Friday, 25 May 2012

Rhubarb Victoria Sponge Cake - fit for a Queen's Jubilee

It's officially Spring (and in London this week it even feels like Summer) which means that one of my favourite ingredients is in season - rhubarb. Here's a delicious and seasonal twist on the classic Victoria sponge cake. Serve with tea and an extra blob of the sticky pink rhubarb compote on the side. This would be perfect for a Jubilee party - I'll be at the Bourne & Hollingswoth one next weekend- how about you?

PS you can also find my recipe on the Good Food Channel website.

For the sponge:
200g unsalted butter 
200g caster sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 a vanilla pod
200g self raising flour
Pinch of salt

For the filling:
400g trimmed rhubarb
200g sugar
1/2 a vanilla pod
300ml double cream
Icing sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 170C.
2. Butter and line the bases of two 20cm cake tins.
3. Beat the butter and sugar until very pale and fluffy using an electric mixer - at least 4 minutes.
4. Add the vanilla and eggs one at a time with a small amount of the flour. This stops the mixture from curdling.
5. Add the salt and remaining flour until just incorporated - don't over mix at this stage.
6. Split the mixture between the two tins and bake for 25 minutes. The sponges are done when they are golden in colour, springy to the touch and a skewer or cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let them cool in their tins.

While the sponges are baking you can make the filling:
1. Chop the rhubarb into 2.5cm chunks and mix with the sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Leave to sit for 20 minutes, this draws some of the moisture out of the rhubarb and lets it take on the vanilla flavour.
2. Heat the syrupy mixture in a saucepan over a medium heat until the rhubarb is soft but still holds it's shape.
3. Sieve the mixture (saving the syrup), put the syrup back into the pan and keep heating until it thickens up.
4. Combine the rhubarb and syrup and leave to cool.
5. While your rhubarb is cooling, lightly whip the double cream

On a cake stand or pretty plate, spread the bottom layer of sponge with the rhubarb compote, then add a layer of whipped double cream. Top with the second sponge and sift over the icing sugar to decorate.  

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Blogging with the Good Food Channel: Cake Pops How To

Wow, this week my cake pop 'how to' pops up on the Good Food Channel Blog. I'm hoping to do some more posts for the team there over the next few weeks - including more 'how to's and some delicious seasonal cake recipes. You can see the full instructions along with a recipe for red velvet cake here and also at the bottom of this post.  Let me know if you have any 'how to' requests! 

You will need cake crumbs, frosting, lollipop sticks, candy melts, sunflower oil,
a polystyrene block and whatever decorations take your fancy.
Have fun experimenting with your decoration - I love sugar roses and sprinkles in
combinations of pastel and bold colours.
You can find lots of suppliers for candy melts, lollipop sticks and polystyrene blocks 
(search for cake dummies) online.

Combining the cake and frosting will create a dough which you can shape
 into cake balls and chill in the fridge.

Candy melts melt easily in the microwave and need a little bit of oil to thin to dipping
consistency.  Dip your lollipop sticks into the melts before making your cake balls into
cake pops and they will stay securely on their sticks.
Now you're ready to dip!
Add your decoration of choice while the candy melts are still drying and
pop into your polystyrene block to dry completely.
Enjoy impressing friends with your pretty and delicious cake pops - everyone will love them!

Red Velvet Cake Pops Recipe

To make 20 cake pops you will need: 
480g red velvet cake crumbs
120g cream cheese frosting
400g (1 pack) pink Wilton's Candy Melts
2-3 tbsp sunflower oil
20 lollipop sticks (15cm)
Sprinkles and sugar flowers to decorate
A polystyrene block with holes in (for standing your pops in to dry)

For the red velvet cake:
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 large egg
38ml (one bottle) red food colouring (the Silver Spoon one works well)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cocoa powder
150g plain flour
120 ml buttermilk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
20 cm (8 inch) cake tin, buttered

For the cream cheese frosting:
120g icing sugar
60 g cream cheese

The first step is to make your cake and frosting. You can do this the day before to break up the tasks a bit. Any cake and frosting will do but I love this combination of red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting with the sweet candy coating.

Making the cake and frosting:
1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
3. Mix in the egg, red food colouring, cocoa powder and vanilla extract.
4. Add the flour and buttermilk to the mixture a third at a time. Mix until just incorporated.
5. Add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and white wine vinegar. Mix well.
6. Transfer the mixture to the buttered tin and bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
7. Let your cake cool in the tin.
8. Make your cooled cake into cake crumbs by giving it a blitz in a food processor or breaking it up by hand until there are no lumps. This recipe makes enough cake for 40 cake pops so you can freeze half of the crumbs for your next batch.
9. Make the cream cheese frosting by sifting the icing sugar and beating in the cream cheese until smooth.

Making the cake pops:
1. Mix 120g of the frosting into your cake crumbs until the mixture forms a dough (you can always add more if the mixture is too dry). I always do this bit in a food processor but you can use your hands if you don't have one.
2. Roll the dough into 20 balls and place them on a plate. Weighing 30g of the mixture for each ball using some electric scales will make them nice and uniform.
3. Cover the balls with cling film and chill them in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight until firm. Let the cake balls stand at room temperature for 30 mins before you dip them (if they are too cold, the candy coating will crack).
4. Melt the candy melts in a bowl on a low power in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time to make sure you don't over heat them and stir in the sunflower oil until smooth. Add more oil if your candy is still very thick and let the candy cool down so that it's still melted but as close to room temperature as possible.
5. One at a time, dip each stick about 1 cm into the melted candy melts and push the stick halfway into each cake ball.
6. Dip the cake ball all the way into the candy melts until it reaches the stick, then tap off any excess.
7. Place some sprinkles into a small cup and dip the top of the pop into it or gently place a sugar flower on top.
8. Leave to dry in your polystyrene block for about 15 minutes.
9. Once dry, you can wrap your pops with lollipop-style cellophane bags or store in a tin. They last for up to one week if stored in a cool place


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