Tag Archives: cake

Chocolate Popcorn Cake

While cakes with lots of sponge and buttercream layers may be amazing to look at, the simplest of cakes consisting of just 1 sponge layer with a glaze or topping are the ones I seem to make the most and this Chocolate Popcorn Cake is no exception!

The single chocolate cake layer gets a thin topping of my favourite chocolate glaze which sets hard – it’s the same glaze I used on my Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Mini Rolls. This adds a strong hit of chocolate flavour as well as giving the cake a wonderful crack when you slice through it! You could alternatively make a chocolate ganache and spread this on top too!

Topping the cake with a layer of my White Chocolate Confetti Popcorn is something a bit different but adds a huge amount of interest with a bright pop of colour. To stick the popcorn on, you have to work quickly as the chocolate glaze sets quickly and hard so make sure that the popcorn is broken into chunks already and on hand.

You can find the full recipe and method for making the White Chocolate Confetti Popcorn by clicking on the name.

For the sponge:

125g margarine

125g granulated sugar

2 eggs

½ tsp vanilla extract

115g self raising flour

30g cocoa powder

1 tsp instant coffee granules mixed with 3 tbsp milk

For the decoration

50g dark chocolate

15g margarine

1 tbsp golden syrup

1 batch of White Chocolate Confetti Popcorn

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line the base and sides of a deep 20cm loose-bottomed tin with baking parchment.

In a bowl, cream together the margarine with the granulated sugar until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and the eggs one by one, scraping down the bowl with a spatula after each addition. Sift in the self raising flour and cocoa powder and fold through until incorporated. Then beat in the coffee milk mixture until it is even and smooth.

Pour the mixture into the tin and level out the surface before baking for about 20 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean and the surface springs back when touched. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing the tin and parchment from the cake and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Prepare the White Chocolate Confetti Popcorn. Once the popcorn has set, prepare the chocolate glaze. In a microwaveable bowl, break the dark chocolate and add the margarine and golden syrup. Microwave for 30 seconds; the heat from the melted margarine and syrup should be enough to melt the chocolate too but if not, microwave for another 15 seconds. The glaze should be smooth, thick and shiny.

Working quickly, spread over most of the chocolate glaze on top of the cake and before it sets, arrange the Confetti Popcorn over the top of the cake. Leave the chocolate glaze to set at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving the cake.

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Making a Semi-Naked Cake (without measuring any ingredients)

Baking is a science. It’s the process of combining exact quantities of ingredients in a certain way to undergo chemical reactions in the oven. A slight deviation in the quantity of ingredients could drastically alter the outcome of your bake. But is it possible to make a cake without weighing or measuring a single ingredient? I decided to find out.

This idea came about because I forgot to bring my digital scales with me to uni and I still wanted to bake. Now that I have acquired a set of scales, I thought that I could track how accurate my weighing/guessing was by checking the weight of the ingredients that went into the sponge – and for clarity, this was the sole purpose of the scales, to show you and myself whether in my 9 years of baking, I knew what 225g of sugar looked like!

I vlogged the process of making and assembling this cake and you can watch the video here! Find out how I got on with the weighing too!

Continue reading to see the full recipe and method!

I decorated the cake in a semi-naked style. Semi-naked cakes have grown in popularity in recent years, demonstrating skill with buttercream and an eye for artistry. Elegant in its sleek and straight design, the semi naked cake has a thin layer of buttercream around the outside of the cake filling in any gaps between layers, exposing just a small amount of the edge of the sponge, tempting you in and creating an attractive neat finish.

The buttercream for your semi-naked cake needs to be softer than your standard cake in order for it to become smooth without dragging cake crumbs into the frosting which would ruin the look. Using a straight-edged tool such as a dough scraper will help you achieve the crisp straight edges of your semi-naked cake. I was actively reading Becky’s post on making a naked cake and it was so helpful – check it out here!!

