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


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

How to make a Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

For his birthday every year I bake my son a birthday cake. Each year he presents me with a set of grand plans for the cake, and each year I tone down his idea a little to something I can manage with my limited skills. Over the years I’ve learned how to bake pretty darn good cakes, but decorating them is where I fall down. I don’t like to disappoint, so when he asked for a Pokemon birthday cake, then rattled off an extensive list of characters I decided it would be best to make a simple Pokeball design with a colourful rainbow sponge inside.

It’s actually very simple and you don’t need loads of cake decorating skills to do it. If you can roll out icing and cut shapes out with a knife, you’ve got all the skills you need.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

The finish of my cake was not perfect, but I had already spent a lot of time faffing about with the rainbow layers, and no one cared really. He was thrilled with his birthday cake, which is all that matters, that and piles of birthday presents.

How to make a Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

You will need:

5 layers of sponge cake, rainbow coloured if you like
Vanilla buttercream, I used 2 tubs of Betty Crocker
1 packet of marzipan
2 packets of white ready to roll royal icing
Red ready to roll royal icing
Black ready to roll royal icing
Icing sugar
A cake board

How to make a Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

To begin with I baked the rainbow layers. I made up a double batch of my victoria sponge recipe and using a set of scales divided it into equal portions. I then mixed through a few drops of the colouring from this set of 8 food paste colours. When you do this remember that the colour darkens in the oven, so mix it a shade or two lighter than you’d like. Once baked, leave them until they’re completely cool before assembling the cake.

To stack the cake, using a palette knife put a dab of the buttercream in the centre of the cake board. If you’re using rainbow cake, decide which order your rainbow layers will go and place the bottom layer on top of the blob of buttercream. This will help to anchor your cake in place and stop it sliding about.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Spread a layer of buttercream on top of your first layer and top it with your next cake, cover that with buttercream and continue until all the layers are stacked.

Now it’s time to apply the crumb coat, which just means cover the whole of the cake in a thin layer of buttercream. This is so the cake crumbs stay where they should be and it will also help stick the marzipan to the cake. Once you’ve done this, put the cake to one side, somewhere cool.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Now it’s time to roll the marzipan out. I used icing sugar to stop it sticking to my work surface and rolling pin. Roll it out as thin as you please. My marzipan was pretty thin, but not so thin it could easily tear; perhaps about the thickness of a pound coin. You’ll need to roll out quite a big piece of marzipan to cover the cake in one go, and it might be worth measuring how much area you need to cover with a piece of string.

Lift the marzipan with the rolling pin and drape it over the cake. Use your hands to smooth it down and all over the cake. You may need to trim some of the folds back so the finish is smoother. It doesn’t matter how this layer looks because it will be covered with the royal icing, but it does need to be pretty smooth and even all over. Take your time doing this.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Now for the hardest bit. Take your white royal icing and put some to one side for later. Then roll out the rest of the icing, again using icing sugar to stop it sticking to the work top. When you’ve rolled out a piece as big as you need, brush the marzipan all over with water and carefully lift the icing onto the cake. Take as long as you need to gently smooth the icing over the cake. I find the warmth of my hands helps to smooth it out. This layer needs to be super smooth, so take your time to get it right.

After that you probably need to sit down with a cup of tea for a bit, so do that before you do the next bit.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Now it the time to turn your plain white cake into a Pokeball. Just like before, roll out the red royal icing. Take one of your cake tins and use it to trace a semi circle the size of the cake. I then used a shot glass (don’t judge me) to cut out a small semi circle on the straight edge of the icing. Brush half of the top of your cake with a little bit of water, not too much as your colours may start to run and gently press on the red semi circle of icing.

Roll out the black icing and cut out a black circle the size of a shot glass. Using a knife cut out a circle so you have a black ring. Then cut out a long strip of the black icing the diameter of the cake. Have a look at the picture below and using a dab of water fix the icing where it should be.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Finally cut out a circle of white royal icing to sit in the black ring. Stick it in place with a dab of water and your Pokeball birthday cake is done.

It’s a really straightforward design and frankly if I can do it, I’m sure you can too!

