Clementine cake

Perfect for an afternoon tea as it’s gorgeous on its own, or it can be served as a dessert with a good quality vanilla ice cream or custard.


  • Use any small sweet, easy peeler citrus such as clementines, satsumas or mandarins
  • Takes about 1 hour in total – about 10-15 minutes preparation and 40-45 minutes baking
  • You can measure out the olive oil via a liquid scale (mls) or weigh it into a bowl (grams) – the result is the same
  • If you’re finding it tricky to zest the clementines (the smoother skin of smaller citrus can be difficult) replace with the zest of one large orange


  • Two large bowls
  • Springform cake tin, 20 – 23cm in diameter, greased and lined with parchment
  • Scales, spatula, balloon whisk/mixer/electric hand whisk, measuring spoons and jugs


  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 205g caster sugar
  • 205ml mild olive oil, such as Filippo Berio Classico
  • 205g Tipo 00 flour or plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • A pinch of fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla powder or extract
  • 40g ground almonds
  • Grated zest of four clementines
  • 2 tablespoons of clementine juice

Also… for the topping

  • Icing sugar
  • Extra clementines, peeled for decoration
  • Juice of two extra clementines


  1. Prepare your baking tin by greasing and lining with baking parchment
  2. Set the oven to 180 ºC fan / 200 ºC conventional
  3. Separate the eggs into yolks and whites, putting the whites in one (very clean) bowl and the yolks in another
  4. Whisk up the egg whites until they are stiff peaks, whisk in one tablespoon of the caster sugar and the vanilla extract into the whites
  5. Add the remaining caster sugar to the yolks and whisk until it turns pale and increases in volume
  6. Add the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder to the sugar/yolk mixture and slowly whisk in until it is all combined and then mix in the olive oil plus the zest and juice
  7. Fold in the whites to this mixture, a third at a time until it is combined. Try to be gentle while mixing in – a figure of eight motion is useful or use a balloon whisk to ‘cut’ the whites in gently
  8. Pour the mix gently into the prepared tin
  9. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until the sponge springs back when depressed lightly with your finger and/or a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake
  10. Leave to cool in the tin
  11. Decorate with icing sugar mixed with the extra clementine juice and poured over
  12. Once the icing is set (or nearly set) decorate with the peeled mandarins

Blood orange pain d’epices

Blood orange pain d'spices cake, with star anise and cinnamon sticks. recipe by Ink Sugar Spice

It may be January, and sure, I’m off to a slow start but there are many things to love about this time of year. Days are already getting longer and there are buds stirring on trees and shoots pushing their way eagerly through the ground. There are even some early daffodils brightening up hedgerows and verges.

Once of the joys of January is the glut of blood oranges imported from sunnier climes. Of course, I’d prefer to use fruit and veg that hadn’t had its share of air miles, however that intense colour and flavour is truly a gift in grey January. I’m very thankful that these lovely citrus fruits are around at this time – I hope you find something to make this time of year enjoyable.


If it is out of the season for blood oranges, other good quality orange varieties such as Jaffa or navel can be replacements.

This recipe uses heart healthy olive oil rather than butter.


  • Saucepan
  • Large bowl
  • Small loaf tin
  • Greaseproof paper/parchment or cake liner
  • Sieve
  • Grater/microplane
  • Juicer/citrus reamer


  • Milk – 60g (don’t used skimmed milk)
  • Pinch salt
  • Star anise – 2
  • Cinnamon sticks – 2
  • Soft brown sugar – 150g
  • Plain flour – 275g
  • Baking powder – 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Eggs, large – 2
  • Light olive oil – 70g (I used Filippo Berio Light and Mild)
  • Ground cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
  • Mixed spice – 2 teaspoons
  • Mixed candied peel – 60g
  • Blood oranges – 3:
    • Blood orange juice – juice of 1 blood orange
    • Blood orange zest – zest of 2 blood oranges
    • Additionally, some slices of orange for decoration from one of the zested blood oranges


