yellow or orange food colouring paste ( we used Sugarflair Egg Yellow)
about 350g white sugar paste
a few strands of spaghetti , snipped into finger lengths
a little icing sugar , sifted, for rolling out
2 liquorice Catherine wheels with blue middles
about 2 tsp chocolate sprinkles
STEP 1Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Use a little of the butter to grease the sides and bases of two 20cm sandwich tins. Melt the rest of the butter in a small saucepan. Off the heat, add the milk, yogurt and vanilla, followed by the eggs. Beat well with a fork.
STEP 2Put the dry ingredients plus ¼ tsp salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine – this aerates and saves sifting. Tip in the wet ingredients and whisk to a smooth, silky batter.
STEP 3Don’t hang around at this point. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared tins and put onto the middle shelf in the oven. Bake for 25 mins or until risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Cool for 10 mins in the tins, then carefully invert the cakes and leave to cool upside down on a cooling rack.
STEP 4Make the buttercream. Put the butter into a large bowl and sift the icing sugar on top. Add the vanilla and milk and a pinch of salt then beat for a few mins with electric beaters until creamy, pale and spreadable.
STEP 5Place one of the cakes onto the board or plate, and use a dab of buttercream underneath the cake to stop it slipping about. Spread with 1/4 of the buttercream and then all of the jam, if using.
STEP 6Sandwich the second cake on top. Set aside 1 tsp buttercream to affix the ears later, then mound the rest on top of the cake. Use a palette knife to paddle it evenly over and down the sides. Set aside.
STEP 7For the lion’s mane and cheeks, use a little of the colouring paste to colour the sugarpaste yellow or orange, then split the paste in half. Add more colouring paste to one half and knead again to make it a shade darker. Roll two walnut-size balls of the darker paste to make the cheeks. Poke in the spaghetti to make whiskers, then set aside.
STEP 8Using a little icing sugar, roll out the rest to about 2 x £1 coin thickness then cut into 12 squares measuring about 4 x 4cm. Re-roll any trimmings. Shape two small blobs into ears.
STEP 9Position the squares around the cake, alternating lighter and darker yellow. Let the squares overhang the cake slightly with only the innermost corners meeting. Scatter the chocolate sprinkles into the gaps in-between.
STEP 10Unroll a Catherine wheel. Cut two lengths of 20cm. Loop one end of each piece, then position on the cake to make the eyes and sides of the lion’s nose. Poke into the buttercream. Add another strip of liquorice down the centre of the nose and a wiggly line to one side to give it some shadowing, if you like.
STEP 11Make the bottom of the nose by snipping ever-decreasing lengths of liquorice and poking them into the buttercream.
STEP 12Add two more curls for his mouth and two for eyebrows. Position the round cheeks to the sides. Put the middles of the Catherine wheels towards the bottom of the eyes to make pupils.
STEP 13Put the cheeks onto the lion’s face. Fix the ears on top using a small blob of leftover buttercream. Leave the cake to set for an hour before cutting. If the sponges are used fresh or within a day of baking (wrap well once cooled), the finished cake will keep in a cool place (not the fridge) for 3 days.
Oreo biscuits , as many as you need for the letters on top (some may break when you insert the skewers, so buy extra)
thin wooden skewers
100g white chocolate , finely chopped
ready-to-roll fondant icing , coloured (we used a mixture of blue and green food colouring), or an icing writing pen
STEP 1 Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins with baking parchment – if your cake tins are quite shallow, line the sides to a depth of at least 5cm. Put 200g flour, 8 tbsp cocoa powder, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 280g light brown soft sugar and 1 tsp salt in a bowl and mix well. If there are any lumps in the sugar, squeeze these through your fingers to break them up.
STEP 2 Measure 200ml buttermilk, 100ml coffee, 150ml oil and 2 tsp vanilla in a jug. Add 2 eggs and whisk until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until well combined. Pour the cake mixture evenly into the two tins, and bake for 25-30 mins until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack, peel off the baking parchment and leave to cool.
STEP 3 Repeat steps 1 and 2, so that you have 4 sponge cakes in total. These sponges can be made up to three days ahead and will stay moist if wrapped in cling film, or you can wrap well and freeze for up to two months.
STEP 4 To make the icing, put the butter in a large bowl and sieve in half the icing sugar. Roughly mash together with a spatula, then whizz with a hand mixer until smooth. Add the cream cheese and sieve in the remaining icing sugar, mash together again, then blend once more with the hand mixer. Put the Oreos in a food processor and whizz to fine crumbs. Add the biscuit crumbs to the icing and mix again until combined.
