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      Red Velvet Sponge Recipe

      Some people may say the red velvet cake is faddish, but if done well, to me it hits that right note when you can’t decide if you want a piece of chocolate or a piece of vanilla cake. That sprinkle of cocoa powder in the mix makes all the difference and compliments the tang of a cream cheese frosting. I also find the buttermilk in the batter gives the whole thing an irresistible tart note and I defy anyone to not be wowed when you make that first incision into the cake, only to reveal a deep crimson sponge! 

       On that note, I recommend you use a red food colour paste rather then the liquid ones you get from the supermarket. You want it nothing short of blood red inside, theatrics is one of the main appeals of this cake so ‘vaguely pink’ just won’t do! I recommend Sugarflair’s red extra to get the lewk.
      A note on the buttermilk. I am often short on this and it’s not the kind of thing you can grab in your nearest corner shop. If you find yourself in the same predicament then take note of my quick fix listed in the ingredients, it’ll give you a similar result and uses readily available items. 

      Ingredients (all at room temperature):

      Makes 1 x 8” cake or 24 cupcakes. See my handy table at the bottom of the page for other yields.

      200g salted butter

      500g caster sugar

      4 Eggs 

      1 tbsp red food colour paste

      400mls Buttermilk or 1 + 2/3rds tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice added to the same amount of whole milk and left to stand for 10 mins)

      1 + 2/3rds tbsp vanilla extract

      500g Plain flour

      35g Cocoa powder

      1 + 2/3rds Bicarb soda 

      5tsp Vinegar

      You will also need:

      Freestanding electric mixer or handheld electric whisk

      3 x loose bottomed sandwich pans or 2 x 12 hole muffin tins and 24 muffin cases

      Bake even strips (optional, see post)



      Grease proof paper

      Cake release spay/butter and flour, for greasing

      Large icecream scoop (I recommend no.16 Sunnex brand) or spoons if you’re making the cupcakes

      Cooling rack


      Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 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, vanilla extract and beat until everything is well incorporated.

      - Add the red food colouring and 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 sift in half the flour and all of the cocoa powder.

      - Beat until well mixed, then pour in half the buttermilk and beat until everything is well incorporated. Repeat this process until all the flour and buttermilk 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, combine the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar in a teacup or similar sized bowl and as soon as it starts fizzing up pour into your red mixture.  Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a couple more minutes.

      - Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases or cake tins until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes for cake layers or 20-25 minutes for cupcakes. Turn everything 2/3rds of the way through to ensure they bake evenly and non of the edges burn. 

      - 5 minutes before the baking times up, open the oven a crack to check on them. Unlike most cakes I find the sponge doesn’t necessarily bounce back when touched and if it does you’ve likely over done it. Poke the sponges and if the bottom 2/3rds feel spongy then you’re on the right track. Insert a knife, look for a ‘cakey’ fudgey texture. A few crumbs should stick to the knife when it comes out but you certainly don’t want it molten inside, if that’s the case put it back in. The difference between runny and fudgey at this stage can be a few minutes though so don’t go far- your cake needs you right now! 

      - When you’re happy, take your sponges out the oven. If making cupcakes, turn them out onto a cooling rack as soon as soon as possible (If left to cool in the tin, you risk the cases steaming off). If you’re making cake layers, leave to cool for 20 minutes before removing them from the tin to cool slightly. If done right, your cakes should shrink and ‘deflate’ a little, so don’t be disheartened when that happens- they are going to taste really good. Wrap in clingfilm while still slightly warm to the touch, once they’ve cooled completely, transfer to the fridge or freezer. 



      Vanilla sponge recipe

      This is my bog standard, do it in your sleep, basic sponge cake recipe. It’s the basis to many of my creations as its quick to make, sturdy enough to carve and lets face it- who doesn’t like a simple Victoria sponge??

