Yet another birthday cake!

I have always been intrigued by the red velvet cake, but shockingly have never tried a “proper” version. I tried my hands at some red velvet cupcakes, but I evidently did not put enough food colouring in as it came out brown rather than red. They tasted brilliant though, and I was immediately a fan. I did, however, still want to try the red velvet cake from Hummingbird Bakery (I got the recipe for my cupcakes from their cookbook) – but as I wasn’t keen on trekking to South West London in the winter, I decided I would wait till their store opened in Soho.

In the end, I didn’t have to do that, as R got me this very cake for my birthday! 🙂

As you may have noticed, my previous post was about R’s birthday, and this is because we have birthdays that are only a week apart. It can be either good or bad – depending on how you see it. Good as we get to have a joint celebration somewhere in between, bad because there is an endless supply of cake in those 2 weeks. Which is what happened last month – I *almost* feel guilty when I think of how much cake I ate in December, what with birthdays and Christmas and all…

But back to the gorgeousness that is this red velvet cake. I love the simple yet effective way the cake was decorated, with some red velvet cake crumbs sprinkled atop the cream cheese frosting. Definitely something I will do in the future when decorating cakes. The fact that it was a triple layer cake also made it look that much better – height is obviously a plus when it comes to cakes! And just look at the beautiful way the icing is done on the edges of the cake – I can only wish I could do it so skillfully.

The cake itself was very moist, and surprisingly not too dense or “sickly” considering its size. I did find the icing a bit too sweet though, and found that after a while, I had to leave some of it behind. (Shocking I know) It wouldn’t stop me from eating this again though!

And of course, there had to be some food as well. I was actually (very unfortunately) on call on my birthday, so R had the entire day to shop and cook dinner. He made this delicious rack of lamb, served with potatoes and roasted vegetables. The lamb was ridiculously good, with a crispy herby crust on the outside and tender meat on the inside. I sometimes find it amusing how R never cooked before he met me  – and now, here he is producing such yummy food. Am not complaining though. 🙂

Note: there are 2 photos of the dish being served in different ways as we were experimenting! 😉 I also apologise for the terrible photos, but I was hungry and for some reason my light (and my brain!) wasn’t cooperating!

Herb crusted rack of lamb with potatoes boulangere and courgettes provencal
Based on this recipe by Gordon Ramsay

For the lamb:

  • 2 large racks of Lamb, cut in half with 3 bones each portion
  • 4 slices of stale bread made into crumbs
  • 100g grated parmesan
  • Sprig parsley
  • Sprig thyme
  • Sprig coriander
  • Sprig rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons English mustard

1. Season the lamb with salt and pepper, and seal in hot olive oil. Bake in the oven at 200°C for 7 to 8 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a blender, thoroughly mix all the herb crust ingredients together, season and set aside.
3. Remove the lamb from the oven and brush with the mustard before dipping into the herb crust mix covering the fat thoroughly.
4. Allow to rest and before serving simply return the lamb to the oven for a further 2-3 minutes.

For the courgettes provencal:

  • 6 large courgettes cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 500g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 sprig basil
  • 1 sprig coriander
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

1. Sauté the courgettes and rosemary in olive oil, season and add a dash of vinegar.
2. Add the tomatoes, basil and coriander and cook for approximately 5 minutes further seasoning with a little more oil and vinegar.
3. Allow to cook until the vegetables have just begun to soften.

For the potatoes:

  • 1 liter chicken stock
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 3 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large onions, peeled and sliced
  • 4 large Desiree potatoes peeled and finely sliced, on a mandolin if possible

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2. Bring the chicken stock to a boil and infuse with thyme, rosemary and crushed garlic cloves. Strain before use.
3. Gently sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil until softened and lightly colored.
4. Rub an oven proof dish with olive oil and layer the onions followed by the potatoes, repeating until the dish is full finishing with a final layer of potato. Make sure to season each layer as you go.
5. Pour over the stock until it comes 2/3rds of the way up the dish. Press down on the mixture to help the liquid absorb and finally drizzle a little olive oil on top.
6. Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes or until soft and golden on top.

To serve:
Slice the lamb into 3 chops per person, serve with the courgettes and a generous helping of the potatoes before spooning over a little of the vinaigrette from the vegetables.

For the cake:
Go to the wonderful Hummingbird Bakery (branches in Old Brompton Road, Portebello Road & Wardour Street)