Chocolate Mousse Cake by William Drabble

There is something about chocolate and raspberries paired that I love. The tartness of the raspberries cuts through the rich chocolate far better than strawberries do, or at least that is my opinion. I always like doing things that will push my skills in the kitchen. After making the mille feuille last month, Great British Chefs set me the next challenge: To attempt William Drabble’s Chocolate Mousse Cake. I wasn’t going to turn down the chance to try this stunning dessert.

William Drabble is the head chef at Michelin starred Seven Park Place Piccadilly, London and uses local ingredients with French techniques. When I made this decadent dessert I was able to get Scottish raspberries.

I’d by lying if I didn’t say this is a time-consuming recipe, but it can easily be broken up and made in advance. It makes 16 portions and even the more ardent chocoholic with struggle to eat all 16 portions as it is so rich and decadent but it is very much worth making for a special event or dinner party. This isn’t the easiest recipe to pare down, and I don’t recommend you do, but the mousse cake can be frozen until you are ready to eat it.

The sponge featured in this recipe is beautifully soft and delicate and is essentially a baked chocolate foam. The only fat in this sponge comes from the egg yolks. Then the mousse is thick, rich, silky and frankly delicious. You can understand why I didn’t quibble when the cake had to be trimmed to make the edges straight.  Oh the cook’s perk. This cake contains raw eggs, a serious amount of raw eggs, so the usual precautions apply with dishes like this.

I need to get a bit better at cutting the cake as some were a bit wobbly, ok very wobbly. I call it artistic licence. Maybe next time (and trust me I will be making  it again!) I’ll cut them as cubes so they are more stable. Glazing the cake was trickier than I was expecting, but briefly chilling the glaze made it more viscous and provided a better coating. I really enjoyed making this cake from the techniques, complexity and final eating. I now have a queue of impatient friends wondering when the remaining 8 pieces of this cake are going to be defrosted and glazed.

This post has been sponsored by Great British Chefs but in true Butcher Baker fashion all words, opinions, ramblings and messy kitchen are our own. 

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A bonfire weekend


Modern life can be fast paced. Sometimes you need 24-48 hours disconnected from it to appreciate the simple things in life. Twice a year we go away with Hub’s family to a house in the darkest Warwickshire countryside with space, big kitchen, a dining table big enough for 14, a dodgy mobile phone signal (2G if you’re lucky) and most importantly no TV or internet.

One of the weekends we go away is always the weekend closest to bonfire night. We arrived on the Friday night to be greeted by the smell of a huge rib of beef slowly cooking in the oven. A roast dinner with all the trimmings was followed by some beautiful cupcakes brought by a guest. And for me to say that about cupcakes is saying something.

During the Saturday day the children carved pumpkins, made scones and stuffed guys while the men built a bonfire on the paddock. My job, like it is every year, was to make the mulled drinks. I made mulled cider and warm BottleGreen spiced berry cordial (a bit like spicy ribena) for the non drinkers. The rest of the time was spent talking, reading, drawing and drinking lots of tea & coffee.

Oh and wondering what member of next door’s small-holding was being plumped for Christmas.

We also fired up the BBQ on what was possibly the coldest bonfire night we’ve had in years. I admit I didn’t last the whole time out there in the cold and soon dashed back inside to warm up in front of the range and keep the dog company. Not once in the weekend did I hear someone grumble they were bored, missing a reality show, or feeling lost without instant access to the modern world.

Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest. 

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Brilliant Baking with Brendan at Seasoned

Normandy Apple Tart

I was introduced to Clare just over two years ago. We had both recently set up food education businesses in the  Midlands and were biology graduates. Trust me, us biology graduates are a food-loving, enterprising bunch. I’ve seen Clare’s business grow and this month Seasoned opened a permanent venue at Catton Hall, a private estate on the banks of the River Trent between Burton-on-Trent and Lichfield. Seasoned is based in one of the old stable blocks there. There is a large dining room with local artists’ work adorning the walls then a large, airy, long classroom with three main workstations and a teaching desk at the front.