  1. First of all, pour the milk into the saucepan and add in the salt, cinnamon sticks and star anise
  2. Warm the milk over a mid-heat, ensuring it does not come to the boil, and then leave to infuse for 15 minutes
  3. While the milk is infusing, turn on your oven to 180 *C fan / 200*C conventional
  4. Grease and line your loaf tin
  5. Slice one of the zested blood oranges and select 4-5 of the nicest slices and set aside
  6. Weigh out the remaining dry ingredients into the mixing bowl
  7. Sieve the cinnamon sticks and star anise from the milk, and add the milk into the bowl and lightly mix in
  8. Now mix in the eggs, oil, peel, orange juice and zest
  9. It will take a little gentle mixing to incorporate the oil and juice fully
  10. Pour into the prepared loaf tin and place the slices of orange on top, arranging them as you wish
  11. Place the prepared cake in the centre of the oven
  12. Bake for 45-50 minutes. The top will be well risen, and a skewer will come out clean when inserted for testing
  13. This is a lovely cake on its own, but it is especially delicious with a little softly whipped cream or a vanilla ice cream (and even spread with a little marmalade first!)

Strawberry yogurt cake with olive oil

Strawberry yorgurt cake with olive oil - Ink Sugar Spice recipe

Perfect for an afternoon tea or appropriate for Valentines, this cake is light, moist and full of strawberry flavour.


  • Takes about 1 hour in total – about 10-15 minutes preparation and 40-45 minutes baking
  • You can measure out the olive oil via a liquid scale (mls) or weigh it into a bowl (grams) – the result is the same


  • Two large bowls
  • Springform cake tin, 20 – 23cm in diameter, greased and lined with parchment
  • Scales, spatula, balloon whisk/mixer/electric hand whisk, measuring spoons and jugs


  • Large eggs, separated – 4
  • Caster sugar – 210g
  • Olive oil (mild) – 210ml/g
  • Tipo 00 flour or plain flour – 210g
  • baking powder – 2 teaspoons
  • Fine salt – a pinch
  • vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon
  • Ground almonds – 40g
  • Strawberry yogurt (a thick kind such as Greek yogurt) – 80g
  • Strawberries – 80g (about)


  1. Prepare your baking tin by greasing and lining with baking parchment
  2. Set the oven to 180 ºC fan / 200 ºC conventional
  3. Separate the eggs into yolks and whites, putting the whites in one (very clean) bowl and the yolks in another
  4. Whisk up the egg whites until they are stiff peaks, whisk in one tablespoon of the caster sugar and the vanilla extract into the whites
  5. Add the remaining caster sugar to the yolks and whisk until it turns pale and increases in volume
  6. Add the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder to the sugar/yolk mixture and slowly whisk in until it is all combined
  7. Chop up the strawberries and measure out the yogurt
  8. Fold in the whites to this mixture, a third at a time until it is combined. Try to be gentle while mixing in – a figure of eight motion is useful or use a balloon whisk to ‘cut’ the whites in gently
  9. Fold in the olive oil
  10. Pour the mix gently into the prepared tin
  11. Using a teaspoon, dot the yogurt all over the cake – try to keep the blobs of yogurt fairly small
  12. Place the strawberries over the yogurt
  13. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until the sponge springs back when depressed lightly with your finger and/or a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake (though be careful to notice that you’ve not spiked the yogurt and think the cake is still underdone
  14. Gorgeous on its own, or serve it as a very special dessert, say for a Valentine’s or birthday celebration, with a good quality vanilla ice cream. Alternatively, serve with crushed strawberries that have been mixed into a tub of crème frâiche (plus a dessertspoon of icing sugar)
strawberry yogurt cake with olive oil - all sliced

Blueberry and mascarpone loaf cake

IMG_0447While I was trying to get my gnashers round a giant, but highly delicious, doorstop sandwich filled with brie, honey, walnuts and figs and he a salt beef panini in a deli caff this summer my husband had already mentally moved on to desserts and was eyeing up the sweet treats. There sat a gorgeous looking mascarpone and blueberry loaf cake.

We didn’t succumb at the time (how disciplined was that? And how unlike me…!). However, I just had to try to recreate a similar cake it as it sounded like a fabulous combination of flavours. I don’t know what the original tasted like, nor could I find out the recipe from the staff at the time, but what I’ve come up with is a lovely cake indeed.

I’ve ‘pimped’ it up considerably from the benign but delicious title, placing honey and Cointreau in it too.

