Tag Archives: food

Spiced Christmas Tree Cake

Christmas is most definitely on the way… how can you tell? Well I went into Tesco the other day and they played 8 Christmas songs in a row. It instantly put me in the festive mood so what better time to share my recipe for this Spiced Christmas Tree Cake.

I found this Christmas tree pan in TKMaxx and couldn’t resist buying it and baking with it.  The tin needs to be well greased and dusted with flour in order to prevent sticking and to ensure the decorative details can be seen on the cake. The cake is great on its own alongside a hot drink or even with some hot custard for dessert but this time I decide to cover it in green buttercream and sprinkles so it resembles a Christmas tree.

Alternatively if you don’t want to cover the cake in buttercream, a festive dusting of icing sugar snow is just as effective as the green buttercream! In fact this method keeps the definition of the pattern visible, almost like a bundt cake!

Check out some of my other Christmas and festive themed recipes down below!!

Christmas Present Cake

Melted Snowman Chocolate Chip Cookies

Red Velvet Hazelnut Biscotti

White Chocolate Confetti Popcorn

For the cake:

Plain flour, for dusting

125g margarine, plus extra for greasing

125g granulated sugar

2 eggs

125g self raising flour

½ tsp mixed spice

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

Pinch of ground nutmeg

For the decoration:

100g margarine or unsalted butter

220g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2-3 tsp milk

Green food colouring

Pearl sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease a Christmas tree shaped tin well and dust with plain flour, throwing away the excess.

In a mixing bowl, cream the margarine with the sugar until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one, scraping down the sides with a spatula after each addition. Sift in the flour and the spices and fold through until incorporated and even.

Transfer the cake batter to the greased and floured pan and spread evenly, making sure it reaches all the corners. Bake the cake for around 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the very centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.


Prepare the buttercream by softening the margarine in a mixing bowl and adding in the icing sugar in 2 additions, beating well after each addition. Add in the vanilla extract and enough milk to make a buttercream which holds its shape and is smooth enough to spread. Add a good amount of green food colouring to turn the buttercream into a Christmas tree green.

Place the cake on your serving plate/cake board. Spread the green buttercream over the cake evenly, making sure that none of the cake is visible. Press the back of a knife lightly onto the buttercream and lift up to create peaks across the entire cake.

Use the pearl sprinkles to create lines of tinsel and baubles on the tree.

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Gingerbread Cheesecake Squares

The flavours of gingerbread instantly remind me of the festive season. While gingerbread houses (or even Gingerbread Ovens) might be traditional, why not put a spin on your classic gingerbread by turning it into these Gingerbread Cheesecake Squares?

Funnily enough this recipe was the result of a bit of gingerbread dough that I left too long in the fridge. As I began to knead it between my hands to warm up, it just crumbled away into pieces. It was at this point that I thought it resembled a shortbread mixture rather than gingerbread biscuit dough and immediately I had the idea to crumble it into the base of a tin, bake it and pour over some cheesecake mixture to make little squares.

This recipe is also perfect for making cutout gingerbread biscuits and gingerbread houses. You will only need to chill the dough for 20 – 30 minutes instead of hours in this case. The longer chilling ‘dries’ out the dough, making it crumbly and impossible to roll out but making it ideal for these cheesecake squares. This means you can also make the dough ahead of time!

To add a decorative element, I remove some of the cheesecake mixture and add food colouring to it. This small amount of mixture requires just a single egg yolk. The addition of yellow colouring emphasises the egg yolk colour and helps to create an attractive design. The mixture is too fluid to swirl properly but it doesn’t bleed and run either, allowing you to create a random pattern on the surface.

The backdrops used in these photos was the Farmhouse backdrop from Backdrops By Lucy – read my review of their product by clicking here!

For the Gingerbread Base:

125g margarine

100g granulated sugar

50g golden syrup

300g plain flour

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the Cheesecake mixture:

250g cream cheese

75g granulated sugar

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp mixed spice

1 tbsp plain flour

Pinch of ground nutmeg

½ tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs, 1 egg separated

Yellow food colouring

In a pan over a medium heat, melt the margarine, sugar and syrup until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is even. Remove the pan from the heat, leave to sit for 1 minute before adding the pre-weighed and measured dried ingredients into the pan and stirring until it forms a dough which is aromatic and fragrant, soft but not sticky and a deep brown colour.

