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VALENTINES DAY PANIC

So Valentines day is round the corner which means one thing for us. A CAKE OPPORTUNITY. However, for others we know it can just be a last minute stress to plan the perfect day  so that your other half will hopefully continue to talk to you for another year.

What do they say? The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach? Well for the record, cakes definitely win women over as well.

For all those of you out there panicking about how you are going to impress this friday, we have come up with a variety of recipes to suit all baking capabilities.

For the really adventurous, the heart surprise cake is a must try, it’s really tasty and impressive. You can find the original recipe on the BBC Good Food website but i think ours is slightly less faff.

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If you want something a bit different, try valentines day cake pops. The Hello Kitty blog gives a quick overview as to how to make a basic cake pop if you aren’t sure what they are.

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Instead of making them spherical, you can also make them cuboid – just mould the mixture into any shape you desire (you could even attempt hearts…).

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If you want something classy, dip them into a mixture of dark, white and milk chocolate, sometimes less is more. But if you really want to get your point across then invest in some love hearts (CHEESE), dip them into white chocolate or pink candy melts and decorate.

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If you have slightly less baking prowess or only have limited time then biscuits are a good option.

This basic biscuit recipe is really easy and can be adapted to make them more impressive. A few ideas are:

  • cut into heart shapes and add red food colouring
  • add food colouring to the dough but don’t mix it in completely to acheive a marbled effect
  • add the zest of an orange or lemon to give them a bit more flavour
  • cut out a shape from the middle and fill with a crushed boiled sweet before baking to give a pretty stain glass window effect
  • dip in melted chocolate for a bit of sophistication

The possibilities are endless… Remember that biscuits harden up as they cool so don’t panic if, when you take them out, they don’t feel completely cooked.

If the idea of making something from scratch really scares you, we did (just this once) try out a packet mix. SHOCK HORROR.

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Betty Crocker’s Vanilla Cupcakes promised “a featherlight sponge, irresistibly smooth icing and the cutest sprinkles”. We were dubious. However, it was very easy to do and the results were definitely edible. Actually, that’s harsh, they tasted better than we expected but were a bit dry.

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If you are someone who doesn’t really bake then this is a great alternative, they are very vanillary and sweet but definitely look the part and show that you have gone to some effort.

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If you do use it then we do have some tips:

  • you may need your own cupcake cases, the ones in our packet were very crumpled and didn’t look great

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  • if you have any red or pink food colouring, add a bit to the icing as otherwise they look slightly anemic
  • do not necessarily expect them to go brown in the oven
  • invest in something more interesting to decorate them with (although if you choose love hearts, vet them before you put them on, they are definitely not all suitable and you could end up accidentally proposing… which would be awkward for all involved)

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We also have a few ideas for people wanting to impress someone with allergies/intolerances.

After much experimenting, we have concluded that gluten free cakes really aren’t that great. The best thing to do is either find a recipe with minimal flour such as a chocolate torte and use a gluten free flour alternative or try substituting all the flour in a chocolate cake for ground almonds. We haven’t tried this with every single chocolate cake recipe out there, but we know it works well with this one which is for two eight inch tins:

Dry ingredients:
175g self raising flour (or in this case ground almonds)
1 level tsp gluten free baking powder
2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
150g mix of caster and brown sugar
Pinch of salt

Wet ingredients:
2 large eggs
150ml milk
150ml vegetable oil
2 tbsp golden syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp of coffee

  1. Heat oven to 160 fan.
  2. Sift all the dry ingredients, including sugar into a bowl and mix.
  3. Put all the wet ingredients and vanilla and coffee (if you have them handy) into a jug and mix briefly.
  4. Tip the wet ingredients into a well in the dry mixture.
  5. Using a whisk, beat all ingredients together until combined, but don’t over beat.
  6. Pour into the two tins and bake for 20-30 mins or until it springs back when pressed lightly in the middle. Check at 20 minutes because it over bakes quickly.
  7. Turn out chocolate cakes onto wire rack to cool

You can use this recipe to make cupcakes and traybakes as well.

This recipe is also good if you need an egg free one. As it only requires two eggs for a whole cake (four is more normal) then you can hardly tell if you use an egg substitute   .

Happy Valentines Day!! ❤

Ruth, Lizzy and Anna xxx

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