Archives for the month of: February, 2012

English Mum is hosting a ‘Baked With Love Bakeoff’ and now that Owen, my brand new oven, is in full effect, I had to get involved.  I like making Valentine’s day treats for my sweeties and wanted to do something new, so I tried Red Velvet Cupcakes.  I have seen many recipes for Red Velvet Cake, all of which use quite a bit of red food colouring, but the one from Eric Lanlard’s Home Bake is one that does not.  It’s an American style recipe which relies on the chemical reaction between baking soda and white wine vinegar to create the ‘red’ effect.

It was more like a science experiment than baking, but that was part of the fun.

red velvet science experiment

It started out like your everyday cake mixture using the creaming method: butter, sugar, cocoa…

Cocoa powder

Then alternately add buttermilk and flour…

Mix it up

But with this mixture you combine baking soda and white wine vinegar. Vinegar in cupcakes?! okaay…

now for the science bit

Then keep mixing until it becomes a glossy mixture…

glossy mixture

I filled each cupcake cup halfway and popped them in the new oven. (Affectionately named Owen thanks to the suggestion of Leah and Phil).

Owen shows off

Et voila… Cupcakes! They didn’t come out as red as I anticipated, but they taste amazing and are actually really velvety in texture.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

As these cakes are celebrating Valentine’s Day, I decorated them with marshmallow topping (mini G’s favourite) and heart shaped sprinkles.

Valentine's decorations

And they went down a treat with the little love of my life – mini G…

baked with love

Baked with love bakeoff

Frozen world


Last Sunday our oven’s heating element gave up the ghost – again. It happened while we were out on a walk, with a pork leg roasting away. Thankfully, our quick thinking turned it into a pot roast so dinner was saved.

Living without an oven, especially in the middle of winter, is not ideal but we’ve made it work.

So today, we say goodbye to the oven that has seen us through many Christmas dinners, birthday cakes and other baked treats, even Thanksgiving!


Watch this space for adventures of breaking in the new oven. I’m just a little bit excited! Now, who wants cake??

If you are going to Cybher, think of it as a little ice-breaker, a way to make some new friends ahead of the big day! Write up your own and link it up over at Geek is the New Chic!

If you already have your ticket make sure you grab your badge here.
So this is me…
Name : Erica Whiteman – sometimes known as ebals
Blogs : Cupcakesandotherstuff, PunchComms Punch Blog

Twitter ID : @ericawhiteman
Height : 5’6″
Hair : Short to mid length – brownish, but I’m thinking of going platinum.

Five things you should know about me…
1. I grew up in Northern California, near the bay area specifically.
2. I’m married to a synth bass playing, mixing & mastering musician. We met when he was on tour in Seattle.
3. I love coffee, I mean really love it. But not the instant crap stuff.
4. I used to be a rockstarhelper
5. I have 1 son and 2 cats.

As part of the Mumsnet and My Farm project to re-connect our children with where food comes from, Farmers Whiteman3 went out to the National Trust Wimpole Estate to see what the farm was all about.

Finding Home Farm

Upon entry to the Home Farm, we came across some of the cows. I asked MiniG what came from cows and he correctly answered “Milk”. He had great fun on the milking demo. It’s a shame we missed the proper demo to see Gerty in action.

Mini G milking machine

Before moving to the UK, the most involved with livestock I got was deciding how many cattle to buy when putting together my wagon train playing Oregon Trail. I’m fascinated by farm life and living off “the fat of the land”. I really admire what River Cottage has done for this industry and especially what My Farm is doing to involve us “regular joes” in the farming decision making process.

The next vote is about deciding which breed gets a bull. I’ll be reading up on the differences between Shetlands, Gloucesters and Irish Moileds – all of which are rare breeds.


You see this sign on the packages of meat you buy in supermarkets, but it really puts it into perspective to see where they live and how they are raised.

RCPCA approved

Beef isn’t on our weekly menu as much as I’d like, and as such Mini G didn’t know that in addition to milk, beef comes from cows. I explained to him that this is where roast beef comes from before we buy it in the shops.

Bovine intervention

I love pigs.

I think they might just be my favourite of the farm animals. It might go back to my love of Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web, who knows… The pig is a well revered animal in our house as its meat provides us with a lot of meals. Mini G knows that his bacon, ham and sausages come from a pig.

Mini G piglets



Buying local is really important for ecological and sustainability. Knowing where your food comes from and that it is quality makes cooking – and eating – much more pleasurable.

British pork

The My Farm community is a great opportunity to re-connect where food comes from for adults as well as children. Since visiting, Mini G talks a lot more about what he’s eating and where it comes from.

Wimpole machinery

Watch this space for the verdict of the vote which closes on 13th February.

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