Tag Archives: Sharing

Salted Caramel Popcorn

8 Dec

Traditions are always best kept at Christmas, I find. There’s just something about this time of year that has me come over all ritualistic and sentimental, spending quality time with my favourite people and indulging in pastimes old and new. The start of the season hog out at the Manchester Christmas Markets, the great fanfare surrounding the putting up of the tree at my Mum’s house and the Christmas Eve pickling of my liver at the local pub, log fire burning and my rosy cheeks lighting Santa’s merry way. Year in, year out, I cherish them all.  

This year however, some joyful new customs have come to pass. My first Christmas in Manchester has seen me bake my first ever gingerbread (seriously) and start a Sunday evening ritual of sipping boozy rum and orange hot chocolate with my flat mate, Aoife. Working our way through our stable of Christmas films, each week we introduce some new delight to nibble at; sugared nuts from the markets, freshly baked lemon shortbread and most recently, a big old bag of salted popcorn.

Digressing slightly, it seems popcorn has been having a bit of a moment of late. New trends often supersede the old, with gourmet versions popping up everywhere*, far removed from the traditional sickly sweet overtures of Butterkist and the salty sensation that is cinema popcorn. Peanut butter, soy and sesame and festive mince pie flavours all sound tempting enough, but it wasn’t until I experienced an incredible marmite number at a dinner party that I found myself converted from a serial popcorn hater into a major fan.

Who knew you could be so creative with popcorn? I adore that you can introduce pretty much any flavour, seeing the bland taste on which my initial loathing was based become a major benefit, and being light and chock full of flavour, makes for a perfect pre-dinner snack. It kicks the arse out of a bag of Kettle Chips, and being piss easy to make convinces your guests that you have made some serious effort for their gastronomic delight. It just that bit more festive too, and so, like the Grinch who stole Christmas, I pinched the idea.

Salted Caramel Popcorn

Fun flavoured popcorn will be a feature of every Christmas from now on, mug of chest hair inducing hot chocolate in hand, but kicking off our annual ‘Taste Sensation’, the salted caramel popcorn recipe I played around with was the perfect prelude to my favourite festive get together with two of my oldest friends. Washed down nicely with a bottle of Prosecco, and returned to at the end of the three courses I cooked with a bottle of tawny port, for me, Becky and Alison, this is one has made its way into the Christmas hall of fame.  


  • Knob of butter
  • 200g popcorn kernels
  • 125g (4oz) butter
  • 150g (5oz) caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • Sea salt flakes


  1. Heat the knob of butter in a large pan and add the popcorn. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally until the popping stops. Tip into a large bowl.
  2. Quickly wipe the inside of the pan with kitchen paper then add the butter, sugar and golden syrup. Cook gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Bring the caramel mixture to the boil and bubble rapidly, without stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes, until caramel coloured. (Don’t leave too long. The darker the colour, the more burnt the caramel will taste).
  4. Leave the caramel to cool until warm, and then add the sea salt to taste.
  5. Add the popped corn to the pan, stirring until coated.
  6. Tip out the popcorn onto two non-stick baking trays and leave to set and harden. Break up into pieces and pile into a large bowl.

* My bad.


The Ski Club Manchester

12 Nov
When it comes to writing a blog, you are your own editor. No-one recommending where you review, helping you pull together a content plan or fine-tuning and editing your piece for publishing. For the most part there is great joy in that. It gives you the blessed freedom to push your own agenda and write in your preferred style, and given that the majority of blogs are self-funded, (this one included), it means you can eat and drink where the hell you like. So far, all gravy, but given it’s your hard earned cash being spent, you tend to stray towards those places you knows you’ll enjoy, resulting in largely warm to glowing reviews. 
Occasionally however, you are invited along to a free event, and whilst you are glad your purse is provided with a much needed night off, the do in question might not be quite your thing. Resultantly, the friendly tone that typifies your usual writing style takes a break too. Whilst it is no bad thing to stretch your mean muscles, and as a blogger, important to write fair and unbiased reviews, (especially when food and drink is being comped), for a lady who believes that unless someone had literally pissed on your chips, there is no such thing as a terrible experience, so forgive me if I choose to see both sides of the coin.
The latest free do I attended was one of the launch nights at The Ski Club, the newest venture from Heart Soul Rock and Roll, Manchester pop-up pioneers and the guys behind The Yacht Club. Fond of Spinningfields and taking inspiration from the playgrounds of the rich and famous, off the back of their first success seemingly believe themselves to have found a winning formula. Whilst not a fan of either Spinningfields (soulless and way too fond of a chain) or establishments characterised by overly coiffed hair and too much ankle on show (and that’s just the boys), I can concede that The Yacht Club was a cleverly thought out and well-executed idea.
The Ski Club however, not so much. Overly excited by the promise of fondue (which is making a comeback, don’t cha know) and a creative cocktail list, expectations were high. Sadly, these were quickly managed. Located in a business block to the side of Spinningfields, the place already lacks the prestige that The Yacht Club achieved, and welcomed by cheap roll-out carpets and sickly blue lighting, you quickly wonder where it all went wrong. The tacky fixtures and fittings won’t speak to the moneyed crowd the pop-up will be hoping to attract, despite the great people watching that the alpine-style window looking out over Spinningfields affords.

