Vegan birthday cake

Plant-based diet recipes - BBC Good Food
  • Prep:1 hr
  • Cook:30 mins
  • plus cooling and 1½ -2½ hrs chilling
  • More effort
  • Serves 16-20

Bake a plant-based version of a chocolate fudge cake for a birthday party. Everyone can enjoy it, including guests who have a dairy intolerance or egg allergies


  • 320ml sunflower oil , plus extra for the tins
  • 450ml soy , almond or coconut milk (the pouring variety, not a can)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 500g light muscovado sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 260g plain soy or coconut yogurt
  • 450g self-raising flour
  • 160g cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the vegan buttercream

  • 200g dairy-free dark chocolate
  • 400g vegan spread , at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 800g icing sugar , sifted
  • colourful sprinkles (make sure they are suitable for vegans)


  • STEP 1– Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Oil three 20cm round cake tins and line the bases and sides with baking parchment (if you don’t have three tins, cook the batter in batches). Whisk the milk and vinegar together in a jug – the milk should curdle slightly. Set aside.
  • STEP 2– Whisk the sugar, oil and vanilla extract together in a bowl, then whisk in the yogurt, making sure to break down any sugar lumps. Pour in the soured milk and mix well.
  • STEP 3– Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and ½ tsp salt into a separate bowl and stir well to combine. Gradually whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until you have a smooth batter, but be careful not to over-mix.
  • STEP 4– Divide the batter evenly between the tins and bake for 25-30 mins, until well risen and springy, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out almost clean. A few sticky crumbs are fine, but the mixture should not be wet.
  • STEP 5– Leave the cakes to cool in their tins for 20 mins, then carefully turn them out onto a wire rack  to cool completely. They will be delicate so be gentle (a cake lifter is helpful). The sponges will keep, covered, at room temperature for up to two days.
  • STEP 6– For the vegan buttercream, melt the chocolate in the microwave a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Leave to cool. Beat the spread and vanilla on high speed in a Cooks Professional Stand Mixer or a few minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the icing sugar gradually, beating on slow to start with, then turning up the speed to max until the mixture is light and creamy. Pour in the cooled chocolate and combine thoroughly. Chill the buttercream for at least 30 mins before using.
  • STEP 7– To assemble the cake, first use a sharp knife to trim the tops off the sponges to make them level. Put one of the sponges on a serving plate, cake stand or 20cm round cake drum (using a cake drum makes it easier to ice the cake neatly and to move it onto a stand or plate later). Spread over a layer of the buttercream, using a palette knife to get an even, neat finish. Top with the second sponge and spread over another layer of buttercream.
  • STEP 8– Top with the last sponge upside-down, so the bottom of the cake becomes the top (this will help to keep the icing neat and relatively crumb-free). Spread the sides of the cake with buttercream. Hold the top sponge steady with a palm if you need to stabilise the cake. Once you have the sides covered as neatly as you can, cover the top with a thin layer of buttercream. Use your palette knife to neaten the top and sides. If you have a side scraper, use it to sweep around the sides and top to sharpen the coating. (This is a crumb coat, trapping any crumbs to give you a neat, firm base.) Put the cake in the fridge to firm up and chill for 1-2 hrs.
  • STEP 9– To finish, cover the sides and top of the cake in the same manner, using most of the remaining buttercream. Press the sprinkles up against the bottom of the cake, about a quarter to a third of the way up. You can dress the top of the cake with a circle of sprinkles, or for a fancier finish, pipe little swirls around the top edge of the cake using any remaining buttercream scraped into a piping bag fitted with a large open star nozzle, then finish with more sprinkles.
  • STEP 10– Keep the cake in the fridge to stay firm, then remove 1 hr before serving. Will keep, covered, in the fridge, for up to three days.

Giant pan cookie


  • 175g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g light brown soft sugar
  • 1 large free-range egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • 200g chocolate chips
  • Vanilla ice cream, to serve


  1. Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5. In a Cooks Professional 1000W stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, then beat until well combined.
  2. Sift over the flour, baking powder and salt, then beat again briefly to combine. Stir in the chocolate chips using a wooden spoon or spatula, then spoon the dough into a Cooks Professional Cast iron pan and press down gently to flatten and spread evenly to the edges. Bake for 25-30 minutes until risen and golden. Top with scoops of ice cream, then dig straight in with your spoons!

