Sun, Sea, Sand, Running and Champagne Cake

SAM_6844So every year since about 2009, the last weekend in May we go to the Mull of Kintyre and every year ( apart from 2011) my hubby runs the half marathon along with friends of ours. It’s the only half marathon he does and he runs it simply due to the fact that every year he gets forced into by our friends, although secretly I think he enjoys it! In the evening there is a Ceilidh where previously exhausted runners take to the floor for the Dashing White Sergeant, The Gay Gordons,  Orcadian Strip the Willow , Canadian Barn Dance, the Highland Schottische…..

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Hubby in the white top and black shorts running to the finish!

This year we got beautiful sunny weather, whilst lovely it caused hubby and a few of the other runners problems. Some of us Scots don’t tolerate hot weather very much and  definitely not running in it as we are simply not used to it!

The weather was so unexpected that I had no summer clothes packed, no shorts or vests or swim wear instead I had about 5 thick jumpers and long sleeved and long legged flannel PJ’s! Its normally still cold in May, hence the sunbathing in jeans in pic above! Any way this year I managed to get sunburn on my feet and some of my friends actually decided to take a very refreshing ( read extremely freezing) dip in the Irish Sea, I, on the account of having no swimwear (fortunately) declined to go in the sea.

Every year we also celebrate one of our friends birthdays as this falls around the same time. This year I decided to make a cake for her and immediately thought of a champagne cake. However, I have never made a champagne cake before so searching the internet I came across the perfect recipe, Pink Champagne cake from Joanne at Joanne Eats Well with others.  Although, if you take a look at her page you will see I did not decorate mine as prettily as Joannes, however this recipe turned out really well and was straightforward to make, very pleased with the results and would definitely use this recipe again. You can really taste the champers in the cake and frosting, very yummy.

I have detailed the ingredients, methods and how I got on with the recipe, but you could also click on the page link above to get the recipe direct from Joanne Eats Well with Other page.

Ingredients

85 grams of softened organic Scottish butter, 400 grams of sugar, 360 grams of cake flour…… erm what?  Cake flour is not available in shops near me , actually I’m not 100% sure if its available in the UK, so this confused me slightly as I had never seen this before! However, by the powers of google I found a substitution. I used plain flour but for every cup of plain flour I took our 2 tablespoons of the flour and replaced them with two tablespoons of Corn flour…. voila Cake Flour!

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Never turn your back on a woman who had flour covered hands! Hee Hee

 

Any way more ingredients were………1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda ( although I questioned the need to use this given there was baking powder in the recipe but dutifully followed the instructions), 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 6 egg whites ( I kept the yolks and added some to a quiche I made as I really hate when they go to waste), 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 500mls of champagne, well I used Asti Spumante instead which is more of a sparkling wine and cheaper at £6.00 rather than £30.00 a bottle!

I didn’t get photos of the baking process as I had 101 things to do and was running very late to get everything done in time for leaving to go the Mull of Kintyre.

Anyway, Preheat your oven to 180° C and grease and line the bottom of two 8 inch cake tins. I always take the bottom out of the tin and place on the greaseproof paper and draw around the bottom.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Sift all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, the cake flour, baking power, baking soda and salt.

Slowly add the egg whites to the butter/sugar mixture, then add the vanilla.

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the mixer then once incorporated add 250 mls of the champagne, then 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then 250 mls of champagne, then the remaining dry ingredients until all combined.

Split the batter between the two cake pans.  To do this I used a ladle to ensure each pan had the same amount as one of my pans was deeper than the other being a springform pan so it was more difficult just to eye ball.  Place in the oven and cook for between 35 -45 minutes or until cake tester or cocktail stick or knife comes out clean. One of the cakes took 35 minutes however the other pan took nearly 45 minutes until a cocktail stick came out clean, so just keep a careful watch on the cakes. Remove from the oven and wait till cooler then remove from pan and place on cooling rack.

Once cooled remove the greaseproof paper. I then used a knife to level off the cakes.

Frosting ingredients– 370 grams of softened and cubed butter. For me this meant leaving the butter out overnight to get it soft! 480 grams of icing sugar, 65mls of champagne, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract , pinch salt and red food colouring.

In a mixer add the butter and mix until creamy. Then add the icing sugar , champagne and salt and mix until light and fluffy. Add a few drops of red food colouring to the desired colour and mix until combined.

