Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

We were invited guests of Wagamama, and we were given a contribution towards our meal in exchange for our visit. All images and opinions are our own.

My son loves Wagamama and it’s somewhere I’ve been taking him since he was old enough to clutch a set of chopsticks in his little hand. He loves the food and would choose to go for a yakisoba at Wagamama over pretty much anything else in the world. Because of this, we are frequent flyers at our local Wagamama in Didsbury. When I was invited to visit the new Wagamama restaurant at Ashton Moss, I was excited to go, not least because it stands almost in the shadow of IKEA, and a trip there meant I could also legitimately fill my boots with tealights on my way home.

Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

We arrived at early tea-time on a Friday. Ashton Moss is a leisure park dominated by a cinema, but with a good amount of mostly chain restaurants around it. The Wagamama is the latest addition and was already busy and bustling. There’s plenty of free parking outside, though if you’re car free, then there’s a tram stop a few minutes walk away.

Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

We were shown to our table and given some menus to look over. Being a regular, I already had a pretty solid idea of what I’d like, but as I was visiting, I decided to try something new. But first, drinks! It was a warm day, and as I’d toiled over a hot laptop for the previous 8 hours, I opted for a cherry blossom lemonade – a cherry blossom and cloudy lemon syrup, with sparkling water and a sprinkle of dried rose petals. The prettiest drink on the menu, refreshing too, with a satisfying sherbety finish.

Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

To start, my companion and I opted to share the Bang Bang Cauliflower and the tempeh ssambap, which was a delicious heap of vegan tempeh with pickled Asian slaw. spicy kimchee sauce, nestled in a baby gem lettuce leaf. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was blown away by the fresh and zingy flavours. It’s definitely something I’ll be ordering again. I’m not sure I’m that much of a fan of putting the calorie counts on menus, but this was 266 calories well eaten. The Bang Bang Cauliflower was well cooked; soft but still with some bite, and coated in a nicely spicy sauce.

Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

The mains came quickly and I ordered the teriyaki vegan ‘chicken’ ramen. This has been my favourite thing at Wagamama this year. I’m a veggie and I can’t eat mushrooms, which can occasionally make things tricky. The teriyaki vegan ‘chicken’ ramen is a belting dish. It’s a steaming bowl of seasoned soya protein in a spicy teriyaki sauce, thick udon noodles, sweetcorn, bok choi and chilli sambal paste. The sambal is very hot, so I always ask them to go a bit easy with this. The broth is divine and really makes the dish sing, it’s exactly how good ramen should be, it’s comforting and delicious and very much the kind of thing you crave when you’re in need of comfort. It’s so good, it’s turned the head of many a meat-loving dining companion of mine.

Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

Speaking of companions, mine opted for the tantanmen beef brisket ramen, with Korean barbecue beef, half a tea-stained egg and kimchee. It was a fine looking dish, fragrant in all the right ways. The meat was good quality, the egg just a nudge runny in the middle (otherwise known as perfect) and the kimchee had all the crunch and spicy bite you’d expect. It was another winner.

Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

The service was friendly and knowledgable. Any questions we had about the food were answered cheerfully. The restaurant was busy, but at no point did we feel neglected as it can sometimes do if you’re somewhere busy.

We were fit to burst, but after a small break, I was ready to order dessert. Pudding is not something I usually think of getting from Wagamama, but I’ve since decided that was a mistake and something I need to rectify in the future. My companion opted for the chocolate and cherry kefir ice cream, a classic combination and one that didn’t disappoint. If I hadn’t have ordered my pudding, then I would probably have given the ice cream a good going over.

Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

I’d very much enjoyed my meal thus far, but my pudding was about to change everything, but in a good way. I was intrigued by the smoked chocolate caramel cake, so I had to have it. I wasn’t sure what it would be like, but I was presented with a delicious vision of smoked chocolate mousse, salted caramel, crushed biscuits, chocolate fudge brownie, chocolate ganache and vanilla ice cream. It was a serious pudding, and a seriously good pudding at that.

