Fresh strawberry Victoria sandwich

Sometimes simple really is the best.

Don’t get my wrong, I love making trashy and over the top desserts with layers of chocolate and caramel and peanut butter, rich and decadent and delicious – but there will always be a place in my heart for a simple, classic sponge cake.

Inspired by a punnet of strawberries sat in my fridge, I decided to go back to basics with a Victoria sandwich, filled with jam, buttercream and fresh strawberries.

Although I did get one comment of ‘what made you decide to make just a sponge cake’, most people loved it, me included.

Simple, to the point, fresh and tasty – perfect for elevenses, afternoon tea, or just because!

Fresh strawberry Victoria sponge

  • 115g butter
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 110g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the filling:

  • 30g butter
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp milk
  • 3-4 tbsp strawberry jam
  • 3-4 large strawberries, diced

Beat the butter and sugar together for about 5 minutes, or until really light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla – add a spoonful of the flour if it’s starting to curdle. Sift together the flour and baking powder then fold into the cake batter. Divide between two greased and lined 6″ tins, then bake at 170 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until risen, golden and a skewer comes out clean.

For the filling, beat the butter and icing sugar together until well combined, then add the milk and continue to beat until light and airy. Spread a layer of jam on top of one of the sponges, then scatter the diced strawberries on top. Spread the buttercream onto the underneath of the other cake layer, then place this on top. Finish with a dusting of icing sugar and serve with a cup of tea!

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The BIG Cake Show

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This weekend, I was lucky enough to be invited by the organisers of The BIG Cake Show to go along as a VIP blogger and sample the many cakey delights on offer.

For those of you who don’t know, The BIG Cake Show is a brand new event in Exeter organised by local friends, event organisers and baking enthusiasts Kim and Mel. It took place over three days, following a similar format to the Cake and Bake shows in Manchester and London, which I’m sure many of you will have been to.

There were baking demonstrations, from both celebrities and local chefs, classroom workshops, children’s activities, competitions and of course lots and lots of fabulous local and national producers and suppliers selling everything from cake decorating tools to chocolates, wine and of course cake.

Although on a smaller scale than the Cake and Bake shows, there was plenty going on to make it well worth the bargain £12 entry – I was kept entertained from 11 until 5, and I don’t exactly have the longest attention span…

The big draws in terms of celeb chefs were Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, but neither of them were there on the Saturday when I went. I really wasn’t too bothered though, as my two favourite GBBO contestants (and winners) were there – Edd Kimber and John Whaite.

John was up first, giving a demo which was half baking, half stand up comedy – he was brilliant! The butterscotch banana giant chelsea bun he made looked incredible too – I believe the recipe is in his new book which came out this week…

One of the benefits of my VIP ticket was priority seating for the demos. I was a little bit late arriving for John, so I just ran in and grabbed the first seat I saw, in the middle of the front row. It was only when John made a comment about the people sat next to me that I realised it was actually Edd Kimber and Jo Wheatley, off of actual Bake Off!

I took the opportunity to grab a quick photo with Edd – what a lovely man! His demo later in the afternoon was fab too – making a flour less chocolate and blackberry cake, he did a great job of answering all the audience’s questions and you could tell there was no blagging whatsoever, he really does know his stuff! Although I can’t help but be a little jealous of anyone who bakes for a living and classes Paul A Young as one of their best friends…

I also saw local chefs Rob Spencer and Darrin Hosegrove from Ashburton Cookery School demoing in the West Country Larder, ably (?!) assisted by local radio DJ David ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald. The cookery school has won loads of awards and should anyone really, REALLY love me, one of their patisserie courses would make an excellent gift… Just saying!

It was great to see local producers alongside the bigger baking companies, and I enjoyed both catching up with some I’ve met at previous events and meeting some lovely new people too.

For anyone who shares the same mild obsession with blueberries that I have, the Blueberry Brothers are just amazing – they make jam, truffles, brownies, tarts and muffins, as well as a blueberry beer called Blue Yonder which I’ve been on the lookout for since Christmas.

I should explain – pre-Christmas, I met Nick from the Blueberry Brothers at a farmers’ market in Plymouth. We got chatting, and he gave me a recipe for venison seared in blueberry jam then slow cooked in blueberry beer, which I wrote up and gave to my stepdad along with a bottle of beer and jar of jam. He like the recipe so much he wanted to do it again, but sadly Blue Yonder isn’t too readily available in Cornwall – so when I saw it on Saturday I was more than a bit happy!

