Red Velvet Valentine

February 14th – you either love it or hate it.

However this year everyone should love it and bake these lurrrrrrvely cupcakes.

I baked a red velvet cake last year and immediately thought ‘I must make this into cupcakes’.
So when Let’s Knit magazine offered me their Valentines blog recipe I couldn’t have been happier.* Romantic red velvet sponge topped with charming cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with love (literally).
After all, isn’t Valentines all about eating cake anyway?

*check out the blog post here

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Ingredients (makes 12 large cupcakes)

75g Stork tub, at room temp
150g caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 large egg, beaten into a jug
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
120ml buttermilk
1.4 tsp red food gel/paste (highly recommend sugarflair)
½ tsp + ¼ tsp tsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp + ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the cream cheese frosting:
70g unsalted butter, room temp
400g icing sugar
200g full-fat cream cheese, cold from the fridge
Love heart sprinkles (I found mine on Amazon)

Method

Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a muffin tray with romantic cupcake cases.

In a large bowl make your cake mix by first creaming together the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy. Slowly mix in the eggs and the vanilla extract.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder together in a separate bowl and stir. In a third bowl, mix together the buttermilk and red food colouring until completely red.

Pour a third of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter and sugar and mix until just combined. Now pour in a third of the red buttermilk and mix again. Repeat this process until all ingredients are well incorporated into the creamed mixture. Try not to overbeat the mixture at this stage. Add more food colouring at the stage for a stronger red, if necessary.

In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda until it fizzes and bubbles. Then quickly fold it into your cake batter. Divide the cake mix evenly between the cupcake cases and bake for 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Once your cakes are completely cool, make your cream cheese frosting. In a large bowl beat the butter until light and fluffy. Next, drain of any excess liquid from the cream cheese then beat into the butter until just combined. *Be careful not to over beat as this will make the cream cheese loosen and turn into a liquid*.

Now sift in half the icing sugar and beat together, add the remaining half and beat again until frosting is smooth. If the mixture appears lumpy, don’t panic! Just use an electric whisk on a medium speed to help combine the ingredients.

Using a piping bag fitted with an open star nozzle, pipe your frosting onto your cakes and finish with a sprinkle of edible love hearts.

Lemon Drizzle Mini Loaves

As some of you may already know, I have given up chocolate for lent…absolute nightmare. I’ve been dreaming about the stuff; chocolate bars, cake, biscuits, brownies and even hot chocolate!
The reason for this terrible decision was because I was becoming chocolate obsessed, I literally couldn’t go a day without having something chocolatey. So I thought why not test myself and give it up all together?
I am telling you this because all this no chocolate malarkey means fresh new fruity recipes. Like this one for example, exceptionally light zesty sponge topped with a sharp sweet drizzle and finished with (ever so easy to make) lemon curls. Very refreshing and very easy to make.

When life gives you lemons…. Make lemon drizzle loaves!

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Ingredients

Lemon sponge:
170g Stork tub, cold from the fridge
170g caster sugar
200g self-raising flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tbsp milk
zest of 1.5 lemons

Drizzle:
175g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Method

Preheat the oven to 160°C and grease a mini loaf cake tin with a little butter.

To make the lemon sponge, first cream together the Stork and caste sugar until fluffy and light. Slowly pour in the beaten eggs along with 2 tbsp of flour (to stop the mixture curdling) and mix.

Now add the remaining flour, milk and lemon zest and fold the mixture together until fully combined. Evenly divide the cake mix between your cake tin and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of one of the cakes comes out clean.

Leave the cakes to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the cake tin. Next, mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice until a thick pouring consistency is reached. Spoon the drizzle over the cakes whilst they are still warm.

Red Velvet Christmas Cake

First of all let me apologise for how extremely late I am blogging this Christmas recipe, but I can redeem myself because this cake can be made for any occasion. Especially with Valentines Day creeping up on us, this could be your  perfect bake!

Believe me when I say that this is probably the best cake I have EVER made. Want to know why?
Well the sponge is insanely moist (it’s a terrible word I know but I can’t describe it any other way), light, fluffy and melts in the mouth. Pair this with smooth velvety cream cheese frosting and you have a winner! Don’t waste any more time, scroll down and follow my method to make your own Red Velvet Cake.