A little note: I’m currently off work nursing a recovering left hand, having had a minor op. As such, I can barely dress myself, let alone bake and cook. I knew I would be like this for a while as I had the same operation on my right hand last year. So, I stockpiled some recipes, photos and posts this summer in anticipation of being out of order for a few weeks and this recipe was actually prepared and written in mid September, just before I was operated on and has been scheduled for posting. I should be back to full capability (and back to the day job too!) before the end of October (2018).



  • It’s moist, spongy and bursting with oozy blueberries
  • The batter is very thick for this cake – rather more like a Madeira or pound cake than a typical sponge
  • it will crack slight on top – I happen to think it looks really nice this way


  • Bowl
  • Electric whisk or stand mixer (as the batter is thick it’d be rather heavy going with a balloon whisk)
  • Spatula (a silicone one is best)
  • Loaf tin (roughly 19cm x 10 cm)
  • Baking parchment or greaseproof paper


  • Unsalted butter (room temperature) – 80g
  • Soft brown caster sugar – 75g (plus an extra tablespoonful for scattering)
  • Runny honey – 2 tablespoons
  • Large eggs, whole – 2
  • Plain flour (I used 00 Italian flour, but any decent plain will do) – 230g
  • Mascarpone – 210g
  • Cointreau or triple sec (or any orange liqueur) – 25ml
  • Milk – 25ml
  • Lime juice – juice of half a lime
  • Baking powder – 2 tablespoons
  • Blueberries – a small punnet (about 130g)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan / 200°C conventional
  2. Grease then line your loaf tin
  3. Cream the butter, caster sugar and honey together in a bowl until fluffed up a little and turned paler in colour
  4. Add the eggs, flour, mascarpone, Cointreau, milk, baking powder and lime juice and whisk in
  5. Gently mix in the fruit (it doesn’t matter if you burst a few, this gives a nice contrast in the cake)
  6. Fill the prepared tin with the mixture and level off as best as possible
  7. Sprinkle over the additional soft brown caster sugar
  8. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 55 minutes, testing with a skewer to see if it’s done (the skewer will come out clean when it’s ready)
  9. leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes then carefull transfer to a wire rack (the cake is very moist and may split if you are not careful with it – when fully cold it is more rigid)
  10. Enjoy like any normal cake, but also works as a dessert with ice cream, custard or additional fruit


Banana wholemeal spelt loaf cake

image1This is a rich, moist and delicious cake as you’d expect with a top-notch banana cake. However, for this recipe I started with wholemeal spelt flour rather than traditional plain white. The final result is not a ‘worthy’ cake as you might expect from a wholegrain flour – but extra rich and with a gorgeous crumb structure.


I have made this loaf cake in a panibois – that’s a reusable wooden baking form with which you use pre-cut baking liners. My panibois is an ‘archduc’ (they all have lovely names for their sizes) which is equivalent to a small / 1lb loaf tin. So if you don’t have a panibois yourself a greased and floured/lined small loaf tin will do just nicely.

I used Craggs & Co wholemeal spelt for this – the milling is incredibly fine and I like that it is a 100% British product, I confess I was lucky enough to be sent a batch to try (no other incentive though so I hope you feel that I giving an honest opinion, rather than a ‘commercial one’). There are other spelts available and I have in the past used Doves Farm and Shipton Mill flours with good results, but this is geniuinely of excellent quality and clearly recently milled and bagged.

This recipe has been kindly shared on the Craggs & Co website (along with a number of other spelt recipes). Visit their website to find more about spelt flour and their farm up in Sedgefield, near Stockton on Tees – and if you want to try it too you can purchase online.

Also, please note that I used a salted butter for this cake.

Finally, I have given a weight for the double cream rather than a volume – this is easier for the baker. If you have to measure the volume of cream it needs to go into a measuring cup and then into your bowl (another thing to wash, and you lose a little scraping it out). If you weigh it you can put it straight into your bowl with your other ingredients: simple and no mess.


Weigh out your sugar and then take two tablespoons out of it to mash the bananas with – it makes the mashing easier and will slow down the browning of the bananas a little.

