Chocolate Birthday Cake with Whipped Cream and Berries

Last weekend was my grandfather’s birthday and my mother threw a big lunch for all the family at our house.


Gramps is 86, but he acts like he’s about 30, so I baked a cake to match his mental age. There were 18 of us, so I knew it had to be big. When I was little, my mum always made chocolate cake topped with a mountain of whipped cream and berries for birthdays, and those cakes were the inspiration behind this one.

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This cake is perfect for any occasion. It also reminds me of summer birthdays, which I’m so in the mood for after the sunshine this weekend!

Chocolate Birthday Cake 

For the cake:

240g plain flour

240g caster sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

60g cocoa powder

½ teaspoon salt

80g butter

240ml milk

2 eggs

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa, salt and butter in a bowl and mix until it is a sandy consistency. Pour in half the milk and beat until it is incorporated.

Whisk the eggs and remaining milk together in a separate bowl, then pour into the flour mixture. Mix until incorporated.

Grease and line a large cake tin and pour in two thirds of the mixture. Bake for 30-45 minutes at 170 degrees celcius. A skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean. When it is cool, turn out onto a cooling rack and bake the other third of the mixture.

For the icing:

250g icing sugar

125g butter at room temperature

about a tablespoon of milk

Beat the butter and icing sugar together, then add the milk if needed to make it a more runny consistency.

To assemble:

200ml double cream

50g icing sugar

a selection of berries

Whisk the cream until it forms firm peaks, then add the icing sugar and mix in.

Cut the larger cake in half. Place one half on a cake stand. Spread half the icing over the cake, then place the other half on top. Spread the remaining icing over it, then place the last cake on top.

Spoon the whipped cream onto the top of the cake, and decorate with the berries.

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Happy 2nd Birthday Chocolate Cake and Oil Paint!

Today is my blog’s 2nd birthday!

What better way to celebrate than share with you my favourite recipes from the past two years? (Apart from eating cake, of course!)

Rainbow Cake (Feb 15, 2013) was a huge hit- delicious and beautiful! Perfect for a party.

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Surprise Inside Cake (March 25, 2013) is another crowd pleaser. Maybe not the most highbrow cake ever baked, but sure to get a great reaction!


Blueberry Lemon Cake with Poppyseed Icing  (September 25, 2014) was also a winner. Blueberries are without a doubt my favourite fruit, and poppyseed icing is a complete revelation. This is the perfect cake for a summer day.

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Lime Cake with Pomegranate Icing (May 15, 2014) is another lovely cake for a birthday, or even just a weekend afternoon. It’s light and fresh and zingy.

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These Creme Egg Inspired Cupcakes (April 2, 2013) are really fun to make and even more fun to eat!

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Raspberry Frangipane Tart  (June 12, 2014) HAS to be on this list. It is my go-to dessert for any occasion. So simple to make and perfect every time! It can also be given a Christmassy twist- as I did only a few a weeks ago with this cranberry version.

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Apple pie is of course a classic, and these Mini Apple Pies (October 14, 2014) are a wonderful new twist on an old favourite.


 Foccacia (November 3, 2013) is the perfect bread for a cold winter lunch.


Cinnamon Swirl Loaf (October 12, 2013) was and still is the best thing ever. Seriously, ask anyone who tried it.

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Cinnamon Spiced Courrone (January 17, 2014) is basically a giant cinnamon roll. What’s not to love?!

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It’s all about blueberries for breakfast. Pancakes, buckle, on their own…

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Chocolate Fondants (July 16, 2014), need I say more?

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I love Sugar Cookies (December 6, 2014) for any occasion- but especially Christmas. Try making  hearts for Valentine’s Day or eggs and bunnies for Easter if you just can’t wait that long (I can’t)!

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Mexican food is my all time favourite. This Mexican feast (July 29, 2013) is honestly the best in vegetarian Mexican.

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BBQ Pizzas (July 7, 2013) are the perfect summer supper. You have to try them. It will change your outlook on pizza forever.

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Thank you all so much for baking with me for the last two years, and continuing to do so!

All my love,



Breakfast at the Beach Blueberry Buckle

I grew up on the east coast of America, in a little town by the sea. One of the long standing traditions, and also one of the best things about growing up in suburban seaside Connecticut was ‘Breakfast at the Beach,’ which is as simple and self- explanatory as it sounds.


Every Sunday in the summer, my family, and big group of other families too, would head down to the beach first thing in the morning and set up the most amazing breakfast you’ve ever seen. I’m talking bagels of every variety, fruit, doughnuts (it is America, after all), big jugs of coffee and orange juice. There would be a gas stove set up making pancakes and eggs and waffles, which were doused in maple syrup and devoured with a light sprinkling of sand.