Next time you’re at Wagamama, I implore you to leave enough room for the smoked chocolate caramel cake. In fact, I’m tempted to return just for one, or maybe two of those to myself!

Restaurant Review: Wagamama Ashton Moss

Although Manchester is well served by Wagamama, and I’m spoilt having one just a mile from my front door, it’s lovely to see a new restaurant popping up at Ashton Moss. Ashton is perhaps best known for being the home of Manchester’s only IKEA, but now the tram network has stretched outwards into Ashton, it feels very much accessible, and with the cinema there, it does feel like a destination family night out for those living thereabouts.

When we arrived, Wagamama Ashton Moss was filling up, but the time we left, three courses later, it was packed and with a fast moving queue outside. It’s clearly a popular place for Ashton locals to visit already – and they’ve only been open for one month! If you love Wagamama, then you know what to expect in terms of good food and service, if anything, I hope if you’ve read this far, that you might be tempted to try one of the three sublime courses I had that night. Go on, I dare you to try something new, I know I did and I didn’t regret it.

If you want to find out more about Wagamama Ashton Moss, or check out their menu, it’s all on their website.

Review: SuperThings Rivals of Kaboom: Rescue Force Series 10 collectables + WIN!

We were sent these SuperThings Rescue Force Series 10 figures and playsets to review. All images and opinions are ours.

Like most children, my son LOVES collectables. He’s been a fan of SuperThings for years, indeed, since they were known as SuperZings. When each new series is launched, he gets all excited and starts his collection afresh. Thankfully they’re very much pocket money friendly, so he can well afford to splurge each week on a couple of the blind bags.

SuperThings Rivals of Kaboom: Rescue Force Series 10 collectables

For the uninitiated, SuperThings are little rubber collectable characters. They come in rival factions, so for every SuperThings superhero there’s a rival super villain to collect. They are very pocket money friendly, so you can buy them in blind bag form, but there are a number of different larger sets to collect, which are more suitable for little treats. Like with most collectables, there are rare SuperThings to look out for, these are mostly gold or silver coloured and are highly prized!

SuperThings Rivals of Kaboom: Rescue Force Series 10 collectables

The SuperThings Rivals of Kaboom: Rescue Force Series 10 has more than 80 new superheroes and villains to collect. It’s helpful to know that you can tell who’s a goodie and who’s a baddie because the super villains have yellow eyes, whereas the super heroes have white eyes.

We were sent a big box of the new SuperThings Rescue Force Series 10 collectables to check out, and it was a bumper haul for my little SuperThings fan!

SuperThings Rivals of Kaboom: Rescue Force Series 10 collectables

Available in SuperThings Rivals of Kaboom: Rescue Force Series 10

  • Starter pack, which contains a comic guide, a chrome SuperThing, a normal SuperThing and a special metal jet (RRP £5.99)
  • Ten pack of SuperThings, including 1 super rare gold SuperThing (RRP £9.99)
  • A six pack, which contains 4 SuperThings, 1 rescue jet and 1 jump wing
  • A Kazoom Kid, with 1 SuperThing and 1 accessory (six to collect, RRP £5)
  • Rescue jet with 1 SuperThing
  • Blind bags (RRP around 80p)

New to this series is the addition of the Kazoom kids (Starlock, Toolie Kit and Watermax who are the super heroes, and Cahillion, Breakmania and Funfire who are the super villains). These are larger figures than the regular SuperThings, and my boy was very impressed with them. They fit easily onto the rescue jets, which enhances their play value. They cost around £5 each, but he really enjoyed playing with them, possibly because they’re a bit bigger and easier for him to handle.

SuperThings Rivals of Kaboom: Rescue Force Series 10 collectables

The starter pack is always a great way to kick off your collection. It’s got all the info you need to get going and the comic is colourful and fun, just the thing to pack for a summer holiday long journey!