Seasoned run a range of courses and last week I visited to take part in the new Brilliant Baking course with GBBO finalist Brendan. The day started with us making the Pâte Brisée pastry for the Normandy Apple Tart, we then began to prepare our Chelsea Bun dough. My Normandy Apple Tart was slightly rebellious, well as anarchic as you can be with a tart. I broke with tradition and put the apples in a slightly different order giving more of a flower in the middle. This was all intentional, ahem.  Over lunch we chatted about GBBO and Brendan let us in to a few secrets about Paul, Mary and the whole GBBO process, but just like Holly Bell’s course last year, what’s said on the course stays on the course. After lunch we finished the Chelsea buns and made some blueberry muffins. The day was inter-spaced with demos from Brendan, then while we were working he would pop around and give guidance.  I’m very much a kinesthetic learner so really appreciated that it was a very hands on course and we all made everything. I also loved that all the ingredients were weighed and sorted for you, an ace Seasoned team eve whisked away any washing up. Can I have someone like this at home please?!

Chelsea Buns

What I loved about the set up of the classroom was that it worked really well and it made it easy to chat with the other people on your workstation, which for me included Claire, Juila and MD of Silverwood Bakeware, Simon Silverwood. All of the baking pans used at Seasoned are from Alan Silverwood and they are fabulous pans. My Christmas Pudding sphere is from them.

For a change I had taken my SLR to the day, but because it was so hands on there wasn’t really an opportunity to take decent pictures without covering my camera in a coating of flour and sugar. My fellow workbench pal Clare from Things We Make was there and took some fabulous photos of the day of which you can see on her blog. She also has posted the recipe for Brendan’s Normandy Apple Tart. One thing I do recommend is secure your baking for the drive home. I did quite a lame job. The twisty lanes near Catton sent my baking flying. The muffins didn’t look too photogenic after the drive, but amazingly the tart stayed intact.

Through Seasoned Hubs has learnt how to smoke food ad make pork pies then later this week he’s heading to Catton Hall for the first time to learn all about Sushi & Japanese food with Andrew Kojima. I’m very much looking forward to tasting the green tea panna cotta he may be making. A big thanks to Clare for inviting me along and a heap of praise to all the fabulous Seasoned staff .

Going, going… gone.

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Halloween Pumpkin Cakes

This is a case of two classes one cake. It may have been half term in these neck of the woods last week, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t busy. If anything the scale of the commitments meant I was busier. A business meeting at a stunning private estate about something exciting coming to East Midlands in summer 2013, a trip to The Bulls Head, running a Halloween cake decorating for children, teaching baking in the evening to adults, being a pupil at the Brendan from GBBO Briliant Baking course at Seasoned and then finally making calzone for a local deli. It’s not surprising I fell asleep on the sofa this afternoon.

This cake merges the Halloween cake decorating and the evening baking class. These pumpking cakes are beautifully moist and you’ll struggle to realise the secret ingredient is pumpkin. Just like carrot cakes are sometimes topped with mini sugarpaste carrots surely pumpkin cakes can have the same decoration. Here I’ve made the pumpkin from sugarpaste icing, but they could easily be made from marzipan as that would work really well with the pumpkin. Obviously outside Halloween I don’t usually add the edible dirt (blitzed oreos).

I bought the pumpkin for these cakes weeks ago purely for the fact it was a pretty pumpkin. A sign of a food blogger who needs help as I now find vegetables pretty. No hope! To prep the pumpkin for this cake I just cut off the peel and bung it in the blender until it is in small pieces. It doesn’t need to be precooked.

Note: this raw cake mix is probably one of the most unappetising you’ll ever seen, but watch it transform beautifully in the oven. Ideally bake it in a muffin tin. The mixture is very liquid and need the support a muffin tin gives while it is baking.

