Red Velvet Valentine’s Cake

valentines red velvet bundt cake beetroot and hand decorated chocolate hearts

Continuing in what has become an annual tradition, what would valentine’s day be without a red velvet cake?

This year I decided to mix it up (no pun intended) and try a different recipe – red velvet cake made with… beetroot! The colour is a great natural alternative to the normally used red food colouring, and the texture of the beetroot makes the cake lovely and moist. The recipe I used is this one from All Recipes.

I’ll be honest I’m not a massive beetroot fan, so have never cooked with it before. So I nearly fell at the first hurdle, the ingredients list, of boiled and grated beetroot! A few googles later and I gave it about 20 minutes boiling, before cooling and grating. It was easier than it sounded although a little messy 🙂

grating beetroot for red velvet valentines cake

The rest of the recipe was really easy to follow, and filled up by bundt tin perfectly.

Once baked, the cake smelt amazing although I was a little disappointed by the lack of, well, red-ness! Maybe it could have done with less cocoa?

chocolate bundt cake perfectly moulded

But if you can’t paint a cake red on valentine’s day, then when can you? I applied a light glaze all over, using a couple of drops of red food colouring, 2 tablespoons of icing sugar, and enough water to make a light paste. Much more satisfyingly red!

red glazed bundt cake velvet valentines chocolate and vanilla

To ice, there really was no question. Red velvet cake without cream cheese icing is like… valentine’s day without red velvet cake 🙂
I made my cream cheese icing thick and plentiful, drizzling it all over the top of the bundt.

cream cheese frosting oozing on red velvet valentines cake

To finish, I used a thin silicon mould to create some hearts out of dark chocolate and red candy melts. These ones were actually Renshaw Colour Melts – I like these ones as they don’t taste as artificial as some of the others.

moulded chocolate hearts red candy colour melts and dark

moulded chocolate hearts on red velvet valentines bundt cake chocolate hearts and cream cheese icing frosting on valentines red velvet beetroot bundt cake

Adorned with hearts – et voila, my red velvet cake masterpiece!

valentines red velvet bundt cake made with beetroot natural colours one of five a day

Happy valentine’s day ❤ x

Ruby Wedding Cake

john and claire ruby wedding anniversary cake red fondant decorations flowers edible glitter

This weekend just gone, Rob’s parents, John and Claire, had a celebratory lunch for their upcoming ruby wedding anniversary. 40 years – what an achievement!

Claire had asked me months ago to make a cake, and specifically the Tropical Fruit Cake with coconut icing that I made for CCC last Christmas. Coincidentally it was exactly a year since I last made this cake!

I used 1 1/2 times the recipe to make a huge square cake, and a good thick layer of coconut icing, which set in the fridge before I started decorating.

Using red fondant throughout, I personalised the cake with a sparkly name plate, and ‘Ruby Wedding Anniversary’ lettering on the edge of the plate. To finish – some sparkly ruby-red flowers.

ruby wedding anniversary winter christmas tropical fruit cake red floral glitter john and claire name plate personalised ruby wedding anniversary cake red fondant festive flowers on coconut iced cake decorated with edible glitter john and claire ruby wedding anniverary cake tropical fruit christmas cake with coconut icing and red decorations

Rob had mentioned that his parents wanted to give some of the cake to friends who couldn’t be at the lunch – so | made some matching cupcakes to ensure there was plenty to go around. Sticking with the theme, they were a (ruby) red velvet chocolate cake base, topped with a swirl of vanilla butter cream, and coordinating red flowers.

winter floral ruby red flower cupcakes with vanilla icing swirl for wedding anniversary ruby flower cupcake for wedding anniversary party ruby red flower cupcakes with edible glitter vanilla buttercream swirl for wedding anniversary celebration

It was a great lunch and lovely to be able to celebrate with them. Happy Anniversary John & Claire!

