Take comfort in chocolate: White chocolate & cherry sponge cake

Indulge yourself over Easter with these delicious cakes and puds – and a few handy vegan and egg-free alternatives.

This scrumptious white chocolate & cherry sponge cake is perfect for afternoon tea

This scrumptious white chocolate & cherry sponge cake is perfect for afternoon tea

This scrumptious white chocolate & cherry sponge cake is perfect for afternoon tea 

Serves 12

  • 300g (10½oz) unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
  • 300g (10½oz) caster sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 300g (10½oz) self-raising flour

For the ganache (or you canmake buttercream, see tip at the bottom of the page)

Swap it

You can use tinned cherries: drain well and pat dry before placing on top of the cake. You can also chop a few up and mix with the jam to fill the cake.

  • 450g (1lb) white chocolate, chopped
  • 250ml (9fl oz) double cream

For the filling

  • 150ml (5fl oz) double cream
  • 6tbsp cherry jam

For the chocolate curls

  • 150g (5½oz) white chocolate
  • Fresh cherries, to decorate (or see Swap It at the end)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Grease and line 3 x 18cm sandwich tins. Put the butter and caster sugar in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little flour if the mixture begins to curdle. Gently fold in the remaining flour with 4tbsp of hot, but not boiling, water until evenly mixed.

Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and just firm to the touch. Leave to cool a little then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

When ready to assemble, make the ganache. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Pour 150ml of the double cream into a medium pan set over a high heat. As soon as the cream begins to bubble at the edges, remove the pan from the heat and cool for 5 seconds, before pouring it over the chocolate. Allow the cream to melt the chocolate for 5 minutes then stir until smooth, but don’t worry if it seems a little thick.

How to make it egg-free

For the sponge, beat 225g (8oz) butter with 300g (10½oz) caster sugar until creamy, then add 450ml (16fl oz) milk, 6tsp white wine vinegar, 450g (1lb) selfraising flour and 1½tsp bicarbonate of soda, and beat until smooth. Bake as above for 20 minutes until golden, then follow the rest of the recipe.

Leave the mixture to cool for a further 10 minutes, then add the remaining cream and mix with an electric hand whisk until smooth and creamy.Leave at room  temperature, as it will set quickly.

To make the filling, mix the double cream with an electric hand whisk until it forms soft peaks, then stir the cherry jam in and use to sandwich the cakes together.

Spread the top and sides of the cake thinly with the ganache to seal in crumbs, then spread a second, thicker coat on top. Try not to over-work the ganache as it will set quickly.

To decorate, melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, being careful it doesn’t touch the water. Place 1tbsp in a small piping bag and drizzle over the fresh cherries. Set aside to cool. Spread the rest thinly on the underside of a baking tray or on a piece of marble. Allow to set, then run a knife along it to form curls. Arrange them on top of the cake with the cherries.

Quick bite: To make buttercream, beat 200g (7oz) butter or margarine with 400g (14oz) icing sugar and 1-2tbsp boiling water until smooth. Add flavour such as finely grated citrus zest, a dash of vanilla or 1tsp cocoa powder