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Back to Basics

I hear it’s National Sponge Cake Day, I mean there’s a national day for everything now. I’m not complaining, my love for cake is unwavering.  And this is the perfect opportunity for me to slip back into the baking world, like I never left (almost).

I would often get a handful of readers telling me that baking is hard and too time consuming, so I thought I should take it back to basics and remind you of this simple and tasty sponge cake recipe. Nothing compares to a cake made from fresh ingredients, and the joy of knowing that you created it yourself. If you have followed my blog for long enough you will know that I am anti-store cakes. Think about it, what kind of cake has a shelf life of four weeks? Four. Weeks. Being a lover of cake doesn’t mean you can’t be health conscious too.

I hope you guys will give this recipe a try, and let me know how it goes if you do.

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Don’t Go Baking My Heart

Valentines and Pancake day are fast approaching. Whether you plan to indulge alone or treat your special someone to breakfast in bed, I have a recipe that will have you salivating from the batter to the plate!

I’ve never been one for boring pancakes (yes, I class English pancakes as boring), so when I stumbled across the Red Velvet pancake on the iHop menu I knew it would become one of my favourite recipes. I admit, this recipe requires a little more patience than most pancakes but believe me when I say it is worth it.

Ingredients

Plain flour 120g
Baking powder 3 tsp

Pinch of salt
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Caster Sugar 3-4 tbsp (or to taste)
Egg x1 (beaten)
Red food colouring x4 tsp
Vanilla Extract x2 tsp
Buttermilk 6fl oz.
Unsalted Butter (melted) x2 tbsp
Bicarbonate of Soda x1 tsp (Optional)
White distilled vinegar x1 tsp (Optional)
Extra butter or Olive oil for greasing the frying pan.

N.B. The brand of cocoa powder and red food colouring are two of the most important ingredients as they will determine the richness of the red colour. If you opt for a cheap cocoa powder and food colouring the pancakes will come out brown. My favourite tried and tested products are Green & Black’s cocoa powder and Dr. Oetker food colouring, for any red velvet bakes. If using the Dr. Oetker food colouring purchase two tubes which measures out at 4 tsp.

Begin by sifting the flour and dry ingredients into a bowl one by one and set aside (i.e. Flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder).

In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg for a few seconds until well mixed.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over the lowest heat, ensuring that it does not burn. When melted, add to the egg and butter mixture, along with the vanilla extract and whisk together.

Pour the buttermilk into a measuring jug and add the red food colouring to the jug itself. Mix together with a spoon until the buttermilk is red in colour. Next, add the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar to the buttermilk and stir in well. (N.B. Although all good red velvet recipes call for this step, I once forgot to add this part to the recipe and I didn’t taste a dramatic difference, so it can be optional)

Add half of the buttermilk to the wet mixture and use the whisk to mix well. Then sift half of the dry ingredients into the bowl and whisk; repeat this process until all ingredients are combined.

The trickiest part of the recipe is ensuring that the pancakes don’t burn. This will require your full attention:
Heat a frying pan on low-medium heat and drop in a small amount of butter or olive oil; tilt the frying pan so that the full surface is covered, and using a ladle pour a small amount of the batter into the centre of the pan.

Once you begin to see bubbles forming on the top of the pancake, flip it over using a spatula. Warning, if the pancakes are looking too dark they may be burning! Don’t panic, turn down the temperature and cook them on a lower heat. (That’s the most tedious part).

Serve with a drizzle (or dollop) of cream cheese frosting, sprinkle with icing sugar, drown in maple syrup or marry with a sweet berry compote.

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It’s Beginning to Taste a Lot Like Christmas

‘Tis the season of Starbucks Red Cups, Christmas Carollers and new baking recipes. If you have been panicking about the extra mouths to feed over the Christmas period, and not boring your family with the same Trifle dessert, the panic is over! If you are feeling brave enough to experiment and bring a different taste to Christmas, look no further.

In this beautiful season, many of us are fortunate to experience winter festivals, fairs and markets. I had my first German Market experience a few years ago: carousels, ferris wheel, juicy bratwurst, home made hot chocolate, mulled wine and pretzels were just a handful of things that grasped my attention. One tasty treat that my taste buds will never forget were the delectable treats known as Schmalzkuchen. These little doughnuts, other wise known as Lard Cakes, are traditional treats eaten at German winter festivals. Served hot and smothered in melted chocolate, these are the perfect little treats to keep your guests happy.


Schmalzkuchen

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National Cookie Day

December is here. The skies are littered with Christmas lights and the scent of freshly chopped trees fill the market areas. While there are many beautiful and significant things about this season, there is no doubt that indulgence has become one of them!

