well incorporated.

In a separate bowl mix the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract together to make a thick, gloopy, dark red paste. If you’re using the concentrated gel food colouring you only need about 1tsp but you may need to add a splash of water to make it into a paste.

Add your red gloop to the butter mixture and blitz it up until evenly coloured.

Pour in half of the buttermilk and mix at a slow speed, add half the flour and mix, then add the rest of the buttermilk and finally the remaining flour. Then give it one last mix just to make sure.

Finally, add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar (which creates an enjoyable fizz!) and mix it slowly into the cake batter for a couple of minutes.

Pour the finished mixture into your prepared tin(s) and put in the oven.

If you’re using 3 tins, bake for about 25 mins.

If you’re using 2 tins, pour a third of the mixture in one (this will need to cook for 25 mins) and two thirds of the mixture in the other (this will probably need a few minutes more approx 30/35).

If, like me, you’re lacking in the the tin department and are just using the one, you’ll need to cook it for about 50 minutes. I checked mine after 45 minutes but it was still very runny in the middle. You’ll know it’s ready when a knife or skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Leave the cake to cool fully before icing it. To make the icing you will need…

600g icing sugar

100g unsalted butter (at room temperature)

250g cream cheese (cold)

Beat the icing sugar and butter together (this gets a tad messy) using either a freestanding or handheld electric mixer. The recipe says to beat it until the mixture comes together but I always lose patience and in an attempt to limit the amount of icing sugar wafting around my kitchen, I add the cream cheese pretty much straight away. I usually zap the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds first aswell, to make sure that it blends in well and that there aren’t any little lumps of butter left in the icing. Once all of your icing ingredients are incorporated, turn up the speed and beat well for about 5 minutes until smooth and creamy. Be careful not to overbeat it or it’ll become runny.

Use the icing to sandwich each of the 3 layers and to coat the top and sides of the cake. I use a metal spatula, which I dip in boiling water regularly…it makes smoothing the icing out a lot easier.

I think I may have gotten a bit carried away with the glittery sprinkles but I reckon the decoration fitted perfectly well with the brash, garish-ness of the bright red velvet sponge cake inside…

Who would’ve thought that a cake containing buttermilk and vinegar would work…but it does! and produces a gorgeously moist cake everytime!

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Birthday baking

I am now the very proud owner of a gorgeous, sexy, empire red, shiny new KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer.¬†I have been dying to get my hands on this little beauty for a while so when I finally unwrapped it on my birthday it was only a matter of minutes before I’d donned my apron and was whipping up a batch of raspberry cheesecake brownies from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. I chose this particular recipe, not only because it looks amazing but because it has 3 layers, for which the recipe tells you to use a ‘freestanding electric mixer’ woop!

But don’t despair…you can still make it by using a handheld mixer or even good old fashioned elbow grease!

I’ve written out the recipe below if you fancy giving it a go…how can you resist when faced with brownie porn like this??…

Raspberry cheesecake brownie –¬†

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and prepare a 33 x 23 x 5cm baking tray by lining it with baking parchment.

brownie layer –¬†

200g dark chocolate roughly chopped

200g unsalted butter

250g icing sugar

3 eggs

110g plain flour

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until smooth. Mix the butter and sugar (in my case I used the paddle attachment and my spanky new KitchenAid…sorry to brag!) until well incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well before adding the flour. The turn up the speed on your mixer and beat away until the mixture is smooth. Finally pour in the melted chocolate , give it a final mix and pour into the baking tray. Smooth this layer with a palette knife and put aside for the time being.

cheesecake layer –¬†

400g cream cheese

150g icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

Mix the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract together slowly until smooth and thick. Add one egg at a time. The mixture should be smooth and creamy, at which point you can increase the speed of mixing to make it light and fluffy but be careful not to overmix as it will split. Spoon the cheesecake mixture on top of the brownie layer, smooth it out and put in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the cheesecake layer is firm and golden around the edges. Leave to cool completely and then cover and put in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight if possible.

cream topping –¬†

300ml whipping cream

100g icing sugar

150g raspberries plus extra to decorate

Whisk up the cream, sugar and raspberries until firm but not stiff. 