For the sponge:

225g margarine

225g granulated sugar

225g self raising flour

4 eggs

1 tbsp milk

For the filling:

150g strawberry jam

1 tsp boiling water

For the buttercream:

175g margarine or soft unsalted butter

380g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Purple food colouring

Pearl sprinkles, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line the bases of 3 x 18cm sandwich tins. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine with the granulated sugar until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one, scraping down the bowl with a spatula after each addition. Add in the self raising flour and fold through until incorporated. Then beat in the tablespoon of milk until mixed through.

Divide the cake mixture evenly between the 3 tins and level out the surface. Bake the cakes for around 16 – 18 minutes until the cakes are golden brown, risen and spring back when touched lightly. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool fully.

In a small bowl, mix together the jam with the water to loosen slightly. For the buttercream, beat the margarine or unsalted butter for a minute to soften. Add in the icing sugar in 2 batches, beating well until it is light, even and spreadable. Add in the vanilla extract and a tiny amount of purple food colouring to make the buttercream paler.

Level off the tops of all 3 sponges. Place the first sponge layer on your serving board or cake stand and spread over a third of the jam. Take about a quarter of the buttercream and spread over the jam, being careful not to mix the two together. Leave a 1cm border around the edge.

Place the next sponge layer on top, pushing down lightly and repeat the filling process for the next layer, topping with the final sponge. Take the remaining buttercream and cover the tops and sides with buttercream, starting with the sides and filling in any gaps between the layers.

Spread the buttercream around the sides and working in the same direction, take a dough scraper and run the edge around the sides of the cake multiple times to create the smooth polished sides of a semi-naked cake. You want the sponge layers to be peeping through the thin buttercream layer and then to smooth out the top as much as possible (but this is going to be covered in jam). Transfer the remaining buttercream to a piping bag.

Pipe a border of small dots of buttercream around the top edge of the cake. Use the pearl sprinkles to create a repeated pattern inside of the dots. Then create a hexagonal pattern in the very centre of the cake. Flood the remaining exposed buttercream with the leftover jam.

Lastly finish the cake with a few drop ribbons. Touch the end of the bag underneath one buttercream dot and exert pressure on the bag to release buttercream. Continue to exert pressure and as the buttercream comes out, move backwards and along in a semi-circle motion and attaching the buttercream to underneath 4 or 5 dots along the cake and releasing the pressure. The buttercream should naturally drape in an arc and be suspended.

Leave the cake to ‘set’ at room temperature for about an hour before chilling for another hour and then slicing and serving.

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Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Mini Rolls

Last night we watched the first episode of The Great British Bake Off on Channel 4 with Sandi Toksvig, Noel Fielding and Prue Leith. Prue set her first Technical Challenge of the series and did she choose a cracker (not literally a cracker, it was Cake Week after all)! She chose the kids party favourite, Mini Rolls!

The best selling brand has a chocolate sponge wrapped around a vanilla flavoured cream and covered in chocolate – I’ve had many of these in my time – and Prue’s had a peppermint filling! I decided to add my own twist to the best selling brand and Prue’s technical challenge by having a striking pink sponge inside to add contrast of colour; this sponge has a layer of strawberry jam as well as whipped cream and is coated in a dark chocolate glaze which has a crack when you bite into it and offsets the sweet inside.

These are my Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Mini Rolls.

The sponge I use is a genoise sponge as opposed to the flourless sponge which Prue used. The sponge is coloured pink with liquid red food colouring which I incorporate in the whisking of the eggs and sugar. Because I want the sponge to be fairly thin so that I can roll it up without it cracking, I do not want it to rise significantly so I use plain flour as opposed to self raising flour which could make it too thick if it rose.

The only raising agent in this genoise sponge is the whisking of the eggs and sugar. Recipes will often call for the eggs and sugar to be taken to ribbon stage. This means that you will be able to draw a figure of eight using one of the beaters and the 8-shape disappears after a couple of seconds. The flour is then sifted over the sponge and I prefer to sift an even layer across the whole surface of the mixture as I have found it incorporates faster. When folding, unlike what you may have been told, it is essential to work quickly and with some power – the batter begins to deflate as soon as the flour has been added and you want to preserve the air and working faster does this.

