Tiers of the Cake

A tasty slice of inspiration...

Hello foodies,

A huge warm welcome to Red Velvet Baking, the blog! I have been baking since I can remember and I have always wanted to share my experiences and tasty flair beyond the walls of my own home. In summer 2011 I launched this little blog. I blog as a celebration of my achievements and dedication to my culinary passion, alongside an overflow of my enthusiasm, with a few added delicious recipe ideas. Pictures and tips galore, sure enough to sink your teeth right into and to get your mouth watering. Delicious beautiful baking can put a smile on anyones face.

Summer 2013 saw me train for a month at Leiths, gaining a distinction in practical cookery and last summer I ran a culinary arts course in the USA, specialising in baking.

I am now back in the UK, writing for my blog from sunny Yorkshire. 2015 is going to be a big year for Red Velvet Baking, so keep posted!

Keep calm, enjoy and most importantly BAKE!


Jessica

xox

Twitter @RedVelvetBaking
Instagram @RedVelvetBaking
Pinterest Red Velvet Baking
Facebook Red Velvet Baking
Website - Undergoing a magical makeover!

Find the missing sprinkle...

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Eat: Double Chocolate Roulade

Hey foodies, 

With summer on its way, desserts are getting lighter. I have plenty of space for warm, sticky puddings with lashings of custard, in my heart, but on bright summer evenings, sometimes a lighter, cold dessert best fits the occasion.

This is one of my ultimate favourite desserts. I've been making variations on this recipe for years. It's quick and easy, but looks professional and it is even coeliac friendly!

I always get asked to describe a what a roulade is like and 9 times out of 10 I just say eat some! I put roulades on a scale between swiss roll and meringue. It's like a super light swiss roll, as it contains no flour, but also like a soft meringue with a slightly firm outer shell. The fact of the matter is you have to try it and after one mouthful, I'm sure you'll be hooked!

Ingredients

200g (7oz) plain chocolate (54% cocoa solids plus preferably), broken into pieces
150g (5oz) golden caster sugar
5 medium eggs, separated
1tsp vanilla escence
2-3tbsp icing sugar, sifted
100g (4oz) white chocolate, broken into pieces
284ml (10floz) double cream
150g (5oz) raspberries or blackberries for decoration
Extras may include white or dark chocolate curls, icing sugar for dusting etc.

Method

1. Heat a fan assisted oven to 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4). Melt the plain chocolate in a bain marie (bowl over a pan of simmering water). In a separate bow whisk the sugar and egg yolks for around 4 minutes, until pale and thick, before folding in the melted chocolate.

2. In another separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Then, carefully beat 2tbsp of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Proceed by gently folding in the remainder egg whites, being careful not to overwork the mixture.

3. Line a swiss roll tine (33 x 23 cm/ 13 x 9in). Pour the mixture onto the parchment and bake in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes, until risen and firm to the touch.

4. Whilst the meringue roulade is baking, melt the white chocolate in a bain marie and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Then, whisk the cream until forming soft peaks.

5. When the roulade is ready to be taken out of the oven, prepare a large sheet of greaseproof paper sprinkled with icing sugar, for the roulade to be turned out onto. Once turned out, cover with a clean damp tea towel and allow to cool.

6. Return to the cream and white chocolate and combine. Sometimes you may need to rewhip the cream slightly to keep the stiff texture.

7. Once the roulade has cooled, remove the tea towel and smoother with the white chocolate cream. Some people like to add some raspberries/blackberries at this stage to the filling of the roulade, however it is just as delicious to use them more for decoration.

8. Using the greaseproof paper as a guideline, roll the roulade from one long end to the other. Between rolls use the greaseproof to tuck the roulade right under itself, shaping a neat roll and don't worry if it cracks, this is a rustic dessert after all! Once rolled, roll up in the greaseproof and tighten the ends, before chilling. This will keep it in perfect shape ready for serving.


Variations

White Chocolate & Raspberry
Replace the dark chocolate with white chocolate and use 250ml creme freche and a punnet of crushed raspberries for the filling, for a slightly lighter delight!!


Black Forest Roulade
Make the chocolate roulade as above. Once cooled drizzle two tbsp of Chambord (raspberry liqueur) or Kirsch (cherry liqueur) over the roulade. Use double cream, whipped like before but scatter 100g of chopped morello cherries over the cream before rolling. Decorate with morello cherries and dark chocolate curls.

Share your baking adventures with us on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest @RedVelvetBaking.

Say it with roulade this summer.

Love & warm wishes,

Jess xo

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Eat: Easter Treats with Aldi

Hey foodies,


This week I received a gorgeous hamper of goodies from Aldi. To put the goodies to the test, I picked up some Easter treats, also from Aldi, and got my bake on!