  • Two large bowls
  • A panibois form and paper insert OR a greased and floured (or lined) small loaf tin
  • A fork, a spatula, a balloon whisk
  • Wholemeal spelt flour – 220g
  • Ground almonds – 30g
  • Eggs, Large – 2
  • Soft brown sugar – 160g
  • Salted butter, softened but not melted – 100g [Please use a farm-style, artisan butter such as one from a local farm, a supermarket finest or a French salted butter. Not the ones with rock salt crystals in though!]
  • Double cream – 35g
  • Baking powder – 1 and 1/4 teaspoons
  • Vanilla seeds – half a pod’s worth or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Bananas – two very ripe
  1. Put your oven on to 180C fan / 200C conventional
  2. Have the lined panibois ready or grease a small loaf tin and then either flour it or line it with baking parchment/greaseproof paper
  3. In one bowl measure out the sugar
  4. Peel the bananas and add to the second bowl
  5. Take two tablespoons of the sugar from the first bowl and sprinkle it over the bananas. Mash the bananas into the sugar using the back of a fork
  6. Crack the eggs into the other bowl (the one with only sugar in) and whisk the sugar and eggs together until they are a little foamy and have lightened in colour
  7. Fold the flour, baking powder, almonds, cinnamon, vanilla, butter and double cream into the bananas and then finally fold in the fluffed-up eggs and sugar mix
  8. Ladle the mix into the panibois or tin and place in the bottom third of your oven
  9. Bake for 45 mins – the top will be a rich brown and the cake will spring back when pressed lightly
  10. Leave to cool in the panibois or tin for 20 mins, then finish the cooling off on a wire rack
  11. Delicious on its own,  or as a dessert served with cream, ice cream (a toffee ice creams goes well) or custard and extra bananas

Orange olive oil cake with Limoncello icing and marmalade glaze

orange and olive oil cake - inksugarspice

I’ve updated this recipe June 2019 to also include instructions for a springform pan version (as well as the original for a ring pan) and added a new photo of the round springform version.

This is an understated but glorious cake. No showy, overly saccharine buttercream and no layers. However, it’s still built to impress and makes an enchanting dessert when served with a wash of cream or a scoop of gelato.

This recipe was written in collaboration with Filippo Berio and features on their website.


I’ve read that olive oil cakes are a speciality of Liguria, as that region produces very fine light olive oil, with a delicate buttery taste.

A word of warning – only use a light olive oil: don’t use your extra virgin oil.

Look for the pale coloured olive oils in the supermarket. Luckily these are usually the cheaper oils and will say something like ‘for general purpose cooking and frying’. I quite often am without extra virgin olive oil in my kitchen, but I make sure I never run out of the light olive oil. For this one, I did use Filippo Berrio Light and Mild – there are plenty of choices for light olive oil.

  • A variety of bowls, including two large (these may be your stand mixer bowls)
  • An electric hand mixer or a stand mixer (or if you’ve got strong forearms, a balloon whisk)
  • A savarin mould (or gugelhupf or Bundt) – OR – a 20cm springform cake tin
  • Flexible spatula
  • Pastry brush
  • A small saucepan
  • A wire cooling rack
  • A little – or mini – hand whisk
  • Plain flour, preferably Italian 00, but any plain (not strong bread though) – 200g
  • Ground almonds – 100g
  • Large eggs, – 3 (they will need to be separated into yolks and whites)
  • Caster sugar – 205g, plus a little extra
  • Light olive oil – 130ml
  • Orange zest – from two oranges
  • Orange juice – 360ml (this is about 4 large oranges. I suggest you use the juice from the two oranges that you have zested, then top up with store-bought smooth orange juice)
  • Icing sugar – 140g
  • Limoncello – about 1-and-a-bit tablespoons * (you can substitute 50:50 water and lemon juice if you require an alcohol-free cake)
  • Marmalade – about half a typical (280g) jar
  • Flaked almonds – a handful (about 30g)
  • A little melted butter (about 8g) and a spoonful of flour for preparing the tin
  • Salt – a large pinch
  • Baking powder – 3/4 teaspoon
  • For the RING version turn your oven on to 180ºC Fan / 200ºC conventional
  • For the FULL ROUND version turn your oven on to 160ºC Fan / 180ºC conventional
  1. †Melt the butter and using a pastry brush, brush the inside of your chosen cake tin – and if you are using a savarin/bundt mould make sure you brush the funnel too
  2. Tip in a spoonful of flour and rotate the mould, tapping it as you go to distribute the flour all over the buttered mould
  3. In one bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks
  4. In a second bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, until light and fluffy. Then, add in the zest, the olive oil and half of the orange juice and whisk in as well
  5. In another bowl or a jug, tip in the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder and briefly stir together
  6. Now gently use the whisk (no vigorous beating – just a gentle whisking motion) to combine a third of the flour mixture and the rest of the orange juice.
  7. Now add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until it is all combined
  8. Using a flexible spatula, fold a third of the egg whites into the mixture (the first third loosens the mixture and helps to ensure not all the air is knocked out of the rest of the egg whites)
  9. Add the rest of the egg whites in two batches, folding in fully after each addition
  10. Once fully combined pour the mixture into the pan – it should fill it about 80% full (any extra left because your savarin mould is on the small side can be baked in cake cases or individual-sized silicon moulds)
  11. For the RING cake – bake in the bottom of the oven for about around 45 minutes
  12. For the ROUND cake – bake in the bottom of the oven for around 55 minutes
  13. Test it’s baked with a skewer – it should come out clean, but not bone dry as the olive oil in the cake keeps it moist
  14. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes then invert onto a wire rack

