Red Velvet Cake

I thought Red Velvet Cake was just a victoria sandwich with waaaay too much red colouring in it, so I have avoided it.

However, we have an American guest who I know loves it, and I thought I'd make one as a welcoming gesture, and actually took the trouble to find out more. One thing it isn't, is a standard victoria sandwich cake!

I've adapted a recipe found on the internet (there's loads out there) because I had to use substitutions for some of the ingredients. I am a complete convert to the RVC and have printed my version below. It is very light, very moist, not too rich, soft, and keeps well. Recipe is under photographs.

You will need 3x 8" cake tins, lined and greased. Preheat the oven to 160C for a fan oven, 180C if not. I think that's gas 4.


300 grms of muscovado sugar (you can use other sugars but this soft brown sugar gives a bit of fudginess) 
2 large eggs
240 ml of vegetable oil. You can use sunflower oil but nothing else - definitely not olive oil or nut oils!
Red food colouring. (You have to be a bit brave - use a gel colouring if possible but if not go with what you have. I used half a small bottle and it's not exactly red is it!)
250g plain flour
1 1/4 tsps of bicarbonate of soda
40 grms of good cocoa powder
1/2 tblsp vanilla extract
100 ml of coffee
240ml buttermilk
1/2 tblsp white wine vinegar


Sieve the flour, bicarb and cocoa into a large bowl.

In another bowl add the oil, eggs, and colouring and whisk for a couple of minutes until slightly lighter in colour and thicker.

Sieve in half the flour mix and lightly whisk. Add coffee, vinegar and buttermilk and beat together. Fold in the remaining flour. Pour the mix into the 3 tins and bake for about 25-30 minutes until done. The cakes will spring back to a light touch when done.


175 gms butter at room temperature
400 grms icing sugar
2 x 180 grms of full fat cream cheese (don't use low fat as it's too liquid when mixed)

I'd say this was an essential part of the cake! Whisk the softened butter and add the icing sugar until well mixed and fluffy. Whisk in the cream cheese. I used Philadelphia and all was well, but if your brand makes the icing a bit too runny just pop it back into the fridge to set.

Sandwich together and use any remaining as decoration. I had enough to coat the sides quite thickly.

Feeling Lonely?!

I've decided that if I'm ever feeling a bit lonely or at a loss about what to do next, I shall do what I did unwittingly yesterday and put on my black trousers and wear a black tee shirt; then I'll put my glasses on a string around my neck and go into Marks and Spencer for a bit of shopping.Whether you choose to browse whilst there, idly thumbing through the bras or shoes, or just stand quietly looking around the shop floor, people will come up to you and ask you really interesting things, like, "Where's the men's socks please?", or "Do you have this shirt in a size 12 in white?" or even rather horrifically, could you fit me for a bra please?".  I leave it up to you how involved in the conversations you wish to be. Isn't life a blast?

(Apparently M&S uniform is black trousers, black tee shirt and a thing around the neck).

Chocolate Orange Cake

Needle felting - a first go.

Pin Cushions by me!

I've been out and about during the last week because Warwick Arts Trail is on and there's lots to see. I was chatting to a lady who did needle felting and she had some lovely work on show and was selling kits to get you started, so of course I bought one to have a go!

The tools you need are simple: Wool - which you can buy in lots of lovely colours prepared and in a handy sized skein. I paid £6.50 a pack for mine at Hobbycraft (no affiliation) I also bought some needle felting needles and a multi-needle (below).

The needles come in different sizes and shapes, but for me as a beginner I just bought a multi pack of 3 - large, medium, and fine. Those funny looking beige things at the front are leather finger and thumb protectors which came in my kit. A jolly good idea to wear them at the start of things because those needles are long and very very sharp - ouch! I think you can buy them on line.

The white square and the blue square are the foam bases for the needle felting. You can also buy something that looks like a brush but does the same job.

The process is simple but time consuming. Push the needle through the wool which you've chosen and rolled into a ball, (for animals) and into the foam a few times, and you'll see that the wool begins to felt. You need a bit of patience as it takes a while to build the felt into a firm surface.

Most people seem to make animals - there's lots of how-to's on YouTube if you want to have a go. Basically you roll a lot of wool into a tight ball and stab away at it until it's felted and smooth.  - maybe as much as 30 minutes depending on your speed. Plasters are good to keep at hand. You then attach other shapes such as heads and legs that you've felted in the same way, and you have a creature of sorts. My mouse was simple white wool with pale pink and a spot of black for an eye.

I was making pin cushions for a charitable event which has been cancelled, so have opened a tiny shop to sell them should anyone be interested. The small ones are £6.50 and the larger ones £10. Click here if you want to know more.

2 pin cushions and a dead mouse.

Two more pin cushions which will be for sale when I have made enough!

 It's not a dead mouse of course, just sleeping. My first go at needle felting. Not entirely sure it's for me but an interesting start!

Cup and saucer pin cushion

I bought the above pin cushion some year's ago, and it has featured in one of my quilts. You can guess by that, that I love it quite a bit! So I thought I'd have a go at making one for a friend.

You need a pretty vintage tea cup and saucer, but I guess you could do similar with an egg cup etc.

I chose a piece of cloth to go with the china, and used the saucer to cut out a round from the fabric.

I then did a smallish running stitch around the circle and pulled it slightly into a round. I filled this with scraps of polyester wadding before pulling the thread tightish and finishing it off. I then glued the wadded circle into the cup using a general purpose glue. Put the glue on the cup not on the fabric, it's easier.

Options: The beads shown on the cup above, were a small bracelet which is made to the size of the cup and simply rested on the top at the edge. The middle was filled with glass headed pins.