Red Velvet Cake

red velvet cakeThis recipe is courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Serve:  8-12   –    Prep time:  40 mins plus time for cake to cool   –   Cook time: 25 mins

Ingredients:  2 eggs; 225g (7oz) caster sugar; 1 ¼ tsp salt; 250ml (8 fl oz) sunflower oil; 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract; 150ml (4 ½ fl oz) buttermilk; 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda; 2 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar; 225g (7 oz) plain flour; 1 ½ tblsp cocoa powder; ¾ tsp red food colouring paste

For the frosting: 250ml (8 fl oz) whipping cream, very cold; 175g (6oz) mascarpone; 175g (6oz) cream cheese; 85g (3oz) icing sugar, sifted; 2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Heat the oven to 170oC (gas mark 3).  Grease a 20cm (8 in) round cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.  Place the eggs, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. While whisking, add the oil in a steady stream until fully combined and the mixture thickens slightly. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  2. Place the buttermilk, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar in a smaller, separate bowl.  The mixture should bubble quite actively and then fade.  In another bowl, combine the flour and cocoa powder and sift twice.  Add one third of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until well incorporated.  Add half the buttermilk mixture and mix until just combined.  Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the buttermilk.  Finally, add the last third of the flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.  Add the food colouring last and stir until thoroughly incorporated.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
  3. Bake in the hot oven for 28-35 minutes.  A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out with almost no crumbs attached, and the middle of the cake, when pressed, should spring back slightly rather than sink. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes if necessary.
  4. To make the cream cheese frosting, whisk the whipping cream to stiff peaks. Set aside. Put the mascarpone, cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract in another bowl and beat until well combined.
  5. Add one third of the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and beat until combined. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream until thoroughly combined.  Refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Frosting must always be refrigerated, due to the fragility of whipped cream.
  6. Cut the cake horizontally into 3 equal layers.  Spread a little of the cream cheese frosting over one layer of cake and top with another layer.  Spread a little more frosting over the second layer and top with the final layer.  Spread the remaining frosting all over the cake using a spatula.
 Red Food Colouring Paste:

Recipe was taken from this book:

Espresso Bourbon Cake

Espresso bourbon cakeThis recipe is courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Serves: 8-12   –   Prep time: 30 mins plus time for cake to cool   –
Cook time:  40 mins

Ingredients:  225g (7oz) unsalted butter; 4 shots (approx. 120ml / 3 ½ fl oz) of good espresso; 110g (3 ½ oz) cocoa powder; 200g (6 ½ oz) caster sugar; 220g (7oz) dark brown soft sugar; 2 eggs; 75ml (2 ½ fl oz) bourbon; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 280g (9oz) plain flour; 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda; ½ tsp salt

  1. Heat the oven to 170oC (gas mark 3).  Grease a 20cm (8 in) round cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.  Place the butter in a large saucepan and melt, then stir in the espresso and cocoa powder.  Add both sugars and the eggs and whisk thoroughly.  Add 3 tblsp of the bourbon and the vanilla extra and set aside.
  2. Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large mixing bowl and sift twice. Slowly pour the espresso mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until well combined.  The mixture should be very liquid.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin.  Bake for 28-35 minutes.  A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out with almost no crumbs attached and the middle of the cake, when pressed, should spring back slightly instead of sink. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes if necessary.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin for 10 minutes.  Slide a table knife all around the edge to loosen the cake, then remove from the tin. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.  Brush the remaining bourbon over the top before cutting in half horizontally and filling with frosting of your choice.

Cake Layer Guide:

Recipe taken from this book:

Doughnut Muffins

Doughnut muffins

This recipe is courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Makes about 22   –    Prep time: 25 mins   –    Cook time: 30 mins

Ingredients:  420g (13 ½ oz) plain flour; 4 tsp baking powder; ½ tsp salt; ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg; 330g (11oz) caster sugar; 2 eggs, lightly beaten; 375ml (12 fl oz) buttermilk; 2 tsp vanilla extract; 130ml (4 ½ fl oz) sunflower oil

For the coating and filling:  250g (8oz) unsalted butter, melted; 300g (10oz) caster sugar; about ½ jar of raspberry jam

  1. Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Grease two 12-hole muffin trays.  Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add all the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.  Don’t overmix.  Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray holes, filling them three quarters of the way up.
  2. Bake in the hot oven for 22-30 minutes.  A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out dry and crumbly.  While the muffins are baking, put the melted butter and sugar in their own shallow bowls and set aside.
  3. Remove the muffin trays from the oven and tip the doughnuts out.  Immediately dip the muffins in the melted butter, then roll in the sugar to liberally and evenly coat.
  4. Fill a piping bag with jam. Push he nozzle/tip through the top (or bottom if you want it to look neater) of the doughnut, up to midway.  Pipe about 1 tblsp of jam inside each doughnut and serve immediately.