Making the glaze, icing and decorating

  1. While the cake is cooling but is still slightly warm, make the marmalade glaze
  2. Put just under half a jar of marmalade in a saucepan with two tablespoons of water and bring to the boil
  3. Pour the marmalade all over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides
  4. Immediately sprinkle with the flaked almonds, so that they stick onto the marmalade
  5. You must leave the cake to completely cool before you add the water icing
  6. When the cake is finally cool, put the icing sugar in a bowl and add the Limoncello to it, but do this in stages. Humidity changes from one kitchen to another, from day to day in the same kitchen and also from one icing sugar packet to another. So, the amount of limoncello (or water and lemon juice if you require a non-alcoholic version) needed will vary also, especially as icing sugar takes so little liquid to dissolve
  7. The icing sugar needs to be just liquid, that it will take a second or two to start dripping off the tip of a spoon
  8. Hold a spoon full of the water icing about 4cm above the cake and ‘draw’ the icing across the cake in a zig zag motion with once hand, rotating the cake with the other so that you get the icing drizzled evenly all over the cake
  9. To decorate, either simply sprinkle over slivered almonds or decorate with chopped pistachios, slices of orange and edible flowers such as calendula and violas – both examples of the decoration are shown on this page
  10. Serve on its own or it’s delicious as a dessert cake with ice cream, fresh cream or creme fraiche
Ink Sugar Spice blog

Spiced apple cake

An absolute gem of a cake this one, I often fall back on this recipe if I need to bake a gift or take in something to share to my office.

I have a condition (won’t bore you with the details) that means sometimes I cannot sleep as it gets a bit ouchy. I can frequently be found in my kitchen very early doors, baking, as what on earth else do you do at 5 am without waking everyone else up. This last iteration of this cake was made just this morning for that reason – up and about early and better off being active. If the pain wakes me I do usually bake, or I might do some yoga. Or yoga while waiting for the bake in the oven. Or just yoga while eating cake. Or if I’m really knackered, in pain and fed up with it all, standing in front of the fridge drinking milk from the bottle (sorry family) and mainlining that cake.



I have also used this as a base recipe and adapted it according to what flavours I want or what fruit I have to hand – pears, peaches, raspberries, oranges etc. But I’ve made this particular spiced apple version many times, so much so it’s actually lodged in my head and I don’t need to refer to my recipe notes. It’s easy, has a great flavour and is generally rather lovely – so I thought I’d jot it down and share in its own right.

Typically for me it’s also on the small side. If you’ve read any my profile page or other blog posts you know that while I love to bake I am conscientious about trying to maintain healthy family eating overall. Often my bakes are in small batches so they are a small treat rather than a regular calorific, sugary indulgence. A little of what you fancy… as the saying goes.

I also made this cake, this time in a panibois (a reusable wooden baking form, which takes disposable/recyclable paper inserts). There are many online baking suppliers that sell these. You can make this in any small cake tin instead though – equivalent to about a 15 cm / 6″ round tin.

