Friday, 29 July 2011

Eggless Chocolate cake

You always have to have a chocolate cake recipe that you can trust and I have two! This is a lovely moist fluffy chocolate cake whereas my other one is a bit more fudgey (I will put up soon). I went to a friends house a few weekends ago for an annual weekend party with lots of my university friends. There were 40 of us sleeping is his house, you can just picture the packed sleeping arrangements. The weekend was excellent as usual and my contribution was two cakes for 40 people. I doubled this recipe and baked it in a 30cmx20cm roasting tin!

Eggless Chocolate Cake
190g self raising flour
85g cocoa powder
1 tsp  baking soda
pinch salt
225g sugar
120ml vegetable oil
250ml cold water
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp vinegar
1. Preheat the oven to 190C and grease a baking tin (8 x12in)
2. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in to a bowl
3. Make 2 wells in the dry mixture. Put the oil in one well, the cold water and vanilla essence in another. Stir together by scooping the edges of the well into the wet ingredients.
4. Stir in the vinegar, try not to over mix. Put the cake in the oven straight away - the vinegar will react with the baking soda and this makes the cake rise.
5. Bake for 30 mins and cover in chocolate buttercream. Other toppings you can try for a different taste are:
  • Raspberry icing
  • Vanilla buttercream/Vanilla cream cheese icing (recipe below with the blueberry cake)
  • Coffee buttercream (recipe below with mocha cupcakes)
  • Whip some double cream, smother over the cake and cover with strawberries or other berries for a bit of a tang against the chocolate

Chocolate buttercream
175g butter
125g cocoa powder
650g icing sugar
150ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Put all ingredients in a bowl and cream together. It’s best to “smoosh” the mixture together against the side of the bowl so the powder ingredients don’t fly everywhere.
2. If you have an electric whisk, then whisk it up fast and for as long as possible to make the icing nice and fluffy.


Saturday, 9 July 2011

Royal Icing and a baking sulk

So I have discovered royal icing!
Me and baking had a falling out a few weeks ago, I went back to my parents house for the weekend and did a lot of baking for an afternoon tea party and a family bbq. It all started going wrong with my scones, I rolled them too thin, for reasons best known to myself , so they didn’t rise and were very thin. I thought it’ll be fiiiine until my dad grabbed one off the tray and said “these biscuits are great”. Biscuit?! not a great start.
Next I moved on to nice and simple vanilla cupcakes which came out too dry, despite  filling them with copious amounts of homemade apple puree! blurgh
The family bbq was on Sunday so I prepared some cakes the night before. My real succes of the weekend was a Key Lime Pie. Now I know some people aren’t a fan as it’s too tangy but I substituted the digestive biscuit base for a ginger nut biscuit base and topped the whole thing with meringue (inspired by the lovely Ruth) to make it slightly sweeter. The only pain is the 8 limes you have to zest but it is worth it!  I made the key lime pie the night before then topped with meringue and baked just before the guests arrived (will upload the recipe soon).
So after my baking disasters I decided to stick to my tried and tested classic recipes; The Rich Chocolate Cake and The Vanilla Cake. Chocolate cake was fab as usual, love this recipe and will put up after this.
The vanilla cake sank…SANK! This is my most trusted recipe, it never fails but this day it sunk. So picture the scene - my whole house is full of family friends, my parents have been bragging to  them that there daughter is so good at baking, and here I am with a sunken vanilla cake……….cue trying to impress them in other ways. I grabbed the fondant icing and made some bees, yes bees. Not sure why exactly, perhaps in the panic I was inspired by my parents garden. Anyway, so I’ve got a family of bees (mummy, daddy and baby as my niece, Anya, told me) ready to go on my cake. I made some yellow buttercream to top the cake, but not normal yellow, fluorescent yellow! I totally underestimated how good liquid food colouring is (as I usually use paste) and put a huge dollop in….oops. In a last attempt to save the cake I made some homemade raspberry jam to fill it.

Despite me being unhappy with the yellow cake it all went down pretty well, although they may have just been being polite.
Sorry so back to royal icing, I’m not going to lie, the baking weekend tired me out and I secretly vowed never to bake again. After a week of sulking I decided to get back on the baking wagon.
I watched this useful video by littleladycakes to make some drop flowers with royal icing.
I made them with pink royal icing (I just brought a tub from the supermarket and heated it up – I am a strong believer of making life easier for yourself. If your going to make the cake and the icing, you shouldn’t have to worry about making extra icing for the decorations). They were so easy and therapeutic I made about 50! I love buttercream but it does have a tendency to melt in the warm weather and fondant icing is sometimes too fiddly.
Royal icing is an easy way to make your own decorations:
1) It sets rock hard to you dont have to worry about your decorations losing their shape and it’s easy to transport.
2) You can make the decorations in advance and just leave them in the cupboard until you are ready to use them.
I was going to use them to top some engagement cupcakes but I was too ill to go to the engagement party so I used them on the Coffee cupcakes posted next.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Coffee Cupcakes and driving

So I still haven’t passed my driving test! Living in London means you don’t need a car so much so I started learning pretty late. I had some bad experiences with a driving instructor so I gave up and was left petrified of driving – it’s possible I am being slightly melodramatic here but still I don’t like driving. I only have 6 months left on the theory test I passed so I decided to try again. My first lesson was utterly terrifying and I’m pretty sure I just hate driving but I wont give up!
When I got home I made some cupcakes to calm me down…
Coffee Cupcakes – This recipe is adapted from Baking magic (
95g self raising flour
4 tbsp cocoa powder (real cocoa not hot chocolate powder – it just won’t work)
120g caster sugar
120g margarine, softened
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp of strong coffee (I used fresh but you can use instant)
2 large eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 170C and lay out your 12 cupcake cases.
2. Cream together the margarine and sugar with a spatula or a electric whisk.
3. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and mix in with the marg mixture.
4. Stir in the coffee
5. Sift in the dry ingredients and beat until smooth with an electric whisk.
6. Using an ice cream scoop, evenly distribute the mixture in to your cupcake cases (fill the cases 2/3 full)
7. Bake for 20 mins  - insert a toothpick and if it comes out clean they are done.

Coffee buttercream

110g butter, unsalted
240g icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp coffee
Mix together, start off slowly to the icing sugar doesn’t go everywhere then whisk with an electric whisk until all fluffy!

I topped them with the royal icing flowers I had left over and some sprinkles & glitter in the cupboard but you could try chocolate covered coffee beans for a treat!
I have had my second lesson now and it wasn’t too bad so wish me luck x