Baked Apples

4 apples
25g butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
50g fresh breadcrumbs
40g mixed seeds
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp cinnamon or mixed spice

1.Core the apples and score the skin around the circumference with a sharp
knife to stop them from splitting.
2.Combine all the remaining ingredients and carefully stuff the apple cores,
scattering any remaining mix over the apples. Place them in the base of the
air fryer.
3.Select the bake function (180°C – 15 minutes), cook for the duration of the
program or they are slightly collapsed

White Chocolate Cheesecake with Fresh Strawberries

Makes 10-12 slices
1/3 cup butter (about 3 oz)
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup muscovado sugar

1 lb yogurt cheese (please see note)
1 lb mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp honey
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 lb good quality white chocolate
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

To serve:
1 ½ lbs fresh strawberries
2-3 tbsp granulated sugar/natural cane sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit (180 Celsius).

To prepare the pan, wrap the bottom and sides of the pan with aluminum foil, shiny side out. Coat the inside with vegetable oil spray. For ease of serving, invert the bottom of the pan, so the lip around the edge faces downward, and lock in place. Select a roasting pan large enough to accommodate the pan and place a paper towel in it. Bring a kettle of water to boil. Set aside.

To prepare the crust, cut the butter into smaller pieces and melt over low heat. Let it cool slightly. In a medium bowl, combine the oats and the sugar. Add the cooled melted butter and mix to combine. Transfer the mixture onto the prepared pan and with your hands spread the mixture to cover the base and sides of the pan. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until light golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 Fahrenheit (150 Celsius).

To melt the white chocolate, bring a pot of water, about 1/3 high, to a boil and lower the heat. Chop or shave the white chocolate and transfer to a bowl. Place the bowl over the bain marie and allow the white chocolate to melt, stirring once. When melted, remove from the heat and stir with a rubber spatula. Set aside.

To prepare the filling, make sure the cheeses are at room temperature. Beat together the yogurt and mascarpone cheese and honey on low speed until just until incorporated and smooth in your Cooks Professonal 1200W Stabnd Mixer. Scrape the bowl down to ensure everything is combined. On low speed, beat in eggs and egg yolk one at a time. Don’t over mix. Add the melted white chocolate and vanilla and mix on low speed until combined. Pour into the baked crust and place in a prepared pan.

To bake the cheesecake, pour the hot water from the kettle into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the spring form pan. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the cheesecake is golden brown on top but still loose in the center. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Then, carefully transfer the cheesecake to a cooling rack and remove the foil. Then run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake from the pan. Let stand for 30 minutes. Refrigerate the cheesecake on the rack until the center is very cold, at least 8 hours, or up to 24 hours.
To prepare the strawberries, wash and dry the strawberries, then core and cut them into quarters. Place half of the strawberries in a blender with half of the sugar and lemon juice and blend until smooth. Add more sugar if necessary. Strain the coulis through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Use the back of a small ladle to push the coulis through. Discard the seeds. Transfer to a bowl.

To serve the cheesecake, remove the side of the spring form pan. To cut the cake, dip a sharp knife into a glass of hot water. Shake off the water, away from the cake, and slice. Wipe the blade clean on a paper towel. Dip the knife again into the hot water and make the second cut. Continue the process as you make each cut. Serve the cheesecake with the fresh strawberries and the coulis.

To make the yogurt cheese: Line a strainer over a bowl with cheesecloth and add the yogurt. Allow the whey to drain for about 7-8 hours. Make sure that the yogurt cheese is not too dry.

Running the knife around the edge after baking will prevent the cheesecake from cracking at the top.

While using the mixer makes your life easier, you can beat the filing by hand.

Try not to overbeat or over mix the filling most especially after adding the eggs. It will cause the cake to rise and fall, which can cause the top of the cake to crack. The less volume you produce, the less the cake will rise.

Waffles with hot chocolate sauce, fried bananas and ice cream

Waffles with hot chocolate sauce, fried bananas and ice cream

Serves 4 

Total Time 10 to 30 minutes


For the waffles 

  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar 
  • 3 free-range eggs, lightly beaten 
  • 425ml/15fl oz full-fat milk 
  • 110g/4oz unsalted butter, melted 

For the chocolate sauce 

For the fried bananas 


1.For the waffles, preheat a Cooks Professional Luxury Rotary Waffle Maker to a medium setting and preheat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1. Place a large wire rack onto a baking tray and keep it warm. 

2.Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the eggs, milk and butter until well combined. 