My son loves collecting SuperThings, but he also enjoys playing with them, especially in the bath for some reason. He really enjoys the various vehicles they’ve had over the years, this year it’s most jets and jump wings, which is super-fun! They really enhance his play.

SuperThings Rivals of Kaboom: Rescue Force Series 10 collectables

Each SuperThing comes with a collectable leaflet, so you can tick off what you’ve got a keep track of where you’re up to with your collection. SuperThings have been a perennial favourite for my son; each July when they launch a new series, he’s on it and suddenly starts helping more around the house to earn some more SuperThings for his collection.

SuperThings Rivals of Kaboom: Rescue Force Series 10 collectables

As a mum, what I really like is that they’ve changed their packaging, so it’s made of paper and cardboard which is easily recycled. The SuperThings Rescue Force collection is out now at The Entertainer, Amazon and local Tesco, ASDA and Co-op stores.

Win a £30 bundle of SuperThings including a starter pack, 10 pack and more!

To be in with a chance to win a bumper bundle of SuperThings, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will win a £30 bundle of SuperThings including a starter pack, 10 pack and more!.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 7th August 2022.
7. The winner will be contacted within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners address, contact details and email address only be shared with the PR to enable to prize to be sent to the winner.
10. The winners name will be available on request.
11. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

To all the year 6 parents, thank you…

To the people who have passed the time of day with me at the school gate,

From Nursery to Year 6, we’ve stood together in all weathers, exchanged a few words of small talk before dashing off home again with our children tucked under our arms. We’ve nodded hello, checked each other knew about the non uniform day next week, or odd socks day, or the bake sale, or whatever. You’ve supported me, and many others through dark days and dark times, and the last few years have seen a fair few of those.

Some of you have become my great friends, others my best friends, and even a couple of you became my very late in the day godmothers. I will miss you all.

I know I’m not going anywhere, and I know you’re not either, but as much as I’ve grumbled about doing the school run all these years, I will miss those speed dating style bursts of friendship and fellowship. Those five minutes at 3pm were for many years the highlight of my day. I got to see you, and minutes later, I got to see my boy too.

I know not everyone has liked me, I’m a socially awkward introvert and some people took that as me being stuck up, but those who took the time to get to know me knew better. Thanks for giving me a chance.

Thank you for your friendship, for making me laugh, for supporting me through the tears and some of the harder things life has thrown my way these past few years. I genuinely could not have survived the covid lockdowns without the messages and endless walks around the park with some of you.

At my infrequent attendances at Thursday coffee mornings, I was always greeted as a regular and my absences forgiven. You are true friends.

Being a parent can be hard, and each of you have made the primary school years a little brighter, lighter and easier all round. Thank you xx

PS. You know where I am if you fancy a brew.

Year 6

School dinner style Chocolate Concrete with Pink Custard

I was chatting to my son about his school dinners earlier, and whilst things have come a long way since the spam fritters of my 80’s childhood, it seems that pudding wise at least, he’s missing out big time. His puddings tend to be ice cream, cookies, fruit and occasionally cake and custard, and there’s none of the cornflake pie or sprinkle cake from my childhood. I was telling him about chocolate concrete, something which was a regular and popular feature of our school dinner menu. It’s hard to describe, it’s sort of like chocolate shortbread but quite hard, and it was usually served with a bright pink custard. There was nothing else for it, I had to make a batch to show him what he was missing out on.

The chocolate concrete is really easy to make, and I’ve found an exceptionally good cheat for the custard, which is well worth a try. It’s a real store cupboard classic and it got the double thumbs up from my 11 year old, which is high praise indeed!