Disposable piping bags for filling the muffins with the jam:-

Recipe taken from this book:

Foolproof Carrot Cake

This recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Foolproof Carrot cakeThis cake is light with a soft texture.  It is based on a simple pound cake recipe, but the butter is replaced with vegetable oil and a luscious cream cheese and orange icing added on top. Make this in a shallow rectangular brownie tin and serve it cut into squares.

Serves : 12   –   Prep time : 25 mins   –   Cook time : 40 mins

For the cake: 250ml (8 fl oz) vegetable oil; 250g (8oz) caster sugar; finely grated zest of ½ orange; pinch of salt; 3 large free-range eggs, beaten; 250g (8oz) self-raising flour, sifted; 250g (8oz) grated carrot (about 3 large carrots)

For the icing: 400g (1oz) cream cheese (reduced fat, if you prefer); 75g (2 ½ oz) icing sugar, sifted; finely grated zest of ½ orange; 1-2 tblsp orange juice

  1. Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Grease a shallow 20 x 30cm (8 x 12in) cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper, extending the paper 5cm (2 in) above the edge of the tin, to help remove the cake later.
  2. Place the oil, sugar, orange zest and salt in an electric mixer and mix on medium speed until well beaten.
  3. Transfer the beaten eggs to a jug.  Reduce the speed of the mixer and, with the motor running, gradually add the egg to the mixture, followed by an occasional spoonful of the flour.  Sift over the remaining flour and gently fold in with a large metal spoon until smooth.  Fold in the grated carrot.
  4. Spoon the batter into the tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.
  5. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then, using the overhanging baking paper turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. To make the icing, use a hand-held electric beater to combine all the ingredients until smooth and light.  Spread over the top of the cake. Cut into 12 squares and serve.

Classic Fudge Brownies

This recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Classic fudge browniesDo you like yours fudgy and soft in the centre, or cake-like and full of nuts?  There are probably more variations on the basic brownie than any other chocolate treat. These are definitely the gooey version.  Brownies need no decorating, serve as they are with perhaps a dusting of cocoa or icing sugar.

Makes : 15  –  Prep time : 20 mins  –  Cook time : 25 mins

Ingredients:  300g (10oz) dark chocolate, roughly chopped (look for chocolate with at least 50% cocoa solids); 300g (10oz) unsalted butter, chopped; 5 free-range eggs; 400g (13oz) caster sugar; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 150g (5oz) plain flour; 50g (1 ¾ oz) cocoa powder; ½ tsp baking powder; pinch of salt; 100g (3 ½ oz) dark chocolate chips

  1. Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Grease a shallow 20 x 30cm (8 x 12 in) baking tin and line with baking paper (leave a little overhanging the two long sides to help remove the brownies from the tin).
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water).  All to cool.
  3. Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer and beat for about 4 minutes or until thick, pale and fluffy.  Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture.
  4. Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and fold in using a large metal spoon, until smooth.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.  Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the surface.
  5. Bake for 30-35 mins or until the top has formed a crust. It should be firm to the touch but still a bit moist in the centre.  Allow to cool in the tin, then remove and cut into squares. Store the brownies in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Banana Bread

This recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Banana BreadThis cake needs no more than a mixing bowl and a wooden spoon.  If you’re unable to find buttermilk, you can replace it with a combination of half yoghurt and half skimmed milk.  Day-old banana bread is delicious cut into slices and toasted.

Prep time : 15 mins  –  Cook time : 55-60 mins

Ingredients:  210g (7oz) plain flour; 1 tsp baking powder; 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda; ¼ tsp salt; 125g (4oz) unsalted butter, softened (take out of fridge a few hours before you start); 250g (8oz) granulated sugar; 2 eggs, lightly beaten; 3 large, very ripe bananas; 120ml (3 ½ fl oz) buttermilk; icing sugar, to serve

  1. Heat the oven to 170oC (gas mark 3).  Grease a loaf tin and line the base with baking paper.
  2. Put the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, butter, sugar and eggs in a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or hand-held electric beaters until just combined.  It’s important not to beat the batter to much – just long enough to make it smooth.
  3. Mash the bananas with a fork and add to the mixture bit by bit, alternating with the buttermilk, mixing until combined.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until the top of the bread is firm and deep brown colour.  A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.  Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
  4. Serve dusted with icing sugar.  The flavour improved on keeping.  It will store for up to 3 days if covered with cling film.