Valentine’s Day Hidden Heart Design Red Velvet Bundt Cake

red roses with velvet bundt cake hidden heart design

Valentine’s Day in our house always has one thing on the menu – red velvet cake. Since the first Red Velvet Cake I made for Rob 3 years ago when we’d just started dating, we’ve evolved through a chocolate-layered Love Cake 2 years back, and last years Red Velvet Ombre Cake. It’s clear then that no ordinary cake is going to cut it!

This year I wanted to embrace one of my own loves – bundt cakes – with something new I’ve been wanting to try for a while, a hidden design.

The basic bundt batter is quite simple, I mixed it up as a whole, using what I needed to create the vanilla hearts, before adding the red colouring and cocoa for the red velvet outer.


225g butter
325g white sugar
6 eggs
380g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
325 ml buttermilk (or 315ml normal milk mixed with 10ml lemon juice)
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

25g cocoa powder
Red gel food colouring
10ml milk


– Cream together the butter and sugar
– Beat in the eggs one at a time, with a little flour, then stir in the buttermilk and vanilla essence.
– Sieve the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture
– Use as much mixture as needed and bake the hidden design centre first
– Add the cocoa, remaining milk and sufficient food colouring to the remaining batter for the red velvet outer

I made my hearts in a silicon mould – you could bake a sheet cake and cut them from this if you don’t have a tin of the shape you want to use as your design. Baking time is dependent on what shape and size of mould you use, mine took about 20 minutes at 180. They should be slightly under-baked as opposed to over-done. Wait until nearly cool before continuing.

heart shape sponge cake for hidden design cake

I then trimmed off the edges of the heart cakes, to make them fit into the round design of the bundt.

hidden heart shape bundt cake trimming csskes for centre

Making sure the bundt tin was well greased, I put in a bottom layer of the red velvet mixture, before carefully layering in the heart cakes.

valentines hidden heart bundt cake layering up shapes into red velvet batter

A final layer of red velvet covered up the hidden design, before baking at 180 for around 45 minutes, until cooked through.

red velvet batter in bundt tin hidden heart design cake for valentines day

Fresh out of the oven and a beautiful red colour!

freshly baked red velvet bundt secret hidden heart design for valentines day recipe

To top a red velvet cake there really is only one choice in my book – cream cheese frosting!

To top this cake I used 75g cream cheese, 25g butter and 200g icing sugar, well-mixed and lavished over the top:

dripping cream cheese icing on red velvet cake

And to finish – a little hint to the inside – I used plunger cutters to create red heart sprinkles from some coloured fondant icing, letting them air-dry before use so the colour didn’t run into the icing.

red fondant heart sprinkles plunger cutter valentines recipe

valentines day love cake heart fondant sprinkles on cream cheese icing

All finished and ready to cut!

valentines day red velvet hidden heart design bundt cake with fondant shapes and cream cheese icing

Rob was out when I finished baking, so I left the cake out on the table with suitable embellishment – like he wouldn’t know it was for him!

red velvet bundt love cake and rose hidden heart design valentines day gift ideas love you chalkboard sign gift message valentines day red velvet hidden heart design bundt cake recipe

I asked Rob the next morning if he’d tried the cake when he got in. Yes he said. A big slice he said. And the inside…? Erm, just red and white cake, he said? What! Surely not! All that hard work wasted?

On closer inspection it was very clear he’d just been too keen to eat it. And the heart shape looked just perfect running through ❤ Mission accomplished!

hidden heart design red velvet and vanilla bundt cake valentines day recipe cream cheese icing


Easy Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe

easy simple red velvet cupcake recipe with cream cheese frosting home bake instructions and basic ingredients gel food colour

Red velvet is an American-originating fast-becoming cake classic. A lot of recipes make things more complicated than they need be – but these are quick, simple and just as tasty, without the complications of buttermilk, white wine vinegar, or anything else that you don’t know even where to start looking in the supermarket for. Topped with a cream cheese frosting, these are a sure fire hit for all kinds of parties, kids and adults alike, Halloween, Christmas, or anytime in fact for a quick chocolate fix!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Ingredients (makes 6 medium or 4 large cupcakes)