Halloween Pumpkin Cakes
Makes around 9 cupcake sized cakes 

70ml vegetable oil or rapeseed oil
1 eggs
100g soft dark sugar
150g grated uncooked, peeled pumpkin (I finely dice it in the blender)
50g raisins
35g walnuts, chopped
90g self-raising flour
1 tiny pinch of salt
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg or mace
¼ tsp ginger

Orange cream cheese icing
25g cream cheese, chilled (Full fat works best)
25g butter, at room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
125g icing sugar, sifted
½ orange, zest only
1/2 packet of oreos blended for the edible dirt (optional)

Sugarpaste pumpkins
Orange sugarpaste
cocktail stick
black edible ink felt tip pen


1) Preheat oven to 150°c. Line a muffin tin with liners.
2) In a large bowl beat the egg, then add the oil, sugar, pumpkin and nuts. Stir in the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.
3) Fill the cases 2/3 full with the mixture. Bake for 30 min, or until cakes are risen and cooked through. Allow to cool on a wire before icing.
4) While the cakes are cooling start to make the sugarpaste pumpkins. Take a small sprout-sized ball of orange sugarpaste and roll in to a ball.
5) Place the ball on a surface and press gently to give a flat top and bottom.
6) Using the length of a cocktail, make indentations in the ball to make it look like a pumpkin. Using an edible ink felt tip draw the eyes and mouth on the pumpkin.
7)  Place a clove, bud side down, in the top of the pumpkin. This is the stalk.
8) Beat together the cream cheese, vanilla, orange zest and butter then gradually add the icing sugar. The icing sugar will stiffen the icing the more you put in, but taste as you go along to make sure you don’t make it too sweet. Once the icing is ready, spread onto cake.
9) Dust the top of the cake with the ground up oreos then decorate with the sugarpaste pumpkin.

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Derby Clandestine Cake Club’s 1st Birthday

How a year flies. A year ago Derby Clandestine Cake Club was born and a small group of us gathered at Julia’s house with our trick & treat cake creations. This time we were celebrating Derby CCC’s 1st birthday at Grandpa Lew’s on Sadlergate, Derby. Grandpa Lew’s is a fabulous little shop that sells a range of fresh pies,  tea and coffee, deli produce and homewares. He is also my local purveyor of German snack food.

The theme for this CCC was travel. I made a gluhwein bundt. We also had a burger cake, cake topped with spaghetti & meatballs (Ferrero Rocher & jam, genius), sacher torte, apfel kuchen and many more.

But I’ll let you into a secret. I’ve really lost my appetite for eating cakes recently. I love making them but more often than not once they’ve been baked I pass them on to friends. I suppose I can’t complain I get paid to make, experiment , test and eat cakes for a living. The only cake I ate at the event was mine and Clare’s amazing  Mango & Coconut Cake with a clever secret ingredient. Hubs, who tasted 6 cakes at the last count, said he enjoyed every single piece he tried.

Thanks to Julia & Lewis for hosting the event. You can see a full set of photos here.

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Glühwein Bundt

Going to Clandestine Cake Club does strange things to me. It makes me have weird ideas for cakes. In October 2012 Derby CCC celebrated its 1st birthday and the theme was travel. As I had spent some time living in Berlin I decided to go a German cake. First cake to come to mind was a Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, but this is too much like the cake I made for the first Derby CCC meeting so back to the drawing board.

Unbelievably I don’t own a German cookbook and I also wanted to make a bundt cake. Any excuse to use my new tin. While looking on the internet for cake inspiration I stumbled across a Glühwein Cake. Glühwein is a type of German mulled wine, something I associate with the colder months.

I have an irrational dislike of recipes written in cups. For me it messes with my analytical mind. I like to be accurate with my baking and I believe with cups I don’t give you that. As the only recipe I could find was in cups I converted to grams then paired down the recipe to fit my tin. I was going to say this is a chiffon sponge, I don’t think it is, but it uses a similar method.