School dinner style Chocolate Concrete with Pink Custard

Chocolate Concrete with Pink Custard

For the chocolate concrete:

225g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
114g granulated sugar (plus a bit extra for sprinkling)
114g melted butter or margarine

For the pink custard:

600mls Strawberry milkshake (I used Yazoo)
3 egg yolks
25g caster sugar
2 teaspoons of cornflour
Red food colouring, a few drops

How to make your chocolate concrete:

Preheat your oven to 180°c and grease and line a 7 inch square baking tin.

Sift all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour in the melted butter or margarine and mix until it forms a pretty stiff dough.

Tip the mixture into the baking tin and press it down with the back of a spoon until it’s pretty evenly spread and is level on top.

Bake for around 30 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle the top with some extra sugar. Leave to cool.

It’s best to cut it while it’s still a little bit warm and not fully cool and brittle. I found this cut into 9 good sized pieces of concrete. This can be eaten on it’s own, but it’s traditional to eat it with pink strawberry flavoured custard.

School dinner style Chocolate Concrete with Pink Custard

To make your pink custard:

Tip your strawberry milkshake into a saucepan and warm through. While the milk is coming up to temperature, mix the egg yolks, sugar, cornflower and a few drops of the red food colouring in a large bowl.

Once your milkshake is hot, using a ladle, add some of your hot milk to the paste and whisk thoroughly. Keep adding ladle after ladle until it’s all combined. At this point you might want to add a bit more food colouring to get the shade of pink you’re hoping for.

Return the mixture to the pan and whisk continuously over a low heat until it thickens. You’ll know it’s the right consistency if the custard coats the back of a metal spoon, if you draw a line in the custard on the back of the spoon and the line holds, you’ve got custard! Pour into a jug and get ready to serve it.

There’s something about pink custard that just brings a smile to your face. Replacing the milk in the standard custard recipe with milkshake is such a brilliant cheat, it really gives a great strawberry flavour, and although the natural pink of the milkshake is very pale and needs boosting with a bit of food colouring, it means it’s already well on the way to pink custard heaven. I urge you to try this recipe. It’s a belter!

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to try these peppermint crunch slices, or the classic chocolate cake with chocolate cake with minty green custard.

School dinner style Chocolate Concrete with Pink Custard

Review: Inflatable Giant Pass the Pugs

We were sent Giant Pass the Pugs for review. All images and opinions are our own.

My son has always loved anything to do with dogs, he’s got lots of dog themed games and puzzles, so when I spotted Giant Pass the Pugs, I knew that it would be something he would enjoy. It looked like an excellent garden game for the summer!

Inflatable Giant Pass the Pugs

As a child, I used to play Pass the Pigs almost weekly with my Grandma. It was, and still is a brilliant pocket sized game you could take and play anywhere with a flat surface. The rules were easy, toss your pair of pigs into the air and score points depending on how they land. Pass the Pugs is exactly the same, but my version came with two giant inflatable pugs.

Giant Pass the Pugs includes two pugs, a bag to keep them in once deflated and a score book. It’s suitable for people aged 6+, but it’s really not that difficult to play, so I don’t see why someone younger couldn’t join in the fun if they’re game! It’s for two or more players, and I reckon could be a great outdoor party game for the right crowd.

Inflatable Giant Pass the Pugs

The pugs took a bit of inflating. I tried blowing them up but I didn’t have enough puff, so we used a pump, which worked well. Within minutes we were ready to play.

As I’ve already mentioned, the rules are quite simple; throw your pugs into the air and you score points, or lose points depending on how they land. I’m not great with games with lots of rules, so this is very much on my level. The game comes with a scorebook, with the prize winning pug positions pictured on the front. It took me less than a minute to explain the rules to my son, and then we just got stuck in.

Inflatable Giant Pass the Pugs

It’s definitely a game best played outside in the garden. No one wants a pair of inflatable pugs flying around their living room. Thankfully, the sun was shining, and there was very little wind; so the conditions were just right for a game of pug tossing.

They do warn you that your pugs might need pumping up a bit during game play, but ours stayed firm throughout.

