A student's guide to baking

Posts tagged ‘Raspberry’

Carnation Cupcakes


Ingredients (makes 36 total, 12 of each colour):


The cake:

  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 lemon, zest

The icing:

  • 125g butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 1 lemon, juice


The cake:

  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 12 squares of dark chocolate
  • 12 raspberries

The icing:

  • 125g butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 12 raspberries


The cake:

  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

The icing:

  • 125g butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • Red food dye/colouring

Carnation cupcakes 2


  • Preheat your oven to 180ºC and line 3 muffin tins with cupcake cases. If you don’t have 3 trays, you can make them one colour at a time, remembering to wash and dry the tray after each round.

Each of these cupcakes starts with the same basic recipe:

  • Mix together the butter and caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and sieve in the flour. Add the milk and stir until the mixture is smooth and consistent.
  • For the white cupcake, stir in the lemon zest until it’s evenly spread throughout the mixture. Split the mixture between the cupcake cases.
  • For the pink cupcake, sieve in the cocoa powder after adding the flour. Fill each cupcake case half full with the mixture, then place a square of chocolate and a raspberry in the middle of each before pouring the remaining mixture on top.
  • For the red cupcake, add in the vanilla essence before dividing the mixture between the cases.
  • All of the cakes should be baked for 15-18 minutes at 180ºC. Remember to use the knife test to check before removing them from the oven. If you don’t have room in the oven for all 3 colours at once or are only using 1 muffin tray, place them in the centre of the oven to bake.
  • When the cakes are done, remove them from the oven and leave them to cool.

Set a timer so that you don’t lose track of time, and then you can start making the icings. Again, the icing for each different cake starts with the same basic recipe:

  • Beat butter until soft. Sieve in the icing sugar and mix together until the buttercream is pale and forms stiff peaks. As you’re going to be piping and you want the design to hold it’s shape, continue beating the mixture until it’s stiff and holds its shape well.
  • For the white icing, stir in the lemon juice and beat thoroughly.
  • For the pink icing, add in the raspberries and beat thoroughly. The mixture should turn a light pink colour.
  • For the red icing, add in the red food dye or colouring, following the instructions as to how much to use. The icing should turn a bright red colour.
  • Leave the icing to cool in the fridge briefly whilst you’re waiting for the cakes to cool.
  • Once the cakes are cool, you can start icing. Do make sure that the cakes are at room temperature before you begin, or else the icing will melt and start to run.
  • Use a piping bag with a cross-headed nozzle, preferable with one point being slightly longer than the others. Pipe small circular ‘petals’ in a clockwise direction, spiralling inwards to the centre.
  • Once the cakes are iced, leave them in the fridge to allow the icing to set fully.


One of the many Oxford traditions when it comes to exams is wearing a carnation to mark your progression through your exam period. You start with a white carnation for your first exam, then a pink carnation for all of your middle exams, and you finish with a red one to mark your final exam. It’s a popular tradition in Oxford in May and June, and it’s rather lovely when you get congratulations on the street from people who see you wearing your red carnation.

Part of the tradition is that someone else has to buy your carnations for you, as its apparently bad luck to buy them for yourself. In some ways though, it’s just nice to find flowers in your pigeon hole when you’re otherwise surrounded by revision, even if those flowers do remind you of the upcoming ordeal.

In addition to the carnations, many people also give each other chocolate and sweets as kind little gestures around this time. To those of you worrying about the state of pre-exam nutrition, most colleges also offer a Fruit for Finalists scheme, where you can also get fruit rather than living off a diet of Dairy Milk and Lindt. I particularly like this culture of giving and gestures of goodwill around the time of exams, so I came up with these carnation cupcakes as a way to combine both aspects.

When it came to posting the cakes to various people’s pigeon holes, I put each set into resealable airtight sandwich bags to stop them from drying out, and I wrote a little note, wishing them good luck for their exams and explaining what the flavours were in each cake.

Naturally of course, I couldn’t just do vanilla cupcakes with different coloured icing on top, so I decided to have different flavours for each cupcake. I’ve always been a fan of lemon flavours in cake, and it also lent itself well to keeping the colour a light creamy white, so I went with that the for the first one.

As I’ve mentioned in my melt-in-the-middle chocolate and raspberry cupcakes, I really liked the concept as a cake in itself, and using the raspberries helped not only to create a contrast with the dark chocolate and lighten the taste, but also to create a naturally pink icing for the cake. I also liked the added ‘middleness’ of the cake, in that there was a nice surprise in the middle with the melted chocolate and raspberry as an extra boost, as well as it being the middle cake and carnation of the three. I decided to keep the final cupcake simple, sticking with a reliable vanilla cupcake, and using food dye to achieve the red colour.

Another advantage of using vanilla for the last one is that it would last better than the other two cakes, as there wasn’t any fresh fruit in the cake. As someone who had to have 2 pink carnation flowers to last them through the exam period in first year because the first one was in danger of withering before I reached the final exam, I was aware that exams can end up being spread over some time, and I wanted people to still have the option of eating each cake as they donned the matching coloured carnation.

For those of you who may be wondering what I did about my own carnations and arguably more importantly, my exams, I thankfully didn’t have any. At undergraduate level, the arts subjects only have exams at the end of the first year and at the end of the final year, so I spent last term as I did any other: writing essays, doing translations, and reading. However, many of my friends had exams, whether they were 2nd year science subject exams, first year Prelims or fourth year linguist Finals, so I spent a lot of last term baking these too!