Raspberry Muffins with Streusel Topping

This recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

The streusel gives these muffins a delicious, baked-on, crunchy topping.  Pecans are used here, but it works just as well with walnuts or slivered almonds.  Make sure you use demerara sugar, as this gives you the right crunch. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Raspberry muffins with streusel topppingMakes : 12  –  Prep time :  25 mins  –  Cook time : 25 mins

For the streusel topping:  40g (1 ¼ oz) unsalted butter, chilled and chopped; 50g (1 ¾ oz) plain flour; 2 tbsp demerara sugar; 2 tblsp coarsely chopped pecan nuts

For the Muffins:  310g (10oz) plain flour; 2 tsp baking powder; ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda; pinch of salt; 150g (5oz) caster sugar; 1 tsp finely grated orange zest; 300ml (9 ½ fl oz) buttermilk; 2 free-range eggs; 100g (3 ½ oz) unsalted butter, melted; 150g (5oz) fresh or frozen raspberries

  1. Heat the oven to 190oC (gas mark 5).  Grease a 12-hole muffin tin or line with paper muffin cases.
  2. To make the topping, rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.  Mix in the sugar and pecans.
  3. To make the muffins, sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar into a large bowl. Add the orange zest and make a well in the centre.
  4. Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter.  Pour into the well in the flour mixture and stir until the ingredients are just combined.  Do not over mix – the batter should not be smooth.  Quickly fold in the raspberries.
  5. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin tin.  Sprinkle over the topping and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden.  A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Easy Upside Down Apricot Pudding

Always keep a couple of packets of sponge mix in the cupboard for a fast, easy pudding.

  • Stir 5 tbsp apricot jam into 225g / 8oz of no need to soak apricots and put into the base of a 1 1/2 pint pudding basin.
  • Make up 2 sponge mixes (you’ll find that one is not generous enough) according to the instructions on the packet and spread over the fruit.
  • Microwave on medium for about 8 minutes or bake in a tin half filled with water and entirely covered with foil at Mark 5 / 375oF/ 190oC for 40 minutes or until the sponge is risen, springy and firm to the touch.

A few things Apricotty and Puddinny that you may like …

Gingerbread

Makes 12 slices; Prep: 15 mins; Cook: 30-35 mins; Cals per slice: 233

Ingredients: 100g (4oz) butter; 175g (6oz) soft, light brown sugar; 100g (4oz) black treacle; 50g (2oz) golden syrup; 5cm (2in) piece root ginger, peeled and finely grated; 15ml (1 tbsp) instant coffee granules; 225g (8oz) plain flour; 5ml (1 tsp) bicarbonate of soda; 5ml (1tsp) ground cinnamon; pinch of freshly ground black pepper; 2 eggs, beaten; whipped cream, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4. Grease a 27 x 17.5cm (10 3/4 x 7 in) rectangular cake tin.
2. Melt the butter, sugar, treacle, syrup and ginger together in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
3. Meanwhile, dissolve the coffee granules in 90ml (4 fl oz) water, then sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground cinnamon into a large mixing bowl.
4. Add a little freshly ground black pepper, make a well in the centre, then pour in the butter mixture, eggs and coffee. Beat well with a balloon whisk until smooth and slightly thick.
5. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for about 25-30 mins until firm to the touch.
6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins. Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool. Cut into bars and serve warm or cold with freshly whipped cream. This pudding is also delicious served hot with custard.
Tip: If you haven’t got any fresh root ginger use 10ml (2 tsp) ground ginger instead. Real ginger lovers could also try adding chopped root ginger in syrup to the mixture too.

Banoffee Pie

A crisp biscuit base filled with the delicious combination of chewy toffee, bananas, cream and chocolate, this pudding is a real winner! The filling takes a little time and attention to make – it needs to be stirred continuously to prevent it from burning – but it’s well worth the effort.

Serves: 10; Cost: £3.20; Time to prepare: 20 mins; Time to cook: 23-33 mins; Cals per portion: 510

Ingredients: Base: 225g (8oz) oaty biscuits like hobnobs crushed; 75g (3oz) butter, melted
Filling and Topping: 405g can skimmed sweetened condensed milk; 100g (4oz) butter; 45ml (3 tbsp) maple syrup; 300ml (1/2 pt) double cream; 2 small bananas, peeled and sliced; 15ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice; cocoa powder and chocolate curls

1. To make the base, place the crushed biscuits in a large bowl and stir in the melted butter. Mix thoroughly then press mixture into the base and up the sides of a 20cm (8in) greased loosed-based fluted flan tin. Chill while making the pie filling.
2. To make the filling, place the condensed milk and the butter in a heavy-based pan and heat, stirring all the time, until the butter has melted. Simmer very gently, stirring all the time for 20-30 mins until the mixture thickens and turns a caramel colour.
3. Stir the maple syrup and 30ml (2 tbsp) of the double cream into the mixture and leave to cool for 10 mins, stirring occasionally. Then spread the cooled mixture into the prepared biscuit case and level the surface. Leave to cool completely.
4. Toss the banana slices in the lemon juice then arrange them over the cooled filling. Whip the rest of the cream until softly peaking, then spoon in large swirls over the bananas. Dust thickly with the cocoa powder and decorate with the chocolate curls.