Inflatable Giant Pass the Pugs

I really liked that they’ve released a dog version of this game. I know my son was probably 100% more interested and engaged with the dog version, purely because dogs are his favourite thing ever. Who can blame him, this pair of inflatable pugs as as cute as anything.

We spent a good hour chucking them about in the garden. They are well balanced, in that they fell in different positions, which made the game quite interesting. Of course, there’s a bit of a knack to throwing them. If you throw them too hard they just land on their low scoring sides, but once you get the hang of it, you can try and throw some higher scoring rounds.

Inflatable Giant Pass the Pugs

Inflatable Giant Pass the Pugs is really great fun and the ideal outdoor game for the summer. I know that this will be played regularly this summer, and he’s already making plans to have a Giant Pass the Pugs party with some of his friends.

Giant Pass the Pugs is widely available and costs around £14.99 online and in good toy shops.

Quick Recipes: Easy Peanut Butter Mousse

Since I started my new job last month, I am suddenly quite short on time and energy. I prefer to spend my downtime hanging out with my son than slaving in the kitchen, but meals still need to be prepared. He loves peanut butter, and it’s a good source of protein, so I thought I’d whip up a batch of peanut butter mousse to make puddings for a couple of nights between us.

We are big fans of all things peanut butter in our house (this peanut butter ice cream is our favourite!). Our tastes lean towards the smooth, sticky and cheaper stuff, rather than the wholesome organic peanut butter. Yes, we are heathens, but we know what we like. In our last online shop, the supermarket had run out of the good cheap stuff, and sent us a jar of the wholesome organic stuff. My son turned his nose up at it, so instead of throwing it away, I decided to make peanut butter mousse with it.

Quick Recipes: Easy Peanut Butter Mousse

This peanut butter mousse made a delicious dessert and took hardly any time at all to make. It sits well in the fridge for a few days, and you can top it in a number of different ways to tickle your fancy.

My original attempt at this recipe was made without adding a good pinch of salt; but peanut butter thrives on salt and it really helps to bring out the peanutty flavour. If you’re unsure, feel free to leave the salt out, but that’s up to you.

I put the mousse into small glasses; it makes four decent sided portions. If you need to make more, just double up the recipe.

Easy Peanut Butter Mousse

Ingredients:

300ml double cream
125g peanut butter
50g icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of salt, optional

Quick Recipes: Easy Peanut Butter Mousse

How to make Peanut Butter Mousse:

In a large bowl, whip your double cream, sifted icing sugar, pinch of salt (optional) and vanilla extract until it forms stiff peaks.

Fold in your peanut butter and make sure it is well combined. If your peanut butter is too stiff, feel free to pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it slightly.

Spoon or pipe the mousse into four small glasses or ramekins; I weighed them to make sure they were pretty equal is size. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. They are best left at least overnight and when you’re ready to serve, take them out of the fridge for half an hour or so to take the chill off.

I topped mine with chopped honey roasted peanuts, which was utterly delicious. I shared my mousse with a colleague at work who tried hers with crushed Oreos which she said were excellent. I’d also be tempted to put a small layer of melted chocolate on the top. It’s up to you, the world is your oyster!

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to try peanut butter milkshake, peanut butter cupcakes or these simple but excellent butterfinger rocky road.

Quick Recipes: Easy Peanut Butter Mousse

An afternoon at the Manchester Rum Festival 2022

We were given tickets to the Manchester Rum Festival 2022 for review purposes.

When I mentioned that I was going to the Manchester Rum Festival over the weekend, everyone I spoke to was seriously jealous, and rightly so. It’s a really fun afternoon out and if you’re interested in rum, it’s a great opportunity to find out more and to try all kinds of different styles of rum you may never have encountered before.

