Tag Archives: red velvet

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 🙂

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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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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