60g butter
60g sugar
1/2 teaspoon good quality vanilla essence
1/4 teaspoon red gel food colouring – liquid colours will not work
10g cocoa powder
50g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg (medium or large)
Pinch of salt


– Beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
– Add the egg, food colouring and cocoa powder, and beat until well mixed.
– Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl, and carefully fold in.
– Spoon into cupcake cases, and bake at 180 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes, dependent on size, until they are firm and springy when pressed lightly with a finger .

freshly baked red velvet chocolate and vanilla full size cupcakes easy recipe bake from scratch

The tang of a cream cheese icing is a perfect complement to the sweet cupcakes, but you could of course use something else. White chocolate? Milk chocolate? Chocolate chocolate? 🙂

Cream Cheese Frosting

35g cream cheese
10g butter
100g icing sugar

Simply beat together all the ingredients in a bowl. Don’t over mix or the cream cheese might go runny – if this happens just refrigerate for 15 minutes before putting on the cupcakes.
Cream cheese makes for quite a sticky icing so it’s not really worth trying to pipe it. A simple spread over with a knife and you’re done!

I topped mine with some red velvet cake crumbs, you can either trim a small amount off the top of one of the cupcakes, or separately bake a tablespoon full in a spare cake case. Any leftovers are great for taste testing!

red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting icing and matching cake crumb topping easy simple recipe uk ingredients without buttermilk chocolate and vanilla

And inside – a light, fluffy cupcake, vibrant red in colour but with subtle flavours of vanilla and chocolate.

light and fluffy red velvet cupcake recipe chocolate and vanilla flavour no buttermilk without complication easy and simple basic ingredients uk baker cream cheese icing crumb

Red Velvet Valentines Ombre Cake

red velvet ombre valentines cake present vanilla and chocolate with cream cheese icing heart sugar sprinkle topping

Happy Valentines Day! We have agreed not to do presents this year (it is going to be a costly enough 2013 as it is, watch this space…) but of course I couldn’t shy away from the valentines cake tradition! Rob would be broken-hearted if there wasn’t a red velvet surprise waiting for him. Last years was an epic 3 layer chocolate-fondant-covered Love Cake, and two years ago a gigantic heart-shaped red velvet cake.

This year I decided to go somewhat on-trend, and something I’ve wanted to try for a while, ombre. For those not in the know this is basically just a layered cake, with colours graduated throughout. Generally a light coloured layer at the top, with colour building layer-by-layer to a deep hue on the bottom layer. Simple.

Although there are some great red velvet recipes out there, with their buttermilk, vinegar etc, I chose to stick with a simple vanilla sponge, that I know well, so I could easily add the ombre effects.

As I didn’t want a huge cake on my hands (Rob may disagree!), I used 1.5x the mixture for a normal victoria sponge. I.e.: 150g butter, 150g sugar, 3 eggs, 150g SR flour and a splash of vanilla essence.

I mixed the basic sponge up in one big bowl, then divided into 4 smaller ones to start the colouring:

vanilla sponge cake mix divided into four glass bowls recipe

First up, cocoa. Leaving the first bowl plain, I added 1/2 teaspoon to the second bowl, a full teaspoon to the third, and a well-heaped teaspoon (probably about 1 1/2 teaspoons) to the last.

ombre cake cocoa powder mixing chocolate batter into for bowls

And then, the red food colouring. I use Home2Bake, which I get from Asda, the little pot lasts for ages (even with the amount of baking I do!) and always gives a good strong colour.

Again I added nothing to the first bowl, the second had just a little dab (using a cocktail stick), the third a good swirl, and the fourth as much as the cocktail stick could pick up in one splodge!

ombre cake red velvet colouring the batters into graduated layers gel food colour instructions

I baked the cakes in normal round victoria sponge tins (I think mine were 7 inches). As they were a little thinner than a normal sponge they took around 9 – 10 minutes in my fan oven, at 180 degrees. As I then had to take a break to make dinner, I had to hide the cakes away from Rob, so left them to cool dotted around my crockery cupboard!

ombre cake four layers cooling in crockery cupboard red velvet chocolate

To fill and top I used a rich cream cheese icing. I tried to follow the pink whisk‘s recipe, but found it really very runny. In the end I used the 70g butter, 250g tub of cream cheese, and 700-800g icing sugar. This was far too much icing and I’d definitely halve it if making again!