On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc and wrap well in clingfilm. Freeze for 2 hours until very firm and then leave in the fridge overnight or up to 2 days.

When you are ready to make the cheesecake squares, preheat the oven to 190°C. Take a square of baking parchment larger than a 20cm square tin. Grease the tin and flip it over. Fold the parchment into 4 and place the point of the square at the centre of the bottom of the pan and cut from the corner inwards until you feel the pan. Open up, push into the tin and it should line the tin perfectly.

Take the dough from the fridge and crumble it up into a mixing bowl. The pieces should all be various sizes, ranging from large chunks to small pieces to fine crumbs. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and use your hand to press the gingerbread into a single layer, pressing right into the corners until even.

Prick the surface of the gingerbread with a fork and bake for around 20 – 30 minutes or until the base is set on the surface and golden around the edges. Leave to cool completely.

Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C.

Prepare the cheesecake by beating together the cream cheese and sugar by hand until smooth. Sift over the dry ingredients and fold to incorporate. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Remove about 50g of the mixture and place into a separate smaller bowl. To the larger bowl, add the whole egg plus 1 egg white and beat to combine until even. To the smaller bowl, add the egg yolk and some food colouring to make it a vibrant yellow colour.

Pour the non-coloured cheesecake mixture over the cooled gingerbread base. It should be fairly liquid and it may run down the sides of the gingerbread base slightly too – this is to be expected. Slowly spoon over the yellow cheesecake mixture randomly so it creates a nice pattern.

Bake the cheesecake for about 25 minutes or until the surface is lightly browned, golden at the edges and wobbles just slightly in the very centre. Leave the cheesecake to cool fully in the tin before slicing into 16 squares.

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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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Quick Apple Lattice Pie

With the clocks going back last week, the winter nights are coming and nothing sounds more ideal than a slice of pie warm from the oven with cream or custard. I think that my Quick Apple Lattice Pie would make everyone happy!!

I’m rapidly finding that this first term of my 2nd year of uni is so demanding; I have so many classes, tutorials and lectures and I am missing way too many. My nights seem to be taken up with making notes every night so I am always trying to find ways to make quicker versions of food I want and it was apple pie this time!

Instead of stewing apples, leaving the mixture to cool and baking a large pie for an hour or so, I decided to thinly slice apples, mix them with sugar so they cook and caramelise in the oven while the pastry bakes. I find stewed apples tends to be a bit of a nonentity texture wise so thinly slicing and leaving some of the surface exposed through the lattice creates texture and bite. I add flour and line the pastry with oats to absorb liquid and prevent a raw soggy bottom.

You can use shopbought shortcrust pastry if you don’t want to make your own however there’s nothing tricky about making this pastry at all! The food processor is an essential piece of kit for making pastry in my opinion as it is so fuss free and so quick! There’s also less risk of overworking since you only need to bring it together into a ball and then it rests in the fridge before rolling out.

This lattice is very basic and by no means perfect either. I see on Bake Off that the bakers make the perfect lattice on parchment and then flip it onto the top of the pie/tart and I know that I could never do that because it wouldn’t make it in one piece so I do this lattice on top of the filling, alternating over and under the strips of pastry – the filling isn’t sticky so this shouldn’t be difficult.

For the shortcrust pastry:

250g plain flour

2 tbsp granulated sugar

125g margarine or unsalted butter, cubed

Around 40ml cold water

For the filling:

4 Pink Lady apples, cored and peeled

Juice of a lemon

50g soft light brown sugar

25g sultanas (optional)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground ginger

Pinch of ground nutmeg

¼ tsp mixed spice

1 tbsp flour

2 tbsp porridge oats (not instant)

15g margarine

Milk, for glazing

Apricot jam, for decoration

Double cream, to serve

For the pastry, combine the flour, sugar and margarine in the bowl of a food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs. While the food processor is running, add the cold water through the feed tube gradually until the mixture just comes together.

Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and bring together with your hands to form a ball which is even and not sticky. Flatten into a disc and wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

For the filling, thinly slice the cored and peeled apples. Place into a bowl and squeeze over some lemon juice to stop browning. Add the sugar, dried fruit (if using), the spices and the flour and toss together with a spoon until even. Leave to sit for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Set aside a quarter of the pastry. On a lightly floured surface, roll the remaining three-quarters of pastry out to the thickness of a pound coin and line a 18cm fluted tart tin with the pastry, ensuring the pastry is tucked into the corners well. Cover the base with the porridge oats and then top with the sliced apple mixture, avoiding pouring in too much of the liquid in the bowl.