I placed one of the cakes on a plate then added some of the frosting on top of this, then added the remaining cake on top and added the rest of the frosting. However, you may want to cover the whole cake with frosting including the sides or try something fancier. I still had a reasonable amount of frosting remaining, even with slapping a fair amount on top and in between, so in future I would reduce the amount of frosting I make .I also added some edible daisy flowers I had left over.

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Valentines Day, DONE.

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Guinness Cake with Strawberries and a little bit of cream ( I don’t like too much)

My hubbie and I don’t tend to celebrate Valentines day, and we rarely get each other cards and prezzies or go out for a romantic meal. We figure we can go out any other time of the year, and we don’t need a specific day to tell each other , ” I love you”.

However, this year I did ask what my hubbie wanted for supper and said I would do all the cooking.  So he decided on Pulled Pork, Crash Potatoes, Broccoli and Cauliflower bake followed by Guinness Cake. I had never made Pulled Pork or Guiness cake before so this was going to be interesting. I’m not that confident in cooking large cuts of meat, but here we go….

I used a recipe by Pioneer Woman for Spicy Dr Pepper Pulled Pork. However, I could not get a hold of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce at short notice ( I noted that you can buy this on Amazon however it would not have been delivered on time) and I trawled the internet looking for substitutes and was not really happy with substitute suggestions I found. So I decided to see what my local supermarket had to offer, but wasn’t really holding my breath as my local Tesco is pretty poor for choices. However,  I spotted a Spicy Chipotle chilli sauce by Wahaca Mexican Street food ( 150ml bottle) and decided to use this instead.

Preheat Oven to 150°C. I cut half an onion into quarters and placed it in the bottom of a dutch oven/ casserole dish, then placed a small pork loan joint on top (There was only the two of us, so this will do for 2 nights of meals for us).

Sorry, there isn’t a lot of photos taken during the cooking stage as 1) my camera was covered with chocolate from the Guinness Cake 2) the cooking of the pulled pork was pretty simple ( even for me).

I then covered the joint with some salt and black pepper then poured the chipotle chilli sauce all over the joint. I followed this with a 500ml bottle of Dr Pepper, then covered with the lid and placed in the oven.

I checked it every hour and turned every hour for about 4 hours. Half way through I added more Dr Pepper, about 250mls as the sauce was drying up a little.

After it came out of the oven I used two forks and pulled it apart ( oh and cut off the string that was holding it together you don’t want to eat that!).

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Oh my goodness how yummy is this?
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This was my husbands portion that he served himself ( I was on the phone and he couldn’t wait for me to come off the phone and serve it and make it look pretty). He is a farmer and rugby player so he does need the calories!

The Guinness Cake

I made this the night before, using a Nigella Recipe.

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Melted chocolate and butter

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Then add 250ml of Guinness  (you could probably use any stout or Ale ) to a pan along with 250 grams of butter and heat on low until butter melted.

Whisk in 75 grams of cocoa powder and 400 grams of caster sugar.

In a separate jug I mixed the 142ml sour cream, 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon of vanilla and then added to the Guinness/butter mixture.

Finally I whisked in the 275 grams flour and 2 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate soda.

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Sour cream/egg/vanilla mixture combined with chocolate/butter

I poured the mixture into a 9 inch springform pan that was greased and lined. However I did not have enough baking paper, so instead of cutting a circle piece and a separate piece for the sides I had to use one square and crunch it into the tin covering the bottom and sides. Hence the not so smooth sides of the cake that you can see!

My husband then “cleaned “the pan for me and by that I mean he sat on the sofa watching the Six Nations while scraping/ eating the chocolate/Guinness Mixture from the pan!

This was placed in the oven for 45 minutes, however after this time it wasn’t ready so I placed back in for another 7 minutes until the cake tester ( or knife) came out clean. Although when I took mine out it sagged in the middle, not sure why it does th?? Oh well, I was covering it in icing anyway so it doesn’t really matter.

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Ready for the Oven

I then left the cake to cool and started on the icing for the top.

ICING

300 grams of cream cheese, whipped in a mixing bowl, then 150 grams of icing sugar was sifted over the top of the mixture and then beaten together. 125 ml double cream was added and the mixture was again beaten together until mixture was of a consistency that I would spread on top of the cake.

This was a really simple recipe to make, even for an incompetent cook like myself and it tasted lovely and looked fairly impressive ( if I do say so myself). I would recommend this if you want an easy simple quick cake that still has a bit of wow about it

I served this cake with strawberries and cream in front of a roaring fire. Very romantic!