Gastronomically Terrific

January 15, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , , — thinkingdan @ 4:45 pm

Red Velvet Cupcakes

After my baking extravaganza this week, I think Anna was keen to show me up.  So she made these crazy cupcakes that don’t just taste awesome, the look awesome too.  I’m pretty gutted about it, since I was fairly pleased with my own efforts until now.  Or at least I would be gutted if I didn’t get to stuff my face on sweet sweet velvety goodness for the next week.

For those that don’t know, “velvet” cakes are basically just ordinary cakes with red food colouring.  But like all things, it’s not that simple.  There is some additional chocolately goodness to pay you back for picking the crazy coloured cake, and I think the consistency has been played with too as the ingredients involving mixing bicarbonate of soda with white wine vinegar! This gives it a very tight, slightly dense texture that does indeed feel velvety on the tongue.  Finally, the topping is cream cheese mixed with icing sugar, a really tasty combination that works really well here.

My only problem with them is that they are very, very rich.  Served in muffin cases, they are an awful lot of cake and a real challenge to get through… The second time we tried these, we had half each and used a fork to eat it which was a much better idea – I felt that I was in charge of the cake and not the other way around.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Cake Days: Recipes to make every day special, by the Hummingbird Bakery, page 178.


January 14, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Traybake with chocolate topping

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , , — thinkingdan @ 11:11 pm

Another “cake club” recipe, this vegan cake was a lot more challenging than the sultana and orange traybake.  My intention was to make a chocolate traybake, but it came out just a little too crumbly and, well, “cocoa-ey” for my tastes, so I added a cherry jam layer and a sweeter chocolate topping.  I broadly followed this recipe, and this for the topping, but I was afraid of the warnings that the main cake would be too sweet (so reduced the sugar) and too oily (so reduced the oil).  The consistency I ended up with was perfect for a pudding, but not that practical for a working cake session!  Still, I think it tasted pretty good.  Perhaps a little more oil would be wise.


For the cake:

  • 175g plain flour
  • 200g Demerara sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 2/3 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 150ml water
  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 2/3 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling and topping:

  • Cherry jam (for the filling)
  • 100g sugar
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 75ml water


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius, grease a 9×9 inch (23x23cm)  traybake tin and line with greaseproof paper
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Pour in water, vegetable oil and vanilla; mix until well blended.
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer/knife comes out clean.  Wait for the cake to cool.
  4. Slice in half, generously smother one half with jam, and place the second half on top of the jam.
  5. To make the frosting, Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, and cocoa in a medium sauce pan, add the water slowly. Heat over medium until it gets thick and starts to boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes.  (“Make sure you don’t boil too long, or it will set like taffy”.) Remove from heat and stir in oil and vanilla.


The frosting was a pain.  I added just a little too much water and had to boil it a little longer; still, it did not set like frosting but was slightly gooey (in a good way!).  Obviously this is a very delicate thing to do, and if you have vegan margarine/vegan buttermilk substitutes there are easier frosting recipes out there!

Who made it: Dan

Recipe: Modified from this recipe, and this for the topping.

Sultana and Orange Traybake

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , — thinkingdan @ 10:36 pm

This simple fruity “cake club” recipe was well received, and it is very flavour-filled when fresh. When a little older it loses its charm a little so eat it up! I think it comes recommended by our expert tasters, although you’d be advised to reduce the amount of orange zest as I found it left a tang for quite a while afterwards!


  • 6oz (150g) margarine
  • 6oz (150g) caster sugar
  • 7.5oz (200g) self-raising flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 4oz (100g) sultanas
  • 2oz (50g) raisins
  • 2oz (50g) dried apricot, finely diced
  • grated rind of 2 oranges (try 1 big, or 1 1/2 small?)
  • Demerara sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius, grease a 9×9 inch (23x23cm)  traybake tin and line with greaseproof paper
  2. add all ingredients except the sugar to a large bowl and mix well
  3. pur into the tin, and bake for 15-20 minutes
  4. sprinkle the sugar over the top and return to the heat for 15-20 minutes or until cooked


I didn’t put the sugar in early enough and it didn’t melt into the mixture but sat on top.  This was OK but I think a crispy sugary layer would’ve been better!  I adapted the recipe from a 12x9in recipe, hence the odd amounts.  the apricot was my own addition as I rather like the subtle flavour it gives the cake when you get a piece.  I found the sultanas sunk a bit – to fix this, you can try sprinkling half of them on top  instead of mixing them in.

Who made it: Dan.

Recipe: Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book, page 79.

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