In the hamper I received some cute oven gloves, conveniently red(!), a handy cske carrier, a silicone cake mould, a set of scales and an electric measuring jug.


Oven gloves

How exciting that they sent me red oven gloves - they must've known! These cute little gloves are double handed and will add a splash of colour to any kitchen. I'm sure to look stylish, whilst NOT burning my arms getting cakes out of the oven.


Weighing scales













Super handy and super slick. These touch interface, weighing scales are great for getting those all important accurate measurements when baking.

Measuring jug






















I've always wanted one of these. A weighing scale based jug makes sure all you liquid measurements are accurate. With a simple, button display on the handle, this is really easy to use and makes measuring ingredients quick and easy.

Carry case



As you can see I took my best budget bake to work. This carry case is ridiculously cheap at £4.99 and is great for transporting your delicious bakes around. You could even carry your cupcakes in here, but make sure you keep it level to avoid splattered buttercream!




With Easter just weeks away, Aldi was full of chocolate Easter egg hunting sets, mini rabbit shapes and, for the grown ups, some hazelnut and chocokate eggs! I just had to get some and I may have eaten one or two before even starting to bake! 

Aldi have a great selection of special buys around Easter, to inspire you to get in the kitchen and get baking. Make sure you pop down to your local Aldi and pick up some Easter goodies, check out the recipes below for some seasonal bakes!


Chocolate and Hazelnut Loaf

For my Aldi best budget bake I made this chocolate and hazelnut loaf cake and some cupcakes with a little leftover batter. This a really simple recipe, so get the kids involved and have a bit of fun. 

Ingredients

For the cake
80g butter (89p for 250g at Aldi)
280g caster sugar (89p for 1kg at Aldi)
215g plain flour (45p for 1.5kg at Aldi)
40g cocoa powder
1tbsp baking powder (69p for 200g at Aldi)
245ml milk
2 large eggs (£1 for 10 large eggs at Aldi)
1tsp vanilla extract

For the icing

115g butter (89p for 250g at Aldi)
65ml milk
1tsp vanilla extract
400g icing sugar (69p for 500g at Aldi)
50g cocoa powder
Orange and green food colouring

For the decoration

2tbsp Hazelnut spread (£1.78 for 400g at Aldi)
Aldi mini eggs (59p per pack at Aldi)
Aldi mini bunny rabbits (69p at Aldi)
Aldi hazelnut cream eggs (£1.69 at Aldi)

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 175 (fan assisted). Line a loaf tin and put 6 cupcake wrappers in a muffin tray.

1. Make sure the butter is at room temperature and then, in a large bowl, cream it with the sugar. You can use an electric hand mixer, but start with a fork to avoid a sugar coated kitchen! This may look a little like wet sand when it's done. If you have a mixer, use the paddle attachment and watch it work it's magic!

2. Add the flour and baking powder and blend it in with a fork. This will look a little like breadrcumbs. Once at this stage, slowly add the cocoa powder - it creates cocoa clouds if you're not too careful! If using a stand mixer, just add it all in and put it on a low setting or you'll get clouds too!
3. Lightly beat the eggs with the milk and vanilla. With the electric whisk on the slowest speed, gradually pour the liquid into the dry mixture, until it is all incorporate. Don't whisk for too long at this stage, as it can make the batter a little stiff.
4. If you have one, use a cookie or ice cream scoop to put one dollop of mixture into each cupcake case. Use the remainder to fill the loaf tin ¾ full and pop both into the oven.

5. The cupcakes will take about 20 minutes and should bounce back when touched. Take them out quickly, as the cake will need around 25-30 minutes. Before taking the cake out, test to see if it is ready by pressing gently on the centre of the cake and seeing if it bounces back. If it is not ready, test in 3 minute increments.

6. Once the cupcakes are out, unwrap 6 hazelnut cream eggs and push one into the centre of each cupcake. 

Let the the cake cool for a short while in the tin and then run a knife around the edge to loosen it and remove it from the tin. Leave both to cool on a wire wrack, before moving onto the icing.

Chocolate Frosting


1. Cream the butter with an electric whisk or in a stand mixer, until soft and fluffy.

2. Gradually beat in a little milk, vanilla extract and 200g of the icing sugar. Keep beating on a steady slow speed until the icing sugar is incorporated and then gradually add a bit of each until it is all in!

3. In two separate bowls, take a scoop of the vanilla frosting and put to one side. This will be used for the carrots tops and leaves. Take a third scoop and place directly in a piping bag, fitted with a small star nozzle.