Also for this cake I normally ignore my electric hand mixer/stand mixer and do it all by wooden spoon. Honestly. It literally takes about 10 minutes to prepare and be ready for the oven, but you can easily choose to use your gadgets if you prefer. (Also turning the mixer on at 5am would be a bit rude by me).


  • Panibois wood form and one paper insert – or a prepped/lined 15cm round cake tin
  • Knife (and apple corer if you have one)
  • Large bowl
  • Wooden spoon and balloon whisk – or alternatively you can use a hand electric whisk or stand mixer
  • small bowl with water and a drizzle of lemon juice (just to keep the apples from discolouring only)


  • Eggs, large – two
  • Plain flour – 180g
  • Baking powder – 1 3/4 tsp
  • Golden caster sugar – 170g
  • Unsalted butter – 170g (or 50:50 butter and margarine, but never just all margarine!)
  • Ground cinnamon – 1 tsp
  • Ground allspice – 1/2 tsp
  • Calvados or cider – 1 tablespoon
  • Squeeze of maple syrup (about 2 tspns)
  • Small tart apples, 2 – 3 – I used Cox, but any equivalent would do. James Grieve variety would be ideal if you could get hold of them
  • For the topping:
  • Demerara sugar  – about 2 tablespoons
  • Flaked almonds – a “handful” (that’s about 50g)


  1. Put the oven on to 180 C fan / 190 conventional
  2. Core the apples (whether you peel them is up to your preference). Slice half of one apple for the top
  3. Cut up the rest of the apples into medium diced cubes
  4. Pop all the apples into the lemon water to stop them going a nasty brown/oxidising until needed
  5. Make sure the butter is at room temperature and easy to beat, but not at all runny (this would alter the cake and cause it to fail as a bake)
  6. Weigh out the butter and the sugar in the same bowl and beat together until incorporated and smooth
  7. Dry the apple
  8. Add in the spices, half the butter and one egg and beat
  9. When that’s mixed nicely, add in the rest of the flour, the last egg and the calvados or cider and the diced apple (reserve the slices for the top)
  10. Tip this mix into the panibois paper or your prepped cake tin and smooth over
  11. Arrange the sliced apple on the top of the cake mix, then sprinkle over the demerara and then the sliced almonds
  12. Bake for 40 mins in the middle of the oven, but I test the cake with a skewer after 35
  13. Can be served warm as a dessert with toffee sauce or ice cream (Mmmm!), as well as leaving to cool and slicing up as a delicious cake

Spiral cake with marbled sponge – or cake and maths

I was doodling spirals, as you do, and wondered how I’d go about decorating a geometric spiral cake… after much more doodling and some time creating a pattern in Adobe Illustrator, this cake is the result.


I thought perhaps a plain sponge might be a bit of a let down after having such a graphic outer layer, so this is a vanilla and lemon verbena sponge and chocolate and orange sponge marbled layer cake. You know me by now – I either go for a real plain but intensely classic and tricky perfect bake or I have to fiddle about with the flavours.


If you haven’t got lemon verbena, just add plain milk to the sponge and then add in one half teaspoon of lemon juice. (Skip the warming and infusion notes)

You can use either the plain spiral and print it out to your own size

Or you can use the PDF I’ve set up which will print out two pages of A4 which can be cut and pasted together to give an exact 21cm diameter pattern, which is right for a 20cm cake tin (plus buttercream and icing layers)

How I worked out the spiral


I took the diameter of the cake tin and added 1 cm to account for the icing and buttercream that would be layered on

I drew two radius lines from the centre of the circle to the circumference, 36° apart. This 36° angle gives me ten arcs in the spiral, an even five each of two colours. A circle is 360° in total, so 360 divided by ten is 36

Using each radius line as a diameter, I drew two smaller circles inside the radius of the larger circle

Where these two circles intersect each other and the larger circle gives me the arc that I want. This is the red shaded area.

I know that this one arc can de duplicated ten times to produce the spiral I want as it’s been set up using geometry to get a perfect result.

