Red Velvet Sheet Cake

argh christmas is in two days and argh so much still to bake but argh i'm so excited and argh it's gonna be so hot on christmas day and argh!!!!! i fought my way through melbourne central and onto a train today and nearly struggled to breathe in the christmas crowds this afternoon, but my mood lifted when i saw people running around wearing santa hats and reindeer antlers wishing everybody happy holidays! merry christmas! happy new year! enjoy hanukkah! thanks antler people <3

in other news, i finally filled the pots i've been storing in boxes on a bookshelf since we moved into there invited house with plants!! one's called clive, the other is patricia. patricia is my new kitchen and blog assistant and i think her pink colour makes her extra sassy, whilst clive sits on my desk and helps me make good decisions when writing and editing my essays. i also recently was gifted a gorgeous pine tree scented candle (thanks belle!!) and i think clive and patricia might be getting jealous (they don't really smell of anything you see) but it's ok, i think they'll get over it. 

speaking of plants, our garden has paving!! i'm so excited to play with a skipping rope on it and draw hopscotch games. do you remember those songs that we used to sing when playing jump rope? there was one about a teddy bear turning around, one was with the alphabet to guess the names of your future spouses and children.....ah grade 3 was cute. my ultimate favourite skipping game though was double dutch. i could not for the life of me be the person on the end twisting the ropes (the hand-eye coordination of eight year old jess was sadly, sub-par) but i got really good at the jumping bit!! it's funny the things you remember from being little hey? 

notes: here's a red velvet sheet cake inspired by this recipe here from molly (the ultimate bae). by adding more cacao powder and swapping the buttermilk out for almond milk, i made it a bit more fudgie. it's lying on the territory between a cake and a brownie and is a great base for flavoured frostings and fruity toppings with it's subtle chocolate flavour and dense, yet light, texture. i think a sheet cake is a really american thing to do, but i'm totally sold on the whole idea. it's super easy to share with the masses and decorate quickly. cake with friends that looks pretty with minimal effort, who doesn't love that???? 


Red Velvet Sheet Cake 

{makes 12 squares}

ingredients

1 1/4 c plain flour, sifted

3/4 tsp baking powder, sifted

1/2 tsp sea salt

3 tb cacao powder, sifted

1/2 c coconut oil 

1 c caster sugar

1 egg

1 tb red food colouring (paste or gel works best)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp white vinegar

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

fresh fruit (optional), to serve

 

or the buttercream

330g vegan butter

750g icing (confectioner's) sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

method

preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and prepare a rectangular brownie tin (either with baking parchment or butter and flour). 

in a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cacao powder. set aside. 

in the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the coconut oil and sugar on high for 4-5 minutes or until pale, creamy and voluminous. add the egg and beat again for another 2 minutes. add the food colouring, vanilla and vinegar before mixing for a final 3 minutes on high, or until the colour has been evenly distribute throughout the mixture (scrape the bowl down with a spatula to check that the base of the mixture is evenly coloured). 

add the dry mix to the bowl of the electric mixer in three parts, mixing on the lowest setting. watch out for flour storms. add the almond milk and gradually increase the speed of the mixer to high. mix until well combined. 

pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes. start checking for doneness at 25 minutes using a skewer - if the skewer comes out clean, the cake is ready. 

set the cake aside to cool in the tin. once cooled, remove from the tin and frost with the buttercream icing. top with in season fruit (i used passionfruit and cherries - the chocolaty sweetness of the cake and frosting worked really well with the sharp and tangy flavours of the fruit) or sprinkles!!! 

cut the cakes into small squares to serve.the cakes will keep for 5 days stored at room temperature in a sealed container, although is best eaten within the first 3. 

to make the buttercream

in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the vegan butter and the icing sugar starting on a low speed, before creaming on high for 5 minutes. add the vanilla and beat again for another 5 minutes on high.

refrigerate the frosting for at least 15 minutes before spreading on the cake with a raised palette knife. 


- jess 

p.s. merry chrimbo!!! i hope santa comes!! 