First layer:

layering ombre cake with cream cheese frosting icing turntable for ease instructions

And the finished stack:

red velvet ombre cake layers graduated colour filled with cream cheese icing valentines present

Next step was to cover the entire outside of the cake in the frosting, so that the layers would only be revealed once a slice was cut. This was more tricky than it sounds! The cream cheese frosting doesn’t hold well in place (it needs to be kept cold, difficult while working with it), and the cake went a bit leaning-tower, but only on one side…

cake covered in cream cheese icing ombre slightly wonky

Nevertheless I was glad it was all covered, and hurriedly stuck it in the fridge to cool and set before the cream cheese slid any further. I checked back the next day and it was definitely looking more solid!

As the inside was so complex, I wanted to keep the topping simple. Using some left over, thinned down icing, I painted a heart on the top…

valentines cake painting heart in icing to be covered in shimmer sugar

… and covered with red shimmer sugar, coaxing into place as well as possible.

red velvet ombre valentines cake heart shimmer sugar topping cream cheese icing

Well the outside didn’t look too bad after all the cream cheese issues – but as they say, the proof of the pudding…

red velvet ombre valentines heart cake slice pink champagne glasses (2)

Hoorah! The layers looked fab! And perfect with the cream cheese frosting.

red velvet ombre cake candles background cream cheese frosting

Of course Rob loved it (I haven’t yet made a cake he didn’t!) and went back for 2 generous slices.

Happy Valentines everyone! ❤ x

valentines day flowers and red velvet ombre cake cream cheese frosting

Red Velvet & Chocolate Reindeer Cupcakes

santas red nosed reindder cupcakes red velvet and chocolate christmas baking ideas

A couple of weeks ago I attended a work event where we had a quick team building session – cupcake making! The lovely lady who was running us through things had some fantastic Christmas ideas (you may have seen them over on my twitter). As soon as I clapped eyes on her reindeer cakes I knew they’d be perfect for the primary school Christmas fair I’m attending over in Leicestershire today.

To make them extra festive I decided to do a red velvet cake, in a red paper cupcake case. I didn’t have the ingredients in for a ‘traditional’ red velvet recipe so I adapted a chocolate one I knew would work well.

This recipe is from my much-loved Be-Ro book – you can see it’s had plenty of use and I’ve only had it about 5 years! It had quite a low cocoa content anyway, so I upped the vanilla to a teaspoon, and added a good amount of red gel food colouring to get the colour.
I also didn’t have any evaporated milk – but as this is essentially just concentrated milk, I used 90ml of regular milk and omitted the water.

milk chocolate cake recipe adapted to make red velvet ingredients classic british bero

As the cupcakes were much smaller than the big cake in the recipe they needed less baking time – they took about 12 minutes at 180 in my fan oven.

red velvet chocolate cake cupcake wrappers baking tray christmas ideas

To decorate it was chocolate all the way! First I whipped up some chocolate butter cream (simply using butter, icing sugar, and cocoa), before piping onto the cakes using a wide star nozzle. I quickly topped with the first chocolately decorations – two Cadbury chocolate pretzels for antlers, and a chocolate button to form the base for the nose.

reindeer chocolate red velvet cupcakes pretzel antlers christmas

The red Rudolph nose was as a simple as a chocolate button – ‘glued’ into place with a little leftover buttercream.

red chocolate bean nose on chocolate bun with swirl icing using star nozzle how to make reindeer cupcakes for christmas

Finally I was left with the eyes – these presented more of a challenge as I didn’t want to pipe straight onto the cakes for fear of messing the whole thing up! Luckily I found these great sugar sprinkles in the supermarket, the white ones were perfect (and I’m sure the pink ones will come in useful some cake down the line):

dr oetker pink and white polka dots sugar sprinkles making googly cartoon ideas for cupcakes