4. Back with the icing mixture, add the cocoa powder and slowly beat in. Feel free to have a cheeky taste test at this stage, with a clean spoon of course. If it is not chocolatey enough, add some more cocoa powder. If the frosting is looking a little too stiff, add a tiny drop of milk. Remember that liquid goes a long way in frosting, so make sure it really is a tiny drop!

5. Put the chocolate frosting into a piping bag fitted with a big star nozzle. If you don't have one, use a spatula to coat the sides of the cake.

6. Back to the separate bowls, drop a tiny bit of green gel food colour in one and orange gel food colouring in the other. Whisk in until the frosting is even in colour and place the green in a piping back with a leaf nozzle (no nozzle would be ok for leaves as you can just drag a piped dot into a leaf shape) and put the orange into a piping bag with no nozzle.

Cake Assembly


1. Once the cake is cooled, cut the top off the cake to level it. Put this excess cake into a bowl and crumble into pieces to create your flower bed 'soil'.
2. Pipe the chocolate frosting in swirls around the edges of the cake or use a spatula to coat the sides, leaving the top bare.
3.Coat the top with hazelnut spread and sprinkle on the cake soil.
4. Now to get super creative! Pipe on some white flowers, use the orange buttercream to create little round carrot tops and pipe green leaves on the top. Get your mini eggs and place them round the edges and don't forget the little bunnies!

Cupcake Assembly


For the cupcakes, I just piped a small swirl on each and topped with mini eggs and bunnies. Check out the hazelnut cream on the inside!


I really enjoyed baking up a storm with this creative, seasonal, Easter bake. What will you bake up on a budget?



For the little ones or even for a laugh at the office, why not do an Easter egg hunt with Aldi's handy kit. Hide these milk chocolate goodies and get the kids, or big kids, to find them!

Say it with Aldi this Easter.

Love, 

Jess xo


Thursday, 12 March 2015

Explore: Edinburgh


Hey foodies,


Haven't the first two months flown?! I mean March, really? 

At the end of February I took a short, weekend break to Edinburgh. I've never really explored Scotland and as a belated birthday pressie for the bf, I thought a bit of Scottish, city culture would be a welcome break.

Being the organised person that I am, I researched restaurants, walks and activities and read review after review. With it being a city of great tourist attraction there's so much to see, including Edinburgh Castle, the National Art Gallery and all the beautiful garden walks. So to give you foodie explorers a heads up, here at my five Edinburgh highlights:

1. The Scotch Whisky Experience

This was part of George's birthday treat, as he's definitely more of a whisky drinker than me! However, I also really enjoyed the experience. The tour started on a ride! I was rather shocked and so excited, as we sat coupled on a journey through the making of Scotch whisky. As we disembarked the ride, we were greeted by our tour guide and taken into a brief seminar on whisky, using scent cards to embody the tasting notes of whisky from the different regions. We then got to pick our favourite to sample. Being the sweetie that I am, I opted for a blended whisky, with honey. More of a liquor really, compared to all the other hardcore whisky drinkers in the room. As we took back the notes of our chosen sample and swirled the golden liquid in our glasses, our guide walked us through the largest collection of Scotch whisky in the world. It was huge! Our tour ended with a look at some of the most unusually designed and sought after whisky bottles, from chess pieces to Big Ben, there were some beautiful whisky works of art.


We upgraded our tour to include a platter of tasters from the different Scotch whisky regions. A very sensory, but relaxed experience and it's safe to say I needed a glass of water before leaving to help me get back down the stairs!

Tours start from just £14 and it's a must! www.scotchwhiskyexperience.co.uk

2. Afternoon tea at the Dome

It was my Dad who actually suggested this. Being a lover of luxury and I think it's obvious that I'm a lover of delicious food, afternoon tea in this stunning building was also high on my priority list. With its impressive grandeur, who wouldn't want to spend their afternoon eating petite finger sandwiches, macarons and of course - scones! I mean even George enjoyed it, so it must have been tasty.


Prices start around £18 and book in advance to avoid disappointment. www.thedomeedinburgh.com

3. Thai banquet at Time for Thai

I must have spent hours searching for a restaurant. I'm quite difficult to please and with internet reviews so easily accessible, it only takes one comment to put me off booking. When going to new places, I always try to eat somewhere local and avoid most chain restaurants like the plague. George and I have a particular love for Thai cuisine and I wanted somewhere which wouldn't disappoint. After numerous phone calls I finally got us a table at Time for Thai. The decor looked modern and elegant, so I booked a table for 8pm. When we arrived the restaurant was packed, which although meant a short break, I knew I'd made a good decision! With complimentary drinks for our patience and faultless service, this was one of the best Thai meals I've ever had. I will certainly be going back, even if only for the generosity of the front of house staff.


