Chocolate Butterflies VE Day
VE Day Disaster!

This is my tried and tested chocolate sponge cake: I’ve been making it for years and years. Adaptable and useful for any cake-requiring occasion, I’ve halved, doubled, trebled quantities and all sorts and it never fails.

Unfortunately, and proving it never does to take your eye off the ball, making a batch to share with our neighbour (via social distancing and left on the back step) for VE Day, I was a bit distracted. Trying to do several other things at the same time, I overfilled the cake cases, ending up with 10 instead of 12 cakes. Of course, they erupted over the tops like little chocolate volcanoes and were super-misshapen.

I left the buttercream and assembly until the following morning. Unfortunately, once again, I was a bit distracted. I managed to trim round the cakes fairly successfully but really bodged the assembly. For the first cake I somehow managed to get the first set of wings on backwards: you need the rounded sides on the inside and the cut straight sides facing outwards.

Aaargh! Never mind, they tasted lovely and made our neighbour smile. The moral of the story is if you are making cakes, just keep your mind on what you’re doing and don’t try to do –or even think about- other stuff at the same time: just don’t!

Chocolate Fairy Cakes

The mixture is also sufficient for 18-20 fairy cakes bake in standard size cake cases: bake for 12-15 minutes.

Chocolate Sponge Sandwich

Alternatively, make a sandwich cake using 2 x 7cm loose bottomed cake tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

  • Makes 10-12 cupcakes
  • 175g softened butter
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 level teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 25g good quality cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate)
  • 3 medium eggs, as fresh as possible
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 160C (fan ovens) or equivalent

You will need a 12 cup muffin tin plus muffin size paper cake cases

Whiz the butter and sugar together in a food processor until creamed and fluffy.

Combine the flour, raising agents and cocoa and sieve some of it in a layer over the mixture and then add the eggs and vanilla.

Sieve in the rest of the flour blend. Whiz briefly.

Add the milk and whiz until smooth and glossy. You may need to remove the lid a couple of times and scrape the mixture down from the sides with a flexible spatula.

Arrange the paper cases in the muffin tin and using two dessertspoons, spoon a rounded dessertspoon of mixture into each case. Go back and top up with any remaining mixture so that there is an even amount in each case.

Bake for around 20-25 minutes or until domed and risen and springy to the touch. A skewer should come out clean when inserted.

Don’t over-bake – the cakes should be moist and fluffy inside

Remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 180g sieved icing sugar
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk to mix

Sieve the combined cocoa and icing sugar into the softened butter a little at a time, mixing it all together with a wooden spoon. Finally, loosen the mixture slightly with the milk and beat until smooth and glossy.

Alternatively, Whiz the icing sugar and cocoa in the clean, dry bowl of your food processor and whiz together. Add the vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk and whiz until smooth and glossy, add remaining tablespoon of milk if necessary.

Assembling the Cakes

Once the cakes are cool slice the tops off and cut in half to make wings.

Dollop a generous teaspoon of buttercream on top of each cake.

Arrange the wings, leaving a slight gap in between making sure the curved sides are facing inwards.

Pop a glace cherry or half a strawberry (or sprinkles or chocolate buttons, whatever you fancy) in between the wings. Dust with sieved icing sugar.