Here in the UK we have a fundraising body called Comic Relief that was set up 25 years ago (unbelievable because I remember the first event and it really doesn’t seem that long ago!), whose mission is to “drive positive change through the power of entertainment”. They aim to fight poverty both at home and abroad and do this with an annual fundraising day in March, with the build up starting in January.
The fundraising day now alternates annually between Sport Relief and Red Nose Day. With Sport Relief, fundraising activities generally focus, unsurprisingly, on sporting events and fun and Red Nose Day focuses more on comedy and fun. Every year there are celebrity challenges and every year they become more amazing. And every year they manage to raise even more money.
In 2006 David Walliams, a comedian, swam the Channel. In 2010 Eddie Izzard, another comedian, ran 43 marathons in 53 days. In 2011 David Walliams swam 140 miles along the River Thames in 8 days. In 2012 the comedian John Bishop cycled, rowed and ran the 290 miles from Paris to London in 5 days. So far this year a group of 6 celebrities has just spent 5 days paddling its way through the rapids down 111 kilometres of the Zambezi River in Zambia.
I find myself riveted by these challenges, and there are many more I could mention. I have never been sporty: although I would swim, do gym classes and yoga, I can’t say I had ever really “pushed” myself. A few years ago I started training for a 27 mile walk that some school mums were doing for charity, which lead to other long charity walks and then I took up running and did a few charity runs. For some reason I thought running would eventually get easier but I don’t think it does. I think you can just run further for longer but it is just as difficult!
But at least I now have more of an idea of what pushing yourself to achieve something you didn’t think you could do feels like. And I know it is on a wildly different scale but I now also have some understanding of what these celebrities must be going through to get their bodies to achieve things any sane person would think impossible.
People are encouraged to either take part in organised fundraising events, such as the Sport Relief Mile, or to set up their own. I did the Sport Relief Mile with my kids and they well and truly beat me! Every term my son’s year has a Coffee Morning, which I have been hosting for a while, and I thought as we were doing one anyway, it would be a good opportunity to raise some money. So this time last year we raised some money for Sport Relief and this year for Comic Relief.
The fundraising day in March is known as Red Nose Day and you can buy red plastic noses for yourself and your children and even your car. So clearly the theme is red. So what better than a Red Velvet Cake for the coffee morning?
500g caster sugar
210ml buttermilk or natural yogurt
Red food colouring
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon white vinegar
315g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
25g cocoa powder
300g white chocolate
350g cream cheese
200g butter, softened
Set the oven to 170°C and grease the sides and line the base of three 8″ sandwich cake tins.
Beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and make sure they are properly mixed in. Add the buttermilk, vinegar and vanilla essence and mix again.
Add red food colouring until you have a very deep pinkish red. If you are using liquid food colouring you will probably need about two tablespoons. Gel food colouring is much more concentrated and effective and you will need less of it; maybe a teaspoonful or so.
Sieve together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder and fold in to the red mixture. You can add more food colouring at this stage if you are not happy with the depth of colour.
Divide the cake mixture equally between the three tins and bake for around 25-30 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
When ready allow to cool briefly in the tins before turning out on to wire cooling racks. Allow to cool completely.
Make the icing:
Melt the white chocolate carefully over a bowl of boiling water or in the microwave. Beat the cream cheese, add the softened butter and mix well.
Add the melted chocolate to the cream cheese mixture and beat well until fully incorporated.
Sandwich the three cakes together with the icing and then cover the top and sides with the remainder. You need to work relatively quickly or it will set as the butter and chocolate cool. You can leave it plain at this stage but I used red sugar sprinkles and a cappuccino stencil to decorate the top and also put sprinkles on the sides:
It is most definitely not a diet cake, or even remotely good for you; it really has no redeeming features other than it tastes really good! But at least we could eat it knowing it was for a good cause!