Set menus start at £23.95 and you definitely need to book as far in advance as possible for this one! time4thai.co.uk

4. Evening drinks at the Jazz Bar

With the dark, atmospheric lighting in this place I didn't get any pictures, but all the more reason for you to visit it for yourself! This little gem, hidden away in a basement off Chambers street, is home to the very best of funk, soul and blues. Holding up to four live sessions a day, you really have no excuse! The bar was packed, but we managed to get seats, and the live band were fantastic, especially as they were a mix of solo artists. It was like an open house rehearsal, so anything could've happened!

It was incredibly relaxed and you could tell all of the musicians were fully immersed in the music. Check out their online calendar for a little inspiration...www.thejazzbar.co.uk

5. Camera Obscura

Now this is an odd one really, for me anyway. I tend to stay clear of the typical tourist attractions, but with George not being a fan of history and castles, we thought we would try out Camera Obscura. With incredibly high ratings for being family friendly and fun for all ages, we though WHY NOT?

With several floors full of fun, obscure activities, including a rotating tunnel walkway, mirror maze and photo booths which simulate your face as a monkey, we spent hours walking round in hysterics.It really was a great laugh and we took loads of silly pictures too, see my big head below!


The original main attraction, is the camera obscura itself, where you can view live moving images of Edinburgh projected onto a viewing table, through a giant periscope. With 360 degree turning facility, this intriguing projected image allows you play games with the image, lifting people up on paper bridges and dropping them back onto the table. Although this is more exciting and interactive for the little ones, I found it fascinating and it has been a major attraction for over 150 years in Edinburgh.


Here's me on the top of the building, in rather dismal weather, but nonetheless taking a selfie the waving 'Hello' flag. General admission is £13.95 and you can come and go as you please! You will need to leave plenty of time for silly selfies! www.camera-obscura.co.uk

So all you need to do now is book a city break!

I'm really looking forward to going back to Edinburgh in May and super excited for all my upcoming city break plans through 2015. Where will your adventures take you?

Say it with experience, go explore.

Love,

Jess

xo


Monday, 16 February 2015

Eat: English Pancakes

Hey foodies,

So you've already seen my favourite fluffy pancakes, in previous posts, but what about the English pancake? The English pancake is similar to a crepe and often enjoyed, simply with lemon juice and sugar.


The mixture, similar to that of a Yorkshire pudding, is fried flat in a pan and made with just 4 ingredients. Check out the easy recipe below, for fool proof, tasty pancakes.

Toppings

These days it's all about getting adventurous!  I had my first pancake of the year as an easy, Friday night dessert, served with leftover dark chocolate ganache and fresh raspberries. I then used the rest of the mixture Saturday morning, for greek yogurt and honey breakfast pancakes. The perfect way to celebrate Valentine's Day morning, cue the yogurt heart! 

Why not try:

  • Nutella and chopped hazelnuts
  • Chopped banana and caramel sauce (banoffee)
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice and caster sugar
  • Whipped double cream and strawberries
  • Mascarpone and lemon curd (beat 100g of each together until fluffy)
The combinations are endlessly delicious! Why not share yours on the comments below...




Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food.

Ingredients

Makes 8-10 Pancakes

150g Plain flour
3 Large eggs
450ml Milk
1tbsp Sunflower or vegetable oil & extra for frying
Pinch caster sugar (salt if making savoury pancakes)

Method

  1. Put the flour and pinch of sugar into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Crack the eggs into the middle, then pour in about 75ml milk and 1tbsp oil. Start whisking from the centre, gradually drawing in the flour from the edges. Once all of the dry flour mixture is incorporated , beat until you have a smooth thick paste. You may need to give it a little welly! 
  2. Add another 75ml milk and whisk to loosen the batter, starting of slow so you don't splatter the kitchen walls with pancake batter! As the batter loosens, gradually add the remaining milk, whilst whisking. Continue pouring and whisking until your batter resembles the consistency of thick single cream.
  3. Oil the pan with fry light or wipe with a lightly oiled kitchen towel and heat to a moderate heat. Ladle some batter into the pan or pour the batter into a jug for easy pouring. Tilt the batter around the pan, until there's a nice, thin and even coating. Don't be afraid to pour excess batter into a separate bowl/jug to be reused later. Leave the pancake flat against the heat for around 30-40seconds, at which it should be crisp and golden underneath. 
  4. For a quick, safe flip, hold the pan handle and ease a fish slice under the pancake. Quickly lift and flip it over, to fry the other side. Make sure the pancake is flat against the base of the pan, to evenly cook the batter. Give the second side a similar 30-40seconds, but I usually find the second side is much quicker, before turning out onto your plate.
  5. This is the best step! Get creative with your toppings, make them pretty, chocolately or full of fruit. What will you choose?


