Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake

When one of my close friends has his/her birthday, I don’t mind trying to push the boat out and make a gorgeous cake. After all, you could argue, it is a celebration and a showstopper cake should be the perfect ending (or complimentary part) to a fun party. In this case, I had been given some instructions, namely that the cake needed to contain raspberries. After scouring on Pinterest, the perfect platform to actually see what the cakes look like, I ended up on this recipe, which looked perfect for the occasion. The cake is made up of mousse layers (chocolate, raspberry and vanilla, respectively), held together by gelatine and resting on a brownie base. Whoa, you could say.

There are some non-negotiable aspects which you should keep in mind when making this cake. As usual, they relate to the quality of ingredients, which needs to be the best you can get. Forget that cheap chocolate you normally find in supermarkets, go for a very good brand. I normally use Green and Black’s organic range. Their white chocolate, in particular, contains real vanilla seeds and is therefore perfect for the job. Please also go for very good raspberries. They clearly play the main role in this cake and the cheap, watery stuff you find in supermarkets would just not do. If you are put off by gelatine, please allow me to say these mousse layers are creamy and moreish, not gloopy and horrible. However, if you don’t want to use gelatine, then I suggest you either increase the amount of chocolate used or freeze the whole cake.

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Ingredients (for the brownie layer)

  • 95g plain flour
  • 80g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 220g golden caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients (for the chocolate mousse)

  • 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 415ml double cream
  • 2 leaves of gelatine
  • 2 tbsp water
  • pinch of salt

Ingredients (for the raspberry mousse)

  • 200g fresh raspberries
  • 255g white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 355ml double cream
  • 2 leaves of gelatine
  • 2 tbsp raspberry liqueur
  • pinch of salt

Ingredients (for the vanilla mousse)

  • 255g white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 355ml double cream
  • 2 leaves of gelatine
  • 2 tbsp water
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste

Ingredients (to finish)

  • 150g fresh raspberries
  • 115g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 120ml double cream
  • chocolate decorations (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 20cm springform round cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
  2. Start with the brownie layer: in a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa powder until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-to-low heat. Add the sugar and stir until it melts. Don’t allow the mixture to come to a boil. Set aside to cool slightly. Once the mixture is at room temperature, add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well between each addition. Pour in the vanilla extract and fold in the dry ingredients, then scrape the brownie batter into the prepared tin and bake it for 20-25 minutes. Check the cake is cooked by inserting a toothpick in the middle – if it comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs attached, the brownie is ready. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  4. Once the brownie is stone cold, gently open the sides of the springform tin and line the sides with acetate – baking parchment is also OK, although acetate doesn’t tend to stick to the food and leaves a smoother finish. Ensure the acetate layer around the cake ring is at least 6-7cm, as the layers will be quite thick.
  5. Now move on to the mousse layers, starting with the chocolate one. The procedure will be very similar for each one of them, but I will repeat the instructions just to be safe. Soak the gelatine leaves in a small bowl filled with cold water and leave there for a good 15 minutes. Pour the chocolate shards/chunks and the salt into a heatproof bowl, then bring about 180ml of the double cream to the boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate, stirring to ensure all of the dark chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Let it cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the water to a small saucepan and place it over medium heat, then squeeze out as much water as you can from the gelatine leaves and add them to the saucepan. Ensure the gelatine melts, then pour it into the cooled chocolate mixture and mix well to combine. Whip the remaining double cream to soft peaks, then gently fold it into the chocolate mixture until smooth. Pour this mousse onto the brownie base and spread out to the sides in an even layer. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes until completely set.
  7. To make the raspberry mousse layer, make a quick puree by blending about 100g raspberries in a food processor. Pour them through a strainer to remove the seeds. Add this to the finely chopped white chocolate and the salt and transfer to a heatproof bowl.
  8. Soak the gelatine leaves in a small bowl filled with cold water and leave there for a good 15 minutes. Bring about 180ml of the double cream to the boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate mixture, stirring to ensure all of the white chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Let it cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  9. Add the raspberry liqueur to a small saucepan and place it over medium heat, then squeeze out as much water as you can from the gelatine leaves and add them to the saucepan. Ensure the gelatine melts, then pour it into the cooled chocolate mixture and mix well to combine. Whip the remaining double cream to soft peaks, then gently fold it into the chocolate mixture until smooth. Scatter the remaining raspberries onto the chocolate mousse, making sure to leave about 1cm around the egde of the cake. Pour this mousse onto the chocolate mousse layer and spread out to the sides in an even layer, ensuring all of the raspberries are evenly covered. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes until completely set.
  10. Finally, on to the vanilla mousse layer. Soak the gelatine leaves in a small bowl filled with cold water and leave there for a good 15 minutes. Transfer the white chocolate and vanilla bean paste to an heatproof bowl. Bring about 180ml of the double cream to the boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate mixture, stirring to ensure all of the white chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Let it cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  11. Add the water to a small saucepan and place it over medium heat, then squeeze out as much water as you can from the gelatine leaves and add them to the saucepan. Ensure the gelatine melts, then pour it into the cooled chocolate mixture and mix well to combine. Whip the remaining double cream to soft peaks, then gently fold it into the chocolate mixture until smooth. Pour this mousse onto the raspberry mousse layer and spread out to the sides in an even layer. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes until completely set.
  12. To decorate the cake, proceed as before to make a chocolate ganache. Unmould the cake and remove the acetate, then pour the cooled ganache on top of the cake and use an offset spatula to push it to the edge and let it drop down the sides. Arrange the raspberries on top and decorate with the chocolate curls, balls, etc. If you want, dust with icing sugar and use some berry jam to make the raspberry shine. Best kept refrigerated until it’s time to serve it, but remove it from the fridge at least 10 minutes before slicing it. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Layer Cake