Life is hectic here at the moment. I was glad to plan a cake that I could quickly throw together, bake (albeit I overbaked slightly) and quickly decorate with a drizzle of icing. This is one of the reasons why I love bundt cakes. No fancy icing required.  I did mess up the icing on one bit as I was rushing, but we’ll ignore that. The chocolate letters were a last-minute addition. The initial plan was to simply write ‘happy birthday’ in German until I remembered it’s not as simple as that.  ‘Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag’ is frankly a bit of a mouthful so settled for Heimlich Kuchen (secret cake) Geburtstag (birthday). Apologies for any shocking German grammatical errors.

I like how the cake unintentionally looks like it comes from a cookbook circa 1980 with its brown tones. Taste wise it’s like a delicate gingerbread with out the stickiness you get in British style gingerbread cake. You can’t taste the wine as such, but it does bring depth to the cake. I made my gluhwein for the recipe with some wine briefly steeped with a mulled wine sachet.

Glühwein Bundt
1lb Bundt tin
Based on Glühweinkuchen

2 eggs

140g caster sugar

90 ml vegetable oil

90ml glühwein

190g plain flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp cocoa powder

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground mace

60g dark chocolate chips


for the glaze

90g icing sugar

2 tsp rum

2 tsp glühwein

pinch of cinnamon

1) Using an electric whisk beat together the eggs and sugar until they have tripled in size. With the whisk still beating, slowly pour in the oil and glühwein.

2) Fold in the remaining ingredients taking care not to beat the air out the fluffy eggs.

3) Grease tin with oil (I’m a big fan of Dr Oetker Cake Release) then pour in mixture.

4) Place tin in oven and bake at 180°c for 20-25 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean.

5) Allow cake to cool completely in tin before turning out.

6) To make the glaze, mix together icing sugar, rum, glühwein and pinch of cinnamon until it is of a good pouring consistency. Drizzle over cake and leave to set.


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Toad in the Hole

There are many reasons I married my husband. Apart from the bloomin’ obvious, he’s an Engineer (engineers are handy people to know), he’s not scared of mice and enjoys cooking. We’ll brush over the first meal he cooked me; I turned up to his student house for our 3rd date, impressed I’d managed to bag a man who could cook, to be served a Vesta Chow Mein. Look, if I can still marry a man after being cooked that, it must be saying something.

As we left our student palettes of value chicken kievs, crinkle cut oven chips and beans with pasta (ok the cupboards were bare and it was the end of term) I began to realise that the man I was destined to marry really could cook. He has natural intuition in some aspects of cooking that I don’t have and he always makes better Yorkshire puddings, pancakes and toad in the hole than me. Don’t ask me why. We both use the same recipe, but his always turn out better.

Now in the photo above they are normal sized sausages, not the chipolatas that the crowning batter suggests. Hubs uses various tricks to get the batter to raise as well as it does. You can see his tips here. The sausages are from Chantry Farm Shop near Melbourne. By far best sausage makers locally. I’m sure I could spot Chantry sausages in a taste test.

Hubs could quite happily tuck in to this with just a good dousing of onion gravy, but the woman in me insists we have to eat it with at least one veg. The old adage of always making sure you have three colours on the plate for a balanced meal sits strong with me. No, taupe, beige and brown does not count as three colours.


Toad in the Hole
Serves 2 greedy guts or 4 normal people

4 large eggs

230g plain flour

pinch of salt

300ml milk

2 tbsp rapeseed oil (Hubs swears by Mellow Yellow)

6 sausages
1) Place the eggs, flour and salt in a bowl and whisk together until well combined. Gradually whisk in the milk. Don’t worry if you have the odd lump.

2) Allow the batter to chill for 30-60 min.

3) Preheat the oven to 200°c. Put 2 tbsp of rapeseed oil in the bottom of a 8×10 inch tin, the add the sausages and cook for 10 minutes.

4) Pour the batter into the tin, ideally not over the sausages. Then place tin back in the oven and bake for a further 20 min until sausages are cooked and the batter is risen and golden.

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