Genoise sponges are not a fatless sponge, the sponge most commonly used for Swiss rolls. Because of the size of the mini rolls and the fact that the sponge layer is much thinner than your normal Swiss roll, the addition of melted butter or margarine prevents the sponge from drying out.

The best way to incorporate the melted fat is to take a portion of the batter after you have folded through your flour, add it to the melted fat, beat to combine before folding the 2 batters together. This method is preferred over simply adding the fat into the batter since the fat is of a different consistency to the cake batter and it will take longer to mix the two together evenly and you will rapidly deflate the batter upon adding the melted fat.

When it comes to filling the Mini Rolls, it is important not to overfill. Spread the cream all the way to the edge but leave a 1cm gap at the end so that the cream gets pushed there when you roll it up and the cream won’t come out at the end. The glaze is not just chocolate but rather a doughnut-style chocolate glaze which sets hard and will give that signature crack.

My tin of choice is a large straight sided roasting tin which measures 14in by 10in. If you don’t have a tin this size, use a similarly sized tin or any Swiss roll tin will do.

For the Genoise sponge:

2 eggs

55g golden granulated sugar

¼ tsp liquid red food colouring

52g plain flour

15g margarine, melted and cooled down slightly

For the filling:

50g strawberry jam

120ml double cream

2 tsp icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

For the chocolate glaze:

150g dark chocolate

2 tbsp golden syrup

2 tbsp margarine

Toasted hazelnuts, chopped, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 160˚C. Line the base of a large straight sided roasting tin that fits in your oven with baking parchment, making sure it comes up the sides slightly.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar using an electric whisk until it reaches the ribbon stage (see above). Add in the red food colouring and whisk until it is the colour of strawberry ice cream.

Sift in the plain flour so it covers the whole surface of the egg and sugar mixture and then using a spatula, fold through the flour working quickly until incorporated, scraping all the way to the bottom of the bowl. Remove a spatula’s worth of the cake batter and place into a bowl with the melted margarine and beat to combine. Then fold the 2 batters together until even.

Pour the batter into the roasting tin with the bowl close to the base of the tin. Tilt the tin to spread out the batter, making sure it fills in the corners too. Bake the sponge for around 7-9 minutes or until it is firm and springs back to the touch.

While the sponge is baking, dust a sheet of baking parchment larger than the tin with icing sugar. Once baked, remove the sponge from the tin and place onto a cooling rack. In one movement, flip the sponge straight onto the icing sugar and peel off the parchment. Create a tight roll with the sugared baking parchment inside the sponge starting with the shorter side and leave to cool.

Meanwhile prepare the fillings. Beat the jam with a drop of boiling water to loosen. Whip the double cream and icing sugar until it forms a medium peak.

Trim the edges of the sponge and then divide the rest into 12 even rectangles. Spread a thin layer of the jam on each sponge and then spread an even layer of cream on each rectangle, leaving a 1cm gap at the end of each rectangle. Tightly roll up each of the mini rolls and then refrigerate to chill the cream.


Prepare the chocolate glaze by melting together the dark chocolate, golden syrup and margarine either over a bain marie or in the microwave in 20 second intervals until it is smooth and glossy. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Remove the mini rolls from the fridge and use a knife to smooth the cream at the ends if necessary. Space the 12 rolls out on a cooling rack set over a baking tray lined with a sheet of greaseproof paper.

Spoon the glaze over each roll one by one, spreading it with a spoon and letting the excess drip onto the tray, leaving the ends exposed at this stage. Repeat with all 12. Then carefully cover the exposed ends by filling the spoon with the glaze and pressing lightly on the ends. Repeat until all ends are covered and then check all the rolls and fill in any gaps with the leftover glaze or the glaze that has dripped onto the tray. Sprinkle on a single line of the toasted hazelnuts.


Leave the glaze to set at room temperature for around an hour until it doesn’t stick to your finger when touched. Then use a fork to lift the mini rolls off the rack and onto a plate/tray and refrigerate for a couple of hours until the glaze has set hard.

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