3.Ladle some of the batter into each well of the waffle maker, close the lid and cook for five minutes, or until golden-brown and crisp. Repeat the process until the batter is used up. Keep the waffles warm on the baking tray in the oven. 

4.For the hot chocolate sauce, melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (ensure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). 

5.In another pan, heat the sugar and 100ml/3½oz water, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. 

6.Stir the sugar syrup into the chocolate until smooth and shiny. 

7.For the fried bananas, heat a frying pan until hot, then melt together the butter and sugar. 

8.Add the bananas and fry for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown all over. 

9.Place the waffles on a plate and top with chocolate sauce and serve the bananas and ice cream on the side. 

Guide to Pastry

Pastry is notoriously difficult among both amateur and professional chefs alike. But if you want to become the next star baker on the Great British Bake Off, pastry is one of the many baking talents that you’ll need to master.

There are different types of pastry that are used in a variety of recipes, each one as interesting and tricky to master as the last. If you want to learn more about pastry, read on!

How many types of pastry are there?

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The sheer amount of pastries available is impressive, but there are six main types of pastry. These are shortcrust, flaky, puff, filo, choux, and hot water crust. The main ingredients tend to be the same or similar for each – a mixture of flour, water, and fats such as butter mixed together to form a dough, used as the basis of many sweet and savoury treats.

Once the pastry dough is formed, it tends to be rolled out thinly to use in baking, depending on the type of pastry in use. Pastries like hot water crust use different methods to form the finished product.

Shortcrust pastry

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Shortcrust is the type of pastry used in most recipes, due to its forgiving nature. It requires a fairly simple recipe, and tends to be quite foolproof, making it one of the most common pastries used today. It’s thought that shortcrust pastry was invented in Venice, with the first recipe being recorded in the 18th century.

To create a simple shortcrust dough, simply mix flour, butter, and salt, adding water to bind the mixture together. It can be mixed either by hand or by using a food processor or stand mixer; mixing the flour and fat together at the start inhibits the formation of gluten, leaving you with a ‘short’, or lovely crumbly, tender pastry.

The general rule of thumb is that you’ll need half the amount of fat to the amount of flour, e.g. for 200g flour, you’ll need 100g butter. As with most pastry, try to avoid handling it as much as possible, so as to prevent the butter from melting. You should try and chill it before using it to bake. Remember to add the liquid gradually – the less liquid your pastry has, the more buttery and crumbly it will be.

Flaky pastry

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This particular variety is characterised by the flakes of pastry achieved through lamination. It can be an effort to make but is more forgiving than puff pastry. It has a higher ratio of fat to flour than shortcrust, with the butter being incorporated in stages, a little bit added after each fold. It can sometimes be called rough puff pastry and is a little easier than its more difficult companion.

The flaky layers are created by shard-like pieces of butter in the dough melting in the oven, releasing steam, which makes the layers puff up. The pastry expands when cooked due to the number of layers, leaving you with a beautifully crisp and flaky finish.

To create the ideal flaky pastry, layers of dough and fat are rolled and folded together. As with most pastry, it’s best made in cool conditions, and should be chilled after making and before being used so as to prevent the fat content from leaking out during cooking. The most rustic and one of the simpler doughs, flaky pastry is a favourite to use in both sweet and savoury recipes.

Puff pastry

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Puff pastry is notorious for being one of the most difficult pastries to master. It’s time-consuming to create the perfect puff, but your efforts will be worth it in the end when you bite into a perfectly crisp pastry. It’s thought to have been invented by a French baker, Cladius Gele, in 1645.

A dough of flour, sugar, salt, and water is rolled out into a rectangle, and the butter is layered on top. The dough is then folded around the butter, a process known as lamination, before being rolled out and folded repeatedly to create multiple layers. The dough should be chilled between each lamination so as to prevent the butter from becoming too warm and melting. 

Careful temperature control is needed at all times to prevent it from merging with the dough. It’s important to chill the butter and dough at all times, so that the gluten is allowed to relax between roll-outs. During cooking, the moisture in the fat evaporates, causing lift and creating delicate layers; the melted butter adds a crispness to the pastry. Puff pastry tends to be used for Danish pastries.

Choux pastry

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A French favourite, choux pastry tends to be used for sweet treats such as profiteroles and eclairs. Choux gets its name from the French word for ‘cabbage’, due to resembling the same shape as a cabbage after cooking. This particular pastry is light, airy, and crisp, and unlike the other types of pastry on this list, it needs to be cooked before you can use it. It’s more batter-like in consistency than the other pastry types, which means it can be piped.