Keep calm and get flipping.

Love Jess xo


Sunday, 15 February 2015

Eat: Red Velvet Fluffy Pancakes

Hey foodies,


So with lent looming after Pancake Day, are you planning to give up the usual? I could live without alcohol and survive without sweets, but one thing I'd struggle to cope without is CHOCOLATE. I'm toying with the idea of giving it up, so for my last big choctastic blow out, what more could I want than red velvet pancakes, smothered in milk chocolate ganache?! 


A little rich for breakfast, these make the perfect dessert to share. These, pictured above, were demolished by my boyfriend and I on Valentine's Day. I did struggle to finish my pink cava afterwards, so you definitely need to share this tower of chocolatey pancake goodness.


Ingredients

115g Self raising flour
25g Cocoa Powder
2tbsp Golden caster sugar
1tsp Baking powder
2tbsp Melted salted butter
1 Egg, beaten
145ml Milk
1/8tsp red gel food colouring (may need more for deeper colour)

For the Ganache

200g Milk or dark chocolate
150ml Double cream

Additional Toppings

  • Honeycomb
  • Cubed fudge
  • Crushed malteasers
  • Crushed cream egg
  • Marshmallows
  • Chopped hazelnuts

Method

  1. Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl/jug. Heat the cream over a medium heat to boiling and pour over the chocolate. Stir with a spatula until all the chocolate is melted and your a left with a smooth, creamy sauce.
  2. Sift flour, baking power, cocoa powder and caster sugar into a bowl. In a separate bowl/jug whisk together the milk, egg, butter and finally the red food colouring.
  3. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and beat with a fork until you have a smooth batter. It may need a little rapid fork action, to remove all the lumps and don't worry if the mixture looks a little thick.
  4. Heat a non-stick pan over a medium heat, with a little oil or better still fry light. Add a ladle of batter, a second pancake if you think your pan can handle it!
  5. Wait until the top of the pancake begins to bubble slightly and the edges look like they're firming up and then flip over - I use a spatula because I'm a tad too cautious! When both sides are golden and the pancakes looking nice and fluffy, get it out and onto your plate.
  6. Serve immediately; pile the pancake stack high, smother with the chocolate ganache and scatter on any additional toppings you choose. I served mine with milk chocolate ganache, crushed malteasers and homemade smashed up honeycomb. Why not add some whipped double cream for extra luxury?
Keep calm and get your whisk on.

Love Jess xo



Eat: Fluffy American Pancakes

Hey foodies,


So with Valentine's Day out of the way, our new February focus is Pancake Day! Or should we say Shrove Tuesday. With scotch pancakes, crepes and fluffy American pancakes, the question is no longer just what topping, but what type! 

Over the last few weeks I've been whisking up some pancake magic and testing out my favourites, in anticipation of February 17th. 

As I spent all 2014's summer months in the US, a firm favourite has to be the fluffy American pancake. Serve them with crispy streaky bacon and generous drizzle of maple syrup or with lashings of greek yogurt, fresh raspberries and honey. The perfect lazy Sunday breakfast or delicious pancake day pud! 


Why not give these a try this pancake day?

Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food.

Ingredients

135g Self raising flour
2tbsp Golden caster sugar
1tsp Baking powder
2tbsp Melted salted butter
1 Egg, beaten
130ml Milk

Method

  1. Sift flour, baking power and caster sugar into a bowl. In a separate bowl/jug whisk together the milk, egg and finally the butter.
  2. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and beat with a fork until you have a smooth batter. It may need a little rapid fork action, to remove all the lumps.
  3. Heat a non-stick pan over a medium heat, with a little oil or better still fry light. Add a ladle of batter, a second pancake if you think your pan can handle it!
  4. Wait until the top of the pancake begins to bubble slightly and the edges look like they're firming up and then flip over - I use a spatula because I'm a tad too cautious! When both sides are golden and the pancakes looking nice and fluffy, get it out and onto your plate.
  5. Serve immediately with your chosen topping, pile high in stacks or keep warm in a low oven.

How will you top yours?

  • Classic maple syrup and crispy bacon
  • Greek yogurt, raspberries and a little honey
  • Add some blueberries or chocolate chips when you flip the pancake and serve with whipped double cream
  • Chopped banana and Nutella
Let me know your favourite combinations!

Keep calm and flip them pancakes!

Love Jess xo





Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Celebrate: Singles' Guide to Valentine's Day

Hey foodies,  

With Valentine's Day looming and International Marriage Week in full swing, it's hard to not to indulge in a few heart shaped chocolates, but many people are mistaken in thinking that February 14th is exclusively for couples. Aside from it being my Dad's birthday, and this year it's a big one(!), this much derided holiday is actually about love, which as we know can be shared with anyone (or anything) in your life that you care deeply about.