Remove the brownie from the tin, spread the raspberry cream mixture on  and decorate with the extra raspberries.

Then put the kettle on, make a cuppa, sit back, relax and savour….

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The Dolly Parton of cupcakes

These are the Dolly Parton of cupcakes, artificially coloured, unashamedly vulgar and absolutely irresistible. (Xanthe Clay, Telegraph, 23 May 2008)

A while back, my work colleague, Dawn, asked me to make her some cakes to share with our whole department in celebration of her 50th birthday. I’m sure it’s obvious how much I love baking, but I love it even more when there’s a special¬†occasion¬†involved. I’ve been gagging to test out the red velvet cupcake recipe in the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook for ages and as the red velvet cake originates from the USA (where Dawn hails from) I thought this was the perfect opportunity. I also, only yesterday, had my first taste of an original Hummingbird red velvet cake and not just any old red velvet cake, this one measured a whopping 13 x 18 inches and had been lovingly ordered, personalised and transported from London to the middle of rural Huntingdonshire for my friend Marks 30th birthday! Once I’d tasted it I realised there was definitely no going back…

The recipe calls for 20ml of Dr Oetker red food colouring but I couldn’t get hold of any so I used concentrated food colouring gel, bought from Lakeland and it seems to have worked just as well…

I wasn’t having much luck today and discovered that my local supermarket doesn’t stock buttermilk either so I decided to substitute it with creme fraiche.

I made 4 batches of cupcakes, 46 cupcakes in total, one of which had to be tested by my resident¬†guinea pig…Sal, my housemate, who actually went so far as to say that he thought they were the best cupcakes I’d made…ever! Praise indeed!

They truly are the Dolly Parton of the cupcake world and I love them! I just hope Dawn does too. That’s if I can get them to work in one piece…it’s going to be no mean feat single-handedly transporting 45 cupcakes through London on public transport…eek!

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Coconut and Pineapple Cupcakes

I was supremely surprised on Monday morning to not even have a smidgen of a bloody mary hangover and was able to make the most of the bank holiday. I had evening plans to go and watch Sex and the City 2 at the flicks with my girlfriends (I know I know what a cliché) and saw it as a great excuse to do some baking for guinea pigs other than my work colleagues or housemates.

I’m¬†gradually¬†working my way through the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook and to this date have been very impressed by every single creation. This time I chose to make coconut and¬†pineapple¬†cupcakes as they have been¬†intriguing¬†me for a while and I’ve never baked with coconut milk before.¬†

Coconut and Pineapple Cupcakes

120g plain flour

140g caster sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

a pinch of salt

40g unsalted butter

120ml coconut milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

9 tinned pineapple rings chopped into small pieces

dessicated coconut to decorate

and for the coconut frosting –¬†

250g icing sugar

80g unsalted butter

25ml coconut milk.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a bowl and beat using a handheld mixer on a slow speed until everything is combined and a sandy texture.

Mix the coconut milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl and add to the flour mixture. Add the egg and beat well.

Divide the chopped pineapple between the cupcake cases and spoon the mixture over the top until each case is two thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and they bounce back when touched and then leave to cool.

To make the frosting beat the icing sugar and butter using a handheld mixer until the mixture comes together (I always get impatient and add the liquid a bit early but it never seems to have a detrimental effect on the finished frosting). At this point you should add the coconut milk and beat for 5-10 minutes until light and fluffy.

When the cupcakes are cold, spread them with the frosting and sprinkle over the dessicated coconut.

I finished frosting my cupcakes and dashed out the door to meet the ladies without having a chance to check whether they were edible so I spent the first half of the film worrying that they were going to be uncooked an soggy in the middle because of the moist¬†pineapple (sad I know). I needn’t have worried…they were delicious! I think the ladies in the seats around us wondered what all the yummy¬†murmurings¬†were all about and were shooting us jealous glances…or maybe that’s just what I was hoping!¬†

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