Chocolate Bailey’s Cake

We had a wonderful birthday gathering for my stepfather’s 92nd birthday on Saturday, which coincided with my brother’s 52nd so celebrations all round! I was up in Peterborough on Friday so preparation time was limited and I am so grateful that Jo B our bookkeeper stepped in and made the cake in the picture for me. It is really yummy, and despite it being a very large cake, there is surprisingly little of it left after the weekend! Goodness knows how that happened…

The Cake

Mix 1                  

  • 640g plain flour, 400g golden caster sugar
  • 160g light brown sugar, 80g cocoa powder
  • 3½ tsp baking powder
  • 2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp salt 

Mix 2                   

  • 5 eggs, 225ml buttermilk
  • 2tbsp vanilla

Mix 3                  

  • 280g melted and cooled butter
  • 200ml corn oil

Mix 4                 

  • 250ml Bailey’s
  • 230ml water 
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C (fan)/gas mark 4/350F.
  2. Grease and line a 10” springform pan.
  3. Add all of Mix 1 (the dry items) into a large bowl. Place all Mix 2 (eggs and milk etc) into another bowl and whisk. Then using a third bowl, put in all of Mix 3 (butter and oil) and beat using an electric mixer, then add in Mix 4 to this same bowl. Then add Mix 1 and combine together on a low speed, then add Mix 2. When all ingredients are combined pour into the prepared tin.
  4. Bake for 50-55mins, or until a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean, then cool the cake.

Bailey’s Fudge icing

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 300g unsalted butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 80ml (or so) Bailey’s 
  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, and let cool slightly.
  2. In another bowl beat the butter and then add the icing sugar, and then slowly add the melted chocolate and finally the Bailey’s. You can add more or less Bailey’s depending on your taste and how thick you want the icing to be.
  3. Split the cake in half and fill with icing then spread the remaining over the top and sides.

Jo used chocolate curls and tiles to decorate the cake which were all made with thin layers of melted chocolate, but other options like more frosting and chopped nuts or chocolate vermicelli could be used just as effectively. Have fun!  


Jack Daniels Fruit Cake

Richard is a huge Jack Daniels fan (can’t say I mind one myself!), so this cake will go down a storm in our household. Not sure that I should say storm at the moment bearing in mind the awful weather we are all going through!

This is a relatively easy recipe but it needs to be made well before Christmas so you can add more for a couple of weeks as it sits. This recipe makes enough for three cakes as I like to make one for us, one for my Mum and I usually give another away.

  • 8oz/225g butter
  • 1lb/440g dark brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 14oz/385g self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup Jack Daniel’s whisky, plus more for adding later
  • 3lbs 3oz/1.4kilos  cups dried fruit assorted
  1. Grease three 81/2” x 41/2” loaf tins (or equivalent size if you want round) and line well with wax paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat really well. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and salt then slowly add this mixture to the butter mix, alternating between a bit of flour mix and then some whisky. Beat on a low speed (or manually) until well blended. Now stir in the fruit and then spoon into the cake tins.
  3. Bake for around an hour and a quarter or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool, still in the tins, on a wire rack. Now remove from the tins. Soak some muslin, cheesecloth or similar in the whisky. Then wrap the cloth around the cakes and wrap really tightly in cling film. Store in the fridge and add a little whisky (I said little!) every other day for a couple of weeks before serving, then serve thinly sliced.



White chocolate & raspberries…

This is a lovely cake  – as taste tested by everyone here at work! As there’s white chocolate in it, it really doesn’t rise as much as some recipes and you have to keep an eye on it and keep your timings perfect, as it can overbrown if you lose track of the time. The magical combination of chocolate and raspberry always wins the day and this is just so delicious.

White chocolate cake


  • 310g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon of baking powder
  •  ½ teaspoon salt
  • 175g white chocolate, chopped
  • 125ml hot water
  • 225g butter, softened
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 1½ teaspoons of vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas mark 4. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate, baking powder and salt.
  2. Melt the chocolate and hot water over a low heat, stir till smooth and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Beating well each time. Stir in the flour mix alternately with some buttermilk. Mix in the melted chocolate.
  4. Pour the batter into two 23cm round cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer in the centre of the cake comes out clean.


White chocolate Philadelphia frosting


  • 200g pack Philadelphia cream cheese at room temperature
  • 60g butter, softened
  • 175g white chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 275g Icing sugar



  1. Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla and mix well again.
  2. Gradually add the sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. To finish the cake, add some raspberry jam between the layers and then cover with the icing, decorating with fresh raspberries.