The Ski Club Manchester: Fondue

The Ski Club’s saving grace comes from the comfy seating and cosy atmosphere. Tucking into a cheese and meat board of French and Swiss provenance or spooning hot cheese into your mouth on the end of a sausage, you can’t help but relax and enjoy the company you are keeping. Minor blunders blighted the experience however. Too little bread for the cheese and meat board to share was a sloppy oversight, and despite some interesting flavours on show in the canapés, including bratwurst wrapped in pancetta and a wild mushroom arancini, the bites were dry and cold. Underwhelming to say the least.

The Ski Club Manchester: Cheese and Meat Board

The Ski Club Manchester: Bratwurst wrapped in Pancetta

As for the cocktails, the most that can be said is that they were bold. Truly a winter warmer menu, the list read with great promise. Cognac, brandy, sloe gin and port all featured across the board, but cack-handed delivery made for clunky cocktails where big flavours drowned one another, and despite some fun presentation, were largely disappointing. The Brandy Blazer was the best of the bunch, with Grand Marnier, apple brandy and hints of cinnamon and nutmeg to recommend it, but heated through prior to serving, the marshmallow-adorned brandy glass came with a nostril hair singeing amount of ethanol that took several minutes to dissipate.

The Ski Club Manchester: The Brandy Blazer

The award for the most fun cocktail to look at was closely contested by the bright blue and coconut-rimmed Tiffany & Coco, a bizarre and overly sweet Jack Daniels and blue curacao concoction, and the monstrously large Ski Club Punch Bowl, a kind of chilled mulled wine brew. Served in an oversized gold cocktail glass, it made quite the statement, but with a heavy dose of plum bitters and red wine, left an unattractive lip-curling skin on your teeth. Resultantly, the blue cocktail won out, but as beauty is only skin deep, I won’t be flirting with this cocktail menu again any time soon, nor the champagne or spirits by the bottle list, which stretches way beyond my budget.

The Ski Club Manchester: Tiffany & Coco

The Ski Club Manchester: Ski Club Punch Bowl

Had Heart Soul Rock and Roll not skimped on the décor, presumably to save money after the grandiosity of The Yacht Club, and paid more attention to the delivery, this could have been a wholly different review. Great ideas are all in evidence here, and hiring #22 Redbank to design the food menu shows they’re dedicated to seeing through a good concept, but the devil is in the detail, and they’re missing it. Small successes can be seen in the friendliness of the staff and a reasonably priced food menu, but in spite of that, I won’t be returning, despite the temptation of that delicious fondue.

I will be keeping an eye on future ventures from Heart Soul Rock and Roll, however. This kind of creativity is much welcomed, and has the potential to inject some much needed fun into the Manchester hospitality scene. Just not this Christmas sadly, kids.

Most Memorable Meal: Dollybakes

25 Oct

So, I’ve known Rachel (aka Dollybakes) since I was a teenager, and our friendship has lasted over the years, in no small part down to our shared love of troughing and a strong mutual respect for our hometown’s best baked good; Aussie Crunch. As well as being an ace baker, Rachel is seriously adventurous when it comes to eating out, and has been to some incredible places that its unlikely I’ll ever get to, so seemed the perfect person to invite to be the first person to share her most memorable meal. Enjoy…

Hi, I’m Rachel and I eat a lot…

I’m a blogger, baker and recipe creator at www.dollybakes.co.uk. You’ll generally find me in a restaurant or the kitchen, and hear me talking about food or my increasing fear of developing gout.

When Lauren asked me to do a post for her blog, I was both thrilled and utterly terrified. I am quite happy to rant a way on my own, however writing for someone else always feels like I am on best behaviour because I’m a guest in their house… She asked me to write about my most memorable meal. Eating is my favourite hobby. I am a baker because ultimately I am a champion cake eater first*. Therefore it was hard to pick one meal that stands out above the rest.