STEP 5 Next, make the cookie cake toppers. You’ll need one Oreo for each letter of the word you’d like to write – someone’s name or, like we have done, ‘WOW!’ Carefully insert a skewer into the creamy filling in the middle of each Oreo – some cookies may break, so save these ones for later. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 20 secs or so, or in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of gently simmering water. Spread a little chocolate over the surface of one side of each cookie. Roll out the fondant icing to the thickness of a 50p coin, and cut out your letters, then stick these to the cookies and set aside to dry. Alternatively, let the chocolate dry, then use an icing pen to write the name or word directly on the surface.
STEP 6 To assemble the cake, stick one of your sponges to a cake stand or board with a little of the cream cheese icing. Use roughly half the icing to stack the remaining cakes on top, spreading a generous amount between each layer. Pile the remaining icing on top of the assembled cake, and use a palette knife to ease it over the edges, covering the entire surface of the cake. Tidy the plate with a piece of kitchen paper.
STEP 7 If you have any leftover Oreos, break them into pieces and push these around the base of the cake. Insert the dried cookie cake toppers into the top of the cake and serve. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days, but bring back to room temperature for an hour or so before eating.
100g milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces, plus 50g/2oz for decorating
200g slightly salted butter, softened
400g icing sugar, seived
4 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp milk
You’ll also need
1 bendy straw
2 wooden skewers
1 paper bag or sweet packet (see tip)
STEP 1 Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins with baking parchment – if your cake tins are quite shallow, line the sides to a depth of at least 5cm. Put the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar and 1 tsp salt in a bowl and mix well. If there are any lumps in the sugar, squeeze these through your fingers to break them up.
STEP 2 Measure the buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a jug. Add the egg and whisk until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until well combined. Pour the cake mixture evenly into the two tins, and bake for 25-30 mins until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack, peel off the baking parchment and leave to cool. These sponges can be made up to three days ahead and will stay moist if wrapped in cling film, or you can wrap well and freeze for up to two months.
STEP 3 To make the chocolate fudge icing, put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, suspended over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir every now and then until melted. (Alternatively, melt in the microwave, stirring the chocolate every 20 secs so it doesn’t burn.) Remove the bowl from the heat and leave to cool a little. Meanwhile, put the butter and icing sugar in another large bowl and mash with a spatula to combine (this will prevent you covering the work surface in icing sugar), then whisk with a hand mixer until smooth. Sift in the cocoa and pour in the melted chocolate and milk, then mix again until smooth.
STEP 4 Use roughly half the icing to sandwich the cakes together on a cake stand or board. Use a palette knife to cover the entire cake with the remaining icing – don’t worry about being too neat. Use the chocolate fingers to cover the sides of the cakes – do this straight after icing as the icing will set after a while, and the chocolate fingers won’t stick.
STEP 5 Melt the remaining 50g chocolate in the microwave or in a small bowl suspended over a pan of gently simmering water. Leave to cool until the chocolate is a spreadable consistency. You can speed this up by putting it in the fridge – just stir it every 5 mins or so to prevent the chocolate from setting.
STEP 6 Push a skewer into the centre of the cake and slip the straw over the top – this will give it more stability. Push 1-2cm of the straw into the cake. Use a cutlery knife to spread a blob of chocolate onto a Smartie and, starting at the base, stick the Smarties to the straw. You will have to do this in stages to allow the chocolate to set a little before adding another layer of Smarties. Work your way up the straw until it’s completely covered. If the chocolate in your bowl becomes too firm, simply heat again until it is at the correct consistency. Stop when you reach the bend in the straw.
STEP 7 Stick the remaining skewer into the top of the straw so that it pokes out at an angle. Place the paper bag on top – you may have to use a little sticky tape to hold it in place. If any of the straw is exposed, cover it with more Smarties.
STEP 8 Tip the remaining Smarties on top of the cake to flood the surface. Will keep well stored in an airtight tin for 2 days.
STEP 1Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease and line the base and sides of 3 x 20cm cake tins with baking parchment. In a jug, whisk the eggs, yogurt and milk. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, using an electric hand whisk. When you have a light and fluffy mixture, add the flour, the liquid in the jug and the lemon zest. Mix again until smooth. Divide the cake mixture between the tins, level the surfaces and bake for 40 mins.
STEP 2Mix the lemon juice and elderflower cordial. When the cakes are cooked, poke all over the surface with a cocktail stick then spoon the lemon and elderflower syrup over the cakes. Leave to cool in the tins. Once cool, you can wrap in cling film and keep for 3 days before icing.
STEP 3To make the icing, beat the butter until smooth with an electric hand whisk. Add half the icing sugar, use a spatula to mash the mixture together (this will help to prevent an icing sugar cloud) then whisk again. Add the remaining icing sugar, cream cheese and lemon zest, mash again, then whisk again until smooth.
