Pumpkin rolls

pumpkin rolls inksugarspice #pumpkin #bread

Delicious at any time of the year, but particularly fitting to make for Halloween, these pumpkin rolls don’t just look the part, they taste it too as they’re made from a roasted pumpkin (or squash) dough.

I’ve written out the instructions (with some images) how to make these rolls into pumpkin shapes, but they can also be made into ‘normal’, round dinner rolls too. The dough is also marvellous when baked into a full sized loaf (top with toasted pumpkin seeds for extra oomph).


It’s a bit tricky to cut up just the right amount of pumpkin/squash for this recipe, so I suggest using a whole, small pumpkin or butternut squash. Once roasted it’s easier to weigh out the correct amount and any that is surplus to the recipe can be used up elsewhere (freeze for later, turn into soup, add to a pasta dish, mix into mash potato for example).

You can skip the shaping instructions and just make round rolls if you prefer.

Do make sure you get rid of all the string before serving!


  • Large bowl
  • Scraper
  • Linen tea towel
  • Two large baking trays
  • Roasting tray
  • Sharp, large chef’s knife and potato peeler
  • Sieve (not fine gauge) and large spoon
  • Smaller bowl
  • Butchers/bakers string and scissors
  • Saucepan or microwavable bowl/jug (for warming the milk)
pumpkins - inksugarspice


  • 1 small pumpkin or squash (you will only need 120g once roasted, see notes above)
  • Strong white flour – 475g
  • Fresh yeast – 15g (or replace with fast action dried yeast – 7g)
  • Milk – 200g
  • Fine salt – 1 teaspoon (plus extra for the pumpkin)
  • Black pepper – several turns
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of a good quality olive oil, I used Filippo Beri organic extra virgin olive oil (plus about another 3 tablespoons to drizzle on the pumpkin for roasting and to oil the bowl)


  • Warm your oven to 180C fan / 200 conventional / 400F
  • Halve the pumpkin or squash and scoop out the seeds
  • Take the skin off the pumpkin and cut into large chunks (about 3-4cm)
  • Spread the pumpkin pieces out into your roasting tin and drizzle with olive oil, about three tablespoons’ worth and then sprinkle with some salt
  • Bake for about 25 minutes. The pumpkin pieces should be soft when pressed with a fork or spoon. If they are not ready, leave in for another 10 minute
  • When ready, leave the pumpkin pieces to cool a little until you can handle them
  • While the pumpkin is cooling, gently warm the milk in a microwave or a saucepan a little and stir in the yeast. Leave this to one side while you prep the pumpkin flesh
  • When the pumpkin flesh has cooled enough to handle (but is still warm), press the pumpkin through the sieve into the smaller bowl. It’s easiest to press it through wi th the back of a large spoon. This will remove any little crispy edges that you wouldn’t want in your bread and break down the fibres so that it incorporates into the dough more thoroughly
  • Make your dough, by combining the flour, salt, pepper, mashed pumpkin, olive oil and the milk/yeast mixture in your large bowl
  • Once combined roughly, tip out onto a clean surface and begin kneading. This dough comes together quickly because of the pumpkin flesh, so knead it for about 7-8 minutes until it starts to become smooth and glossy. Only use additional flour if you feel it’s absolutely necessary
  • Once kneaded, oil the bowl and shape the dough into a ball. Place it into the oiled bowl seam side down and cover with a clean linen tea towel or similar
  • Leave to prove for about 45 minutes until risen
  • Divide your dough in to eight equal pieces
  • Cut up eight pieces of the butcher’s string – each about a metre long
  • Taking one of the pieces of dough, shape into a ball
  • [See the images below for the following steps) Take the string and its centre point over the middle of the ball of dough, flip the dough over and make a loop round the dough and finish with a little twist of the string – your ball of dough should have a loop over it. Make sure you come back to the middle of the ball of dough and ensure the string is not tight or cutting into the dough
  • Twist the string and repeat another loop at 90 degrees to the first, so the ball of dough looks like a parcel
  • Repeat twice more, keeping the string between the first two loops – so that the ball of dough is eventually sectioned into eight wedge shapes. Tie off loosely and trim off the ends of the string
How to tie up the pumpkin rolls with string so they get that quintessential pumpkin shape when baked - inksugarspice #pumpkin #bread
  • Place the dough ball on a floured baking tray
  • Repeat with the remaining seven balls of dough
  • Cover the dough and leave to rise for about 30 minutes, until the dough has started to rise through the string and created a pumpkin shape
  • While the dough is on its last proof, turn your oven on to 220C fan / 240F conventional / 475F
  • When the rolls are ready, place them in the oven and immediately turn it down to 200C fan / 220C conventional / 400F
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes until risen and getting brown
  • Leave to cool and when cold, snip off the string from the underside of the roll and pull through the threads to ensure there is no string left before serving
pumpkin rolls inksugarspice #pumpkin #bread