* Disclaimer: I have won no actual awards for my cake related gluttony, however I have come from a long line of cake eating thoroughbreds, prized for our cake polishing prowess.

So we went to Copenhagen for our Tea…

Really the decision was made for me, because it’s the one I am asked about most frequently. In March 2011 we went to Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s been voted the San Pellegrino Best Restaurant in the World three years in a row now, so it was a red rag to a bull! We made the decision to go about four months before we went, quite happy to fly to Copenhagen for our tea, then back home the next day. Getting into Noma is tricky at best. Notoriously one of the hardest in the world to get into, it’s all about perseverance. Two people from our party were both trying via the preferred online system. In the end my husband got the reservation, whilst trying on three separate web browsers! We were really lucky to get in the first time we tried, but we also know people who waited months.

Special… So special…

Lauren asked me to pick somewhere that was special. Apart from the fact that we were giddy as hell fire about visiting the best restaurant in the world, I was sharing the experience with some of my favourite people; my husband and our friends Wayne and Vicki. Together we have trotted all over the show in pursuit of amazing food, so this was an itch we just had to scratch. The Horwich Fine Dining Society were going global! Noma was also my ‘carrot on a stick’ after having surgery to remove four wisdom teeth and a bit of jaw four weeks before, something I had put of for almost ten years! I was also ‘celebrating’ the birthday which marked the last year of my twenties…

The Nitty Gritty

Was it as good as you expected? That’s the first question people ask. Yes. I’d go again in a heartbeat. Noma is as much about the show as it is about the food you eat. The dining room is dimly lit by candles, with sheepskin rugs slung over the back of wooden chairs. It feels thoroughly Nordic in every way. You are welcomed to your table and guided through the menu. ‘Seven different appetizers will be served before your seventeen course tasting menu. The first is in front of you’. At this point we were all gazing into a vase filled with twigs. That’s right. Twigs. Like the ones birds build their houses with. These wooden charlatans were actually malt flatbreads with juniper. Looks like a twig, tastes like an amazing biscuit. Sneaky.

You are reminded from this point forth exactly what is edible and what is not. After all, they had us totally ‘Willy Wonker-ed’ in terms of what you believe you can eat. ‘No, the stones are not edible. But the pebbles are… as is the moss’. You might think these are gimmicky, but they genuinely tasted amazing.

Each course is presented by the chef who created it, who brings it to the table along with an explanation of how it is made. Did you know that reindeer tongue takes over 36 hours to prepare? Neither did I. Nor did I know that it takes a massive pile of sorrel leaves to make one bottle of juice. Had no idea. Noma do an amazing juice menu as well as a wine pairing. As I hate wine with a passion (really…), I opted for this. Other juices included sea buckthorn, apple and pine and elderflower.

Over the next few hours you are treated to one of the best shows on Earth. ‘Muddy’ vegetables in pots, fish sticking out of doughnuts, knives in sheaths, old biscuit tins filled with cookies, giant eggs with smaller ones nestled inside, a bleeding snowman, brown paper packages and bone marrow made of caramel… Sounds ridiculous. It was. It totally confuses what your brain takes for granted and makes you look at food in a totally different way.

Molecular gastronomy (yak, I hate that phrase) has wowed us with poofs of green smoke and sounds whilst we eat. Nordic foraged food left us hungry for creativity in a different form. There’s something strangely bewitching about someone who can get you excited about a dark green juice and eating moss.

Memories to Last a Lifetime

It’s expensive and as we are constantly reminded, ‘it was a long way to go for your tea’. It was worth every penny and mile travelled just to say I have eaten Rene Redzepi’s food and experienced Noma. Regardless of all the accolades, this was one of the best experiences of my life.

Here are some of the pictures we took. As I mentioned, it was really dark inside (think cave…) so it was really hard to get decent shots without blinding the other diners!

The Menu
Seabuckthorn leather
Fish doughnuts!
Sorrel juice
Picked vegetables with bone marrow
Packaged caramel bonemarrow
Chocolate crisps

I am going to use a little artistic license with the brief… Noma was my number one, but I’m giving you my top five because they were playing on my mind like a child accidentally left home alone at Christmas…

  1. Noma – see above!
  2. Frantzen/Lindeberg, Stockholm – some of the best vegetable sorcery I have ever seen. Similar to Noma in content with a style all of their own.
  3. The Fat Duck, Bray – we went here for our Hag Do (we refused to have Hen and Stags…) again with Wayne and Vicki. An experience I will cherish forever and a show I will never forget!
  4. The French Laundry, Yountville – nearly killed us getting in, this was part of a trip for our 30th birthdays just a few weeks ago.
  5. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London – still a favourite after all these years. Fantastic food with incredible service.