So why not spend this weekend celebrating love, rather than cheapening romance?

This guide is more about single's success, rather than single's survival. Why shouldn't everyone celebrate, spread the love and take advantage of some fabulous deals on tasty, sweet treats! 
A little self gifting



Valentine’s Day is great for taking advantage of the many special offers or events. Why not plan a catch up with your friends - a girly night with fizz sounds great to me! Each year, restaurants, bars, and cinemas try to capitalize on the holiday by offering couples special discounts, but you can cheat the system by grouping up with some mates and getting yourselves a tasty dinner deal or even 2 for 1 cinema tickets. There are so many delicious Valentines gift ideas you can enjoy with your friends; a bottle of the finest fizz or maybe some heart shaped chocolates.  I can never say no to chocolate truffles!

Fancy something a little more extravagant?  Treat yourself to a spa treatment! There's always a fantastic array of spa deals for Valentine’s Day. All offers for couples? Pair up with a buddy and enjoy some well deserved pampering together.

Watch a ‘romantic’ film

This year for Valentine’s Day, Netflix is specially curating a selection of romantic films for couples to enjoy, but as we all know most romantic comedies are a little cliche. For the best selection, go off course from the typical recommendations, although Disney's Up and About Time are firm favourites of mine!

Even in adventure, action and horror films you'll find love. Alien is a great story about love and honour, but in the context and setting of a barren mining planet completely swarmed with bloodthirsty and terrifying predatory creatures. Or think about Fight Club, a charming story of a blossoming bromance between the protagonist and a figment of his imagination. Both these alternative films have great romantic storylines, if a little unusual!

Share the love



















Take a little time on Valentine’s Day to share the love with the people that are important to you. Get together with close friends and family, share a cuppa over a box of tasty biscuits, get messy in the kitchen with some tasty Valentine's themed baking or hit the town with your besties.


Don't forget your grandparents! Cake always goes down a treat, if they haven't beat you too it! Whatever the activity, share it with those important, can't do without people in your life.

Escape


This picture is taken from gentle stroll through Sheffield earlier this year, with my boyfriend's giant schnauzer, Titch.

And no, I don't mean escape from Valentine's Day. Why not take a trip, just because you can! There’s nothing holding you back, so spend some time getting away from your familiar settings and delve deep into your adventurous spirit. Get on the train and explore the nearby towns. Take a train out into countryside and fill up on fresh air. Aside from being a great adventure, this can be very therapeutic and help develop your well-being and mindfulness. Being a Yorkshire girl, I'm surrounded by beautiful, idyllic country villages and nothing quite beats a Bakewell tart in Bakewell!

It's all about embracing love this Valentine's Day and making the most of another fabulous February weekend. What have you foodies got planned?



















Lots of Valentine's love, 

Jess <3

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Eat: Maple Biscuits with The Biscuiteers DIY Valentine's Royal Icing

Hello foodies :)


It's been an incredibly busy week, baking up all kinds of sweet treats. With Valentine's Day fast approaching, like many foodies, you're probably looking at all the sea of delicious chocolate hearts, cookies, flower piped cupcakes etc., but what about doing something a little special and making it yourselves.



With a bit of encouragement from the fantastic team at Biscuiteers, I spent last weekend piping little love inspired biscuits. What screams love more than homemade!

I took the biscuits into work and the feedback was heart-warming!

"Confession – I scoffed the last 3 of these this afternoon! Can you share the recipe please? Absolutely delicious, and for some reason they brought back a flood of really early memories, of home and infant school and Christmas and all sorts of nice things. Quite unexpected!"

This makes baking all the more worthwhile.

I adapted this biscuit recipe from the Biscuiteers Pistachio biscuit recipe, which is equally tasty!

Maple Biscuits

These biscuits are soft and sweet, with a lovely golden crispness round the edges. As I used a smaller cutter, this recipe made absolutely loads of little biscuits, so you may want to buy a BIG box to fill with your lovely homemade treats.

