This easy Red Velvet Cake recipe is an English version of a very popular American cake. My daughter asked for a Red Velvet Cake for her birthday and, as I had never made one before, I had to do a bit of research! I have to say that I was a bit sceptical – it is a chocolate cake but with relatively small amount of chocolate and a large amount of vanilla – but the end result was delicious. It seemed to be a strange mixture of chocolate and vanilla but the tastes work brilliantly with each other and the vanilla flavour is picked up in the cream cheese icing. So, it is really a vanilla cake with a bit of chocolate rather than a chocolate cake!
My go-to recipe for cakes is generally a basic Victoria Sponge. However, this recipe has encouraged me to be a bit more adventurous in my cake making. Using a combination of butter and oil makes the cake both flavoursome and moist and the buttermilk adds a tangy richness that works well with the cream cheese icing.
A cake and a dessert…
When I served this Red Velvet Cake for my daughter’s birthday, I decided to use it as dessert. It is the kind of versatile cake that works well as either a dessert or as a stand-alone, afternoon tea type cake. I served it with lots of juicy fresh strawberries which complemented the vanilla and chocolate flavour of the sponge and the tangy cream cheese icing. It was a large cake, and we had already had a substantial main course, but it disappeared extremely quickly!
This quick and easy Rhubarb Jam, flavoured with vanilla, is tangy and delicious. Rhubarb has a long season, from early spring through to September. It is a great way to use up rhubarb if, like me, you have an over-supply in your garden.
What you need to know about Rhubarb and Vanilla jam
It is a very simple recipe which only uses three ingredients – rhubarb, sugar and a vanilla pod.
Try and use jam sugar rather than regular caster sugar. Jam sugar has added pectin which means that the jam will set quickly without you having to cook the fruit for too long. This preserves the flavour.
Make sure you sterilise your jam jars before putting the jam into them. This will ensure that the jam lasts longer.
The quantities in this recipe results in one large jar of jam. It is very easy to multiply the ingredients if you want to make more jam. As rhubarb is quite tart, the rule of thumb is to have equal weights of raw rhubarb and sugar.
I use a vanilla pod to flavour this jam as I think the flavour goes very well with rhubarb. However, if vanilla is not your thing, you can leave it out and just make plain rhubarb jam. It will still taste very good. Alternatively, you can add another flavouring. Cardamon and star anise both go very well with rhubarb – just substitute three dried cardamon pods or two dried star anise pods for the vanilla pod.
This Rhubarb Jam is lovely on buttered bread. However, as with all jams, it can also be used as an ingredient in other recipes. It is a good filling for cakes or to add a tang to puddings such as my Bread and Butter Pudding with Rhubarb Jam.
Other rhubarb recipes
I love the sweet-sour taste of rhubarb and, as I have a vigorous plant in my garden, I make lots of recipes with it.
I also make Rhubarb Compote which is like an unset jam made from a simple mixture of rhubarb and sugar. It is great stirred into yogurt or served with ice cream but can also be used as an ingredient in recipes such as Rhubarb Roulade or Rhubarb Fool.
Finally, I use rhubarb to make Rhubarb Gin which is great on its own or as the basis for a number of Rhubarb Gin Cocktails. It is really easy to make flavoured gin which is much cheaper than premium shop-bought brands.