For the lattice, roll out the remaining quarter of the pastry into a rectangle which is at least as long as the tin to the same thickness. Use a knife to cut out strips of the pastry and create a lattice on top of the pie by alternating the pastry strips over and under. Use the fluted edges of the tin to trim the excess pastry.

Divide the 15g margarine between the exposed holes of the pie and then brush the pastry with milk before baking the pie for around 25 – 30 minutes until the lattice is golden brown and the apples are soft.

Brush the top of the pie with some apricot jam mixed with some boiling water. Then serve the pie warm straight from the tin with double cream or custard!

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Making Cinnamon Rolls (without measuring any ingredients!!)

Cinnamon rolls are utterly out of this world. There’s something about that slightly sweetened enriched bread dough swirled around that sweet buttery cinnamon sugar that cannot be beaten. Cinnamon rolls are a classic staple bake that everyone should make at least once but can I make them without measuring a single ingredient?

There is only one way to eat a cinnamon roll and that is peeling open the cinnamon roll starting from the outside. Inside you are left with that soft chewy bit in the very centre which is the ultimate sign of a good cinnamon roll. Usually cinnamon rolls are soft because they are baked in one tray which you then slice up; this recipe uses a 12 hole muffin tin to bake them individually, reducing the baking time but also allowing each cinnamon roll to have a fantastically sticky crust as the butter and sugar melt and ooze during baking. I finish the cinnamon rolls with a drizzle of icing.

The recipe I have chosen is much faster than your standard cinnamon roll recipe with only 45 minutes proving in total. Despite this, the finished product is soft, light and has a great texture.

I made a video showing the full stages of the recipe; check it out below! Continue reading to see the full recipe and method:

I was also told by my friends not to put raisins in my cinnamon roll and I was taken aback slightly because I had never heard of raisins being in cinnamon rolls… I genuinely didn’t know this was a thing until doing some more research and so many recipes had raisins as an optional extra at the end of the ingredient list; raisins are an unnecessary addition in my view.

400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

75g granulated sugar

½ tsp salt

1 x 7g sachet of fast action dried yeast

1 egg

55g margarine, melted

About 240ml warm water

100g margarine, plus extra for greasing

200g soft light brown sugar

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

40g icing sugar

2-3 tsp water or milk

Add the flour to a large bowl. Place the sugar and salt on one of the bowl and add the yeast to the other side of the bowl to avoid retarding the yeast and then mix well to combine. Make a well in the centre and add the egg, melted margarine and about three-quarters of the water and use a wooden spoon to beat well until it comes together into a soft, pliable but not sticky dough, adding more liquid if necessary.

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes until it is smooth. Place back into the bowl and cover with clingfilm and allow to prove for 15 – 20 minutes.

Meanwhile in a separate bowl, beat together the margarine with the light brown sugar and ground cinnamon until evenly combined and soft enough to spread.

Lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tin.

Knock back the dough and roll out the dough to a rectangle measuring 30cm by 23cm. Spread the cinnamon sugar margarine mixture over the dough evenly. Tightly roll up the dough starting from the longer side and then pinch together the seam to seal.

Trim the ends and then slice the dough into 12 even pieces. Place one into each hole of the muffin tin, cover with clingfilm and allow to prove for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Bake the cinnamon rolls for around 15 minutes until they are risen, golden brown and a thermometer registers 100°C when inserted to the thickest part of the roll. Remove from the tin immediately and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Meanwhile prepare the icing by mixing together the icing sugar with enough water to form a thick but runny icing (watch the video to see the consistency it should have!). Pour into a piping bag and cut off a small hole from the end. Drizzle the icing over the cinnamon rolls and leave the icing to set at room temperature.

Serve the buns warm (reheat in the microwave for 15-20 seconds) with a cup of tea or coffee.

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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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Salted Caramel White Chocolate and Lemon Savarin

It was Caramel Week on Bake Off and I chose to make a large version of my Salted Caramel, White Chocolate and Lemon Savarins which I made last year when the Bake Off Technical challenge was a savarin.