I could write just as much on burgers and tea rooms, but I shall end it on this. A good meal is not determined by the number of Michelin stars, AA rosettes, its Good Food Guide number or ranking in the San Pellegrino top 50. For me it’s all about how comfortable I feel, the entertainment value, the taste and ultimately the people I am sharing it with.

Please feel free to ask questions or just say hello!

Blog: DollyBakes

Twitter: @dollybakes

Facebook: DollyBakes

Nosy at my pics: Pinterest

Most Memorable Meal: Introduction

24 Oct

A big part of the reason I love food is because it’s so effortless in its ability to bring people together. Now, I love a good pig out as much as the next person, dressing myself up as a foodie solely to make the sheer amount I trough socially acceptable. And whilst I indulge in the occasional secret binge, eating hobnobs by the packet (alone and usually while watching Home and Away), the thing I love most about food is that it has been the backdrop to some of the most memorable conversations of my life, and played a huge part in shaping the relationships I have with the people I love.*

Soppy muck, but true. Never underestimate the power of a good meal (and a few too many glasses of wine), sitting face-to-face for a few hours for getting everything off your chest, or providing a brilliant opportunity to bring a group of people together and have a proper catch up. Spending more time with people I love, or getting to know new people who are similarly loco about food, is one of the major reasons I started this blog. Praise be to Lickerish Split.

I have seen more of my Auntie Emma (another food nut) in the past few months than I have in the past few years over our shared love of a good recipe, and have met ace people like Helen and Robyn at many a food event across Manchester, since having had them round for tea with a whole years worth of foodie fun planned out ahead of us.

At some point, I’ll share my most memorable meal; something which really sticks out not only as an incredible food experience, but something that also means something special to me and the person (or people) I shared it with. For the next few months or so, however, I’m going to put the occasional blog post in the hands of my favourite fellow foodies who also have a story to share. The brief is simple: share your most memorable meal, who it was with and why it was so special. Looking forward to seeing which experiences people hold most dear…

* Though my taste in TV programmes may be a little dodgy, my food choices and dining companions are always of the highest quality.

Chipotle Fried Chicken

20 Oct

Fried chicken heals souls; pretty much a personal mantra since my uni days, when my fellow students and I paid witness to the opening of Chicken Hut (also affectionately known as CHUT), a takeaway den of ill repute and the best fried chicken in Birmingham. The thighs and fries combo could assuage the meanest of promised hangovers, though over the years, CHUTs chicken burger eventually became the prize at the end of a night instead of the aforementioned aid to an easy Sunday morning. (Sad bitch). Yet who can deny the allure of crunchy, greasy, salty chicken?

This love affair with fried chicken has carried through the years, and given the proliferation of fried chicken joints on every local high street, one the nation seems keen to continue sharing in too. Though I eventually traded dirty takeaway dishes in for the more respectable (cough) offerings of KFC, the god awful service proved a most effective incentive against indulging more often than is decent, and with time (and a slowing metabolism), my after-hours flirtation with the tastiest of takeaway fodder almost ground to a halt.

Fear not though, my friends. This is not a tale of heartbreak. Having just lived through the year of the burger, and witnessed the rising obsession both in London and Manchester with all things American barbecue, fried chicken has started to make a name for itself again, though this time done up gourmet for the lovies out there. My first taste of the seriously good stuff was at a recent outing to Southern Eleven, and with Solita promising to put buttermilk fried chicken on the menu for an age, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I’ve been working on this little number for the last month or so, perfecting and playing around until I got the spicy, smoky flavour with a slightly salty hit that I was yearning for. I went west on one occasion using too much garlic, which completely overwhelmed the meat, and had a spectacularly stupid moment using cumin in my coating. Who needs a chilli flavoured fried chicken? Not me. Chipotle is THE winner, however, and along with a big hit of smoked paprika, there’ll be no secret recipe shit round this way. Good food is meant to be shared.*

Chipotle Fried Chicken

I made this for the gorgeous Helen and Robin, both Twitter friends and fellow foodies, both whom I met at Solita on its opening night. Served with a big bowl of buttery mash and a wilted spinach and garlic salad, it was the perfect dish for the end of a long day and a piss wet through Manchester night. What can I say? Fried chicken heals souls. So go. Cease with your dirty Dixy Chicken habit and make someone you love a bowl of freshly fried chicken.


