Fresh Lemonade and Red Velvet Cakes. A Review of Parragon Books.

When I went to BritMums Live….a post still in my draft folder I’m afraid, which I MUST get round to finishing!….Parragon Books were one of the brands who we were able to chat to. They offered me two books to take away and I selected the two associated with food! I am also pleased to say that I am now one of the Parragon Book Buddies so more reviews will follow.

The first is The Burger Book, a fantastic recipe book for all meat and barbecue lovers out there. It is a book that is presented a little like a comic in the form of some ‘Ka-Pow!’s and it’s layout. It is fun, easy to read and packed full of some fabulous takes on the different types of burger ranging from Mushroom Swiss burgers, Sloppy Joes and Salmon Burgers with Pine Nuts. There is a write-up on the history of the burger and how to make the perfect burger patty. The sections they include are Timeless Originals, Gourmet Show-Stoppers, World-Wide Wonders and The Awesome Side-Show which includes chips, caramelised onions and the very gorgeous fresh Lemonade which we made recently.

The recipe is simple and straightforward.  What you will need:

  • 4 Large Lemons (preferably unwaxed)
  • 175g/6oz Caster Sugar
  • 850ml/1 and a half pints boiling water
  • Ice Cubes

The Method:

1. Scrub the lemons well, then dry. Using a vegetable peeler, peel three of the lemons very thinly. Place the peel in a large jug or bowl, add the sugar and boiling water and stir well until the sugar has dissolved. Cover the jug and leave to stand for at least 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, squeeze the juice from the 3 lemons and reserve.

2. Remove and discard the lemon peel and stir in the reserved lemon juice. Thinly slice the remaining lemon and cut the slices in half. Add to the lemonade together with the ice cubes. Stir and serve immediately.

This lemonade went down a storm in our house and has definitely become one of our firm favourites.

The other book we were given is ‘The Ladies Book of Baking’. A simply beautiful book which is right up mine and Grace’s street. It is full of afternoon tea, family bakes, beautiful biscuits, perfect pastries and pies and special moments which incorporate birthday teas, Halloween and Christmas.

The first recipe we were keen to make was the Red Velvet Cake. For this the ingredients are:

  • 225g/8oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 55g/2oz cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 250ml/9floz buttermilk
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp red edible food colouring
  • 280g/10 oz plain flour
  • 55g/2 oz cornflour
  • 1 and a half tsp baking powder
  • 280g/10oz caster sugar


  • 250g/9oz cream cheese
  • 40g/1 and a half oz unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

The Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark . Grease two 23cm/9 inch tins and line with baking paper
  2. Place the butter, water and cocoa powder in a small saucepan and heat gently, without boiling, stirring until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Beat together the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla extract and food colouring in a bowl. Beat in the butter mixture. Sift together the flour, cornflour and baking powder, then stir into the mixture with the caster sugar.
  4. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and bake in the oven for 25 – 30 mins or until risen and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tins for 3 – 4 mins then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. To make the frosting, beat together all the ingredients until smooth. Use about half of the frosting to sandwich the cakes together and then spread the remainder on the top.

I loved this cake. Ross and Grace weren’t so keen on the frosting but all the more for me!

Over the school holidays and beyond, these two recipe books are certainly going to get a lot of good use from us :). Thanks Parragon books.


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