Valentine’s Day Recipe for Heart Biscuits

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Love is in the air this Valentine’s with this recipe for heart biscuits from Pixie Hall Cakes

Valentines Heart Cookies

Ah February, this month is full of love and cuddling up on the cold, dark evenings and hoping that spring will soon arrive. There are snowdrops peeking through the frosty grass in the church yard and spring bulbs are just showing their bright green stems in the garden. It’s nearly here! Not too much longer!

First we’ll get to Valentine’s Day. I know it can be commercialised and cheesy. The shops at this time of year are full of red and pink, in anticipation for the big day. I must admit, we’re not really into Valentine’s Day in our house. I am, however, into twee baking with lots of cutesy hearts. I can’t help it! I’m a total sucker for novelty.

So, with this in mind I’ve made these heart biscuits for you this month. They take a little time to put together but they are incredibly cute. You need a really good heart cutter with crisp corners and rounded edges (mine wasn’t quite perfect so the hearts came out a little pointy at the top). You also need a little time set aside to chill the dough so that you can work with it easily. I got the idea for this recipe from Laurens Latest but changed up the recipe and method a little bit.

Ingredients:

115g softened butter

115g sugar

1 egg

½ tsp vanilla

200g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

Red food colouring

Method:

In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. You can do this by hand or with a mixer.

Add the egg and vanilla and mix again until thoroughly combined.

Stir in the flour and baking powder until a dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently until smooth.

Take one third of the dough and colour it red. You might need to use gloves for this or alternatively, pop the dough and the colouring into a sealable freezer bag and knead until thoroughly mixed.

Wrap both of the doughs in cling film and place in the fridge for around 30 minutes.

Take out the red dough and roll out thickly. Take your heart cutter and cut the dough and form the hearts into 2 stacks.

Take the plain dough and tear a couple of pieces off, roll them into sausages the same length as the heart stacks and pinch along one side to form a triangular shape. Stick these pieces in the cleft of the hearts (between the two rounded lumps at the top).

Roll out the rest of the vanilla dough and, starting at the point of the hearts, cover the outside with the dough and trim at the end. Squeeze the join together, gently round out the shape a little and pop them back in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a couple of baking sheets with baking parchment. Using a sharp knife, slice the cookie logs into disks around 1/2cm thick. Place them on the baking sheet leaving a little room for the dough to spread.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until pale golden at the edges.

Allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Linds Bestwicke runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Photographs by Keith Osborn Photography

 

Recipe for Red Velvet Cake

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This week’s guest blog is a recipe for Red Velvet Cake from Pixie Hall Cakes to help you share the love this Valentine’s Day.

Red Velvet Cake

Excuse me, has anyone seen January? I’m sure it was around here somewhere but suddenly, all I can see is February.  I’m really not sure how this has happened but I’m sure there’s nothing I can do about it so I’ll just enjoy the fact that it’s getting closer to spring and the days are getting longer.

I was quite lucky with the scheduling of this post actually as it meant I could make something special for Valentine’s day. I’m sure lots of you will be going out for a fancy dinner with your partners or have something else special planned. For those of you that are cooking a meal to share at home, I have the perfect dessert for you to make.

This red velvet cake is quick and easy to put together and looks fantastic. It also happens to be delicious! Red velvet is a traditional American cake and is a vanilla cake with a hint of cocoa and a fair bit of red colouring. Classically, the chemical reaction from vinegar and buttermilk mixing with the cocoa has helped to enhance the red colour of the cake and keep it fluffy and moist.  The cake is filled and covered in a delicious cream cheese frosting which complements the sweetness of the cake with its natural tangy flavour.

I have experimented with red colouring in my quest for a beautiful red velvet and I have found that supermarket food colouring labeled as “natural” will not make your cake the show stopping red that you want. Your cake will be a reddish brown and, while still tasting delicious, will lack the wow factor of a brighter hued treat. You should look for concentrated paste colours or the traditional liquid colours for best results.

You can buy buttermilk in supermarkets but I don’t tend to bother. You can substitute the buttermilk with plain yogurt or mix 1tbsp lemon juice into 235ml milk and set aside to curdle before adding to the cake.

Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients:

340g plain flour

400g sugar

1 tbsp cocoa powder

½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

350ml oil (sunflower or other flavourless oil)

235ml buttermilk

1 tbsp vinegar  (white vinegar or cider vinegar)

1 tsp vanilla

Red colouring (the amount you use depends on the brand and how red you want the cake)

For the frosting:

200g softened butter

60g caster sugar

400g cream cheese

1 tsp vanilla

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 23cm round tin.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and baking soda with a whisk to ensure it is combined well.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla and colouring together until smooth.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth and uniformly coloured.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 45-55 minutes or until well risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Allow to cool.

To make the frosting, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth. Add the vanilla and beat again.

When the cake is cool, slice it in half and spread some of the frosting evenly on one half, place the other half on top and then smooth the rest of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake.

To make the decoration I cut a heart shape out of a piece of paper and used it as a stencil, pouring red sugar sprinkles onto the frosting. They should keep the shape of the heart well and remain in place as you remove the paper.

Slice and enjoy with your loved ones.

Linds Hall runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Photographs by Keith Osborn Photography