Basics of Baking

Quick Icing That Finishes Perfectly!

Welcome back!

To pick up from where I left off, I gave you a wonderful yet simple cake recipe that can be modified in so many ways! Add a shot of strong coffee; coffee cake. Take out a little of the flour (or sugar) and add in some cocoa powder; chocolate cake! It's honestly an endless list where the only thing stopping you is what you can think of! Pour in into a deep baking tray and you have a tray bake (but not a brownie and I'll explain the difference later!)

If you were wanting to jazz it up another way, there always the versatile fillings you can put in. From jams to peanut butter to chocolate spread, one of those with a simple buttercream and you're done! I'll even give you my favourite simple buttercream recipe, just to start you off!

  • 5oz butter
  • 10oz icing sugar
  • Tsp of flavouring - more if you're making a coffee buttercream, just add that to taste.
  • A dash of milk

Now, put the softened butter and half the icing sugar into a bottle and cream together. Once it's all nicely mixed and looking fluffy, add the rest of the icing sugar. Once you've got it all mixed and it's looking fluffy again, add a few teaspoons of milk just to loosen the mix enough—nothing worse than trying to spread or pipehard buttercream on soft cake!

Again, take out a little icing sugar and add cocoa powder for a nice chocolate icing. Coffee you'll need to do by taste, because it depends how strong you want the flavour and what coffee you have to use - just dissolve a few teaspoons in a tablespoon of hot water and add as you go.

Of course decorating a cake can go as far as your creativity with it, if you want a plain topped rustic looking cake, go for it—rustic is food fashionable! Go decadent with loads of favourite chocolates on top or drizzle with a sauce to add more texture to each bite. Copy the traditional red velvet and use any trimming to sprinkle over the top

Speaking of red velvet, there's a slightly more complex cake that is often confused by what it's meant to be. Here the the UK if you buy a red velvet cupcake in a supermarket you get an interesting almost strawberry flavour cake and for those of you who like them, I'm sorry, that's not a red velvet cake!

Red velvet is an American cake, with a rich vanilla flavor backed up with subtle cocoa—interesting fact, the cocoa used to give the cake it's flavour was also what gave it the dark red colour! And yes, it's a dark maroon traditionally. This delicious, soft cake is then topped with a rich cream cheese frosting and for those of you who've had a real Red velvet, you know it can be a real treat!

If you haven't had red velvet cake, here's my recipe for one. It does include some different ingredients on top of the usual suspects, but these are what add to the texture and flavour of the cake. So, without further ado here is my red velvet cake

  • 180g soft butter
  • 450g caster sugar
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 60ml red food colour
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla essence
  • 360g buttermilk
  • 450g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1.5 bicarb
  • 4.5 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 30g cocoa powder

Yes, it is a big recipe, but the result is a rich and delicious authentic red velvet cake. It needs a little more time and care too, but again, it is worth the result.

So, method:

Cream the butter and sugar together, slowly adding the eggs. 

In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla essence in to make a paste, add to the buttermilk and mix well. 

If using a stand mixer, turn it on low (if not, mix gently) and add half the buttermilk, let it mix in thoroughly and add the rest of the buttermilk. Once it’s all mixed in, add your chocolate paste to the mix and keep beating gently.

Next you want to add the dry ingredients, so the bicarbonate soda, the salt and half the flour. Fold it in gently until it’s all incorporate and add the remaining flour with the white wine vinegar (if you’re using is) 

Now the mix is ready to bake and as per the previous article, the time depends on what you’re making. If it’s cupcakes, you’ll be done in 15 minutes and a bigger cake, depending on size and depth can be done anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour. 

Of course, once the cake is baked, trim the top slightly and pipe on some cream cheese frosting—voila! Crumble some cake crumb on top for decoration and you’re done.

A traditional red velvet cake. Enjoy!

Until next time.