The umpteenth chocolate cake, I know. But what can you do? Chocolate has such a soothing appeal to it, when I see a new way of using it, I’m all over it. I had planned to make this as we were supposed to have my partner’s nephew round for dinner. When that plan fell through as he had a football match the following day, I still decided to make it. A chocolate cake is the perfect ending to a busy week, especially if it’s a very rich one. Also, please use good quality chocolate, both white and dark. It makes a real difference to the cake and I found cheaper ones do not blend well with the cake mixture.

The sponges contain chocolate and the ganache is, well, a chocolate one. As if that wasn’t enough, I topped the cake with some chocolate Maltesers! The original recipe asked for white ones (and they would, indeed, provide for a more dramatic effect), but as I couldn’t find them, I settled down for standard dark ones. You could, however, prefer to use different candies or, in fact, omit them altogether. The cake is very rich as it is, you might want to keep the calories within a reasonable limit – not that this has ever bothered me. Also, the original recipe stated to halve both sponges, but I preferred to keep the dark chocolate one as a big lump because I thought it came out a bit on the thin side.

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Ingredients (for the cake)

  • 175g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g white chocolate, melted
  • 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 100ml whole milk
  • 175g golden sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 195g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp very strong coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients (for the decoration and the ganache)

  • 300ml double cream
  • 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 50g white chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 small bag of Maltesers, to decorate

Method

  1. Separately melt the white and the dark chocolate for the cake mixture in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the bowl. Once both mixtures are fluid, set them apart.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 180C and line and grease two 20cm sandwich tins.
  3. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat on high speed until fluffy and creamy. Slowly add the eggs and beat until fully incorporated, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl. Finally add the flour, baking powder and the milk and beat until you get an even mixture.
  4. Divide the mixture into two. Add the dark chocolate and the coffee to one and the white chocolate and vanilla extract to the other. Fold the extra ingredients in with ample and gentle movements, then tip each mixture into a cake tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, until fully cooked. Check with a skewer if the sponges are done, then remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.
  5. In the meantime, prepare the chocolate ganache. Pour the cream into a saucepan and heat until small bubbles start appearing on the surface, then remove from the heat and tumble the finely chopped chocolate in. Swirl the pan to roughly mix the cream and the chocolate, then let it stand for a couple of minutes before finally combining the mixture with a rubber spatula. Transfer to a bowl and let it cool until it reaches a spreadable consistency. This might take a while, so you could also put it in the fridge, but keep on stirring and checking the mixture every 5 minutes to avoid it seizing or becoming too hard.
  6. On a work surface, cut the vanilla and white chocolate sponge in half, then set one of the two halves upside down on a cake stand. Top with about a third of the dark chocolate ganache, then cover with the chocolate sponge. Spread the second third of the ganache on top, then top with the last vanilla sponge and use the remaining ganache to cover the top of the cake.
  7. Transfer the melted white chocolate to a piping bag, then use it to zigzag it the top of the cake. Be creative and use as much as you want, then top with the Maltesers or your favourite candies/chocolates. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Chess Cake

Remember last season of the GBBO when they asked them to make hidden design cakes on their very first episode? This is where this cake comes from. If you’re feeling overindulgent and wants to faff about in the kitchen a bit, then this is the right dessert for you. It might look complicated, but really it is just a matter of piping circles of cake batter and then assembling it all together. As easy as pie – or cake, you choose.