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Don’t let the picture below fool you, it may look a little messy but the taste…… I need a slice now!

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Ingredients (make a 3 layer 8inch cake)

150g Stork tub, at room temp
300g caster sugar
300g self-raising flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 large eggs, beaten into a jug
1 tsp vanilla extract
240ml buttermilk
1/2 tsp red food gel/paste
1.5 tsp white wine vinegar
1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the cream cheese frosting:
140g unsalted butter, room temp
800g icing sugar
400g full-fat cream cheese, cold from the fridge

Method

Preheat your oven to 180°C and grease and line 3 20cm (8in) cake tins.

In a large bowl make your cake mix by first creaming together the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy. Slowly mix in the eggs and the vanilla extract.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder together in a separate bowl and stir. In a third bowl, mix together the buttermilk and red food colouring until completely dyed.

Pour a third of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter and sugar and mix until just combined. Now pour in a third of the red buttermilk and mix again. Repeat this process until all ingredients are well incorporated into the creamed mixture. Try not to overbeat the mixture at this stage.

In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda until it fizzes and bubbles. Then quickly fold it into your cake batter. Divide the mixture evenly between your 3 cake tins and tap each one lightly on the side to remove any air pockets. Smooth our the tops with the back of a spoon.

Bakes your cakes in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until you can insert a skewer into the centre and it comes out clean. Remove them from the oven and leave to completely cool before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Once your cakes are completely cool, make your cream cheese frosting. In a large bowl beat together the butter until light and fluffy. Next, drain of any excess liquid from the cream cheese then beat into the butter until just combined. *Be careful not to over beat as this will make the cream cheese loosen and turn into a liquid*. Now sift in half the icing sugar and beat together, add the remaining half and beat again until all ingredients are incorporated well.

Take one of your cooled red sponges and place it on a plate/cake stand/cake board. Dollop 2 large tbsp of your frosting on top of your cake and use a palette knife or icing spreader to spread the frosting evenly across the cake starting from the middle moving outwards. Now place your 2nd red sponge on top and do the same.

Finally place your 3rd red sponge on top and apply a very thin layer (crumb coat) of frosting all over the sides as well as the top of the cake. *Don’t worry if any crumbs are being pulled up by the icing, this is normal. We apply the crumb coat first so that it locks in any crumbs as it chills, meaning our next layer will be completely crumb-free*. Now place your cake in the fridge to set for 20-30 minutes.

Remove your cake from the fridge and apply the remaining frosting all over the sides and top of your cake. Your aim is to have no red showing through the icing as you want the outside to be bright white but the inside to be vibrant red.

Now you can decorate your cake as you wish. I have decided upon a Christmas theme so I pre-bought a red ribbon to wrap round the cake and a few Christmas toppers (sooo cute!) to stick in the top of the cake. However, you could try sprinkling glitter on top or create sugar paste hearts (if you have a Valentine in mind). It’s completely up to you!

Liebster Award!

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I’m super excited to tell you that I’ve been nominated by the fabulous Fi’s Mutterings and Mumblings for the Liebster Award! Fi’s blog is not only hilarious but very inspiring, from lists of challenges to fundraising and fitness, you have to check it out and follow her.
So, I bet you’re wondering what on earth Liebster means? Well, it is the German word for all things sweet and lovely. How cute is that… someone actually thinks my blog is adorable! 🙂
The Liebster award is given to up-and-coming bloggers with fewer than 200 followers to help their blog receive more views.
The rules of this award are as follows:
1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
2. You must answer the 10 questions given to you by the nominee before you.
3. You must nominate 3-10 of your favourite blogs with fewer than 200 followers and notify them of their nomination.
4. You must come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
Time to answer Fi’s questions…
  1. What do you do to relax?
    Bake, cook and listen to Beyonce. Preferably all at the same time! Oh and I also love having a bath.
  2. Do you do exercise?  If so, what is your favourite exercise?
    I go to the gym 3-4 times a week and I love going on runs outside, but only in the summer. My favourite exercise is definitely horse riding – particularly show jumping.
  3. What is your dream holiday?
    A year travelling… does that count? Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, South America & South Africa.
  4. What is your favourite recipe?  If you don’t cook, what would you like to be able to cook?
    Sweet: My Malteser Brownies (gutted that I’ve given up chocolate for 1 year!).
    Savoury: Anything with Puy lentils
  5. What is your favourite food or meal?
    It has to be a ‘proper’ gourmet burger with sweet potato fries. Check out Shake Shack and MeatLiquor…. best burgers ever! Oooo and with BBQ pulled pork too!
  6. What are 3 tv programmes you don’t like to miss?
    Dexter! My boyfriend and I are totally obsessed with it. Sadly we only have 7 episodes left of the final series.
    Made in Chelsea…. guilty pleasure
    and I hate to admit this but this years Celeb BB, terribly addictive! Eurghh.
  7. Describe yourself in 3 words
Adventurous. Loyal. Happy.
8.  What makes you laugh?