Easy dove grey crochet throw

Dove grey crochet throw in half shell stitch | Ink Sugar Spice

I’ve never posted a crochet article before, despite being fairly OK at it. I can’t be bothered to write down all those ‘SC’ and ‘YO’ instructions. I ‘freeform’ my crocheting, in that I never follow a pattern and I pretty much make it up as I go along, working to a sketch or an existing image I’ve found on Pinterest or elsewhere. If I need to remake it (such as the other glove!) I just copy the first item. I learnt to crochet and knit as a child, as my mum and one of my sisters were dab hands at both.

This project, however, is soo easy peasy that I thought I’d share (not much explanation needed from me). It barely qualifies as a ‘pattern’, but results in a lovely throw and can be adapted to any size you like. For instance, you could crochet two squares and make a cushion cover. I often sit there playing with stitches and patterns, unravelling what I’ve done if I don’t like it. This is exceptionally simple but does give a great, puffy and comfy half shell pattern in larger weight yarns (it’s not so great looking with finer yarns and smaller stitches).

I have made a video on the stitches for this throw – you can find it below. It’s not a particularly brilliant video (and slightly embarrasing!) but I hope it might help 🙂

Living room layout with dove grey crochet throw | Ink Sugar Spice
Ink Sugar Spice blog https://inksugarspice.wordpress.com/


Use a heavy double knit yarn in a dove grey for this project. Of course you can change the colour but there’s something extra comforting – and currently bang on trend – about a fluffy dove grey blanket.

For my throw I used six x 100g balls in Robin Chunky, Silver.

At time of writing [Mar 2019] these were £2.05 each from a knitters’ market stall, so the throw cost me £12.30. This is an acrylic (100%) yarn as I wanted to be able to wash the throw without fear of shrinkage.

LoveCrafts – all things for knitting and crochet including plenty of DK yarn for this project. You can obtain 15% off your first order with Love Crafts. Just type in my name at the Checkout stage – Lynn Clark – to get the discount. [For transparency and honesty, I do also get 15% off an order if you use this discount code].


  • Size 7mm hook

Other tools

  • Large wool needle
  • Scissors/snips

Close up of the crochet throw | Ink Sugar Spice

Crochet stiches used

Normally people refer to the same crochet stitches: that is a double crochet means the same to most people but some crochets sites and patterns do list slight differences. To be clear, this is what I’m working to:

Single crochet

  • Your hook will already have one loop from the last stitch made. Put the hook through a chain.
  • Wind the yarn over the end of the hook: you now have three loops on your hook (the original loop, the chain loop and this new ‘yarned-over’ loop).
  • Drag the loop of yarn (you’ve just made) through the next loop along – you have two loops on your hook now.
  • Wind over another loop and then drag this through both loops on the hook. You’ve made one single crochet and are back to having a single loop on the hook.

Double crochet

  • Your hook will already have one loop from the last stitch made. Wind the yarn over the hook (now two loops on the hook).
  • Put the hook through a chain (you now have three loops on your hook). Wind the yarn over the end of the hook (four loops on the hook).
  • Drag the fourth loop of yarn through the chain loop (only) – you’re back to three loops on the hook.
  • Wind the yarn over the hook again (back to four loops on the hook) and drag this through loops two and three (now two loops remaining).
  • Wind the yarn over yet again (back to three loops) and drag this through all the remaining loops so that you have a single loop on your hook.


Leave a long tail on each new ball of wool join, so that you can weave the ends of the yarn in to the throw. If you weave in a long tail of yarn it is less likely to unravel and show after using and washing. Because this throw is loosely crocheted it is easy to weave the yarn end through without it showing up.

Stitch size/tension

Don’t fuss too much about getting the tension for this – it’s not a garment so doesn’t need to be exact to meet a size. I would recommend you crochet this loosely (nothing more specific than this instruction is needed), as generosity of stitch results in a softer finished item that ‘gives’ and moves, which is comfier in a blanket.

Joining balls of wool

Join balls of wool in the middle of a row of stitches, not at the end by tying a reef knot (or you can use the invisible Russian join if you prefer). Leave plenty of ‘ends’ to sew in later. Avoid joining at edges as usually the knot give a harsh, angular edge to the stitch which shows up at the edge of a project but which can be hidden in the middle of a row of stitches.