Not a beer lover myself, I sampled one of their blueberry and apple muffins, fuel for the long drive home, and it was absolutely delicious. Next on my list to try is their blueberry marzipan – I have a feeling I could quickly become addicted.

One of my favourite new finds of the day was Frandie Macaron. Having previously spoken to them on Twitter, I made a beeline for their stand when I arrived, to check out all the beautiful brightly coloured macarons, hand made in Devon.

I’ve always been too scared to make macarons, so it was rather reassuring to see that even the professionals don’t always get it right – Frandie Macaron sell bags of ‘maca-wrongs’ – misshapen shells that taste just as good but are a little lacking in the looks department.

I tried one of their raspberry and limoncello macarons, which were created especially for the show through a fan competition. It was lush – I really do need to have a go at making my own though. Soon, maybe…

In the competition arena was a great selection of novelty cakes, all with a South West theme. The winning cake really was outstanding, they packed everything Westcountry that they could think of into a bit tower of cake, including Yeo Valley yoghurt, Clarks shoes, Paignton Zoo and Thatchers Cider – just look at the INSANE detail, I can only dream of being able to make a cake this good!

So, The BIG Cake Show was basically brilliant, and I am so happy that Mel and Kim have managed to create something for people in the South West – as much as I love cake, the 5 hour drive/7 hour coach to London is not the most fun, and I know a lot of people will agree that with so many amazing local bakers and producers, it’s only right that the South West should have its own show!

Thanks to Tracy and The BIG Cake Show team for my VIP pass, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Lemon, white chocolate and coconut blondies

Does anything say summer is coming more than delicious zesty lemon curd? Nope, thought not!

I was feeling the joys of spring the other day and, with a small jar of lemon curd to use up, decided to have a look back through Pinterest to find a suitable recipe to use it in.

As soon as I saw these lemon-vanilla dream bars from Mainly Baking, which I pinned a year and a half ago, I knew they were ‘the one’.

I did a bit of googling to see if I could find the original recipe, and although I didn’t manage that I did find a variation which used a coconut flavoured white chocolate, which then led to me adding desiccated coconut into the mix.

Although the flavour of the coconut wasn’t especially strong, it was noticeable and I thought it added a nice bite to the blondes. The lemon curd is swirled in so you get little pockets of zesty deliciousness, and the chunks of white chocolate add a nice texture contrast.

I was a fan of these, and so were all my taste testers at work – my boss even gave them a ‘wow’, and he’s not the biggest cake fan.

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These bars are summery and lovely, and I would highly recommend you make them. They’re also perfect for March’s We Should Cocoa challenge, hosted by I’d Much Bake Than… who chose coconut as the theme.

Enjoy!

Lemon, white chocolate and coconut blondies (adapted from Mainly Baking)

  • 225g white chocolate, chopped
  • 85g butter
  • 50g sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 30g desiccated coconut
  • 80g plain flour
  • 75g white chocolate
  • 165g lemon curd

Start by heating the 225g white chocolate and butter in a bowl of a saucepan of barely simmering water. White chocolate needs to be melted slowly over a low heat, so don’t rush this bit! Once melted, remove from the heat and beat in the sugar, eggs and vanilla bean paste. Fold in the coconut, then sift in the flour and fold again. Finally, stir in the white chocolate chips and then spread the mixture into an 8×8″ square tin, lined with baking paper.

Spoon the lemon curd in little dollops over the top of the cake batter, then gently swirl with a butter knife or skewer, making sure not to over-mix – you want there to be little pockets of lemon curd in the baked blondies. Bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is turning golden and the blondies are just firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin, then slice into squares and serve.

Blueberry cheesecake brownies

Along with the peanut butter cup rocky road, which went down a storm, I also made these blueberry cheesecake brownies for my American-themed party last weekend.

The original idea was something red, white and blue, so I thought that red velvet cheesecake brownies with a few blueberries thrown in would do the job perfectly.

Unfortunately, I seem to be incapable of making a red velvet anything that actually turns out red.

This time I used Dr Oetker gel colouring, in the past I’ve tried liquid food colouring and even beetroot for a natural version, but nothing seems to produce the vibrant red I’m after. If anyone has any top tips of the best colouring to use, please let me know, I am determined to crack it one day!

Anyway, despite being more mahogany than red, I was actually quite happy with these – the brownie layer was fudgy, the cheesecake layer was distinct, and the flavours all worked well together.

An added bonus of making these is that they reminded me just how amazing blueberries are to bake with, so you can expect to see a few more blueberry treats coming soon!