My crazy dogs and my boyfriend, friends and family – they are all insane and hysterical.

9. What was your least favourite subject at school?

Geography. Just no.

10. Where do you write your blog?

Wherever I have access to a computer. At home on my laptop or at Uni on the computers (procrastination at it’s best).
Now for the exciting part… my nominations for the Liebster Award:
clean eats
Eat Sleep Bake Repeat
Sweet Dash of Sass
An Ashford Girl in a Big City
my cheshire life
all truly wonderful blogs and certainly deserve more recognition.
and my questions for you are:
  1. What is your most favourite city/country/place in the world and why?
  2. Who is your favourite actor or actress?
  3. Who is your favourite chef?
  4. What is your ultimate fear?
  5. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  6. What is your favourite song?
  7. What is your favourite film?
  8. Fruit or Veg?
  9. Why do you like blogging?
  10. Describe yourself in 3 words

    Good luck!

Fig & Cranberry Christmas Chutney

You may think I’m mad calling this ‘Christmas Chutney’, but did you know that  chutney actually improves with age! Leaving a good amount of time for your chutney to rest will enhance the delicious Christmasy flavours. So why not start super early and be ahead of schedule this Christmas, give a jar to someone as a present, put them in  Christmas stockings OR… keep the whole lot for yourself and devour it with a big fat cheese board! So get cooking and be prepared for a gorgeous smelling kitchen.

Fig & Cranberry chutney

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Ingredients (makes 8-10 jars)

500g onions, chopped
Dash of oil
1kg diced apples, any will do but try to include some Bramleys
500ml cider vinegar
400g demerara sugar
200g dried figs, diced
125g dried cranberries
Zest and juice of 1 orange
A large shot glass of port
5cm piece root ginger, roughly chopped
6 cloves
12 cardamom pods
1 tsp coriander seeds
100g walnuts, roughly chopped

You will also need:
8-10 different sized sterilised* chutney jars
A clean square of muslin
Plain string

* To sterelise your jars simply preheat the oven to 130°C and lay a double layer of newspaper on each oven shelf you are using, but not the bottom of the oven. Remove the lids from the jars and then arrange your jars on the shelves making sure they are not touching each other. Leave them in the oven for 20 minutes and remove using thick oven mittens and fill with your chutney immediately.

Method
In a large pan sweat the onion with a dash of oil then add the chopped apple. Pour in the vinegar and sugar and give it a good stir until the sugar has dissolved. Now add the fruits, orange zest and juice and the port.
Next put the ginger, cloves, cardamom pods and coriander seeds in a clean square of muslin and tie together with plain string. Immerse the pouch deep in the pan and let all the ingredients bubble away with the lid off for a good hour stirring regularly.
Now add the walnuts and cook for a further 30 minutes, now is a good time to sterilise your jars see above for instructions. Once your jars are sterilised, check to see if your chutney is done by parting it with a wooden spoon, if you can see a little bit of the bottom of the pan your chutney is ready.
Transfer it to your jars whilst they are still hot – this is important because you cannot put hot chutney into cold jars as they will shatter. Seal the lids and leave to cool. Try decorating your jars with Christmas ribbon and present tags, or even make your own labels for a more personal touch!


Sunken Brownies uh oh!