The name obviously derives from the effect you get once you cut into it, although I have to say it looks astonishing even whole. I used Cadbury flakes for the decoration on top as I still don’t know how to temper chocolate (but will make up for it soon!), but feel free to use all sorts of decoration. Whatever you do, please use a decent white chocolate here. I am now a convert of Black’s as their white chocolate contains real vanilla beans and tastes amazing. I tried it in an apricot and white chocolate tray bake and it was delicious.

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Ingredients (for the sponge mixture)

  • 350g unsalted butter, softened
  • 350g golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp creme de cacao blanc liqueur
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 350g self raising flour (or about 330g plain flour with the addition of bicarb and baking powder)
  • pinch of salt
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp milk

Ingredients (for the white chocolate ganache)

  • 175g white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 125ml whipping cream
  • 50g unsalted butter

Ingredients (for the dark chocolate ganache)

  • 300g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 300ml whipping cream
  • 1 packet of Cadbury flakes

Method

  1. Line and grease 3 x 20cm Victoria sponge round cake tins. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  2. Make up the sponge mixture by creaming the butter and the sugar together, then slowly adding the eggs one tablespoon at a time and adding a bit of flour if you see the mixture curdling. If it does curdle, don’t worry. Just add the rest of the flour in and give it a good beating (a freestanding mixer is best for this) to obtain a creamy and smooth consistence. Add the cacao liqueur and slowly fold in the rest of the flour.
  3. Transfer half of the  mixture (yes, I weighed it) to another bowl. Sift the cocoa into it, then add 2 tbsp milk. Mix to combine.
  4. Add the rest of the milk (2 tbsp) to the rest of the ‘white’ mixture, then also mix to combine.
  5. Now, transfer each mixture into a piping bag fitted with no tube, then snip off the ends of both piping bags and get ready.
  6. Starting with the chocolate mixture, pipe a ring around the edges of one of the tins, then grab the plain mixture and pipe another smaller ring just inside that one. Continue alternating the chocolate and the vanilla mixture until you have covered the whole bottom of the cake tin. Ensure the rings are touching when you pipe them. Repeat the process for the second cake tin, but invert the order of chocolate and plain mixture for the third one.
  7. Bake the sponges for 25 minutes, or until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven, let them cool slightly, then invert onto a wire rack and let them cool completely.
  8. In the meantime, make the white chocolate ganache by melting the butter in the cream over a low heat, then folding in the white chocolate and stirring until smooth. Also make the dark chocolate ganache by heating the cream up in a saucepan, then transferring it into the bowl with the chocolate. Let it stand for a couple of minutes, then stir to melt the chocolate and let it cool.
  9. To assemble your cake, set one of the sponges with the outer chocolate ring upside down on a cake stand/platter, then top with half of the cooled white chocolate ganache. Top with the outer plain ring, then spread the rest of the white chocolate ganache. Cover with the last chocolate outer ring sponge. Cover the top and the sides with the dark chocolate ganache, ensuring the surface is smooth. Crumble the flakes on top of the cake. Slice for a dramatic effect.

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Lemon & Honey Biscuits

These are a new favourite of mine and a slight variation on the Orange & Honeycomb biscuits I posted in the past. It dawned on me that by changing a couple of ingredients, the result could be completely different. This time, I decided to ditch the honeycomb bar altogether and opt, instead, for the zing of lemon and the comforting sweetness and creaminess of white chocolate. The result is a very tangy and moreish biscuit which slightly resembles amaretti.