Using the template

I’ve given you a pdf template below that will make up a spiral for a 20cm cake (it is slightly wider – 21cm to accommodate the buttercream). This will not fit properly for printing on a single A4 sheet, so you need both and to cut and glue the sides together.



  • Cutting board/surface
  • Sharp craft knife – I use a Swann-Morton scalpel (used one ever since art school and I even use these for slashing my bread. Be careful – they are designed to cut flesh: the sterilised versions are used by surgeons! However, I don’t think you can beat them)
  • Card – A4 piece
  • Print out of the swirl template I’ve provided for you
  • 2 20cm cake tins, preferably loose bottomed or springform
  • Baking parchment/greaseproof paper
  • A small saucepan or a small microwaveable bowl
  • Two bowls
  • Skewer
  • Spoons, spatulas, crank handle palette knife  (preferable) or plain palette knife
  • Measuring jug (small scale) and set of weighing scales

Ingredients – sponge

  • Eggs – 2 large
  • Unsalted butter, softened – 100g
  • Baking margarine – 100g
  • Caster sugar – 200g (I used golden for this but ‘normal’ will do)
  • Plain flour – 185g
  • Cocoa – 15g
  • Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Milk – 50 ml (of which you’ll only actually use 20ml)
  • Lemon verbena leaves – 5 or 6 leaves
  • Orange juice – 20 ml

Ingredients – chocolate buttercream

  • Unsalted, softened butter – 200g
  • Icing sugar – about 400g
  • Hot chocolate powder – about 40g
  • Milk – about 20 – 30 ml

Ingredients – icing

  • Red fondant icing, a shop bought pack or homemade – you will need about 150g
  • White fondant icing, a shop bought pack or homemade – you will need about 150g
  • Icing sugar to keep the surfaces dusted

Method – cakes

  1. Put the oven on to 170C fan / 180C conventional
  2. Make sure your two cake tins are greased and lined/floured
  3. Gently warm the milk and the lemon verbena leaves in the smallest saucepan you have over a low heat. Swirl the leaves around and heat until it is just blood temperature – you’ll be able to dip your finger in and it feel neither hot nor cold. Take off the heat and leave to infuse for a few minutes
  4. Put 50g of butter, 50g of margarine and 100g of caster sugar in a bowl
  5. Cream the fat and sugars together
  6. Add one egg and then sift in 85g of the flour, cocoa and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and mix together
  7. Add the orange juice (you may not need quite all the 20ml) until the batter is a typical cake consistency
  8. Put the chocolate and orange batter to one side
  9. Put 50g of butter, 50g of margarine and 100g of caster sugar in the second bowl
  10. Cream the fat and sugars together
  11. Add one egg and then sift in 100g of the flour and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and mix together
  12. Measure out 20ml of the infused milk (discarding the leaves) and add it to the batter (as before you may not need quite all of it, so my tip is to put about 10ml in, mix, and then judge the consistency adding the rest only if required)
  13. Take both baking tins and splodge spoonfuls of the lemon verbena sponge batter into both tins, trying to even the amount out (Fig. 1)

    Fig. 1
  14. You can test whether your tins are of equal weight (and therefore holding equal batter) by ‘zeroing’ your digital scales and putting one tin on. Note the weight. Take off the first tin and put the second on – is it the same? If it’s out by a lot transfer a little of the batter from the heavier tin and weight them both again
  15. Now splodge in the chocolate and orange batter in the same way, but try to fill in the gaps you’ve left with the lemon verbena batter (Fig. 2)

    Fig. 2
  16. Weight the two tins again to see if they’re level
  17. Smooth over the batters in both tins to try and get an even surface – try not to smudge the two batters together too much. However the truth is you’re only smooshing the very top layer and as this will get browned in the over and you won’t see it once the cake is made (Fig. 3)

    Fig. 3
  18. Tap the two tins on the counter
  19. Bake for about 25 minutes until springy to the touch and/or a skewer comes out clean
  20. Leave to cool in the tins

Method – buttercream

  1. Beat the butter, hot chocolate powder and icing sugar together together, adding a little splash of milk as you go to alter the consistency. Whip for a good few minutes as this will ensure it is light and airy

Method – construction

  1. Once cooled, sandwich the two sponges together with the buttercream (Fig. 4)

    Fig. 4
  2. Spread the buttercream on the top and sides of the cake and smooth it over as flat as possible (Fig. 5)