      From these humble beginnings you can add a multitude of flavours. From lemon rind, to cocoa powder, caraway seeds to chocolate chips. Its like that LBD, dress it up or dress it down depending on the occasion. Ladle on the cream and scatter with seasonal fruits for a summer picnic, or torte it with alternate layers of dark and white chocolate ganache and take to a dinner party- Just experiment! If you’re not the adventures type however, stay tuned as I will be exploring these variations in further posts. 

      But hold on! Before you even pick up that spatula, you've first gotta read my previous blogpost: ‘top 5 tips for baking the perfect cake’. Read it already? Good. Then my only other advice would be to beat the butter and sugar together for as long as possible, until its fluffy as clouds. I’m talking at least 5 minutes on the highest setting of your mixer. It needs to be a completely different colour. And keep that speed going when it comes to adding the eggs. (although turn it down momentarily otherwise they’ll go everywhere!). This is the bases of a lovely light sponge. 

      Oh and finally- use the best quality vanilla extract (not essence) you can afford. Seriously, it makes all the difference.


      Makes 1 x 8” Cake or 24 x cupcakes 


      • 400g Salted butter (preferably at room temperature, if not zap it in the microwave till its about 10% runny)

      • 400g Caster Sugar

      • 8 x Large free range eggs

      • 400g Self raising flour

      • 3 tbsp good quality vanilla extract

      You will also need:

      • 3 x loose bottomed sandwich pans, you’ll find a link to them in my previous blog post/ 2 x 12 hole muffin tins

      • Greaseproof paper

      • Cake release spray/butter and flour for greasing

      • Bake even strips (optional, see post)

      • Ice cream scoop if you’re making the cupcakes (optional, if so, I like the no.16 scoop from sunnex))


      • Preheat the oven to 170c, Gas Mark 4.

      • Grease and line your cake tins. To do this I spray the tin with cake release and line the bottom with a circle of greaseproof paper. It’s much quicker/less faff. If you don’t have the spray you can use regular butter and flour round the edges. Whatever you do, it’s important to still line the bottom. If you’re making cupcakes, pop the cases into your muffin tins. (definitely muffin tins, not fairy cake tins as they’re much shallower)

      • Beat the butter and sugar together on a high speed until pale and fluffy.

      • Crack your eggs into a separate bowl and add your vanilla extract. Whisk them with a fork until just combined.

      • Add your egg mixture, I do this by momentarily turning the mixer down to the lowest speed setting and pouring a couple of glugs in. Turn it back up to the highest speed setting and beat till incorporated. Do this bit by bit till all your egg mixture is gone. Don’t worry about over beating your mixture, you want it as whipped as possible. Put on your bake even strips if you’re using them at this point (details in previous post). Make sure to scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl with a spatula and beat again for a couple of minutes to ensure the batter mixes evenly. It doesn’t matter if your batter separates at this point, it’ll come together during the next stage.

      • Add your flour in two halves mixing on slow/medium speed after each time. Make sure you scrape down the sides regularly to ensure everything has mixed properly.

      • Mix until combined but no more.

      • For the sponge cake:

      • Divide your mixture equally into your three cake tins and use a spatula to spread the mixture all the way to the edges.

      • Place in the oven and give the tins a turn after 25 minutes. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, if the sponge springs back when touched or you insert a sharp knife into the centre of each cake and they come out clean, they are done.

      • Once baked, remove from the oven and place the tins on a wire rack. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then turn the cakes out. Once cooled, wrap in cling film and refrigerate/freeze until ready to use.

      • For the cupcakes:

      • Distribute your batter equally into your cupcake cases - an ice-cream scoop works best for this.

      • Place your cupcakes in the middle of your oven and bake for +/- 16 minutes, checking and rotating them after about 11.

      • The cupcakes are done when a sharp knife inserted into the centre of one comes out clean and they spring back when touched.

      • When the cupcakes are ready, remove them from the muffin tray immediately and leave to cool on a wire rack. If they aren’t removed from their tray quickly enough the cases will begin to peel away from the cupcakes.


      Want to make your sponge in another size or add another flavour? Here's my trusty guide:

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