17 March 2013

Red Nose Day - Including Red Velvet Whoopie Pies & Red Velvet Cupcakes

I am a sucker for a bit of charity fundraising at the best of times and with my challenge, I am even more excited when an opportunity presents itself, to cross another recipe off the list. I decided on two Hummingbird recipes and one recipe from a cookie book. Given the office only has 40 people working there I was worried when I saw the table laden with cakes, but they went very quickly (greedy buggers) and with the cake sale and generous donations we were able to raise over £200 - not bad for a nights work is it? The heart biscuits below are the third recipe I made, taken from my cookie recipe book and were a surprising winner. The mini hearts were the bits cut out from the jam biscuits. You can see that I was far outdone by a colleague, who made the beautiful cupcakes with the pristine piped icing (see below).


I decided it was only appropriate to make the Red Velvet Cupcakes, given the apt colour. The method for making these cakes was definitely just a little different as it included vinegar (I hate vinegar) mixed with Bicarbonate of Soda. I was not prepared for the reaction that was going to take place, so only managed to get a picture as it fizzled out, but basically as you mix the two it starts to foam and fizz. This is where baking gets technical, but I googled it (the only way to find answers to questions these days) and actually found a blog entry by none other than the Hummingbird Bakery themselves. It's worth a read if you are interested in that side of baking (the scientific side) or if nothing else it justifies the use of something as bad as vinegar.

I just about managed to capture some of the reaction.
It's not just adding vinegar that feels unnatural to me - the addition of milliliters of red food colouring also makes me hesistant. 'Free from artificial colours' is one of the most used phrases in marketing, so to go against this in such a extreme way feels odd and naughty. The result makes up for this though as the colour is beautiful, especially in contrast with the creamy frosting.

They're still not quite the Hummingbird standard are they?


As you well know I tried the Red Velvet Whoopie Pies as my first recipe, however they ended up looking like mud pies, so this was a perfect excuse to try baking them again. This time I was prepared and seemed to have cracked getting a good rounded shape. The key is a little fiddly but worth it. I piped about 30ish small whoopie pies (sandwiched together to make 15ish). Hold the piping bag vertical, squeeze and let the mixture spread naturally and evenly. Stopping the mixture is hard. I tried a mixture of twisting, lifting upwards quickly and using a warm knife to slice. All these methods left them looking a little like turds, so I obviously haven't got the 'knack' yet. There is a solution post-piping though. Fill a tall mug with boiling water and dip a knife in it. The knife can now be used to smooth over the mixture, dipping it in the boiling water frequently to stop it sticking. 

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