    Fig. 5
  3. Cut out the template
  4. Poke a small hole dead centre of the template and lay it on your cake, trying to make it as centrally aligned as possible – mark the centre of the cake with the skewer. Mark the edges of the cake at the ten points on the circumference and then take off the template
  5. Dust the surface you’re working on heavily with icing sugar
  6. Note of warning!! Make sure you do not turn any of the template pieces upside down or that piece of fondant won’t fit.
  7. Roll out one colour of the fondant larger than the template
  8. Lay the template on the fondant
  9. Carefully cut out the five arcs  – this will also cut your template (this is OK! You could cut out just one arc from the template and use that to cut five from the icing anyway)
  10. Put the five arcs to one side and roll out the other fondant
  11. Take just one of the arcs (this is easier now) and use it to cut out five in this second colour fondant (Fig. 6)

    Fig. 6
  12. Take one arc of fondant (doesn’t matter which colour) and use the template or the picture of the spiral here as a guide to ensure you’re laying it the right way – the fatter, more oblique end goes nearer the centre and the thinner, acute end of the arc goes on the edge of the cake
  13. Align the point of the arc to the hole you poked in the centre of the cake and align the piece of fondant so that the ‘tail’ end sweeps and meets the edge of the cake
  14. Take one arc from the other colour and lay it next to the first arc on the cake – they must touch. Make sure you lay the point to the centre of the cake
  15. Repeat until all the arcs are laid and the top is complete (Fig. 7)

    Fig. 7
  16. To complete the sides, take a scrap piece of paper (from the template you’ve just mauled) and measure the length of one colour along the side of the cake
  17. Cut a rectangle in the paper so that the long edge matches this section of fondant on the edge and the short side equals the height of the cake
  18. Using this paper template cut out five rectangles of fondant icing in each of the two colours
  19. Press these fondant rectangles on the sides of the cake
  20. Pinch together the edges and smooth with either a finger tip dipped in water or a moulding tool if you have one
  21. That should be it – you may want to either give the cake a spritz of water from a sprayer or use a clean pastry brush to give it a ‘wash’ with some water. This cleans it up, dissolves any leftover icing sugar powder and helps bind the edges togetherSpiralCakemethod-finished.jpg

Pistachio, lemon and strawberry friands

pistachio, strawberry and lemon friandsThese are richly moist little cakes, just perfect for an afternoon tea. The addition of crushed strawberries makes a nice contrast to the chopped pistachios and the lemon juice keeps them very moist.

Makes about 12

  • Silicon or metal friand moulds (alternatively these can be made as fairycakes or cupcakes – for which you will need paper cases and a bun tin)
  • Bowl
  • Balloon whisk, electric whisk or stand mixer
  • Lemon – the juice and zest of one small to medium lemon
  • Unsalted butter, softened – 120g
  • Caster sugar – 175g
  • Eggs, whole – 3
  • Plain flour – 120g
  • Baking powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Chopped pistachios – 80g
  • Strawberries – 70g
  1. Grease and lightly flour the moulds or fill a bun tin with fairy cake cakes
  2. Put the oven on to 160C fan / 170C conventional
  3. Cream the butter and sugar
  4. Mix in the eggs one at a time with a spoonful of the flour, to avoid splitting
  5. Add the rest of the flour and baking powder and mix thoroughly
  6. Crush the strawberries with the back of a fork
  7. Add the crushed strawberries, the lemon juice, zest and 3/4 of the chopped pistachios
  8. Gently mix the added ingredients in with a spatula
  9. Sprinkle the remainder of the pistachios in the bottom of the friand moulds. If you are using fairycake cases, then you will need to put the pistachios on top of the mix after you have spooned it in
  10. Spoon in the mixture, trying as best possible to put an even amount in each friand cavity (if you are using cake cases, now sprinkle the remaining pistachios on top)
  11. Bake for about 20 – 22 minutes until nicely golden. You can check ‘doneness’ either with a skewer (an inserted skewer should come out clean with no mix on) or with the springback test – gently press your finger on one sponge, if it is done enough it will spring back to shape.
  12. Leave to cool and decorate with sliced strawberries