Okay so last week I had this beaut little idea to make some brownie loaf’s with a surprise Terry’s Chocolate Orange segment inside. YUM! Chocolate Orange is amazing!
I finally get round to making them and all is going well until my oven timer goes off and I open the door thinking woooo brownies, look down and BOOM! There are these sad blocks of sunken chocolateyness. What on earth has happened here!? 
Now if I was going to pretend like I did this on purpose I would call this bake.. Spooky Halloween Graves and maybe make sugar paste skeletons and pop them inside. But as I have learnt over the years things do go wrong and even though it can be very annoying it definitely does teach you a few things.
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So what caused this catastrophe? I did a bit of research and found out that brownies can sink for a few reasons:
  • The oven temperature is too high
  • The tray is too high in the oven
  • The mixture has been over mixed
However, I think the main culprit here is my little addition of the segments. I should have filled the tin up a tiny bit, put them segment in then added in the rest of the mixture. This would have allowed the brownies to rise around the segment, leaving it gooey in the middle. What I did was fill it all the way up then push a segment in at the top, this meant that when the brownies baked the mixture wasn’t thick enough to be able to stick together and rise; and so it sank! Another way to resolve this problem would have been to chop the segments up into smaller pieces and mix them into the brownie mix before transferring it to the tin.
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My terrible effort to recover the sunken brownies! Needless to say they tasted bloomin’ good and were all eaten with no complaints… never judge a book by its cover and all that 🙂
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Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

Only 23 days until Halloween!!! What better way to prepare than baking up a special recipe that would be the hit of the Halloween food table at your spooky party. These beauties combine rich, fudge brownie with light, fluffy pumpkin cheesecake to give you an absolutely gorgeous bake. You can also find the recipe here on ‘Let’s Knit’ blog as I am excited to tell you that I am currently taking on the role as their monthly recipe provider until Christmas… very exciting stuff!
So yes, get into the Halloween spirit early and bake away people!
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Ingredients (makes  12 large/ 16 small brownies)
For the brownies:
150g unsalted butter (at room temp)
175g 70% dark chocolate (broken into pieces)
225g caster sugar
2 eggs (at room temp)
150g self-raising flour
For the pumpkin cheesecake:
200g full fat cream cheese (at room temp)
1 egg (at room temp)
75g caster sugar
30g self-raising flour
120ml pumpkin puree (can be bought in ‘Waitrose’ in the tinned fruits section)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease/base line a 23cm square tin.
First make the brownie mixture by gently melting the butter and dark chocolate in a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Once melted, leave on the side to cool.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs. Then add in the cooled chocolate and butter mixture and sift in the flour. Fold the ingredients together with a large wooden spoon until completely combined. The brownie mix should be thick, dark and glossy.
In another bowl begin to make your pumpkin cheesecake mix by first beating together the cream cheese and sugar. Add in the pumpkin puree and beat again. Finally add the vanilla, cinnamon and egg to the bowl and beat one last time until mixture is creamy and smooth.
Pour a 1/3 of the brownie mixture into your baking tin and give the tin a shake to make sure it fills all the corners and the mixture is evenly spread. Now evenly pour your pumpkin cheesecake mixture on top of the brownie mixture.  Next use a large spoon to drop the remaining brownie mix in dollops over the cheesecake mixture. Finally draw the tip of a knife or skewer through the two mixtures to form a swirly pattern.
Bake for 27-30 minutes until the top is starting to crack. (Depending on your oven they may take a bit longer, test the brownies by inserting a knife into the middle and if it comes out covered in chocolate put them back in. If the knife comes out almost clear and the top of the brownies are cracking then remove from the oven and leave to cool- brownies will continue to cook a little as they cool).

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MJ’s Chocolate Meringue

 

 

 

You may be thinking who on earth is MJ!?
Well let me tell you that MJ is in fact, my legendary beautiful mumma known to many as ‘Mother Jen’ (MJ). When she informed me that she was going to be making this classic desert for a dinner party she was hosting, I knew that I had to give her a little post of recognition on JessieCakes. I mean look at it, it’s beautiful!!!! Perfectly baked, light chocolate meringue topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits, the ideal desert for both summer and winter and possibly the easiest to make. So thank you Mother Jen for this wonderful recipe… you truly are a star!
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Ingredients

For the chocolate meringue base:
6 medium egg whites, at room temp
300g caster sugar
3 tbsp sieved cocoa powder
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
40g dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the topping:
500ml double cream
500g mixed fruits, chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking parchment