Blueberry cheesecake brownies (adapted from Foodtastic Mom)

For the brownie layer:

  • 115g butter
  • 55g dark chocolate
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 tbsp red food colouring
  • 120g plain flour
  • 1/2tsp salt

For the cheesecake layer:

  • 225g cream cheese
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 100g blueberries

Start by melting the butter and chocolate together in a small bowl. Beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla and food colouring together until light and fluffy, then add the chocolate butter mixture and beat until combined. Sift in the flour and salt, fold into the mix, and then spread into an 8×8″ square tin, greased and lined.

For the cheesecake layer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla together until smooth, then pour over the brownie mix. Sprinkle the blueberries evenly on top, then bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for about 35-40 minutes, or until the cheesecake has just set but still has a slight wobble. Leave to cool completely, then slice into bars and keep in the fridge until serving.

Peanut butter cup rocky road

Peanut butter is a pretty big deal in my house. I try and sneak some in to everything I bake. A certain other housemate likes to occasionally (very occasionally) eat it with a piece of chocolate as a spoon. And I definitely don’t judge, because if I had chocolate and a jar of peanut butter right now, I’d be doing it too.

For my birthday this year, I decided to go with an American theme for my party – largely driven by wanting to have loads of American-style food.

Reeses peanut butter cups feature heavily on a lot of the American blogs I read, so I knew they would have to be included somehow.

I bought a bag of mini regular peanut butter cups, and a bag of mini white chocolate peanut butter cups, and although I did briefly consider just putting them in a bowl for people to help themselves, I thought they could be put to better use in this twist on rocky road.

They’re joined by that other American sweet snack favourite, Oreos, to create a super chocolately, crunchy, sweet and salty bar, that was a HUGE hit with all the peanut butter lovers who tried it.

If you have a weakness for peanut butter and chocolate you probably shouldn’t make these to be honest, because they are so insanely addictive you will keep going back for more. But if you have a party to go to, you should definitely make them and instantly become the most popular person there!

Peanut butter cup rocky road

  • 150g milk chocolate
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 125g butter
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 225g Oreos
  • 1 bag mini milk chocolate peanut butter cups
  • 1 bag white chocolate peanut butter cups

Heat the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a heavy-based saucepan, stirring until all the chocolate has melted then set aside to cool. Bash the Oreos and stir these into the chocolate mixture, then chop the peanut butter cups into quarters and add about two thirds of them into the mix. Spread into a 9×9″ square tin, lined with foil, then push the remaining pieces of peanut butter cups on top. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours, before cutting into squares and serving.

Salted caramel aubergine chocolate torte (GF)

Sorry for the slightly long title, but I really needed to include all the key elements of this cake so you know what we’re talking about.

First up, I lied – it’s not a cake. It it deliciously dense and squidgy, it sinks in the middle – it’s definitely a torte.

It’s chocolate. Super chocolate. But it also has probably the weirdest vegetable I’ve baked with replacing any butter or oil – aubergine.

And then there’s the salted caramel. What dessert isn’t improved by salted caramel?!

This is really a hybrid of two recipes from Green and Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes – Harry Eastwood’s Heartache Cake, which I’ve made before, and a Velvet Salted Caramel Torte.

To make sure the caramel layer would stay in place and not mix in with the cake batter, I tweaked Harry’s recipe to whisk the egg whites separately and fold them into the mix last, so it would hold the weight of the caramel.

It worked – you can’t see too clearly in the photos, but there was a definite layer of caramel, and it took a great chocolate torte to another level – so, so good!

Seriously, don’t be put off by the aubergine, or the hassle of making caramel, it really is worth it – if only I could have another slice now…

Salted caramel aubergine chocolate torte (adapted from the Heartache Cake and Velvet Salted Caramel Torte in Green and Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes)

For the caramel:

  • 90g caster sugar
  • 45ml water
  • 60g butter
  • 60ml double cream
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (or more if you’re a salt fiend like me)

For the cake:

  • 1 medium aubergine (around 220g)
  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 medium eggs, separated
  • 100g clear honey
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp baking powder

For the caramel, heat the sugar and water in a saucepan stirring until the sugar dissolves, then leave to simmer until the syrup thickens and turns a rich amber colour. Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the butter, cream and salt. Pour into a bowl or jug and set aside to cool.

Pierce the aubergine with a skewer or sharp knife all over, microwave for about 8 minutes on high, then leave until cool enough to handle. Peel off the skin, then puree the flesh in a food processor until no lumps remain. Stir in the chopped chocolate until melted – you might need to give it another quick blast in the microwave.