Anyone for tea & cake…?

Oh we do love our cupcakes! This recipe uses Earl Grey tea, giving a lovely light and fragrant freshness to the cakes. The recipe is from the Hummingbird Bakery and the cupcakes really were delicious – I can’t wait to try the peppermint tea version too!

Makes 12-16 cupcakes

For the sponge:

  • 3 Earl Grey teabags
  • 3tbsp just-boiled water
  • 80g (3oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 280g (10 oz) caster sugar
  • 240g (8½ oz) plain flour
  • 1tbsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 200ml (7fl oz) whole milk
  • 2 large eggs

For the frosting:

  • 50ml (1¾ fl oz) whole milk
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) icing sugar
  • 160g (5½ oz) unsalted butter, softened

One or two 12-hole deep muffin tins

  1. Place the teabags in a bowl and add the just-boiled water, then leave to brew for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F), Gas mark 5, and line a muffin tin with muffin cases. Use a hand-held electric whisk or freestanding electric mixer with paddle attachment to mix the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt on a low speed until the texture of fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Pour the milk into a jug, add the eggs and whisk by hand. Add the brewed tea, squeezing every last drop from the teabags into the milk mixture, then set the teabags aside for the frosting.
  4. Pour three-quarters of the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix on a low speed to combine. Then mix on a medium speed until smooth and thick. Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the remaining milk mixture and beat until all the ingredients have come together and the batter is smooth.
  5. Divide the batter between the paper cases, filling each two-thirds full. If there is batter left over, spoon it into more cases in a separate tin. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until risen and springy to the touch, then leave to cool slightly in the tin before transferring to a wire rack to cool fully.
  6. While the cupcakes are cooking, place the used teabags in a small bowl with the milk for the frosting and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the teabags and give them a good squeeze to extract maximum flavour.
  7. Using the electric whisk or freestanding mixer with paddle attachment, whisk the icing sugar with the butter on a low speed until no large lumps of butter remain and the mixture is still powdery. Pour in the tea-infused milk while mixing slowly, then increase the speed to high and whisk until soft and fluffy.
  8. Divide the frosting between the cold cupcakes, smoothing the tops and swirling with a palette knife.


Peppermint tea cupcakes:

Make as above but use 3 peppermint teabags instead of Earl Grey.

Fruit tea cupcakes:

Make as above, but with 3 fruit teabags of your choice, such as summer fruits, mixed berry, strawberry or raspberry, and top the frosted cupcakes with fruit to match, such as summer berries or slices of fresh strawberry.




The Forager’s Kitchen

Hedgerows are always a source of fascination, they are so full of flora and fauna. At the moment, they are dotted with glossy blackberries, and I can never resist picking them as I pass. My mother, the queen of preserves in our family, is already making jam and there has been talk of a blackberry and apple crumble coming our way too…!

My level of hedgerow foraging is fairly basic, but there is lots of ‘free’ food out there if you only know what to look for. My friend Julia Horton-Powdrill is a great forager and it was through her excellent Facebook page that I came across ‘The Forager’s Kitchen’ a truly fascinating cookery book that contains over 100 easy recipes from savoury to sweet, written by a Scots lady called Fiona Bird.

Don’t be put off by the title – this book is absolutely fascinating just to sit and read even if you have no intention of going and collecting any of the ingredients yourself. Not only does Fiona provide lovely (and easy) recipes, she gives lots of additional information about wildflowers, herbs, fruits and berries and more. Should you feel inspired, she also tells you how to forage, essential ground rules (how to avoid misidentification!) and a range of lovely little ‘wild notes’ with really useful hints and tips.

The book is divided up into sections – Flowers & Blossom, Woodland & Hedgerow, Fruits & Berries, Herbs and Sea & Shore. There’s a huge range of recipes – from Christmas Tree Cookies (using Douglas fir needs) through Carrot & Clover Cake to the most gorgeous looking Violet Macarons with Primrose Cream. Fiona writes very well and, whether you live in a city, the countryside or by the coast, if you follow her advice, you will find more ingredients growing in the wild than you could imagine!

Our ancestors knew what to pick and I do think it’s a shame that most people today are so ‘disconnected’ from the countryside and, indeed, wary of it. There is so much beauty in nature and such bounty out there if we only know what to do with it.

Fiona Bird is a mother of six children. She is a self-taught cook and past Masterchef finalist who has always had a passion for cooking and her approach to food is based on her knowledge of tight budgets and limited time. You can follow Fiona on her Facebook page.