Choux pastry starts life as a mixture of milk or water with butter, which is heated together in a saucepan until the butter melts. Flour is then added to form a dough, and eggs are beaten in to enrich it, creating a wonderfully smooth, golden mix that is then piped.

The high percentage of water in the dough causes it to expand into a light, hollow pastry; the air lifts the pastry to treble in size while cooking. A hole is skewered into the choux halfway through cooking to let the steam out, before being placed back in the oven to dry out and become crisp. Once cooked, the choux is removed from the oven, filled with cream, and topped with chocolate. Choux pastry is used extensively in French patisserie cooking.

Filo pastry

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Filo pastry, or phyllo pastry as it is sometimes known, is perhaps the most difficult of pastry types to make. This is because it tends to dry out quickly – even if shop-bought. Due to its tricky nature, it is perhaps better to buy your own from your local shop rather than attempt to make it yourself. It is difficult and time-consuming to make by hand.

Filo is a paper-thin pastry made up of several layers, which are generally wrapped around a filling and brushed with butter to create delicate, flaky pastries, such as baklava. It’s important to keep the filo pastry hydrated, as it can dry out very quickly if made by hand.

This pastry is very fragile and requires careful handling. Make sure to brush it with oil or butter before shaping and cooking. It takes a great deal of skill to make it yourself, so unless you want to challenge your baking skills it might be easier to just buy it ready-made.

Hot water crust pastry

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This traditional English pastry tends to be mainly used to make savoury pies. Hot water crust tends to be less flaky than the other traditional methods, but is crisp, tender, and serviceable. Traditionally, hot water crust pastry is hand-raised, but over the centuries bakers have been known to use tins, dishes, or bowls as a mould.

Hot water crust pastry is created by melting lard – not butter – in hot water, which is then brought to the boil, before flour is stirred in and it’s worked into a pliable ball. The pastry was then ‘hand raised’ from the bottom of the pie tin to the top, generally while still warm as it became harder to work with once the fat had hardened. Once the pastry case had been hand-raised, it was filled and then covered with a crust, decorated, and then put in the oven ready for baking.

It’s generally accepted that hand-raising your pie doesn’t give you a neat, uniform finish, as some sagging tends to occur during cooking. This is considered to be the mark of a good hand-made pie.

The best pastry

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While these are just the main six types of pastry, there are a few variations which are pastries in their own right.  The main six types listed above are the ones you’re most likely to find in your recipe. 

Shortcrust can be sweetened to create a sweet crust, which tends to be used in a lot of desserts. Instead of binding the mixture with water, sugar and egg yolks are used to create a sweeter pastry that is better fitting for desserts.

Have you got a favourite type of pastry that you like to use in cooking? Or is there a type of pastry you’d like to know more about? Let us know over on our Facebook page!

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How to make genoise

If you’ve watched The Great British Bake Off, you’ll have heard the judges asking for the bakers to make a genoise sponge at some point in the competition. If you ever want to enter the Bake Off tent, or even become a baking extraordinaire, knowing how to make a genoise sponge is a useful skill under your baking belt. But what exactly is genoise sponge, and how can you make it at home?

What is it?

Butter, flour, eggs, and baking equipment on a wooden surface
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Genoise is a sponge which originates from Italy, and is generally associated with French cuisine. It’s a bit different from your average sponge cake – it doesn’t require any chemical additives such as baking powder or bicarbonate of soda to rise. Instead, it relies entirely on the air that you work hard to whisk into the batter. It is notoriously difficult to make, and has had many a baker throw up their whisks in anger. The key to getting it right is in how you whisk your eggs.

Whereas with a normal sponge cake you would just mix the eggs together with the creamed butter and sugar, you need to beat your eggs a little differently for a genoise sponge. The key is to whisk them together with the sugar over a bain-marie; start them off like this, then remove them from the heat and mix them with your electric mixer until the mixture gets to the ribbon stage.

The science

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The secret of a good genoise sponge lies within the heating of the eggs, and of course the properties of the eggs themselves. The protein in eggs is made up of tightly-woven molecules; when these molecules are heated, they unwind and reconnect with other nearby proteins, which helps to give bakes the structure that we want from a good genoise.