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Ingredients (for the biscuits)

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 115g unsalted butter, diced
  • 115g honey
  • 3 tbsp white chocolate shavings

Ingredients (for the filling)

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 115g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp white chocolate shavings

Method

  1. Line three baking sheets with baking parchment and set aside.
  2. Put the white chocolate bar in the freezer to firm up before creating the chocolate shavings.
  3. In a big bowl, mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, sugar and lemon zest. Add the diced unsalted butter and rub it in until you get a breadcrumb-like consistency.
  4. Now add the honey and mix that in. (To make things easier, I put my bowl on the scales and weighed the honey as I was adding it, then mixed it in with a rubber spatula. You need however to give it a final mix with your hands.)
  5. Using a teaspoon, measure out equal amounts of the dough, then roll it up between your hands and put it on the lined baking sheet, pressing gently with your hands to flatten it down. Create alternate rows as the biscuits will expand as they cook. Use all of your mixture, then refrigerate the biscuits for at least half an hour before baking.
  6. In the meantime, take the white chocolate out of the freezer and use a potato peeler to create the necessary amount of chocolate shavings. Put them in a bowl, then refrigerate them until needed.
  7. When the biscuits only need a couple of minutes more in the fridge, pre-heat your oven to 190C.
  8. Bake the biscuits for about 10 minutes, by which time they will have turned a nice golden brown. Make sure to rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking.
  9. After 10 minutes, remove from the oven one sheet at a time and sprinkle the white chocolate shavings on half of the biscuits in each batch using a teaspoon. Return to the oven for another 3 minutes, then remove and leave to cool on wire racks. Repeat with all of the baking sheets you have.
  10. While the biscuits are cooling, make your filling. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer (or in a bowl), mix the butter with the icing sugar, then add the juice and increase the speed to high to make the filling nice and fluffy. Transfer to a piping bag.
  11. When the biscuits have cooled down, take the halves without the white chocolate shavings on top and pipe a dollop of the icing on them, then sandwich them with one of the iced halves. Repeat with the rest of the biscuits.

Note

  • You can put the sandwiched biscuits in the fridge to firm up the filling before eating, but make sure you serve them at room temperature.

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Chocolate, Macadamia & Coffee Torte

This is a weird cake as the sponge is made entirely from macadamia and contains no butter. The nuts are finely ground and then mixed to the other ingredients, and their natural oils provide the ‘fat’ base for the cake sponge. The final decoration really is up to you, I merely followed the recipe as in the GBBO book and experimented with feathering. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, this refers to a particular type of icing whereby a ganache is decorated with feather-like shapes, obtained by tracing horizontal lined with a darker ganache on the smooth base surface and then drawing the surface with a cocktail stick to leave a trail behind and bend the horizontal lines. The result is pretty much self-explanatory.

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Ingredients (for the sponge)

  • 200g macadamia nuts
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 200g white chocolate
  • 2 yolks
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk

Ingredients (for the filling)

  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar

Ingredients (for the ganache)

  • 170g white chocolate
  • 100ml double cream
  • 2 tsp brandy
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder

Method

  1. First of all, start with the sponge. Line and grease two 20cm sandwich tins and set aside. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  2. Coarsely grind the macadamia nuts in a food processor until they start to clump together. Tip onto a plate lined with kitchen paper, spread out and leave to dry for about 5 minutes, then mix with the ground almonds.
  3. Melt the white chocolate over a pan of simmering water, then leave to cool.
  4. Put the 8 egg yolks (6 eggs + 2 extra yolks, remember!) into a large mixing bowl with the vanilla extract and whisk with an electric mixer (I swear by my KitchenAid) until the mixture is very thick and the whisk leaves a ribbon-like trail when lifted from the bowl. Use a big spatula to fold in the nuts, then fold in the white chocolate and milk.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff, then gently fold those in too in batches.
  6. Divide the mixture between the two tins, then bake for 35-40 minutes. Check the sponges are cooked using a skewer, then remove from the oven and leave to cool in their tins.
  7. Move on to the filling. In a mixing bowl, stir the brandy with the espresso powder until dissolved. Add the mascarpone and the icing sugar, then mix to combine. Chill until needed.
  8. Last step, the ganache. Put the white chocolate in a bowl, then heat the cream until almost boiling. Pour onto the chocolate in a thin stream, whisking constantly. When the mixture is smooth, stir in the brandy. Spoon a quarter of the mixture into a separate bowl and stir in the espresso powder. Cover both bowls and leave to cool until needed.
  9. To assemble the torte, put a small blob of the filling on the serving plate/platter, then set one of the sponge layers on top. Use the rest of the filling to cover it, then top with the other sponge layer. Once the ganache has cooled down, spread over the top of the torte and let it drip down the sides. Spoon the coffee ganache into a piping bag and snip off the end, then pipe uniform horizontal lines on the now iced surface of the cake. Using a cocktail stick, draw vertical lined across the ones made with the ganache alternating upwards and downwards movements. Leave to set until needed.

