A quest for gastro-liberation, an excuse to buy more cookbooks…

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Get me to the church on time

A few months ago, my cool lady-drummer friend Ruth got married and I was lucky enough to attend and also contribute to her day by baking her wedding cake. Being given free rein and knowing that she is a chocolate fiend of the highest order, I decided to go for a triple-tiered chocolate behemoth. A luscious devil’s food cake sponge sandwiched together with salted dulce de leche; a fluffy red velvet cake; and finally a specially-created meringue and raspberry concoction for the top tier.


Due to incipient laryngitis (not that I had the foresight of diagnosis then), I couldn’t attend the reception but by all accounts, the top tier proved popular with all concerned. So here’s the recipe – make it for a wedding; make it for a birthday; make it for yourself. No judgement here. It’s named Babe Ruth because, well didn’t she look a babe on the day? (Lovely wedding photography by Maureen Du Preez, you can see more of Ruth’s wedding here if you’re nosy!)

Ruth and Steve

Congratulations Ruth and Steve!


Babe Ruth cake
The recipe is inspired, in part, by a Nigella Lawson creation. I stole the idea of a meringue base from her and substituted the truffle centre for a devil’s food sponge and filled it with fresh whipped raspberry cream. The result should be alternately sweet and tart; fluffy and chewy; and ultimately delectable.

Babe Ruth cake

For the meringue base

1 medium egg white

50g caster sugar

2 tsps cocoa powder

A drop of white wine vinegar

For the sponge

200g plain flour

40g cocoa powder

280g caster sugar

3 tsp baking powder

80g salted butter, softened

240ml milk

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling

A punnet of raspberries

A tub of double cream

Icing sugar to taste (or raspberry jam if you’re in a pinch)

For the icing

250g unsalted butter, softened

200g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp plain flour

3 tbsp milk

Start by preparing the meringue base. In a spotlessly clean bowl (I tend to give my bowls a quick wipe with a kitchen tissue spritzed in vinegar or lemon juice), whip the egg whites until they hold peaks. Add in the sugar and keep whipping until glossy and stiff. Finally combine in the cocoa powder and two drops of vinegar. Divide this mixture between two greased and lined 17cm tins and bake for 15-20 minutes on 180c/gas mark 4.

Whilst the meringue bases are baking, prepare the sponge mixture and start by creaming the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract and combine until smooth. Finally, alternately add the rest of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and cocoa) with the milk in thirds, mixing to make a smooth batter of dropping consistency.

Once the meringue bases are cooked (they should still be slightly springy but firm to the touch), divide and pour the sponge mix atop the bases. Put these back into the oven at 170c/gas mark 3 for 30-35 minutes (check at 25 minutes and remove from the oven once an inserted cake tester comes out cleanly).

Leave both to cool completely (and do not have a disaster in which a ladybird falls into the cake, rendering one layer completely useless and the harried baker close to exhausted tears).

Once cooled, fill with the raspberry cream (just whip the cream, sugar and raspberries together in a bowl. If you’re more patient than I, you can puree the raspberries and sieve them prior to combining with the cream. I don’t mind the seeds so much so I don’t bother!). The icing is a standard whipped buttercream made by whipping the butter and sugar together until it lightens in colour. Add in the roux made of milk and flour (just heat and whisk the two together until thickened into a custard-like thickness) and the vanilla extract. I decorated the cake using the buttercream rose method as espoused by I Am Baker which looks incredibly impressive for very little extra effort!