I admit, I took some time in deciding which recipe would kick start the Christmas season, then I stumbled across three very profound words: National Cookie Day.  What better way to begin the Christmas season of cupcakingly delicious recipes!

Thanks to my new friend Pinterest  I learnt some interesting facts about the history of the cookie:

  1. The name cookie derives from the Dutch word koekje, which means little cake.
  2. Cookies are typically made of eggs, flour, sugar, butter or cooking oil. Common ingredients are raisins, chocolate chips or oats.
  3. Popular American cookies were traditionally Macaroons or Gingerbread Cookies.

With Christmas just on our doorsteps, what better recipe to share other than the Gingerbread Cookie.

Gingerbread Men

Gingerbread Men

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Strawberry Sweetheart

Today the UK celebrates Mothering Sunday, and like I always say, there’s no better way to celebrate an occasion than with cake! Although I do have a confession to make, this is the first time in all my years of Adulthood that I  have eaten so much cake that I can’t see straight! Yup that’s me right now, (somehow typing this out while cross-eyed).

Earlier today I indulged in a plethora of sweet delicacies – from pistachio to carrot to lemon cake. Well, at least I slotted in my 5 a day *shrugs* The sweet treat that I created today was inspired by the incredible Hummingbird Bakery, one of my favourite UK high street bakeries.

As I nurse my headache and throbbing teeth, I leave you to admire these bite-size, mouth watering delights… Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes. A crunchy biscuit base, topped with a light vanilla sponge and fresh strawberries embedded in between each crumb. Top this off with a fresh buttercream frosting and a sprinkling of biscuits for a finishing touch.

Happy Mother’s Day! 

Tracey xo

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Queen of Hearts

14 February…

This is either a date that you look forward to with eager anticipation, or a day that you may refer to as S.A.D (Single’s Awareness Day). Yes, people do use this acronym. Whichever way you look at it, today is a day to indulge in cakes and bakes.

While couples empty the seasonal aisle of it’s chocolates, stuffed toys and novelty cards, you may want to consider this simple sugar cookie recipe…Wait! Before you reject the idea of baking for your valentine, believe me when I say that this is one of the simplest recipes you’ll come across – even for a beginner. If your valentine is a lover of cakes and bakes, then seducing their sweet tooth will definitely win you brownie points (yes, there’s a recipe for this too!)

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

Unsalted butter 200g
Caster sugar 280g
Vanilla Extract 1/4 tsp.
Egg x1
Plain flour x400g
Pinch of salt7
Cream of tartar 1/2 tsp.
Royal Icing (optional)

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas Mark 5

Put the butter, sugar* and vanilla extract in a bowl and mix together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Add the flour, salt and cream of tartar,** being careful not to over mix. The dough should be light, soft and easy to handle.

Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll out the dough with a rolling pin. (I usually sprinkle a little flour on the rolling pin too, to avoid the dough sticking). Cut out shapes with your choice of cookie cutters and place them on a baking tray with greaseproof paper. (Optional: Use a pastry brush to base the unbaked cookies with milk for a slightly golden colour).

Bake for 10-12 mins, regularly checking that they don’t burn. The cookies should be light and golden on the outer edges and paler in the centre. Leave to cool on a rack before either decorating with royal icing sugar or sprinkling with dry icing sugar.

*I usually reduce the sugar quantity by 80-100g and it still tastes sweet enough.

**Cream of tartar can be found in the baking aisle, along side baking soda (powder).

[If your cookies don’t happen to turn out the way you planned, present them in a box all the same, with a tag saying “Made with Love”. It’s kind of hard to resist a home-baked gift that was made with loving hands!]

Happy Valentines xo

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Merry Berry Christmas

Merry Christmas cake angels!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful day surrounded by friends, family, rich foods, desserts, and sweet wines!

Christmas always seems to be a time of repeated recipes in my household. Despite my eagerness to flaunt my baking abilities and showcase new recipes, my household love to request their favourite bakes… This Christmas I baked two light and crunchy Apple Streusel cakes, with a warm berry compote. Close your eyes and picture this, a light and fluffy vanilla cake lying beneath a layer of apples, and a crunchy bed of streusel topping. Drizzled over the cake is a cocktail of sweet n sour summer berries, the perfect winter warmer.

These are two of the simplest recipes you’ll find on the cupcakinglydelicious blog. Check out the Recipes page for the how-to.

Have yourself a Merry Berry Christmas!

Love, Peace & Joy,

Tracey xo