STEP 4Stack the cakes on a cake stand with plenty of icing between each layer. Pile most of the remaining icing on top, then use a palette knife to spread it across the top and down the sides, covering the cake in swirls (don’t worry about it looking too perfect). Add the final bit of icing to the top and use it to cover any patches where the cake is poking through. Decorate with fresh flowers.
STEP 1 Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Oil and line two round 20cm springform cake tins with baking parchment. Whisk the oil, sugar, eggs and milk in a bowl until smooth. Sieve the flour, cocoa and bicarb into another large bowl, then gradually mix in the wet ingredients.
STEP 2 Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 35-40 mins until the cakes are risen and spring back when pressed. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 mins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
STEP 3 For the raspberry layer, stir the jam and the defrosted raspberries together. Once the cakes are cool, whip the cream with the sugar to soft peaks, then gently fold half the raspberry mixture through the cream to create a ripple effect.
STEP 4 Spoon most of the reserved raspberry mixture over one of the cakes, then dollop on half of the cream. Smooth over with a palette knife, then place the other sponge on top. Swirl over the remaining cream and swirl the last of the raspberry mixture through it. Will keep in the fridge for two days.
375g salted butter , softened, plus extra for the tin
375g golden caster sugar
6 large eggs , at room temperature
375g self-raising flour
1½ tsp baking powder
blue and pink food colouring (see tip, below)
sprinkles , to decorate
For the icing
250g salted butter , softened
400g icing sugar , sifted
vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
100g full-fat cream cheese
STEP 1 Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter and line three 20cm loose-bottomed sandwich cake tins with baking parchment.
STEP 2 To make the sponge, beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or using an electric whisk for 5-8 mins or until light and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour, baking powder and milk to loosen. Divide the mixture between three mixing bowls, weighing for accuracy if you like. Colour one of the batters blue and another pink, starting with a little colouring, then adding more for a deeper finish. Leave one of the bowls of batter uncoloured.
STEP 3 Get the three cake tins and bowls of batter ready in front of you. Spoon a heaped tablespoon of blue batter into the centre of the first tin, then pink in the second, and plain in the third. Working quickly so that it doesn’t spread too much, add another dollop of a different coloured batter on top of each one. Don’t wait for the batter to settle or spread, just keep alternating the colours until you run out. The weight of each layer will cause the batter to spread as you go, so very gently tap and shake the cake tins to even out the mixture, then bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 mins or until firm to the touch. Turn out top-side down onto wire racks straightaway, then leave to cool completely.
STEP 4 For the icing, put the butter, icing sugar and vanilla seeds into a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or put in a bowl and use an electric whisk. Beat for 5 mins or until fluffy and aerated. Add the cream cheese and beat briefly until just combined.
STEP 5 Place one of the cakes on a cake stand or serving plate and spread 2 tbsp of the buttercream on top, then repeat with the other sponges. Spread a smooth layer of the icing over the top and sides of the cake, using a large palette knife, leaving some slightly less iced spots for a ‘naked’ finish. Top with sprinkles and candles, if you like. Will keep in an airtight tin for three days.
50g each white, plain and milk chocolate , broken into squares
STEP 1Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line the base of a 18 x 28cm cake tin or tray. Put the butter and sugar into a bowl; beat together with electric hand beaters until light and fluffy. add the eggs a little at a time, beating well between each addition.
STEP 2Sieve the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl, then tip in any bran left in the sieve. Pour in the natural yogurt. Stir everything to a smooth mixture and spoon into the prepared tin. Bake for 20-25 mins until just firm and shrinking away from the sides of the tin. Cool in the tin for 5 mins, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
STEP 3For the icing, sieve the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl, then pour in the butter and 2 tbsp just-boiled water. Stir together to a smooth, spreadable consistency. if it’s too stiff, very carefully add a little more boiling water, drop by drop.
STEP 4Spread the icing over the top of the cake, using a palette knife dipped in hot water. Will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
STEP 5Melt the chocolates in three different bowls in the microwave on High for 1 min or over a pan of simmering water. Spoon the melted chocolates into three plastic disposable piping bags. Snip the ends off and pipe 12 simple shapes on top of the cake. Leave to set. Just before serving, cut the cake into 12 squares and push in the candles.
STEP 1 Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter two 18cm loose-based cake tins and line the bases with baking parchment. Beat the butter and sugar in a mixer or by hand, then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Fold in the flour, milk and vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth.
STEP 2 Divide the mixture between two bowls. Sift the cocoa powder into one of the bowls. Scrape the vanilla batter into one tin and the chocolate batter into the other and level the tops. Bake for 20-25 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 5 mins, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
STEP 3 To make the icing, beat the butter and add the icing sugar a little at a time, beating each lot in until you have a smooth, creamy icing. Add a little pink colour and beat it in (add more if you want a stronger colour). Sandwich the two cakes together with icing and spread the rest on top using a palette knife. Will keep in an airtight container for three days.