An afternoon at the Manchester Rum Festival 2022

Growing up in the 80’s, my Auntie Ann was a glamourous ex-model and fabulous. She drank white rum and coke in tall crystal glasses, with a lashings of ice. She was an exotic creature back then and it imprinted on me early on that rum was a drink for exotic and glamourous people; people like my Auntie Ann. Obviously that’s still true today, but these days there are more kinds of rum available than just white rum or dark rum. There’s a rum for everyone, not just rum for my Auntie Ann.

On Saturday 18th June, my rum drinking companion and I hot-footed it to the biggest and best rum festival in town – the Manchester Rum Festival 2022! Like last year, this took place at the 4-star Mercure Hotel in Piccadilly Gardens. It’s a good venue, with a just-the-right-sized room, a bar, food and a DJ; not forgetting more rum stands than you can count!

An afternoon at the Manchester Rum Festival 2022

When we arrived, the rum room was busy. People had dressed up for the festival, with flowery shirts being standard attire for gentlemen, mine included. Together we did a couple of circuits of the room, stopping to sip samples and chat to the brand representatives. We learned a lot about rum, almost without fail the reps were generous with their knowledge and their samples. Together we sipped rum from Jamaica and Venezuela; to Manchester and Martinique.

An afternoon at the Manchester Rum Festival 2022

Between us we found a few new favourites. I was really taken aback by the Clément Blanc Rhum from Martinique; which is a sugar cane rum with a really unique taste, which comes from the sugar cane. Himself liked the Ron Aguere caramel rum (so much so that he bought some); and we both very much enjoyed the Pusser’s Rum. Honourable mentions need to go to Salford Rum, which is excellent and the Witch Kings coffee rum, which is just fantastic. However, you should probably try them all out yourself at the festival next year!

An afternoon at the Manchester Rum Festival 2022

Tickets were £25 plus a booking fee, and it was such a fun afternoon, it was worth every penny. To find out more about the Manchester Rum Festival, visit their website.

Beautiful Bakes: Raspberry and Lemon Sponge Cake

Back in March, for Mother’s Day, I baked a lemon curd sponge, which really was something special. I’ve baked it a few times since, and it’s even appeared in BBC Good Food Magazine, but this time I wanted to mix things up and bake something similar, but with fresh raspberries. I baked a regular sponge cake, but filled it with lemon curd buttercream, raspberry coulis and fresh raspberries. It was a delicious springtime treat, and a birthday cake with a hefty dose of panache.

Raspberry and Lemon Sponge Cake

As it was a birthday cake, I wanted to make it look quite a bit smarter than my usual cakes. I decided to pipe most of my buttercream into swirls, with fresh raspberries in between each elegant dollop. You don’t have to do this, but it did make it look pretty fancy.

Raspberry and Lemon Sponge Cake

Ingredients:
200g caster sugar
200g softened butter or margarine (I use Stork)
4 medium eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence or extract
1.5 tbsp milk
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
300g fresh raspberries

For the buttercream:
75g softened unsalted butter
150g icing sugar
1 large tablespoon of lemon curd

For the raspberry coulis
300g fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons of icing sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Optional extras:
Icing sugar, a sprinkle

Raspberry and Lemon Sponge Cake

How to make your Raspberry and Lemon Sponge Cake

Heat your fan oven to 190c. Grease two 20cm sandwich tins; I also lined the bottom of each tin with a circle of baking parchment. In a large bowl, beat your butter and sugar together until fluffy (I used a hand mixer). Add the eggs, and milk and vanilla extract and combine, then add the flour and baking powder and mix together until you have a smooth batter. Once the batter is mixed, add in the fresh raspberries and stir.

Divide the mixture equally between the two tins. You can weigh them to make sure they are fairly equal if you’d like. Bake in your pre-heated oven for around 20 mins until golden and they’re cooked through. Remove from the tins and leave to cool on a cooling rack. They need to be fully cool before you put the cake together.