Length/number of rows and initial chain

I’ll leave you with the decision on how many rows – it depends on the end use of your blanket/throw and how much wool you’re willing to buy!

If you want to match the size of my completed throw, which measures 1m x 2.5m this is:

  • Foundation row of 120 stitches
  • 110 rows, excluding the initial foundation row (remembering that each row, excluding the foundation row, is actually three stitches tall)

Foundation/chain row

Tie a loop and then crochet a chain that is a multiple of three (3). I used a row of 120 for my throw.

First row

*In the third chain from the hook make one single crochet.

In the next chain, make one double crochet

Skip two chains*

Repeat between the * * for the whole way along

At the end stitch of the row, you’ll have two loops over your hook: just loop the yarn over the hook and pull through. Turn.

Second row onwards – including the final row

Repeat as for the first row, but the chain in which you insert your hook (every third chain along) is very easily visible:

*In the third chain from the hook make one single crochet.

In the next chain, make one double crochet

Skip two chains*

Repeat between the * * for the whole way along

Ink Sugar Spice blog https://inksugarspice.wordpress.com/


When you have made your throw as large as you require, finish your final row with those last two loops on your hook. Cut off the yarn with at least 12 cm / about 6 inches spare and thread the end through these two loops and pull tight to secure. (Don’t do the final extra stitch on your last row or you will get an unwanted sharper corner).

Ink Sugar Spice blog https://inksugarspice.wordpress.com/

Sewing in

There is no substitute to properly hiding a loose end of yarn other than to weave it into the existing stitches. It’s tedious, but it works. It hides the end by mimicking the original pattern and secures the end, so that it does not (hopefully) come loose with wear or washing.

As an additional way to secure the end halfway through weaving an end in, I sew the needle through one actual loop of yarn (ie through the thread itself) as this anchors it and then do a little more weaving.

As this is the first crochet instructions I’ve written up I would be grateful to know if I’ve made any errors or made it too confusing!

Happy crocheting and enjoy the comfort of your fluffy throw.

Dove grey crochet throw in half shell stitch | Ink Sugar Spice
Ink Sugar Spice blog https://inksugarspice.wordpress.com/

Roasted orange butternut squash ravioli

finishedRavioliA delicious, veggie main meal that won’t have you missing meat! I’ve been roasting butternut squash to this recipe for a long time. I first developed it as a vegetable recipe to feed to my twins when they were weaning, but I loved it so much myself it started creeping into our adult meals!

I use the roasted squash as it is as an accompaniment, it can be made into a spiced soup with the addition of a little milk and some paprika and rewarmed in a saucepan or – as here – a great filling for ravioli.

As part of the recipe, there are step-by-step instructions for preparing the pasta dough into filled ravioli.

You can prepare the squash a day before if you prefer.


A note on making your own pasta: it’s fun (although hard work) and for a lot of recipes fresh-made pasta is the bee’s knees. However, don’t be sniffy about dried pasta once you’ve made your own fresh. It’s quick, cheap and frankly the majority of recipes are actually better with dried pasta. Fresh pasta is not ‘better’ overall, just better in certain recipes and essential to make your own filled shapes.

I tend to make fresh pasta for filled shapes (pretty obvious this one), for when I want to do something really unusual like coloured pasta (spinach, tomato, beetroot, squash or squid ink etc) and for a rich version of things like carbonara when I want tagliatelli. I’m also driven by the shapes produced by my Mercato pasta machine – big sheets, tagiolini and fettucini (there are other attachments you can buy but this is enough for me, at least for now).

Dried pasta is great for everything else – which is the majority of pasta dishes! All oily or tomato type sauces and of course the tiny shapes like stellini for broths and soups.

Equipment – roasted butternut squash

  • Vegetable peeler
  • Very sharp heavy knife
  • Large casserole with lid or other oven-proof container and a sheet of foil
  • Potato masher
  • Frying pan
  • Kitchen towel

Equipment – ravioli

  • Large bowl
  • Rolling pin or pasta rolling machine
  • Dough cutter
  • Sharp knife
  • Pastry brush
  • Circular cookie cutter – quite a large one (I used a 9cm one) – or you can just cut it into squares
  • Large saucepan
  • Slotted spoon

Ingredients – squash

  • I medium-large butternut squash
  • Orange juice – 100ml
  • Sea salt – large pinch
  • Black pepper – freshly ground to taste
  • Shallots – about two small round shallots or one banana shallot

Ingredients – pasta

For four people:

  • ’00’ type flour (you can get this in any mid-sized supermarket in the baking aisle) – 200g*
  • Semolina/durum wheat flour (again, this is usually available in a normal supermarket – go look for it in the world food aisle) – 100g*
  • Medium eggs – 3
    • * If you can’t get these, you can use regular plain flour – it makes acceptable pasta, although if you use 00 and semolina it will make a big difference. If you don’t find either in your supermarket (I’ve bought these in TESCO, ASDA and Sainsbury’s – apologies for those not in the UK, but of course I can only speak for where I live) you can get them online

Method – butternut squash

  1. Put the oven on to 200C fan / 220C conventional
  2. Halve and peel the butternut squashsquash.jpg
  3. Scoop out the flesh and seeds from the hollows in both halves
  4. Chop the flesh into thick (1 cm) slices
  5. Arrange the sliced squash in the bottom of the oven-proof dish so that they are spread evenly
  6. Pour in the orange juice and sprinkle over the sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
  7. Cover with the lid or a sheet of foil and place in the centre of the oven for at least one hour, until the squash flesh is soft enough to be pressed with a fork
  8. While the squash is cooking, finely chop the shallots and fry gently with a little oil
  9. Remove when the shallots have become softened and glass-like and lay on a piece of kitchen towel to absorb excess oil
  10. Remove the squash from the oven and add the cooked shallots to the squashRoastedSquash
  11. Mash with the potato masher – do not pour out any remaining orange juice as it should all be incorporated
  12. Leave to cool until you are ready to stuff the ravioli

Method – pasta

  1. In a large bowl swirl together the flours and make a well in the middle
  2. Crack in the eggseggAndFlour
  3. Mix it all together with the fork and bring it all together – when you can’t mix it any further with the fork, start to use your hand (my tip here is use only one had – leave the other ‘clean’)
  4. Bring the pasta dough together with your hand – I find that the dough naturally absorbs all the flour it needs – so if there is a little bit of flour left don’t worry
  5. Transfer the dough to a large flat surface – a dining table or a large kitchen counter top (my kitchen is tiny – I also go into my dining room!)
  6. You are aiming for a ‘strong but forgiving’ consistency of dough. I once read in a book years ago (sorry I can’t remember which one) that the dough should be the same to feel as the relaxed muscle in your forearm! It sounds weird, but actually it’s true – just try it! Relax your non-writing arm and poke your forearm just below your elbow. See what they mean?
    I do believe the dough picks up the right amount of flour itself as you are gathering it together, but:

    1. if the dough feels too soft add a little more flour
    2. if the dough is too tough and dry add a few drops of water
  7. Knead the dough for anything up to 10 minutes – it should get to the point where it feels like tough elastic and gets very hard to knead. If you’re using a pasta machine you can stop before it gets really tough going, as by pass the dough through the machine at its lowest setting and then folding and passing through again (see instructions below) you continue the kneading process. Unfortunately if you’re rolling by hand you need to keep kneading!
  8. Now’s the time to set up your pasta machine (bolting it to the table/counter top) if you’re using it – or reach for the rolling pin
  9. Don’t add any more flour to the pasta – you’ll clog your machine (if using). Pasta correctly mixed is ‘clean’ and should only stick to itself (or a wet surface). However – there is a caveat to this if you are rolling using a rolling pin. See the instructions on rolling by hand
  10. Leave the pasta to settle and rest for a while somewhere cool – about 15 – 60 minutes. Wrap in cling film or cover with a tea towel to stop it getting a crust
  11. Using a machine:
    1. Cut the pasta into tennis-ball sized pieces – I find this is the easiest amount to roll into pieces for ravioli. If you’re a seasoned pasta making you may be comfortable with rolling more, but as I am writing this as a basic recipe I’ll stick with the easy amounts
    2. Set the machine to 0 (the largest setting) and pass the dough ball through.
    3. Fold the rolled dough in half and turn 90 degrees and pass it through again – don’t change the setting
    4. Fold and pass through three or four times – this relaxes the gluten forming in the dough and smooths its texture
    5. Now, turn the machine to the next setting  (one increment smaller) and pass through. Turn the crank handle with one hand and capture the rolled dough with your other hand, drawing it out along the table. Make sure it lies flat
    6. Turn the machine up another notch and repeat – the pasta sheet will naturally get longer and longer (and a little wider) each time as it gets squeezed thinner. This makes it a bit more tricky to handle as you go along – to make it easier to crank with one hand and feed/capture the pasta with the other each time as you feed one end of the pasta in the roller, gently lay the rest of the pasta over the top of the machine draping it gently – it should get pulled through the machine as you turn the handle cleanly and smoothly (see below). This allows you to use your other hand to capture the pasta as it comes out and feed it down the tablepastaAndMachine
    7. Keep repeating this until your pasta is very fine – on my Mercato machine I do ravioli to No. 6 (out of 10 settings), so whatever your setting is on your machine that is about three quarters of the very finest setting. You need it thin (as the edges of the ravioli of course will be double thickness as they are stuck together but it can’t be too thin or there is a risk of tearing and the filling could spill out during cooking later)
    8. Repeat for the rest of the dough and then lay all the sheets of pasta out together
  12. Using a rolling pin:
    1. I’ve only recently bought a pasta machine – I’ve been making pasta using a rolling pin for years. OK, I never made it not often as it IS a chore this way, but I’m living proof you can do it without a machine. However, the finished result is rougher, thicker and not so uniform. The toughest part is to roll the pasta finely – it really doesn’t want to thin out (the gluten wants to draw together) – you will have to keep going and apply force. Frankly I wish I’d bought a machine years ago – it’s been a revelation!
    2. Unlike using the machine, you will need to lightly flour your table – as you apply force with the rolling pin to squeeze the pasta flatter and wider you are effectively mashing it into the table and it will stick
    3. Chop the pasta dough up into manageable pieces – probably in half will be sufficient for a three-egg/300g dough
    4. Roll out as finely as you can – keep shifting the dough round by a quarter turn to stop it sticking and keep rolling until you are satisfied it’s as thin as you can get it. Don’t worry about a few tears if you have then – you can just avoid them when you cut the ravioli
    5. Repeat with the remaining dough
  13. Now go get your butternut squash
  14. Place teaspoons of the squash on the pasta sheets – leave a 10-12cm gap between the dollops of squash. Don’t overfill!placingFilling
  15. Using the pastry brush, dip it in water and shake off the excess (you don’t want much water at all). Draw a circle with the damp brush all round the mini pile of squash
  16. Now, drape another sheet over the top of the squash and first pasta sheet.
  17. Gently with your finger tips, try to tamp down the top sheet onto the bottom and around the squash filling – try your best not to leave air gaps (the air will expand when cooking later and may burst the ravioli) and make a little tightly packed dome
  18. Once you’re satisfied each raviolo is sealed all the way round you can cut it out with the cutter, or use a sharp knife (or pastry wheel if you have one) to make a squarecutRaviolo
  19. Keep going until you’ve made enough ravioli – I think 4 – 5 is enough for each person as a main meal or three for a starter (you can freeze the remaining squash and pasta dough – or you can keep going and use it all and then freeze the uncooked ravioli – see my note at the end)cutRavioli.jpg
  20. Keep the ravioli to hand – next it’s the cooking stage!



One of the best, most simple way of serving this is to warm a few tablespoons of red pesto in a large frying pan or sauté pan with a little water (from the pasta water) and just sloosh the cooked ravioli around gently and briefly in this and then slide it all onto plates – and serve with a fresh green salad.

I haven’t given a recipe for a ragu here – just the pasta itself. In the photo above for this particular meal of this ravioli I made a soffritto base (finely diced onion, carrot, celery, garlic), fried this off, added a tin of chopped tomatoes, seasonings and then some chopped up Italian sausages. I sprinkled over

This sausage ragu does stop this recipe being vegetarian – however you can substitute the sausages for either courgette or mushrooms to keep it meat-free.

To cook the ravioli

  1. Bring a very large pan of water – which has been generously salted (don’t panic – there’s no salt in the pasta dough and also the pasta is bathed in the salt water only: it doesn’t absorb much of it) – to a simmering, gentle boil
  2. Using a slotted spoon, put the ravioli in the water – they will sink
  3. They will only take about three minutes to cook (you may want to do them in batches if you’ve made lots)
  4. When they’re done they will start to rise to the top of the water
  5. Take out with the slotted spoon – I actually find it’s handy to hold a sieve over the pan with one hand and feed each raviolo that I fish out with the slotted spoon into the sieve – that way they drip back into the pan
  6. Serve the pasta with whatever sauce you want – whether that’s a ragu or the simple red pesto sauce mentioned above
  7. Best eaten immediately – grate over some grana padano or parmesan, a grind of pepper and a sprinkle of salt (I used black sea salt, just because it looked fantastic against the pasta)

Note on freezing filled pasta

  1. Freeze the ravioli by lying it down on something flat that will fit in your freezer draw and make sure they do not touch each other
  2. You may then put them in a bag together later, once they are fully frozen (they won’t stick after they’ve frozen solid) so that they won’t then take up too much space
  3. No need to thaw – just pop them in a pan of simmering (not rapidly boiling water) and bring it slowly up to a full boil and cook for 1 – 2 minutes more than from fresh

I hope this has helped! If you try this ravioli please leave me a comment – I’d love to know what you think of it

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