To the white discs I added small blobs of black royal icing, very carefully dabbed on using the end of a cocktail stick. I made a whole plateful of googly eyes so it was easier to match up pairs – I didn’t want boss-eyed reindeer!

eyes for cartoon reindeer cupcakes googly black and white painted

These were glued in place with a tiny bit more butter cream. If I’d have been organised I’d have made the eyes in advance so they could be stuck on as soon as the icing was in place… but, well, if you saw the state of my kitchen, you’d understand organised isn’t really a word in vocabulary…!

christmas red velvet reindeer cupcake chocolate pretzel antlers red nose rudolph

They are seriously some of the cutest cupcakes I think I’ve ever made – and combine all the classic food groups of chocolate, cake, and sweets. I hope the kids like them as much as I do!

chocolate red velvet reindeer cupcakes decorated with pretzels buttons beans and sugar sprinkle eyes christmas baking

red velvet and milk chocolate cupcake pretzel buttons and smarties kids baking for christmas rudolph

Happy as a Hummingbird

National Cupcake Week. London. Time to spare before my train. It could only mean one thing… a visit to the cupcake mecca that is Hummingbird Bakery! I went to the branch in Spitalfields as it was closest to the exhibition I’d spent the day at. A short walk from Liverpool Street station, it’s also incredibly close to the City and Tower Hill – you could walk up in about 10 minutes.

As you leave the City and walk North you can very quickly tell when you’re getting close – the sleek glass and steel structures of the financial district are quickly left behind, and bright, funky wall art springs at you from round corners:

Looking like something out of Harry Potter, the Spitalfields bakery is located in the brilliantly named Frying Pan Alley – so called because of the ironmongers who used to hang pans outside their shops by way of advertisement .

Hummingbird has a prominent position down the pedestrian arcade, with some great outdoor seating. Needless to say, in the middle of a September Wednesday afternoon, it was rather quiet!

For some reason I was surprised at what I found in side – not as many varieties of cupcake as I’d expected, and, shock horror, other cakes too!

The sliced layer cakes certainly looked very tempting – I gladly accepted a sample of the pink-iced vanilla – and the icing sugar stenciled chocolate brownies were a simple but effective idea.

Nevertheless – I found what I was looking for in an array of sumptuous cases of cupcakes.

I was quickly drawn to Hummingbird’s signature cake – the Red Velvet – loved and re-created by many bakers up and down the country, HBB (an American company) are credited as being the first to bring this type of cake to the UK. You can check out my previous attempts at making my own red velvet here.

I was also impressed to find a gluten-free version – great that they are embracing people with tricky diets. Now all they need is a fat- and calorie-free cupcake…

Of the other cupcakes there was a delicious banana smell coming from their daily special – banana milkshake topped with a candy straw…

…and some bright coloured cakes with fondant decorations – the signature bird, stars, and even delicate footprints!

But how could I sample anything else other than a red velvet? I chose one to make my own, managing to keep my (rather-oversized!) fork away long enough to snap up some of that beautiful red colour:

Inside it was just as delicious – the bright red colour was the sweet taste of vanilla with a hint of chocolate, and the cream cheese icing was whipped to perfection. The whole cake was so deliciously light that I could have happily eaten several more!

Before leaving I took a quick peek into their Cakes by Consultation room. Hummingbird wedding cake you say….?! I’m still unsure what I loved best – the eye-catching bird print artwork, or the stunning cake models on display.

Perhaps the most tempting of everything in the shop…? If only I lived in London!

I also picked up a couple more cupcakes to bring home – you can have them boxed in batches of 1, 2, or 6, and I happily swung my little bag all the way out the door!

One tube, two trains, and a mile’s walk later, my cupcakes finally made it home. The box held them perfectly and they still looked exactly as they had in the shops (even after my mad dash through St Pancras to get the train!). I chose a black-bottom cupcake and banana milkshake so as to try some of the other flavours the bakery offers.