Breakfast at the Beach normally turned into lunch at the beach too, when everyone was still there, salty and sandy and still picking at pancakes late into the afternoon, and then normally dinner too, with the suggestion of ‘shall we order some pizzas and just stay here?’

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Blueberry Buckle was my mum’s best contribution to these feasts. It was such a huge winner that there were always complaints if there wasn’t some going on a Sunday morning.


Blueberry Buckle is cake you eat for breakfast. As a child, this was basically the most wonderful invention ever. Even as a 20-year-old, it still is pretty darn wonderful. It’s a dense cake, laden with blueberries (my favourite fruit) and covered in a crumble topping. What’s not to love? It’s also super simple, so perfect to whip up on a Sunday morning.

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I have been making it for my friends ever since, especially when I am feeling nostalgic and longing for those days of Breakfast at the Beach.



Blueberry Buckle 

(this is an American recipe, so I have put the measurements in their original form- cups, but have also converted to grams for non-Americans!)


For the cake:

2 cups/ 250g plain flour

2/3 cups/ 135g caster sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup/ 55g butter, slightly melted

3/4 cup/ 175ml milk

1 large egg

1 punnet blueberries

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, milk and egg until smooth. Once the batter is well mixed, add the blueberries.

Spread evenly into a pie dish.


For the topping:

1/2 cup/ 100g sugar (I used 50g each of caster and brown sugar- but it’s up to you!)

1/3 cup/ 40g flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup/ 55g butter

Rub the flour into the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, then mix in the sugar and cinnamon. Spread over the batter.

Bake at 180C or 375F for about 45 minutes, or until it feels firm to the touch. Enjoy warm with a big cup of coffee!



Strawberry Themed Birthday Cakes

It is my 20th birthday today. Crazy, I know. What is arguably even crazier is that it is my sister’s birthday too. On the same day. Now that IS crazy. She is turning 13 today, so as I wave goodbye to my teenage years, she is welcoming hers. I used to think sharing a birthday was much less great than it sounds- it just means less attention and arguments over what sort of cake to have and where to go for dinner. (She ‘only likes’ chocolate cake, while I am far more keen on the vanilla-y sort.) But now I think its wonderful. July 6 in our house is sort of like Christmas. Also we look weirdly similar- twins, but seven years apart.


Last weekend she had a huge campout birthday to celebrate- Phoebe Fest. Tents were erected around our garden, bunting was hung, the BBQ blazed and marshmallows toasted.


And the theme of the night was definitely strawberries. In America, my mum always used to make delicious chocolate cakes with whipped cream and berries on top, so I followed in that tradition. I made a rich dense Devil’s Food Cake, and piled it high with strawberries, blueberries and plenty of cream. There were also pink cupcakes topped with more strawberries. And just when we thought we couldn’t eat another mouthful of strawberry, one of the guests arrived with another huge strawberry chocolate sugary delight.


There was Pimm’s, of course, but not for the 13 year olds!


Devil’s Food Cake (recipe adapted from Nigella and can be found here)

50 grams cocoa powder

100 grams brown muscavado sugar

250 ml boiling water

125 grams butter

150 grams caster sugar

225 grams plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 eggs


Put the cocoa powder and muscavado sugar into a bowl and pour in the boiling water., Mix to combine, then set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar, until pale fluffy. Then add the vanilla and mix well. Once this is finished, mix the flour, baking powder and soda together in a separate bowl and set aside.

Mixing all the time, drop in one egg, a scoopful of the flour mixture, and then the second egg. Keep mixing constantly, and add the remaining flour.

Finally, fold in the cocoa mixture.

Spoon into a cake tin and bake for 30 minutes in a 180 degree oven.

For the topping:

Whisk a pot of double cream until it forms into firm, stiff peaks. Sift in a few spoons of icing sugar (to taste- you don’t want it too too sweet!) Spoon this onto the top of the cake and cover with strawberries and blueberries.


For the pink cupcakes:

170 grams butter

170 grams caster sugar

3 eggs

170 grams self raising flour

100 ml milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla

a few drops of pink food colouring (or even fewer drops of red!)


Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well.

Sift in the self raising flour, ensuring that it is all mixed in.

Add the milk, vanilla and food colouring, making sure that each ingredient is thoroughly combined.

Spoon into baking trays and bake at 180 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.


For the icing:

140 grams butter

280 grams icing sugar

a few teaspoons of milk

Mix the butter and icing sugar together, then add milk to soften the mixture and bring it to a soft and usable consistency.

Spread a dollop of icing onto each cupcake and top with half a strawberry. This can be messy! We are definitely going for the rustic look here!