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Jewel Box Cake

I bet you are thinking this cake must be impossible to make and that you’ll never make it to achieve a similar result. Wrong! Despite looking amazing (hence me trying it out), this cake is dead easy to make. All it is is a chocolate sponge cake decorated with raspberries. The only part which requires a bit of time (and technique) is the white chocolate ribbon. This cake was one of the showstoppers in The Great British Bake Off, a series I love. Also, as it is covered with fresh fruit, you might want to make it disappear it very soon!

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Ingredients (for the cake)

  • 150g white chocolate, chopped
  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • pinch of salt
  • raspberry jam
  • 500-600g fresh raspberries

Method (for the cake)

  1. Melt the chocolate for the sponge and leave to cool until needed.
  2. Put the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar, then add the vanilla and beat until the mixture is very light in colour and fluffy in texture, scraping down the bowl from time to time.
  3. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition and adding a tablespoon of the flour with the last portion of egg. Sift the rest of the flour and the salt into the bowl and fold in using a large metal spoon.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  5. Add the cooled white chocolate and fold in until all the ingredients are completely amalgamated.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread evenly. Make a small hollow in the centre so the cake will rise evenly.
  7. Bake for about one hour until golden and just firm to the touch, and a stick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  8. Leave to cool for about 15 minutes, then carefully remove from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack.
  9. When ready, make the chocolate ribbons and bow.

Ingredients (for the ribbon and bow)

  • 150g white chocolate, broken up
  • 3 tbsps liquid glucose

Method (for the ribbon and bow)

  1. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove the bowl from the pan and gently stir in the liquid glucose. Leave to thicken at room temperature.
  2. Once the mixture is firm and almost set, mould it into a ball with your hands. Some brands of chocolate need to be chilled to firm up.
  3. Work and knead the mixture in your hands so it softens and becomes pliable and glossy, like modelling clay or Play-Doh. As soon as it feels smooth, shape it into a sausage.
  4. Set the sausage between two long pieces of baking paper and roll out into a long, flat sheet, then peel off the top piece of paper.
  5. To make the crossed ribbons, cut out two strips about 30 x 2.5cm using a long, sharp knife to get a straight, sharp edge. If the ribbons feel very soft, firm up in the fridge for a few minutes.
  6. Gently warm the raspberry jam until melted. Brush over the top and sides of the cake, then gently press the ribbons on to the cake — across the top and down the sides — to resemble a parcel.
  7. Then, starting with the top of the cake, press the raspberries (pointed-end up) on to the sponge in the squares between the ribbons, so the cake is covered, top and sides.
  8. From the white chocolate dough, cut out one strip about 10 x 2.5cm, two strips 11 x 2.5cm and two strips about 14 x 2.5cm.
  9. Snip triangles out of one end of the 11cm strips using scissors, then rest the strips over a small paintbrush or similar implement to create a curve; these will be the bow ends.
  10. Bend each 14cm strip into a bow loop and press the ends together. Then position the ends of the loops so they are slightly overlapping; press gently together.
  11. Peel the paper from the 10cm strip, then wrap it around the centre of the loops in a ring to hide the join; press the ends of the bow ring to seal. Put all the shaped pieces in the fridge so they can firm up a bit.
  12. Position the bow on top of the crossed ribbons on the cake, fixing in place with a dab of melted chocolate or jam. Reshape the loops and bow carefully until you are happy with them.

Tips

  • Use plenty of jam to cover the cake as it will need to hold the raspberries in shape or they’ll start to fall out.
  • I used a 23cm square tin to bake the cake in. Grease and line the tin leaving some of the baking paper on the sides so as to make it easier to get the cake out of the tin. Alternatively, you can use any of the foil tins you find in supermarkets.
  • If you want, you can substitute the raspberries with blackberries, blueberries or, even, small raspberries. Obviously, make sure to amend the jam accordingly.
  • p.s. have a look at my partner decorating the cake. If he can do it, so can you 🙂

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