Beat the egg yolks, honey, cocoa powder, almonds and baking powder for about a minute, then add the aubergine chocolate mixture and beat again until well combined. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks in a separate bowl, then fold these into the cake batter a third at a time.

Spread two thirds of the mixture into a greased and lined 6″ round tin. Pour the caramel on top and spread to within 1cm of the edge of the tin. Top with the remaining cake mix and try to spread it as evenly as you can to cover the caramel.

Bake on a low shelf at 180 degrees (160 fan) for about half an hour, until the cake has risen and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool completely – it will sink in the middle, but that’s what you want. Remove from the tin, then slice and serve.

Elvis Sandwich Cake

Sun, sea, cake and coffee – I’m not sure there’s much else you need to make a mid-week day off work basically the best thing ever…

This week I treated myself to said day off, in the name of Clandestine Cake Club. Taking place at the Blue Tomato Cafe in Rock, Cornwall, the theme of course had to be ‘Rock n Roll’.

It took me quite a while to decide what to bake, mainly because I was debating the different between generic rock music, and the much more specific rock n roll. Luckily, I knew exactly who to turn to for advice – the fabulous Miss Charlotte White, of Restoration Cake.

Charlotte (who’s first book, Burlesque Baking, is out now, just in time for my birthday, hint, hint, HINT) suggested going down the Elvis route with a peanut butter, banana and salted caramel cake, in honour of the King’s favourite sandwich, and decorating it to look like a record.

I’m not sure my cake entirely lives up to Charlotte’s vision, but I was pretty happy with it nonetheless. Had it spent any longer than half a day out of the fridge the layers may well have been sliding all over the place, but it held up for long enough to look fairly respectful on the table of delicious cakey delights.

It was a pun-tastic cake club, with a Chuck Berry Bundt, Rock n Roulade, Rocky Road, Mint Aerosmith and my personal favourite, ‘Gums n Roses’ cake, adorned with wine gums and Cadbury’s Roses – brilliant!

We were also treated to some barista training from the lovely Mat, who showed us how to make the perfect coffee, create hearts on top of lattes, and even demonstrated the infamous ’12 inches of Italian pleasure’ – a thick and rich hot chocolate topped with marshmallows, whipped cream, a chocolate flake, giant meringue, more whipped cream and a malteser. Amazing!

I’m not going to write out the whole recipe for this cake – the sponge is exactly the same as this one, only increasing all of the ingredients by 50% to fill three 7″ cake tins instead of baking it in the smaller 6″ tins.

I used the caramel recipe from my Millionaire’s Shortbread, and made a peanut butter cream cheese icing by beating 200g cream cheese, 200g smooth peanut butter and 400g icing sugar together until well combined.

I spread a layer of peanut butter icing on the bottom and middle layers, topped with thin slices of banana, and then spread caramel on top. I stacked the cakes, spread more peanut butter icing all over, and then made the record by rolling out black sugar paste and using the cake tin to cut a circle. The lid of the peanut butter was used to cut a circle from the middle, and to cut another circle out of cream coloured icing, which I decorated with a gold icing pen. Done!

Big thank you to the wonderful Sean for all the good photos on this post – you can see all the other cakes on the round up over on the Clandestine Cake Club website. Can’t wait for the next one!

Chocolate pithiviers

This month, two of my favourite blogging challenges (hosted by two of my favourite bloggers) teamed up to create one behemoth of a challenge – We Should Cocoa meets Random Recipes.

Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog and Dom at Belleau Kitchen wanted us to randomly select a recipe to bake this month, but it had to be one involving chocolate. As I have three books dedicated solely to chocolate, I used a random number generator to pick one of them, and then asked my housemate to choose a page number to select my bake.

The book chosen was Green & Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes, and the recipe was Simon Hopkinson’s Chocolate Pithiviers.

Initially I was a little daunted – it involved time consuming homemade puff pastry, and creme patissiere which I’ve never tried making before, but in the spirit of RR I embraced the challenge and dedicated my Sunday to baking.

I was super happy with how these turned out – the creme patissiere was easier than I expected, lump-free and lush tasting, and the pastry puffed properly, with actual discernible layers!

The only thing I felt that let it down was the filling, which could have just done with another depth of flavour, but overall they were definitely a success.

Thanks Choclette and Dom for making me try a recipe I would have never chosen otherwise!

