Tuesday, October 20, 2009


AT LAST. Internet, after many an hour talking to the-people-who-know-best, is connected! This is a pathetic excuse for my inactivity over the last few weeks (although it does help), but just because I haven't blogged it doesn't mean I haven't cooked it.

Getting back into the swing of moving into a new house, spending life in the library again and realising there is no food in the fridge is slowly but surely getting back to some state of normality. Summer has flown, gardens are nowhere in sight and the nearest I've been to cultivation is by way of a 'grow your own basil from an egg' plant on my windowsill...four shoots so far. Every little helps.

This season I will be bringing you flavours of the North, experimenting with hot-pots and parkins; I will be preparing for the winter with warming and sustainable foods to defrost blue noses and keep the stomach rumbling at bay; and finding ways to make food last longer...

Before any of this happens though, I would like to bring on the term with the perfect housewarming gift: my favourite cupcake, the RED VELVET, courtesy of The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. My home baking has never tasted so good!

RED VELVET cupcakes

Makes 12
60 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150 g caster sugar
1 egg
10 g cocoa powder
20 ml red food colouring (preferably Dr. Oetker Red Food Colouring)
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
120 ml buttermilk
150 g plain flour
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
11⁄2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 quantity Cream Cheese Frosting*
(300g icing sugar, sifted; 50g unsalted butter, soft; 125g cream cheese, cold. MIX)
a 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper cases

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.

Put the butter and the sugar in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy and well mixed. Turn the mixer up to high speed, slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well incorporated.
In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a thick, dark paste. Add to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until evenly combined and coloured (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Turn the mixer down to slow speed and slowly pour in half the buttermilk. Beat until well mixed, then add half the flour, and beat until everything is well incorporated. Repeat this process until all the buttermilk and flour have been added. Scrape down the side of the bowl again. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until you have a smooth, even mixture. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a couple more minutes.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the Cream Cheese Frosting on top.

This recipe comes from the brilliant book, The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf.

Or check out their website at http://hummingbirdbakery.com/flash.html to order cakes for delivery if making them yourself seems just too much...

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