While your cakes are cooling, now is a good time to make your lemon curd buttercream. In a bowl and using a mixer or electric hand whisk, beat your butter until it is soft. Add your icing sugar, and taking care not to create an icing sugar cloud, mix the butter and sugar together until it is smooth. Add the lemon curd and once that’s combined, taste it and see if you want to add a bit more lemon curd, which you absolutely can do. Once you’re happy with your buttercream, it’s time to make the coulis and then assemble your cake.

To make the coulis, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the lemon juice. You can either blitz the raspberries in a blender and then push it through a sieve to remove the seeds, or push them through the sieve to make the raspberry sauce. Either way, tip your smooth raspberry puree into the bowl with the icing sugar and lemon juice and mix together. I used a small whisk to do this, which helps smooth out any lumps.

Raspberry and Lemon Sponge Cake

Put your first layer on a cake board, or cake stand, or whatever you’re presenting it on. If you’re worried about it sliding around, a small dollop of buttercream on the bottom will stick your first layer in place and stop it moving around. Put your first layer on the cake board. I chose to pipe small swirls of the buttercream around the edge of the cake, putting a fresh raspberry in between each swirl. I then swirled a layer of the buttercream in the middle, this doesn’t need to look pretty as it’s not on display, you should then top this inner layer of buttercream with raspberry coulis.

Carefully put the next layer of cake on the top and press down gently so it’s secure. You can then either dust it with icing sugar and leave it, or if you’ve got more buttercream in your piping bag, artistically pipe a few more decorative dollops of the buttercream on the top. Finish with a few more fresh raspberries and you should have a fine looking cake on your hands.

Raspberry and Lemon Sponge Cake

 

 

Win tickets to the Manchester Rum Festival on 18th June 2022

Last year as lockdown eased and the country started to open up once more, we went to the Manchester Rum Festival. It was a really fun afternoon out, we discovered lots of new rums to try, sampled plenty of the good stuff and just generally had the best day out in what felt like years. We were as pleased as (rum) punch when we heard that the Manchester Rum Festival was back, and bigger than ever!

The Manchester Rum Festival will be on 18th June, and this year’s June event looks set to be bigger than ever with an incredible 15 new brands for attendees to enjoy. You can sample rums from over 40 producers, sip amazing cocktails by Liar’s Club, enjoy traditional music and entertainment by festival stalwart, DJ Dom and food by British Virgin Island cuisine legends Nyammin’, who will be cooking up a flavoursome storm from their pop-up stand. It’s basically a giant room filled with people keen to tell you about their brand of rum and keen to let you have a little sample too; with good music and delicious food too. What’s not to love?

Manchester Rum Festival on 18th June 2022Local Greater Manchester brands Tameside Distillery and Decorrum make their festival debuts, alongside Tanduay – a rum brand from the Philippines which will make its first ever UK appearance – and Beach House and Arcane which are both from the sunny climes of Mauritius.Other rum brands popping their Manchester Rum Festival cherries include Ron Aguere from the Canaries, Ron Colon from El Salvador and Santiago de Cuba.Festival stalwarts and much-loved local brands, Salford Rum and Diablesse, will also return to the festival, with new expressions to showcase to guests including Salford Honey Rum and Diablesse Coconut and Hibiscus Rum.  This year they will be joined by the Spirit of Manchester distillery and its One-Eyed Rebel rum brand which is crafted in the city centre.Tickets are priced at £25 and involves all available samples from the rum brands.  Find out more and book tickets at https://manchesterrumfestival.comManchester Rum Festival runs from 12pm to 7pm on Saturday 18th June 2022 at Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel, Piccadilly Gardens.*Over 21s only / Cocktail bar and food not included

Win tickets to the Manchester Rum Festival

To be in with a chance to win a pair of tickets to the Manchester Rum Festival on 18th June 2022, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will win a pair of tickets to the Manchester Rum Festival on 18th June 2022.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 12th June 2022.
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How to make a Double Chocolate Twirl Cake

My nephew is brilliant company and whenever his birthday swings round, I always bake him a cake. This year he asked for a chocolate twirl cake; the details were up to me, he just wanted his favourite chocolate bar incorporated into his birthday cake. Say no more little man, your birthday wish is my command.