The black bottom was a rich, moist, rich chocolate cake, with a dollop of cheesecake mix containing big thick chocolate chips, finished with a smooth cream cheese frosting. Looking at the black bottom cupcake on their website, the cheesecake is apparently supposed to be centred – nice to know even the pros can get their cupcake layers wrong. Don’t get me wrong though, it was still very tasty!

Onto the banana special – The straw was made of a yummy soft candy stick, and following the cupcake down it only got tastier! A brilliant combination of a creamy, thick frosting that tasted exactly like banana milkshake, perfectly complemented by a moist banana sponge. The banana milkshake is a limited edition flavour, only available on Wednesday’s until the end of September – so you have one more week to go!

Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the Hummingbird Bakery. Maybe my next mission will be to try out all their other branches!

The only downside I’d say is the price – these are truly special occasion cupcakes; I paid £8.60 for one eat-in and two takeaway (you have to pay VAT if you eat in) – which at nearly £3 a cupcake is a little much even though they are so scrummy.

And in a great twist – I discovered as I ambled up to the train (with blatant disregard for nearly missing the train) – I dressed today in Hummingbird colours, a brown dress and pink cardigan! Coincidence…?

Love Cake <3

As promised – valentines 2012 and another heart themed cake to better last years.

Rob had requested red velvet cake again, so I couldn’t disappoint. To make it extra special I decided to go for a triple layer approach – red velvet, chocolate, and red velvet again!

I stacked them up, filled and covered with the most heavenly white chocolate buttercream: a wicked combination of melted white chocolate, icing sugar and butter, all beaten until sweet, smooth and very sticky!

As it was going under a fondant layer looks didn’t matter at this point… it was just a case of getting as much icing as possible, and getting it to stay put! I left it for a little while in the cold kitchen to set a bit before continuing, so the layers didn’t start sliding all over the place.

Final step before decorating – yummy chocolate fondant. I bought this ready-made as trying to colour fondant is difficult enough, let alone adding a flavour.

A tip I learned online somewhere – use a piece of string or similar to measure up the side of your cake, across the top, and down the other side. This will tell you how large you need to roll the fondant out to before placing it on the cake.

Another tip to get the fondant shiny and clear – mine was covered in icing sugar and obviously needed smoothing down. I took a pastry brush and dipped it in a little water, then painted very lightly all over the whole cake. This blended in both the folds of the fondant, and also all the white icing sugar.

Final step – decorating! I wanted to go for something simple but effective, so mixed up some red fondant (it wasn’t worth buying a whole pack of red just for this little bit, so I used white with plenty of red colouring), and also invested in a pack of mixed chocolate hearts.

A cookie cutter or too later, some normal icing used as glue and tada – my creation was complete!

Rob was of course delighted, and after a delicious 3 course meal (this being the 4th course!) it took centre-table, flanked by obligatory champagne 🙂

And when we cut into the cake, it was everything I’d hoped – sumptuous, vivid layers, encompassed on all sides by the white chocolate buttercream. A true chocoaholics cake!

Sweets For My Sweet

As it’s nearing that time of year again, I wanted to share my sweet treat from Valentines 2011.

I made this cake for Rob, and to this day he still claims it’s the best cake he’s ever tasted (he ate the WHOLE thing to himself, save for a tiny slice which I was allowed!)

And, to my credit, I think it is my most proudest baking effort to date as well.

So here we are: Valentines Red Velvet Cake.

All the red velvet recipes that I’ve seen are generally very similar, and this one was no different.  At the time I couldn’t find any buttermilk or white wine vinegar, so used normal whole (full-fat) milk and just a splash of ordinary white vinegar.
Luckily I already had a heart shaped cake tin so no tedious cutting and shaping required.

The filling/icing was a white chocolate cream cheese concoction – and absolutely heavenly!

I decorated it with a very generous sprinkling of edible glitter, and made the heart shapes using the end of a chopstick and some red food colouring.

My only issue now is how to top it for 2012. All suggestions welcome! One week to go…