Carnation cupcakes


Raspberry Layer Cake

Raspberry layer cake


The cake:

  • 350g butter
  • 350g cups caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g sour cream
  • 120ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp baking powder

The filling:

  • 200g raspberry jam
  • 250g fresh raspberries

The icing:

  • 600ml double cream
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • Start by preheating your oven to 160ºC and grease 3 round cake tins.
  • Cream together your butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs to create a smooth mixture before adding in the sour cream, milk and vanilla extract.
  • Sieve in the flour and baking powder and mix until smooth and consistent. The mixture should be slightly more runny than a normal cake mixture.
  • Divide up the mixture between the three greased tins and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cake passes the knife test.

Whilst the cakes are baking, you can make up the filling:

  • Lightly mash half of the raspberries in a bowl and then combine with the raspberry jam. Stir gently to ensure an even spread.

For the icing:

  • Start beating your double cream until it starts to thicken.
  • Add in the icing sugar and vanilla extract and continue to beat until the cream starts to form stiff peaks.

Once the cakes have finished cooking, remove them from the oven and leave them to cool.

  • When they’re ready, first ensure that they are all flat, using a serrated knife if necessary to trim the tops if they have domed.
  • To assemble the cake, take the bottom layer and spread a layer of the icing over it. On the bottom of the next layer, spread the raspberry filling and carefully place this on top of the bottom layer. Repeat with the next layer.
  • Once you’ve got all three layers together, spread the remaining icing over the top and sides of the cake, using a palette knife to give smooth and even coverage.
  • Push the remaining raspberries gently into the icing for decoration.

(Recipe adapted from: http://recipes.coles.com.au/recipes/2634/vanilla-raspberry-layer-cake/)


Prior to making this, Ele and I had spent the day at the Worcester College Garden Party, celebrating the fast-approaching end of term in elegant British style. The garden party was a lovely affair; we were greeted with glasses of champagne upon our arrival, and there was also a wonderful array of sandwiches and miniature desserts of various kinds for us to try. As a result, our main source of nutrition turned out to be strawberries and cream and ice cream in various flavours from the local Oxford ice cream parlour G&Ds. There was live music and dancing, giant garden-sized games of Jenga as well as limbo, and plenty of conversation as students emerged from the libraries, remembering the joys of friendship and trying to forget about the fast-approaching exams.

Having enjoyed the champagne, and later on several glasses of Pimm’s and Elderflower Collins, we were a little light-headed as we walked back to Ele’s afterwards. On the walk we decided that having something to eat might be a good idea, and so naturally a summery cake seemed like a rather good idea.

Like the melt-in-the-middle chocolate and raspberry cupcakes, this too was born out of a need to use up some raspberries, and the concept of mixing fresh raspberries with jam turned out to add a nice extra texture to the cake. It also helped to balance out the flavours with the cream frosting, so that despite the considerable amount of cream, it’s actually a rather light cake and tasted wonderful.

Melt-in-the-middle Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes

Melt-in-the-middle chocolate and raspberry cupcakes

Ingredients (makes 12):

The cake:

  • 35g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 130g plain flour
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of sode
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 185ml milk
  • 12 squares dark chocolate

The frosting:

  • 170g butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 500g fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line a muffin tray with 12 cupcake cases.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs and stir in the vanilla.
  • Sieve in the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder.
  • Pour in the milk and mix well.
  • Half fill the cupcake cases and then put one square of chocolate on top. Top up the cupcakes with the remaining mixture, being careful not to overfill the cases, as they’ll rise in the oven.
  • Bake for around 15 minutes, or until they pass the knife test.
  • Once the cakes have finished baking, remove them from the oven and leave them to cool on a wire rack.

Whilst they’re in the oven, you can make a start on the frosting:

  • Beat the butter in a mixing bowl until soft.
  • Sieve in the icing sugar and mix carefully and thoroughly until peaks start to form.
  • Add in the vanilla extract and the raspberries, saving some for decoration. I tend to go for 2 raspberries per cupcake, so put 24 to one side, and mix in the rest with the buttercream.
  • Using either a palette knife or a piping bag, apply the icing to the top of the cooled cakes.

(Recipes from: http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/24811/chocolate-melt-cupcakes.aspx (cake) and http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/dark-chocolate-cupcakes-with-raspberry-buttercream-frosting/ (frosting))


My girlfriend, Ele, is another avid baker, so when she ended up getting a lot of raspberries on offer at the end of the market one day, using them to make some form of cake seemed the most logical thing for us to do.

One of my flatmates from last year, Jennifer, regularly made melt-in-the-middle chocolate muffins during term, so naturally I was eager to try the idea too.

The result of these two ideas was therefore what you see here: melt-in-the-middle chocolate cupcakes with a hearty topping of raspberry buttercream icing. I was so taken by it, in fact, that I ended up using the idea for my Carnation cupcakes.

Normally I bake for an occasion, or at least I find an occasion to bake a certain recipe that I want to try, but that wasn’t really the case here. Instead, this was baking for necessity, in order to try and use up some of the raspberries quickly. It did prove useful in that I got to have a go at making melt-in-the-middle cupcakes and get an idea for the kind of consistency I wanted, but even so, there wasn’t a particular occasion that the cakes were intended for. As you’d expect though, we weren’t short of people to help us eat them.

They say that money can’t buy you happiness, but money can buy ingredients with which you can bake. If baking doesn’t make you happy, then I’m not sure what will. One of my main plans for meeting new people and making new friends when I’m on my Year Abroad next year is genuinely to bake and bribe people into being my friends through the use of baked goods. You may laugh at me from your moral high ground, but when the cakes come out of the oven and are just sitting ready on the side, there are few who can resist. Me included.

Chocolate Sponge with Raspberry Buttercream filling

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…