Ingredients

167g Salted butter
167g Caster sugar
167g Maple syrup
2 Large eggs
470g Plain flour
127g Self raising flour

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 130°C
  • In a large bowl combine the butter, sugar, maple syrup, eggs and using a hand held mixer or stand mixer, mix at a slow speed until all the ingredients are combined. When the ingredients are mixed together, increase the speed so that all the lumps disappear.
  • Sift in both the flours and mix together until the mixture forms a smooth dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Place the dough on a sheet of parchment and begin by gently squashing the dough down with a rolling pin or your hands. Cover with a second sheet of parchment and then use the rolling pin to roll out properly. The top sheet of paper may crinkle from time to time, just peel it off and smooth it down gently before starting to roll again.
  • You can use any shaped  cutter, but as it's the month of love I used a small heart shaped cutter and a round cutter, to cut the dough. If you can't find a cutter, you can always try free hand by using a sharp knife. This technique looks a little more rustic and homemade. Place on a parchment paper lined baking tray, ready for the oven.
  • Bake in the middle of the oven for 26 minutes or until the biscuits are slightly golden in colour. my biscuits took less time, due to being slightly smaller, so bare that in mind when you're walking out of the kitchen!
  • When the biscuits are evenly cooked remove the trays from the oven and transfer the whole sheet of parchment to a cooling rack. Do this carefully as the biscuits will be quite fragile and hot!
  • Make sure the biscuits are completely cool before starting to ice.

Royal Icing


The Biscuiteers suggest one of three royal icing recipes, which can be found on their blog. I chose to use their egg white recipe, but be wary because it makes a lot! In fact, I refrigerated mine to use on other baking projects the following day.

Ingredients

4 Egg whites
900g Icing sugar

Method

Royal icing is incredibly simple to make and so satisfying to watch the bright white ribbons as it whisks.

  •  Place the egg whites into a large mixing bowl. If using a stand mixer, make sure the bowl is compatible.  
  • Add the icing sugar and whisk or for about 5 minutes using an electric whisk or stand mixer. If you want to do this by hand, use a wooden spoon and you may need to beat it for longer. Make sure you start whisking quite slowly, to avoid clouds of icing sugar coating you and your kitchen! 
  • Continue whisking until the ingredients form a thick, smooth paste that is bright white in colour and has the consistency of toothpaste.
Note: At this stage you can whisk in your favourite colours! I recommend gel colours, which interfere less with the consistency. Also, it you're not using the icing straight away, make sure you cover the bowl and refrigerate, to avoid the icing drying out.


Let the Piping Begin...

  • Fill your reusable piping bag with a few spoonfuls of your chosen colour and cut the tip of the piping bag to create a small opening for the icing to flow through. Alternatively, you can place a small writing tip in the piping bag. I would recommend Wilton nozzles 1 or 2.
  • You need to pipe an outline on each of the biscuits, so that the smooth flood icing remains contained. Make sure there are no gaps in the outline!


  • Leave the biscuits for around 5 minutes to dry, before using the flood icing.
  • Flood icing is a little looser than the royal icing used to create the outline. You can loosen the icing by gradually whisking in water. I was extremely cautious here and ended up not loosening my icing enough, which made the flooding more difficult. It is good to be cautious, but you want it to be runny enough to move fluidly when poured.
  • Once the flood icing is sufficiently loose, place it in a squeeze bottle or reusable piping bag and flood each biscuit, following the outline of the shape inwards. Make sure to use a cocktail stick to carefully remove any air bubbles or gaps and give the biscuit a tap against a hard surface, to even out the coating.
  • Once evenly coated, place the biscuits back onto the baking tray and into the oven at 50C or the lowest setting your oven will go. Leave them to set in the oven for around 30 minutes and serve them once cooled.



Check out the Biscuiteers online tutorial.



LOVEly Designs

If you're up for a bit more of a challenge, why not try the Biscuiteers polka dot biscuit, with white spots of royal icing piped onto the base, whilst wet. You can also pipe over the dry designs with writing, like seen in my pictures. SweetAmbs has some other Valentine's inspired designs too!



Feeling Lazy?

If you're not up for handmade treats this year or you haven't got the time, why not check out the Biscuiteers online shop for a quick valentines biscuit delivery!


Keep calm and spread the love <3

Jess xo





Monday, 2 February 2015

Eat: Double Cream Fudge

Hey foodies,


So like I mentioned on my previous post, I'm testing fudge recipes for a new business venture. I've been running little focus groups with each type, just to get the gist of what all you fudge eaters are looking for in your favourite fudge. It has been a battle between, texture and flavour, with a few tests still to go.

As you may know, fudge is made by bringing milk, sugar and butter up to about 114c. The question is, which milk product or sugar type makes the best, tooth achingly sweet fudge.



The first in my trials was a double cream recipe. A particularly simple recipe, if a tad indulgent, this fudge was soft and creamy. You couldn't eat a lot though, it was rather rich. Nonetheless, it was gone rather quickly! 


Check out the recipe below and give it a go yourself!



Keep calm and get your wooden spoons ready!