Chef’s tip: Once you’ve successfully made your batter and it is sufficiently aerated, be gentle when placing your batter in the tin for cooking. Try and bring your bowl as close to the tin as possible, as you want to ensure you keep as much as you can of that lovely air you’ve worked hard to get into the batter.

Give it a go

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Why not be brave and give it a go yourself! After all, the only way you’ll make the perfect genoise sponge is to practice, practice, practice. As genoise gets most of its flavour from the syrup or toppings you choose to add to it, it’s not a sponge that you’ll eat on its own. Take a look at our delicious strawberry genoise sponge recipe to get you started! Have you got a favourite genoise recipe? Let us know over on our Facebook page.

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Get Bake Off ready

Another year has passed, and it’s once again time for us to visit ‘The Great British Bake Off’ tent. The baking programme has become essential British viewing over the years, and it’s so easy to get inspired to make your own kitchen creations! If you want to know how to get Bake Off ready so you can cook alongside the baking stars, we’ve got you covered.

Baking essentials

Cooks Professional stand mixer
A Cooks Professional stand mixer will be essential.
Source: Cooks Professional.

You won’t be making much progress without getting the bare baking essentials ready! The equipment you need will be specific to the recipe you choose; if you’re making gooey chocolate brownies, you’re not going to need a rolling pin. Take a look at what kitchen concoctions you want to try and stock up on what you need.

A good place to start is a stand mixer – this will be a welcome addition to your kitchen if you regularly make cakes, as well as a variety of other treats. Cake tins, mixing bowls, and a set of measuring scales are a worthwhile investment too. Those will suit a variety of sweet and savoury creations, no matter what you choose to make.

These are just the basics, of course – if you want to do more intricate stuff like piping, you’ll need to stock up on piping bags and an assortment of piping nozzles to make your buttercream stand out from the crowd. For things like game pies that we often see in Bake Off challenges, you’ll likely need a special tin so as to keep your pie in check in the oven. 

Foodie inspiration

Woman looking at a recipe book surrounded by ingredients
Looking at recipes will be a good place to get started.
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The best way to get inspired is to take a look at recipes to tempt your tastebuds. If you want a good place to start we have a variety of tasty recipes right here on our blog. Recipe books from your favourite chefs is another great place to start, or even food bloggers can give you an idea of where to get started.

Remember that baking is supposed to be fun, so pick something that gets you excited to start cooking! Things like croissants are more complicated, so certainly aren’t for the less confident – it can take days to prepare the pastry for that particular delicacy. If you consider yourself more of a novice, choose something fun and simple to get you started. Why not give our Eton mess a try? Or for the more adventurous, this gin and tonic cake is the perfect recipe to start with.

If you’re up for more of a challenge, why not try creating your own recipes? Have a think about what flavours will combine well, and get experimenting. Be wary of more potent ingredients like lavender or liquorice – the strong flavour can often make them difficult to use. Start with a basic Victoria sponge or crumble recipe, and then add your own twist.

Practice, practice, practice

Woman piping onto a tart.
Practising your piping is essential for perfection.
Source: Unsplash.

The best way to make sure your baking excels it to keep practising. If you get the hang of the basics, you’ll be well on your way to Bake Off ready. Don’t be put off by burning your caramel, or your souffle sinking – it’s better to try, try, and try again until you whip those baking skills into shape.

We’re sure your family and friends will be all too willing to taste your bakes, so you can get the feedback you need to improve. That pavlova didn’t turn out as you expected? Bake another one! The flavours are spot on, but that piping needs extra work? Keep practising with those piping bags until everyone marvels at your buttercream prowess. You can practice by using a glass or a mirror to pipe onto. Not only will these let you view your beautiful designs, but they’re easy to wipe clean afterwards.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t get it right the first time around. Paul Hollywood wouldn’t be a bread extraordinaire if there weren’t a few duff loaves along the way! You can learn from your mistakes, and find yourself a better baker at the end of them.

Get baking!

Leah's triple chocolate brownies
You can’t go wrong with Leah’s brownies!
Source: Cooks Professional.

Now that you’ve got all the knowledge you need to get started, it’s time to go and get baking! The best way to get Bake Off ready is to keep practising and going over those essential skills. If you keep up the hard work, you’ll be a star baker in no time at all. 

To get you in the habit of baking regularly, why not enter our Bake of the Month competition over on Facebook? We encourage everyone to share their kitchen creations with us at the end of each month, and you could even win yourself a lovely baking prize too!