Chocolate pithiviers (from Green & Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes)

For the pastry:

  • 225g butter
  • 225g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 250ml iced water
  • juice of half a lemon

For the filling:

  • 250ml milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 75g sugar
  • 25g plain flour
  • 3 medium egg yolks
  • 110g butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 egg beaten, to wash

To make the pastry, finely chop the butter and mix into the flour and salt, but don’t rub it in – leave the butter in lumps. Stir in the water and lemon juice and bring together into a dough. Turn it out onto a floured work surface and roll into a rectangle, roughly 18x10cm. Fold the top third down lengthways, then fold the bottom third over that. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes, then take it out, turn it 90 degrees, and repeat the rolling and folding. Do this 5 more times – that’s an hour of chilling, rolling and folding!

For the creme patissiere, heat the milk and vanilla in a saucepan until it reaches boiling point. Whisk the sugar, flour and egg yolks until light and fluffy, then slowly pour in the milk, whisking as you go. Return to the saucepan and stir over a low heat, until it thickens to a consistency a bit thicker than custard. Leave to cool completely.

Beat the remaining 110g sugar with the butter until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time. Beat in the cocoa powder and almonds, then finally fold in the cooled creme patissiere and the chopped chocolate, and chill again.

To make the pithiviers, roll out the pastry and cit into four 10x10cm squares and four 15x15cm squares. Place the smaller squares on a baking sheet and dollop a good amount of the filling in the middle (you will have way too much filling though so don’t try to use it all).

Brush the beaten egg around the edges of pastries, then place the larger squares on top and press down to seal. Cut into circles, leaving about 1cm around the filling. Remove the trimmings, then press down all around the edges with a fork. Re-roll the trimmings into another 10cm square and another 15cm square and repeat the process, so you have 5 altogether.

Brush the pithiviers with more egg wash, then score them lightly to get the sort of spirally pattern you can see on mine. Dust with icing sugar, then bake at 200 degrees – the recipe says for 15-20 minutes but mine took nearly an hour to crisp up underneath, no idea why! Serve hot with a dollop of cream – delicious 🙂

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As this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge, hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage, is all about chocolate I’m going to enter these for that as well – three challenges in one, brilliant!

tea time treats

Bacon chocolate cupcakes

Down the road from my office is a van, occupied by a man called Bacon Dave. You can guess what gourmet delights come from his van…

Bacon Dave is very popular with my colleagues, particularly the boys, and so when one of their birthdays came around I decided that whatever I made would have to contain bacon – whether it tasted nice or not.

I wanted to go down the chocolate route, because if there’s anything that will make bacon taste ok, that’s it. I found a recipe by Simon Rimmer which I used as the base recipe, then just tweaked it by throwing in some caramelised white chocolate chunks for extra sweetness and switching the frosting to a simple cocoa buttercream.

The reactions were very, VERY mixed. The birthday boy actually had a cold and said he couldn’t taste the bacon, whereas another colleague thought the bacon was overwhelming and didn’t like it.

I thought it was weird, but I had more of an issue with the texture than the taste. My housemate on the other hand loved them and ate two, so I guess it just comes down to personal taste!

If you like bacon it might be worth giving these a go, but for me I don’t think I’ll be likely to use bacon in anything sweet for quite a while…

Bacon chocolate cupcakes (adapted from Simon Rimmer’s recipe)

  • 6 slices bacon, grilled until crispy
  • 75g milk chocolate
  • 75g white chocolate
  • 115g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 medium egg
  • 25ml strong coffee, cooled
  • 115ml sour cream
  • 60ml vegetable oil

For the icing:

  • 60g butter
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tbsp milk

Start by melting the milk chocolate, then crumble up the bacon and mix two thirds of it into the chocolate. Spread this out on a piece of baking paper or tin foil and leave to set. Make the caramelised white chocolate by chopping the chocolate and placing in a baking dish in the oven on a low temperature. Stir every 5-10 minutes until it’s golden and caramelised, then stir in 1/2 tsp salt and spread out on baking paper or foil to set, as with the milk chocolate. When both are completely set, chop into chunks ready to use in the cupcakes.

To make the cake mix, sift all the dry ingredients together into a large bowl and mix well. In another bowl beat together all the wet ingredients, then fold this into the dry mix along with the chocolate chips. Divide the mixture between 9-10 large cupcake cases and bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for 20-25 minutes, or until well risen and a skewer comes out clean.