For the marinade

  • 600ml buttermilk
  • 4 teaspoons coriander – chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves – finely chopped
  • 1 onion – finely chopped
  • 2 chipotle chillies – dried
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 6 chicken thighs – skin removed

For the coating

  • 4 tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika


  1. For the marinade, combine all the ingredients for the marinade and coat the chicken in a shallow dish. Cover and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge, or for a minimum of 6 hours.
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the coating. Remove the chicken from the marinade and dip into the spiced flour. Coat thoroughly and return to the fridge for a further 45 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  4. Heat 200ml vegetable oil to in a deep heavy-bottomed saucepan, until a breadcrumb sizzles and browns when dropped in it. (This oil gets mighty hot, so keep an eye on it and be careful when placing the chicken in and pulling it out). Add the coated chicken thighs and fry until golden all over. Remove and place on a baking sheet.
  5. Transfer to the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked through.

* My recipe is based on this Antony Worral Thompson piece from BBC Food. I’m sure he won’t mind my pinching it.

The Blue Pig

18 Sep

A good few years ago, one of the world’s loveliest gentlemen (made more excellent by the fact he works in cheese) explained to me the concept of the third place. Outside of work and your own home, it prescribes that everyone should have a “somewhere” they can go and just be. Pub, café, restaurant, wherever, its that other space where you can completely forget yourself and just sink into your surroundings, completely comfortable and at peace. A gorgeous concept, methinks, and one which has had me searching for years.

In Manchester, it’s not easy to find your third place. There are so many foodie dwellings, many of them excellent establishments, tempting me with delicious eats, flattering lighting and walls of wines and spirits, with new eateries popping up every day. In the name of keeping the blog interesting, it is my duty (cough) to test drive new places, so I rarely frequent the same gaffe twice. Now sure, variety is the spice of life and all that, but all this newness makes finding a hiding hole from the world bloody difficult.

In the space of just four short weeks however, I’ve have managed to visit  The Blue Pig twice, once in the name of trying it out, and second because I couldn’t keep away. A miraculous feat, given that it’s only been open since early August, and strong testament to what a little gem this place is. The latest venture from the people at Odd, The Blue Pig is a sophisticated and fun diversion from its usual fare, based on a Parisian salon, with the continental food and drink to match, (plus a few local treats to keep it real).

The Blue Pig, an all day affair

Having noticed the place weeks in advance of opening, hard to ignore with the hanging blue pig swaying in the breeze, from the outside, it looks cavernous and moody. All dark lights and big booths, I couldn’t imagine how it could be filled or whip up the atmosphere needed to make the place come alive, but I was wrong. It has been packed out every time I have been, with a perfect mix of NQ characters, from young professionals to hardened hipsters, creative types and the odd tourist wandering in from Market Street.

The Blue Pig, of moody lighting

The Blue Pig, where pigs hang out (sorry)

The gently buzzing atmosphere and happy eating and drinking provides an authentic salon feel, and though it’s a haven for people watching, you just melt into the background, perfectly cocooned with your companions despite the size of the place. The food helps too. Both times, my friends and I choose to build our own deli board from the enticingly lit cheese and meat counter, though you can also choose from the 333 menu, three courses of three options each for just £20, seemingly ace value for money.  

The Blue Pig, deli counter

The Bue Pig, 333 Menu

Mortadellabresaola and braised chorizo in a paprika laden oil, (perfect for dunking bread), brought the continent, with a Kidderton Ash goats cheese, a local favourite from Raven’s Oak Dairy in Cheshire, a creamy fresh Somerset brie and a gently tangy Shropshire blue, we had one pretty special sharing board, the best way I can think of to bring people together for a good catch up. Accompanied by an intense but incredible lamb’s liver pate and chutneys and hummus to finish off, we were in heaven.

The Blue Pig, deli board

The only bollocks is the size of the portions. Between myself, Danielle and Bev, my lovely companions on my second visit, we had cleaned the board within twenty minutes, and though the prices of the individual items don’t seem too steep, coming in between £2 and £4, it quickly adds up when trying to make a feast. Regardless of the girth of the meal, there’s just too much good stuff to be put off going, including the waitresses, full of personality and some seriously good banter, without ever being over familiar, who happily recommended matching drinks or new nibbles to try.  

