Let’s Be Pen Pals

Hello friends, 

Thanks for calling in. I’m so happy you have joined me. I’d love you to say hello and tell me a bit about yourself, so drop me a line in the comments.

How has your week been? Thankfully mine was better than last week although we still have one sick little lamb at home in the fold, and I also made one late night trip to the hospital with another. The good news is that all the girls are now taking turns cooking dinner one night a week! Yippee! And when you have five daughters at home, plus a culinary son living next door, that means I only have to cook one night a week!!! (and the heavens roared!!) Toasties anyone?!

A few months ago I was chatting with one of my daughters about doing a photo shoot in an old local cemetery near us. We discussed the theme and style and I bought her the loveliest black velvet dress to wear. I had been waiting for the right weather to do the shoot, which means rainy and very overcast, giving the best light for outdoor photography. As this week’s forecast fit the bill, we decided to give it a go. 

Of course the main purpose of my shoot was to photograph a beautiful cake abundantly loaded up with fresh flowers, using my daughter as a model holding it. So I made a six layer chocolate cake with black buttercream and elegant gold stencilling. I was so happy with it. Stencilling can be a bit tricky and I’m trying to get in as much practise as I can. I raided Aldi for deep red and pink roses and by the time we did the shoot they were blooming beautifully.

After an hour long debate about whether or not darling daughter should wear fake eyelashes, which of course I won (she wore them), we finally got ready and drove the two minutes to the cemetery.

A lot can happen in two minutes.

By the time I got the cake out of the car, the top flowers were starting to sag down and the front of the cake was coming away!! You have got to be kidding me! Within five minutes I knew the cake was lost and would not be featuring in my photo shoot. UGH. Darned humidity. I actually filmed it falling apart (trying to stay on the bright side), so keep an eye on my instagram stories for the great cake fail. 

Determined not to let myself get too discouraged, I refocussed and started taking photos of my daughter. One of my sons was with us, who has a great eye for photography, so we spent the next few hours in glorious cloud filtered light shooting our fabulous looking model. It was so much fun. I saw a few of his edited pics and wow! they are looking incredible. I can’t wait to get into them over the weekend and share some with you guys next week.

Meanwhile, let’s talk about red velvet. Confession time. I’m actually not a great fan of red velvet cake and have never made or eaten any. I am always put off by the heavy dose of red food colouring needed to give it that lovely rich red look. Little did I know however, that there is more to the red velvet cake than meets the eye. It has buttermilk and a teeny bit of white vinegar in the recipe and when they get together to do a little dance, the result is a delicious, light and almost tangy cake which is pretty hard to beat. The addition of cocoa powder also compliments the delicate flavours.

Note: This is not my original recipe. I have adapted it from Divas Can Cook

This recipe can also make a batch of cupcakes.

Red Velvet Cake

Light and fluffy cake with that delcious red velvet taste.
Cook Time 30 minutes
Author Divas Can Cook


  • 2 cups Plain Flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicard soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tblsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups castor sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 bottle Pillar Box Red food colouring
  • 1/2 cup plain hot coffee Don't skip this step
  • 1 tsp white vinegar


  • Preheat oven to 180C
  • spray two 20cm round cake tins with oil (or one large bundt tin)
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, bicarb soda, baking powder, cocoa and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine sugar and canola oil.
  • Mix in thge eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and red food colouring until combined.
  • Stir in the coffee and white vinegar.
  • Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing after each addition, just until combined. The batter will be thin.
  • Pour the batter evenly into each pan.
  • Bake in the middle rack for 30 - 40 minutes or until firm to touch and a skewer comes out clean. Do not overbake.
  • Let cakes cool in pans. Carefully turn cakes out of pans onto wire rack. Wrap cool cakes in cling film and ideally refridgerate overnight or for a few hours. This step is optional but recommended for ease of decorating as it makes the cakes firmer.
  • Slice dome tops off cakes to level them before frosting. Fill with cream cheese frosting. Serve at room temp.
  • This recipe can also be used for cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • In an electric mixer on high speed, beat 125g butter, cubed, with 125g cream cheese. Beat on high for two or three minutes or until well combined.
  • Turn mixer back down to lowest speed and slowly add 2 to 4 cups of icing mixture (I prefer Icing mixture rather than pure icing sugar). Add tablespoons of cream until frosting is desired consistency. Add 1 tsp vanilla bean paste. Put a generous amount of frosting in the middle of the cake and on top.

I am a bit late posting my blog post this morning. Forgive me. I am normally way ahead of schedule and have it all ready to go by Friday, but the reason for my delay is a good one and worth sharing. 

Lately our older children have taken it upon themselves to hook in even more than normal and help out their weary mama bear with household chores and organisation. (I sound like I am in a dream even writing those words! Ha HA). Noticing that I have been a bit wobbly over recent weeks and months, under the weight of our precious, but exhausting large family, large household living, we had a little family meeting (God bless their dear hearts) to discuss ways they could help relieve the workload and (gasp) create more breathing room in my life to do the things that fill me up as a creative human being. WOW. Can you imagine?! I feel teary even thinking about it. 

So our eldest daughter (living at home) has taken charge and got all the younger treasures under her belt with chore chart, weekly responsibilities and Saturday morning deep cleaning chores (Woo hoo!). It’s amazing how responsive the kids have been when it’s not me cracking the whip, but their older sister. Today was our first day so it took us longer than normal…actually, we all worked hard with minimal teenage attitude from 9:30 till 2pm. Bless them, we even had boyfriend #1 helping and he spent ages scrubbing my grotty overhead stove fan. I told him he now has permission to marry my daughter.

We are indeed living in the age of miracles folks!

In the words of Steve Irwin, CRIKEY! Have you ever heard of such diabolical domestic breakthrough? I don’t know whether to burst into tears or squeal with glee. Maybe both. For the first time in a really long while I feel like that enormous mother load has lightened just enough for me to come up for air and take a breath. Thank you Jesus!


So, now that my home is ship shape and under control I think I will go and make a bit pot of tea and cook myself some eggs. Ahh. Domestic bliss indeed.

Take care dear ones, and I’ll see you next week.

Love Anna XX



  • Michelle (fancybakes_nz)

    Great blog love following u and your family antics ? your cake photos are to die for and you have a noted signature theme for them … just beautiful . I need to take a leaf out of your book and get a theme going ?
    I live in NZ but still have my old uk email

    • A
      Anna Hogbin

      Thank you so much Michelle!It’s so lovely to meet you. Your kind words have made my day. I’m looking forward to checking out your work. Anna xx

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