  1. In a large bowl beat the egg whites until peaks form, and then slowly beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
    TIP – you may be wondering why my mum is holding the bowl over her head in the photo above. Well this is a rather daring tip but your meringue is perfectly beaten if you can hold it right over your head and it doesn’t fall out. 
  2. Sprinkle over the cocoa, vinegar and chopped chocolate and gently fold the mixture together until all ingredients are combined. Mound onto your baking sheet in a fat circle smoothing out the sides and top.
  3. Place in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 150°C and bake for roughly 1 hour. Your meringue is ready when it looks crisp around the edges and dry on top, but when you prod the centre it should feel slighty squidgy. Turn of your oven and open the door slightly, let your meringue cool completely (if you remove your meringue they will cool too quickly and start to crack)
  4. When you’re ready to serve, transfer your meringue onto a large plate and whisk the cream until thick but still soft. Pile it on top of the meringue and scatter with your chopped fresh fruits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Cocoa & Peanut Butter Energy Bites

I cannot believe it has taken me this long to make ‘energy bites’, I honestly think they are the best thing in the entire ‘healthy food’ world right now. Okay that may be a little over the top but seriously you need to try these! A five minute no bake recipe that will give you 12 delicious bites that are packed with natural sugars, protein, fiber & all good fats. At just 67 calories each, these babies will rid you of any hunger pain or sugar craving whilst giving you a burst of energy.

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Ingredients (makes 12 energy bites)
10 soft pitted dates
85g chopped almonds
1 tsp raw cocoa powder
1 tbsp reduced fat peanut butter
Coconut shreds for sprinkling (optional)
Method
Soak dates in water for a few minutes. Put the almonds in a blender and blend until ground. Add the cocoa powder and blend until combined. Add in the dates & peanut butter and blend until it all comes together and forms a dough (you may need to stop the blender and scrape down the sides a few times). Take a tsp of the dough and roll into a bite-size ball. Repeat until you have 12 equal sized energy bites. Finally, sprinkle with coconut. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Nutrional Information (per energy bite)
67 Calories
4.6g Fat
0.5g Saturated fat
3.8g Carbohydrates
2.4g Sugar
0.9g Fiber
2.5g Protein

Cupcake for One

 Does anyone else suffer from ‘cupcake crave‘? In other words, it’s late night (or morning) and you suddenly get this desire to eat something super sweet and naughty, like a big chocolatey cupcake. The problem is, you don’t want to make up a batch of 12 or even 6 because you don’t want them sitting on the side for days staring at you and screaming ‘eat meeeeeeee‘. Now to create a recipe for 1 cupcake is a lot harder than you think, soooo many failed attempts and a lot of eating cake that was too eggy or gummy or bland (the list goes on). But patience is the key and well drum roll please… I finally have the solution! A simple, quick and well-balanced recipe to give you one, slightly on the large side cupcake topped with delicious chocolate buttercream. Oh and the star topper was just for fun, not really needed but I think it looks pretty, I’ve given instruction below on how to create your own. Enjoy people!
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To create your star topper you will need: White & Red sugarpaste, Gold shimmer spray, a textured rolling pin (optional), a small and big star cutter, rolling pin, and icing sugar.
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Sprinkle a flat surface and your rolling pin with icing sugar and roll out the white sugar paste until it has an even thickness of 3mm. SONY DSC
Use your small star cutter to cut out a star shape
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Repeat the process with the red sugarpaste but using the large star cutter
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Use a textured rolling pin to add pattern to the large red star (this is optional)
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Spray your small white star with gold shimmer spray
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Attach the small star to the big star using a dot of the chocolate buttercream you have made
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Ooooooooh look at that gold shimmer on the buttercream, yum!
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Ingredients (makes 1 large cupcake, or 2 small fairy cakes)
1 egg white
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp stork tub, melted
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
Method
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a muffin tray with a large cupcake case.
Whisk together the egg white and sugar, add the vanilla and melted butter and mix. Sift in the flour and salt and fold all ingredients together. Bake for 12 minutes then leave on the side to cool.
Buttercream:
1 tbsp unsalted butter, soft
1 tbsp + 2 tsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp milk
Cream the butter, add half the cocoa and half icing sugar and beat together. Add the remaining cocoa, icing sugar and milk and beat together until fluffy and creamy. Once your cupcake is cool spread over the buttercream and devour.