I can’t wait to go again, especially to try the 333 menu, and if I’m ever around during the day, get my smackers around a bowl of breakfast churros, which sadly shut up shop at 4pm. The thought of going and getting lost for an afternoon, hiding in one of the booths with a  bottle of wine and hunk of bread and cheese fills me joy, so much so, I think I just might have found my third place. Where’s yours?

Cherryade Cake

13 Sep

When it comes to back to school flavours, for me the abiding food memories of childhood strongly revolve around sweet treats (aside from a dirty obsession with chips, cheese and beans). Pear drops, refresher bars and the school time special of Aussie Crunch, a Bolton favourite of chocolate and coconut crunchy goodness, for me all reigned supreme. So when it came to making my first ever Clandestine Cake Club bake for the Bolton branch, around the theme of Back to School, guess where my mind wandered…

After discounting traditional favourites like chocolate sponge and green custard, and a bizarre moment where I wondered what I might do with an everlasting gobstopper, I remembered the year long obsession I had with Cherryade. Sickly sweet, neon hued pop, I was practically pink for the whole of my seventh year, until I went one slurp too far and ended my love affair with a particularly violent vomit session. Twenty years later, only my ongoing love affair with cake and an exciting bake based challenge could inspire me to bring this flavour back.

With a very specific taste and mouth feel, only Cherryade Soda Stream Syrup would do to achieve the flavour needed, and other than knowing I wanted to top the cake in edible glitter and popping candy to simulate the effervescent quality of the drink, I started with a blank recipe page. Two sponge recipes later, both burnt to a crisp due to the addition of the sugar syrup and three strange shades of buttercream made, I ran out of patience and rang the cake and bake hotline, also known as my Aunty Em.*

Advising me to stick to a basic Victoria Sponge recipe and using a drizzle to flavour the cake, I was back on track, and on the Friday before the big day, my recipe finally came together. A marbled pink sponge, drizzled with a sticky cherryade drizzle and sandwiched and coated with the girliest of buttercream icing, (topped with the aforementioned pink edible glitter and popping candy), I had achieved my dream of recreating my girlhood pop in cake form. As you can well imagine, its super sweet but don’t be put off. It’s absolutely delicious in small doses, just like its namesake. Enjoy!


For the sponge

  • 340g (12oz) self-raising flour – sifted
  • 340g (12oz) caster sugar
  • 340g (12oz) butter – softened
  • 6 medium eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pink food gel

 For the drizzle

  • 40g (1oz) caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Cherryade Soda Stream Syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water

For the buttercream

  • 250g (9oz) unsalted butter
  • 500g (180z) icing sugar – sifted
  • 2 tablespoons Cherryade Soda Stream syrup
  • 2 tablespoons pink food colouring

For decoration

  • Pink Edible Glitter
  • Cherry Popping Candy


  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F / gas mark 5.
  2. Grease and line a 20cm round springform cake tin with baking paper.
  3. To make the first sponge layer, place 170g self-raising flour, 170g caster sugar, 170g butter and 3 eggs into a large bowl and mix with an electric hand whisk until thoroughly combined.
  4. Divide out 1/3 of the sponge mixture, and in a separate bowl mix with ½ teaspoon pink food gel until the colour is evenly mixed throughout.
  5. Using separate teaspoons, alternately spoon in the pink and cream colour sponge mixes into the cake tin, with the colours sitting side by side without mixing, in a polka dot effect.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the cake is golden and springy to the touch.
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Repeat steps 1 to 7 to make the second sponge layer.
  9. Whilst the cake layers are cooling, mix the caster sugar, water and Cherryade Soda Stream sugar syrup to make the Cherryade drizzle.
  10. Once the cake layers are cool, pierce holes in the top of each cake with a knife or skewer and spoon 4 to 5 teaspoons of the drizzle over the surface of each cake. Leave for one hour to allow the drizzle to soak through.
  11. Whilst the drizzle is soaking through, in a large bowl beat the softened unsalted butter until smooth before gradually adding the icing sugar, mixing through each time until the icing sugar is fully incorporated. Add 1 tablespoon of Cherryade Soda Stream syrup and 1 tablespoon of pink food colouring half way through adding the icing sugar, and then again at the end of mixing to soften the buttercream.
  12. Taking one layer of the sponge, cover the surface with the pink Cherryade buttercream, before sandwiching with the top layer of sponge. Cover the top and side of the whole cake with the remaining buttercream, using a palette knife to ensure a smooth rounded finish.
  13. Decorate with pink edible glitter and add the cherry popping candy just before serving.

*All give thanks for my Aunty Em!