Cranberry & Orange Punch

hey! how's the christmas prep going??? have you started???? have you already finished??? at this time of year melbourne goes a little nuts, and i think it's down to the madness of the holiday season. shopping centres quickly become more like overpacked psychiatric wards, as shoppers walk around with glazed looks in their eyes, full trolleys and dazed and confused expressions. the roads are overly busy as people try and achieve this and hat before the christmas break that really lasts until late january, and last week i saw two women literally fighting over the last turkey frozen roll in the supermarket whilst selecting my mangoes. 

thank the lordy lord for online shopping. 

it's been package central around here lately, with christmas gifts arriving at our door left right and centre. but it's always the awkward game of can i look!??!?!?!?!, because there's nothing worse than ruining your own christmas surprise. so to account for the ambiguity of delivery times, we've sort of resorted to hiding boxes behind our backs as we shuffle down the hallways. at least that's my plan for hiding the parcels anyway.   

but, despite all the christmas madness, the packed car parks and the supermarket sass, it's always worth it. because when you unpack the shopping you get to wrap presents, put them under the tree, plan christmas dinner and decorate your house with lights, christmas trees and decorations. so whilst the most wonderful time of the year makes people slightly insane, i suppose they don't call it the most wonderful time of the year for nothing. 

notes: this morning i brunched with belle and we chitchatted our little hearts away over coffee, smashed avocado and sourdough toast. brunch is by far my favourite meal of the day. why? because it doesn't discriminate against breakfast foods no lunch foods and chances are if you argued your case well, you can pretty much eat anything you want. brunch is simple, brunch is easy, and it is always a good way to catch up with friends. because who says no to brunch???? belle doesn't drink coffee though so i thought something like this would be a great brunchy drink. this drink is so easy and quick i feel like a cop-out turning it into a full blown blog post. but, to be perfectly honest, it's a really festive substitution for alcoholic cocktails or mulled wine and ideal for party situations because of it's few ingredients. it's delicious and fizzy and i think it's simply yummy! 


Cranberry & Orange punch 

{serves two}

ingredients

juice of one orange (approx 100 mls)

200 ml carbonated water, chilled 

160 ml cranberry juice

mint leaves, fresh

ice, to serve 

method

combine the orange juice and carbonated water in a jug. mix the cranberry juice in. split the drink mix between two glasses. top with ice and some fresh mint leaves* and serve. 

 

*to enhance the mint flavour in the drink, smoosh the leaves with your straw or a cocktail muddler at the bottom of your drink. 


- jess x

Chocolate Bauble Cupcakes

hello! today i've a recipe for some awesome chocolate cupcakes that i've been using for years, but never actually got around to sharing on ALA. they're super moist, light and extra chocolaty! topped with my fool-proof classic buttercream, it's a match made in heaven - especially for the festive season! i've decorated these as little green baubles (ish?) to celebrate the decorating and setting up of my christmas tree!! yay!! 

after starting the week with sweltering temperatures, melbourne is officially having a temper tantrum. one minute we're freezing cold, and the next minute we're waaaaay too warm. it's more indecisive than me in a ceramics store. but where is are my warm summer nights? where the crisp mornings fading into sunny afternoons??? if i'm going to live in a climate that's not going to give me white christmases, i at least want a solid summer to preempt the holiday season. where's the solid summer??

i've officially been on holidays for two weeks now and my days have been filled with baking, writing, watching gilmore girls on marathon (i'm halfway through season three!) and wrapping christmas presents. here's a checklist of all the people i've got gifts for mum ✔️ dad ✔️ tom ✔️cards for friends ✔️ , but i still need to figure out what to get for more extended family members that isn't a christmas decoration or chocolate, because i think i've used those too many times. 

anyway, after taking a couple of days off #littlealiceblogmas i'm back with cupcakes! stay tuned for tomorrow's recipe, where we're back to regular programming :D 


chocolate cupcakes

{makes 12}

ingredients

1 1/3 c + 2 tbsp plain flour

 1 tsp bicarb soda

 1/3 c cacao powder

 1 c caster sugar

 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

 2 eggs

 130g vegan butter, melted, cooled

 1 tsp vanilla extract

 

for the buttercream

220g vegan butter

530g icing sugar, sifted

1 tsp vanilla extract

yellow, blue and red food colouring optional

method

preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a muffin tray with cupcake cases. 

in the bowl of an electric mixer, sift the flour, bicarb soda and cacao powder together. whisk through the caster sugar. 

in a medium bowl, whisk together the almond milk, eggs, vegan butter and vanilla. make a well in the dry mix and pour in the wet mix. on a low setting beat the mixture, turning the setting to high once all the dry mix has been incorporated. mix on high for 5 minutes or until pale and creamy. 

divide the batter between the cupcake cases and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. 

leave the cupcakes to cool, before frosting them with the buttercream. store at room temperature in a sealed container. 

to make the buttercream

cream the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. add the vanilla and beat for another 4 minutes on high. divide the frosting into smaller bowls and colour them as desired. chill the frosting in the fridge for 20 minutes before icing the cakes.