Love,

Jess

Creamy Fudge 

Adapted from All Recipes UK

Ingredients:

  • 400ml double cream
  • 450g golden caster sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 1tbsp liquid glucose
  • 1tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Method:

Prep: 15 min | Cook: 15-20 min | Cooling: 3 hour (min)


  1. Grease and line the base of a square 20 cm cake tin
  2. Combine all ingredients in a heavy, deep saucepan, over a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Put your thermometer into the mixture and increase the heat to medium-high, bringing the mixture to a rolling boil. Keep the mixture at a rolling boil, stirring occasionally to stop the mixture catching the bottom of the pan, until the temperature reaches 114 degrees C - 116 degrees C. This is known as soft ball stage, if you don't have a thermometer, you can test by dropping a little of the mixture into cold water, if it's ready, it will form a soft ball. At this stage, remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Once the temperature has dropped to 110 degrees C, about 5 minutes cooling time, beat the mixture with a wooden spoon. Keep the thermometer in, to watch the temperature drop to 60 degree C. This should take about 10 minutes and there is a noticeable difference in the fudge, going from a glossy texture, to more granular. The fudge should also feel a lot thicker and start to move away from the sides of the pan.
Note: This is the most important stage, as during cooling, small crystals form, which when beaten, create a smooth texture. Without this, your fudge may be granular.

      5. Once thicker and loosing shine, you have a small window at which to get the fudge into your prepared tin and leave to cool until set. Once set cut and package or serve.

Note: Do not be tempted to rush this stage, as putting fudge in the fridge actually prevents the fudge from setting properly and can cause it to loose its firmness, becoming sticky and difficult to cut.


Enjoy!


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Future is Bright. The Future is Fudge.

Hey foodies!

So, as promised, I'm back. For good this time!

With last years cakey success and my entrepreneurial drive nipping at my toes, I'm thinking about the future of Red Velvet Baking. Cakes are delicious and it's well known that I adore them! The thing is with cakes, though, is that they really don't enjoy being shipped, without the love and care of the baker. So what else can I do to expand my empire and share more delicious, tooth-achingly sweet goods with the world? 

Fudge. Not just fudge, but a whole new range of confectionery items AND an online shop! That's my next vision. Over the coming weeks I will be sharing my trials with new recipes, testing flavour combinations and really going back to basics with the traditions behind fudge making. As this first quarter passes, I'll also be trialling some marshmallow recipes and don't worry, there'll be pictures to match. Enough to make your mouth water!

So watch this space! Oh and make sure to comment below with the weirdest and wackiest flavours you'd like to see me bring to market! Following my brand though, this will be quality, tasty stuff!

Keep calm and let's fudge it up!

Love,

Jess 

Saturday, 24 January 2015

365 New Days = 365 New Challenges

Hello foodies,

It's been a while since I last blogged and as always, a lot has happened!

I think it would crash blogger if I tried to explain it all in one post, so expect a few posts reminiscent of 2014, just to bring you up to speed.

So it's a new year and after days of thinking of the 365 ahead, or should I say 341 now, I have finally chosen a few inspiring resolutions.

To help me choose these cheeky challenges, I reflected heavily on some of my favourite moments of 2014. I'd say my top three were:

  • Disneyland Paris for my 21st birthday - who doesn't enjoy the magical kingdom?!
  • Teaching culinary arts in the USA and meeting the most beautiful friends
  • Celebrating my graduation, with delicious food, plenty of drink and my incredible family
So a pretty amazing year! How could I top those incredible experiences?

Well, the past few years I have been learning, leaning on others, absorbing information and setting myself up for my future. 2015 is now a year for growth - using the knowledge and learning to progress myself, my business, my career and my aspirations. So five top resolutions to inspire 2015 would have to be:

  • Appreciate every day - not only because I love the film About Time, go watch it NOW if you haven't seen it, but because whilst I was in the US, I had plenty of time to reflect on what mattered most to me. Family, friends and of course - food! Don't let anything come between those all important F's.
  • Share - it's incredible how social our society has become, but yet what we are sharing is so fickle. I haven't shared enough with you guys, I owe a little more time to sharing not only fantastic recipes and pictures of tasty food, but my passion and enthusiasm for life and yet again, anything edible.
  • Explore - I've always been a bit of a home girl and although it's not a problem, over the last year I've learnt that a house is but a shell and it's the people that make it a home. Those people will forever be with me, wherever I go, so I want 2015 to be all about new adventures. Some may be small, like to visit my new camp besties around the UK and others may not even be physical journeys, but small steps exploring new ventures. So watch this space.

I promise this year to be my best blogging yet. It's like the all important light bulb has finally been switched on and I'm ready to begin a new journey, with all the wonderful and exciting challenges ahead.

What's your New Year's resolution? Make it count!

Keep calm, we are all in this journey through time together.

Love

Jess xo