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday CakePokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

If you enjoyed this you might also like to try and make these birthday cakes –

How to make a Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

How to make a really easy Volcano Birthday Cake

For my son’s 7th birthday he wanted me to make him a Volcano Birthday Cake. I am by no means an expert cake decorator, so I knew whatever I made would need to be really simple to put together. The great thing about making a volcano cake if you’re not an expert cake decorator, is if it looks a bit rough and rustic when you’ve finished, it all adds to the rugged volcanic charm.

A few years of watching The Great British Bake Off has given me a few ideas, so I sketched the plan and set to work. You will need six round sponge cakes. I also used my favourite kind of shop bought frosting – Morrison’s Chocolate & Brazilian Orange Frosting. It’s the best shop bought frosting I’ve ever tried and it’s well worth searching out. If you can’t find it, use whatever chocolate frosting you can get your hands on.

How to make an easy Volcano Birthday Cake

Here’s how I made my pre-historic Volcano Cake.

How to make a Volcano Birthday Cake

You will need:

6 round sponge cakes (I used 9 inch tins)
2 tubs of Morrisons Chocolate & Brazilian Orange Frosting
Dr Oetker Regal Ice Ready to Roll Icing pack of multi-coloured icing
Wooden skewers or long straws
Selection of small plastic dinosaurs
Fountain Sparkler candle
One cupcake per letter of name (eg Ben = 3 cupcakes)
Birthday candles
Wooden letters spelling name

How to build your cake:

On a large clean tray or board put a dollop of Morrisons Chocolate & Brazilian Orange Frosting and start to build your volcano on top of this. The frosting will help to anchor the cake in place.

Sandwich your six layers of cake on top of each other with a layer of the Morrisons Chocolate & Brazilian Orange Frosting in between each cake. Take your skewers or straws and push then down from the top of your volcano structure down through the six layers to the bottom, this will make the cake more stable.

Carefully using a knife, carve your cake structure into a volcano shape. It doesn’t have to be perfect, remember if it’s rustic it all adds to the charm. Dust as many loose crumbs off your cake as you can and then start to plaster the whole cake in the Morrisons Chocolate & Brazilian Orange Frosting. Once it’s completely covered, leave it to harden a little for an hour or so.

How to make an easy Volcano Birthday Cake

Taking the red and yellow icing from the Dr Oetker Regal Ice Ready to Roll Icing pack, cut each pack of icing in half. Set aside half of each pack and with the other halves, knead them together to make an orange coloured icing.

Here’s where you can get artistic. Roll pieces of the red, yellow and orange icing into rivulets of lava and press them into your volcano. Make sure there’s plenty of lava coming out of the top and running down the sides. You might want to pool some lava at the bottom of the volcano.

How to make an easy Volcano Birthday Cake

Taking your dinosaurs and a little of the chocolate orange frosting (to stick the dinosaurs in place) add some dinos to the scene. Again be artistic; get them caught in the lava, running away from it, have them in little family groups, whatever you want.

Take your cupcakes and top with some frosting; wedge a letter on the top of each one and using the frosting on the bottom of the cupcakes, stick them in place to spell out the name. Again you can have dinosaurs around the cakes, or looking like they’re eating them maybe.

How to make an easy Volcano Birthday Cake

To finish your cake, put the fountain sparkler candle in the top (so when you light it, it should sparkle and flame like a volcano.

My son was absolutely delighted with his volcano birthday cake, and his friends were pretty impressed too. It’s surprisingly simple to put together and it doesn’t have be perfect in order for it to be impressive. I dread to think what he’s going to ask for next year!

How to make an easy Volcano Birthday Cake

How to make a really easy Volcano Birthday Cake

If a volcano cake doesn’t cut it, what about this super-simple train birthday cake?

Happy Birthday to my little big man

My, how you’ve grown my little big man. You’re four years old today and absolutely, 100% the love of our lives. Don’t get me wrong kiddo, you can be a stubborn little handful (just like your Dad), but you are our most favourite child, our best friend, our reason for everything we do and we quite like having you around the place, despite all the mess, fuss and snotty cuddles.

Your birthday is always a time of reflection for me, about the year which has passed and all the years before then. I can’t help but think about our difficult start, but as the years go by that is vastly overshadowed by all our love, adventures and mischief we get up to as a family.

4th birthday

I still find it hard to believe we made such a beautiful creature. It was love at first sight. You were all dimples, squeezy cheeks and long eye lashes. You were and still are a pretty peaceful chap.

