A student's guide to baking

Chocolate sponge with raspberry buttercream filling


The cake:

  • 250g butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 120g cocoa powder
  • 200g plain chocolate, broken into pieces – add to mix after pouring into cake tins

The icing:

  • 250g icing sugar
  • 250g butter
  • 12 raspberries

This recipe is a variation on the recipe I used for the pink carnation cupcake, where the main difference is just the larger quantities.

  • Preheat your oven to 180ºC.
  • Cream together 250g butter and the caster sugar.
  • Once done, add in the eggs before sieving in the flour.
  • Pour in 4 tbsp of milk to help give the cake a lighter texture and taste, and thoroughly mix to create a smooth consistency before adding in the cocoa powder. With 120g of cocoa powder, this cake is chocolatey without being too much, but feel free to add extra for a darker, richer taste.
  • Split the mixture evenly between two greased 10” cake tins and make sure the mix has spread and is level on top.
  • Next press the chunks of chocolate gently into the top of the mixture. As you can see above, I just broke a bar of chocolate into individual pieces, but vary the size as you wish.
  • Put the cake tins into the oven to bake for 20 minutes.

While that’s baking you can make a start on the icing.

  • Soften the butter by mixing it briefly before sieving in the icing sugar whilst continuing to mix. As always when using icing sugar, mix slowly and gently to avoid covering yourself and your kitchen in a sweet white layer of powder.
  • Once you’ve got a nice stiff buttercream, pop in the raspberries and mix again until it’s smooth and not too runny. The raspberries will colour the buttercream a nice strong pink colour and you’ll find small bits of raspberries in with it to vary the texture.

Once the cake is baked, take it out of the oven and leave it out to cool. When it’s cool to the touch, take one layer and spread a thick layer of the buttercream over it, and then gently lay the other layer over the top. If you’ve only put the pieces of chocolate into one of the layers, I’d recommend having that layer on top for the sake of appearances, but it’s up to you.

(See my carnation cupcakes recipe for the inspiration)


As I said earlier, I got the idea for this from the pink carnation cupcakes I did with this flavour combination. However, transforming a recipe from one for cupcakes to one for sponge cakes isn’t just a case of increasing the quantities. I did spend some time wondering about what to do with the melt-in-the-middle idea, as that was one of my favourite parts of the pink carnation cupcake. I ended up deciding to leave it in as part of the cake, and so put the pieces of chocolate into the top of the cake mix. Although it did pose some slight difficulties when it came to cutting the cake, I made sure to space them out, so they acted as handy slice markers.

The joy of a sponge cake though is that it is easier to share with an indefinite number of people, whereas you can’t really do much if you make 12 cupcakes and find out that 13 people want one. Just as with the gin drizzle cake and a few other recipe I’ll be posting shortly, this was a recipe I did for the Lichfield Festival, and so it was gluten-free again. Given that my previous attempt at a gluten-free sponge cake didn’t rise well, I threw in an extra teaspoon of baking powder for good measure, as well as making plenty of cake mix, so thankfully it worked out rather well. Also, a word as to the slightly odd pre-cutting of the cake: my cake box, complete with convenient carry handle, was designed for 8” sponges rather than 10”, so my cakes tend not to fit rather easily. Hence why I cut it in two and offset the halves so that they’d fit. Well it’s only going to be cut up further when people start eating it.

By far my favourite part about this recipe though, is the buttercream filling. As many of my close friends who’ve seen me baking before will tell you, I am rather partial to buttercream icing. This is no exception. If anything, I love this even more because of the extra flavour and texture. If you’re wondering, I most definitely didn’t make a bit too much so that there’d be some left over for me to eat just by itself. No, of course not, that would be ridiculous…


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