For the icing, beat the butter to soften, then sift in half the sugar and beat to combine. Sift in the remaining sugar and cocoa powder and beat again. Once it comes together, add a tablespoon of milk and keep beating until light and fluffy, adding a little more milk if necessary. Spread the icing over the cooled cupcakes, then sprinkle the remaining bits on top.

Delicious?!

Tropical desert island cake

Sometimes I have an idea for a cake that in my head is completely and utterly amazing, but I don’t quite have the skills to turn my vision into reality and I’m left feeling a little deflated.

Luckily, this cake was one of the rare occasions when the finished bake turned out EXACTLY as I had imagined, and I was very pleased indeed!

It was made for my first Clandestine Cake Club of the year, which took place at the gorgeous St Michael’s Hotel in Falmouth. The theme was ‘ship shape’, and my thought process was basically ships – sea – shells – island = tropical dessert island cake.

I knew what I wanted it to look like before I had decided what flavour it was going to be, but it had to be tropical in both taste and appearance, and a nautical cake has to include some form of rum…

So, I decided to use a Dan Lepard rum-soaked coconut sponge recipe, which I’d previously used for a coconut and chocolate cake, paired with a white chocolate mousse filling and buttercream icing both flavoured with a homemade mango and lime curd.

The ‘sand’ was made by throwing all the scraps of cake leftover after levelling the layers into a food processor and blitzing into crumbs, which were both the perfect texture and colour.

Blue icing flecked with desiccated coconut for the waves and white chocolate shells with a slightly marbled yellow effect completed the desert island look, and I think it ended up being a pretty attractive cake!

I got great comments from the people who tried it cake club, and from my housemates, so I think I can safely say it was a success. The cake itself was light and managed not to be too sweet even with the mousse and buttercream, and the flavours worked really well together.

Now all I need is an excuse to make it again!

Tropical desert island cake (loosely based on Dan Lepard’s coconut cake)

  • 150ml coconut milk
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 50ml white rum
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 225g butter
  • 270g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • juice of one lime and 2 tbsp rum to drizzle

Start by heating the coconut milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour over the desiccated coconut and stir in the rum and vanilla bean paste, then leave for at least half an hour to soften the coconut (I actually left it overnight).

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time. Sift together the flour and baking powder, then fold a third of it into the batter. Stir in half the coconut mixture, fold in another third of the flour, the remaining coconut mixture and then finally the last third of the flour.

Divide between three 7″ round baking tins and bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for 25-30 minute, or until golden and springy. Leave to cool completely, then level off the tops, keeping the offcuts for the sand. Squeeze the lime over the tops of the sponges, and then drizzle with the rum.

For filling and icing:

  • 200g (ish) mango and lime curd (I used this recipe but used less sugar)
  • 150g white chocolate
  • 100ml double cream
  • 100g butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • blue food colouring
  • desiccated coconut to sprinkle

To make the mousse, melt the white chocolate in a small bowl and set aside to cool. Whisk the cream until soft-medium peaks form. To try and avoid the chocolate seizing when it’s added to the cream, I start by adding a spoonful of cream into the chocolate bowl to loosen it, then add that back to the cream and fold in. Add about 4 tbsp of the mango curd and give it a quick whisk – not too much or it will start to thin. Chill in the fridge for half an hour, then divide into two to sandwich the sponge layers, and put the whole cake back in the fridge to stop the mousse spilling out the sides.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter to soften then sift in half the icing sugar and beat until well combined. Add the rest of the icing sugar and beat again, then finally add the mango curd – I think I used about 4 tbsp again, but you’ll need to use your judgement of the consistency of the buttercream – too much curd and it will be too runny to ice with.

Spread a thin layer of buttercream all over the cake to crumb coat, then chill for half an hour. Spread about 3/4 of the remaining buttercream all over the top and sides so there’s a good layer of icing all over. Use a cocktail stick to draw out the pattern of the waves all around the sides of the cake.

Throw the cake offcuts you saved into the food processor and blitz to make crumbs, then gently press these into the icing on top of the cake and down the sides as far as the top of the waves. Add a little blue food colouring (I used Sugarflair gel in Ice Blue) to the remaining icing and beat until fully mixed in, then use this to spread or pipe onto bottom half of the cake to fill in the waves. Finish by sprinkling a little desiccated coconut on top of each wave to look like the foam.

Finally, decorate the top of the cake with shell-shaped chocolates – I made my own using a cheap mould from Hobbycraft, but you could definitely use some of the Guylian-style praline filled chocolates if you want.

And there you have it, a tropical desert island cake, that tastes as good as it looks!