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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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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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It’s That Day… V-Day

It’s that day again- Tuesday. For besotted among you it’s Valentine’s Day, and for the romantically liberated it’s Singles Awareness Day! Rest assured I’m not anti-love and neither am I bitter; on the contraire, this particular day had me writing romantic and thought provoking tweets from dusk til dawn!

Do you want to know what I’ve been earnestly craving to do all day! Bake! All day I day-dreamed of devishly sinful chocolate fudge recipes, and sickly sweet jam delights. The only thing that prevented me from doing so is the fact that I’m a ‘grown-up’ and I had to work *sigh* (Apparently trading in a day’s wage for hours of frivolous baking is not ideal) So I decided to bake after work instead, only to come home and remember that I had baked a batch of dark chocolate brownies the night before. As a cake-a-holic I had to ask myself, ‘do I really need to bake again?’ If I was at my parents’ house I would have whipped up a storm, with the reassurance that it would take less than 48hrs for any baked treat to be devoured. But as I was in my own flat, I thought it wise not to consume a plate of brownies to myself, washed down with a batch of cinnamon cupcakes. It was a hard choice, but I made the right choice and backed away from the flour!

In the past year I’ve seen this day as an excuse to bake to my heart’s content, and as much as I try not to portray myself as the crazy bachelorette who eats excessive amounts of cake, I’m starting to believe that’s who I am! But hey, if I’m enjoying it then why not? Being single is a choice and not a curse, you gotta enjoy it while you can. Love life. Love cake.

Happy Valentines Day!

Tracey xoxo

Enjoying one of the finer things in life: Hot Chocolate!

Another developing addiction.

‘Keep smiling because life is a beautiful thing, and there’s so much to smile about’ -Marilyn Monroe.