Chocolate and Raspberry Cigarello Cake


For my glamorous mum’s 70th birthday, I had to make a cake as stunning as her. But it also had to be a cake that my brother and his family would like even with their very conservative food tastes, so no exotic flavour combos.  It also had to be a cake that I could take on the train from London to Newcastle. Not an easy brief.  

The recipe for this cake came from Lorraine Pascale, ( who also saved my life with my brother’s Malteser cake. For my mum’s cake, I incorporated raspberries into the layers as well as creme fraiche to cut through the sweetness of the chocolate butter cream which held the chocolate cigarellos in place. I bought the cigarellos and striped chocolate triangles online at

To decorate the top, I made the meringue kisses with freeze dried raspberries and the pale pink balls were strawberry filled truffles from Marks and Spencer. I also added extra-long birthday candles and three star shaped sparklers which set off the smoke alarm when we lit them. The cake was a huge success; mum really loved it.




200g butter, softened

200g caster sugar

4 eggs

140g plain flour

60g cocoa powder

pinch of salt

2 tsp baking powder

400g plain, milk or white chocolate cigarellos (about 75-80 in total) (I bought 2 boxes) 

For the buttercream

250g butter, softened

500g icing sugar

100g good dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), melted and slightly cooled


For the layers

1 large tub (600g) of creme fraiche

750g frozen raspberries (use fresh if you like)

For the decoration (optional)

Fresh flowers, fresh raspberries, raspberry meringue kisses, chocolate strawberry filled truffles, painted chocolate triangles


·        Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/ Gas Mark 4. Line the 20cm round deep cake tin with baking paper and brush or spray with oil.

·        Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until they begin to go pale.

·        Add half the eggs and half the flour and mix well. Add the rest of the eggs, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder and beat for a minute or two until the mixture is uniform.

·        Dollop into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.

·        Meanwhile, make the buttercream.

·        Put the butter and icing sugar into a bowl and whisk together until the mixture begins to go fluffy. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and whisk for a further 2 minutes.

·        Once the cake is completely cool, remove from the tin. Carefully cut the top flat with a large serrated knife, then turn the cake upside down on a 20cm cake board so that the bottom now becomes a nice flat top.

·        Split the cake horizontally and sandwich the top and bottom together with a layer of creme fraiche. Then place the defrosted raspberries on top, don’t worry if they get smashed up. Spread half the buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake, making it as smooth as possible.

·        Put it in the fridge to set before spreading a final layer with the remaining butter cream. This makes it easier to get a smooth, crumb-free finish.

·        Gently push the cigarellos vertically onto the sides of the cake, positioning them as straight as possible and making sure they touch the bottom.

·        Then decorate the as you like!




Pierre Herme’s Rose Granola


I don’t think I’ve shared on this blog how amazing Pierre Hermé is. He’s a French pâtissière whose macaron flavours will blow your mind. He has a shop in Covent Garden which is one of my ‘happy places’. Every month, he has a new macaron flavour, so there is always a reason to go there. One of his favours from his permanent collect is Ispahan. This is a combination of rose, raspberry and lychee.

The last time I was in his store I saw that he also did Ispahan jam and granola. Now, my mum loves granola and makes the most fantastic granola herself, so when she came to visit, I wanted her to have something special for breakfast. The recipe comes from Red Magazine (November, 2014) and is one that PH wrote exclusively for them.

http://www by helper king” href=”#58625595″> redonline by helper king” href=”#58625595″>


90g almonds

35g pistachios

40g pecans

100g honey

230g rolled oats

100g sunflower seeds

45g pumpkin seeds

50g shredded coconut. (I bought flaked roasted coconut from Holland and Barrett)

200g dried raspberries. (I bought these online)

30g rice crispies (I didn’t use these)

2 drops rose water (I found I needed much more and would recommend at 2 teaspoons)

Granola 3

by helper king” href=”#53865322″> Directions by helper king” href=”#53865322″>

  • Preheat oven to 150°C/130°C/ gas mark 2
  • Cut the almonds into thin strips. Spread evenly on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper with the pistachios and pecans which you can also slice, if you like. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Heat the honey in a saucepan until it becomes very runny, add the oats, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and coconut. Spread evenly in a baking tray with greaseproof paper. (At this point, I would add the 2 teaspoons of rose water, though this is not in the original recipe). Bake for 20 minutes, turning around every 5 minutes to ensure even baking.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Add the nuts, raspberries, rice crispies (if using) and at this point, the original recipe adds the 2 drop of rose water.
  • This will keep in an air tight container for 3 weeks.