We saw the bakers struggle with making the caramel for the stroopwafel technical with all of their caramels turning out grainy. However my salted caramel has never come out grainy and the sugar has never crystallised and this is due to the addition of margarine or fat at the right stage; fat inhibits the process of crystallisation so by adding a small amount as the water evaporates, you stop the sugar from being able to crystallise, meaning you can forget about thermometers and brushing down the sides of the pan.

I find that using your eyes and ears to be the best tools for making caramel; the sound and colour of the sugar is often a good indicator when to add ingredients for the salted caramel!

Dusting the mould with the sugar after greasing creates this fantastic dark crackly crust on the savarins and helps to prevent it from sticking to the inside of the silicone doughnut mould, which gives the fantastic shape of the savarin. It’s easy to peel away too when you need to turn it out which is an added bonus! I have used this same mould to create a Giant Victoria Sponge Donut Cake too so click on the name to check it out!

I made this bake to take along to The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice and I thought I was in with a good chance of having it tasted by the panel but alas the producers thought otherwise! This means that you’re going to have to make it and let me know how it tastes!!

For the savarin dough

300g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

50g granulated sugar, plus extra for dusting

4g salt

1 x 7g sachets of fast action dried yeast

Zest of ½ lemon

2 egg

60g margarine, melted

About 90ml warm milk

For the lemon syrup

120g granulated sugar

75ml boiling water

Zest of a lemon

30ml lemon juice

For the salted caramel

125g granulated sugar

70ml water

20g margarine

150ml double cream

½ tsp table salt

For decoration

50g white chocolate

In the bowl of a free standing mixer, add in the flour. Place the sugar and salt on one of the bowl and add the yeast to the other side of the bowl to avoid retarding the yeast. Add in the lemon zest and on the lowest speed with the dough hook attachment, mix to combine.

While the mixer is running, add in the 2 eggs. Whisk the melted margarine with the milk and then pour it all into the stand mixer. Turn the speed to medium to combine all the ingredients into a dough before switching up to medium high and leaving to knead for about 6 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and then turn out the dough onto a floured surface.

Roll the dough to coat in flour and then knead for a further 2 minutes by hand until the dough is smooth and soft but not sticky. The dough has been kneaded enough when the dough springs back fully when a floured finger is inserted. Transfer to a lightly floured bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove for around 75 – 90 minutes or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile prepare the salted caramel. In a clean saucepan, stir together the granulated sugar with the water. Bring the sugar water up to a boil, stirring occasionally. The contents of the pan should be bubbling rapidly and loudly. At this point, add in the margarine and swirl the pan to melt. Allow the sugar to continue to boil and turn to caramel.

When the caramel is a deep amber colour, pour in all of the double cream and carefully use a wooden spoon to mix until the cream has emulsified. Return to the heat for 30 seconds stirring before adding in the salt and transferring to a heatproof bowl to cool. It should be fairly fluid and not too thick as it will thicken upon setting. Leave to cool.

Grease thoroughly one half of a 21cm silicone doughnut mould and dust well with granulated sugar, pouring away the excess

Once the dough has proved, lift out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 30 seconds to knock the air out. Take the dough and roll out into a sausage 5cm wide and join up the ends. Roll the ring between your hands to smooth out the join and make the ring equal in width. You may need to push the dough down to flatten the top slightly. Then cover with clingfilm and prove for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Bake the savarin for around 30 – 35 minutes and testing the doneness is the same; you may wish to cover with foil if the top is getting too dark for your liking.

While the savarin is baking, prepare the lemon syrup. Stir together all of the ingredients for the syrup in a saucepan and bring to a boil. The syrup should be fairly runny and not too thick and a light golden colour – around 110°C on a thermometer.

When the savarin has come out of the oven, turn it out onto a cooling rack and pour in enough of the lemon syrup to cover the base of the mould and return the savarin to the mould. Then drizzle over the rest of the syrup over the top and leave to soak and cool for about an hour or so. Then level off the top of the savarin so it has a flat base. Turn upside down onto a cooling rack, so the smooth side is on the bottom.

Place the cooled caramel into a piping bag and drizzle it over the savarin using a forward and backward motion working your way around the ring. Repeat this for the white chocolate and leave to set.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and make sure to check out my other Bake Off recipes too:

Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Mini Rolls inspired by Cake Week

Linzer Sandwich Cookies inspired by Biscuit Week

Classic Sultana and Apricot Teacakes inspired by Bread Week