If you’ve ever read any of my cake recipes before, you’ll know that I favour the simplest options and that fancy decorations are best left to people more skilled than myself. I decided to make a chocolate sponge cake, with chocolate frosting between the layers and with almost 40 twirl bars glued around the side with even more chocolate frosting. It was very much a beast of a cake, but it impressed the recently turned 12 year old, and that’s all that mattered.

I baked the two sponge layers the night before so they’d cool properly before I put the cake together. With chocolate especially, you want to be working with cooled cakes. If you use still slightly warm cakes, there’s a danger that your chocolate decorations will melt, and that’s not a good thing.

How to make a Double Chocolate Twirl Cake

This is an absolute beast of a cake. It’s huge to start with and it’s also incredibly rich, so a little slice goes a long way. With this in mind, you can probably get a good 16 slices out of this cake.

Double Chocolate Twirl Cake

Ingredients:

220g unsalted butter or baking margarine
220g caster sugar
200g self-raising flour
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of milk

To decorate:
1 400g tub of chocolate frosting
Approx 35-40 Twirls

To make your double chocolate twirl cake:

Preheat the oven to 180°c. Grease and line 2 x 20cm cake tins and put to one side, ready for action.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Tip in the remaining sponge cake ingredients into your mixing bowl and beat together until the mixture is well combined. Then divide the mixture between the cake tins. I like to weigh them so they are of equal size.

Bake the chocolate sponge layers in the oven for 20-25 minutes until they are cooked through. Leave them to cool in the tins for 10 minutes or so, and then pop them on a cooling rack until they are completely cool. If you’re in a rush for this, after about an hour you can pop them in the fridge to chill for a little while.

When they are cool, put a blob of the frosting on your cake plate or stand; place the first layer of your sponge cake on top. The blob of frosting will anchor the cake in place and stop it from sliding about. Smother the top of your first layer with a thin-ish layer of the frosting, then sandwich the second layer on top of that.

I use an offset spatula to spread frosting and buttercream, so if you have one of these, now is a good time to dig it out of your kitchen drawer. An offset spatula is another name for a palette knife with a bend in it. If you make cakes on a semi-regular basis, then one of these is a really good investment to make.

Using an offset spatula, or similar, cover the whole cake – top and sides with the remaining chocolate frosting. Now it’s time to get busy with the twirls. I had to cut approx 1cm off the bottom of each one, as I didn’t want the twirls to be that much higher than the cake. So measure your twirls against the cake and decide how much you want to chop off. Once you’ve cut the bottoms off, put the offcuts to one side as we will be using them again later.

How to make a Double Chocolate Twirl Cake

Carefully stick the twirls around the cake, press them in so the chocolate frosting glues them on. I used 38 twirls on my cake, so you’ll need a similar amount. Please buy a few extra as some accidentally fell into my mouth as I was unwrapping them all, and this may well happen to you too.

Once you’ve stuck all the twirls to the cake, it’s a really good idea to take a length of string or ribbon and tie it around, this will help them stick to the cake and it can be removed just before you serve it.

For the top of the cake, I took all of the little pieces I’d chopped off the twirl bars and then I chopped them all up into smaller chunky pieces. I finely sliced some of them until they were almost like chocolate powder. Then I sprinkled all of these bits all over the top, pressing some of them into the frosting with the back of a spoon so they’d stick.

The cake looked tremendous. It was not for the faint hearted; it was a serious chocolate endeavour and exactly what my twirl loving nephew wanted for his birthday cake. This double chocolate twirl cake was really easy to make, it looked impressive and it took a little bit of time to put together; but it was worth it.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like to try this school dinner style chocolate cake with chocolate custard recipe.

How to make a Double Chocolate Twirl Cake