4th birthday

This was you on your first birthday. See, you’re still ALL dimples and cheeks. You loved opening your presents and we loved helping you. You were and still are a really happy little chappie. We still couldn’t believe our luck, we are so lucky to have you in our lives.

4th birthday

This is you on your second birthday. You’re all rosy cheeked because we’d been to a soft play centre for the afternoon, then stopped at TGI Fridays on the way home. You weren’t that keen on eating, but you enjoyed doing lots of drawing and stealing our chips.

4th birthday

Here you are, all dressed up for your third birthday party. You’re so grown up looking here, we’d had a really tough year as a family but your birthday was a real highlight for us. You even had a huge Thomas the Tank Engine cake.

4th birthday

This is you just a couple of days shy of your 4th birthday. We threw a train party at a local miniature railway. I think you had an amazing time, all your friends liked it too. What a year it’s been, you’ve started nursery at the big school and you’re growing into a proper boy and you’re no longer our woddling toddler.

Little Bee, my little big man, Happy Birthday, you are the love of our lives, the apple of our eye and you’ll always be our best friend. We love you, always have, always will xxx

How to make a really easy Train Birthday Cake

Children’s birthday parties can be fairly hard work, with lots to remember, from party food, party bags, games, music, costumes and cake. I’m all for making life easy (and on a budget), so this year instead of buying an expensive cake we opted to make our own. The small boy wanted a train birthday cake to go with his train birthday party and who am I to argue?

Train birthday cake

To make this easy train birthday cake you will need:
Three rounds of sponge cake (as described below)
Half a jar of raspberry jam (approx), or strawberry if you prefer
Two tubs of Betty Crocker Vanilla Buttercream icing
Three tubes of smarties
Bigjigs trains (see below)
One cake board (or big enough plate)

Hubs is the baker of the household, so I asked him to make three layers of sponge cake. Use your favourite and foolproof sponge cake recipe (his used 8 eggs to give you an idea of the amount of sponge we made) you want to make three round sponge cakes baked in a 25cm tin. Once baked they need to be around an inch tall.

Once the cakes are cool, put a blob of the buttercream on the cake board and place the first layer of sponge on top of that, this helps to anchor the cake to the board and stops it sliding about. Spread a layer of jam on top of the first layer. Carefully turn the second layer upside down and gently spread the flat bottom with the buttercream and sandwich in top of the jam layer.

On the top of the second layer, spread evenly with more jam and then spread buttercream on the upturned bottom of the top layer of sponge, put that on top. You should have a three layered cake in front of you which from the bottom goes…
Blob of buttercream

With me so far? Good. Now you’ve got all your layers stacked carefully, spread the remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. Don’t worry about it being prefect, if you aim for the rustic look it’ll be fine. I created a wavy effect with a palette knife and the sides were rough but fully covered. If you want you can make the buttercream smooth.

Bigjigs make a sort of pick and mix name train set, I bought mine from my local toy shop Giddy Goat Toys. I bought the carriage and the letters of his name for £2.25 each, which cost me just £9 in total. This was much cheaper than buying a proper train and carriages and much more personal.

I gave them a little wash, though they’d been in a sealed box, then using a little blob of the buttercream “glued” the removable letters onto the carriages and pressed the train into the thick buttercream in the top of the cake.

Tipping the smarties into a bowl I then wrote his age in smarties on the top of the cake, then I used the remaining smarties to edge around the bottom of the cake. I was pretty pleased with my efforts.

If you do this the night before the party and leave it out uncovered overnight, the buttercream should firm up slightly and make it easier to transport. On the morning of the party I wrapped it loosely in foil and it sat in my knee in the car on the way to the party. On arrival we unwrapped it and there were no buttercream smears on the foil and it still looked good. Phew.

The cake tasted really good, but hubs does make beautiful cakes. We had lots of lovely compliments about it. It sliced into approx 24 slices, which was more than enough for a kids party.

Our lovely and quite huge train birthday cake was a really big hit, a few people thought we’d bought it (ha, always a compliment) and the small boy was really, really pleased with it and proudly showed it off to his friends. It’s a really easy way to make a simple sponge birthday cake a little bit special.

Train birthday cake

How to make a really easy train birthday cake