Tag Archives: Nutella

Buttermilk Cake with Nutella Frosting

Those of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter may have seen me bemoaning the dark art of tidying up. I managed to throw out the recipe (scribbled on the back of an envelope) for the best vanilla sponge I’ve ever made – this lovely, soft buttermilk sponge that I want to share with you today. I am pretty annoyed with myself about it; the cake really was a triumph, and I’d love to be able to replicate it. I’ve had a go at it again since, and I’ll give you the second version of the recipe, but I’ll be mogadored if it’s as good as the elusive original.

I took inspiration for the decoration of this cake from a photo I found on Pinterest, from Sweetharts Cakes and Bakes. I loved the idea of lining up Mikado biscuits around a cake to make it into a wee fort. What better way to stop cake theft? So, I had a go at making my own version – I used my sadly lost buttermilk sponge and the white chocolate and macadamia nutella for frosting, then surrounded the cake with milk chocolate Mikado biscuits. Here are a few photos:

For the life of me I couldn’t get a good photo of the whole cake – my mojo wasn’t working that day. Still, you get the idea. The chocolate spread is delicious as icing, and sets up nice and firm to hold those biscuits in place as it cools. You will have to heat it a little to get it spreadable, but make sure it’s spreadable and not pourable; if it’s too soft it won’t hold the Mikado buttresses and they’ll fall off and then snap when you try to stick them back on. Confession: I had a second cake that fell victim to this self same problem. Here is is, poor denuded thing:

So that’s the first of my tips for making a Mikado cake: make sure your icing is nice and thick, and almost cool, before gently pressing the biscuits in around the edges. My second tip is probably even more important: don’t put the Mikado round the edges until the cake is on the serving plate or base board that you will be presenting it on. I made this second, fatal error which compounded the doom of the second cake’s biscuity fortifications. I decorated the cake on an icing turntable, left to cool overnight and then had to lift into a cake carrier and *then* on to a serving plate later. The first cake was alright, with the sticks being anchored on there firmly by the frosting, but the second one was a goner. So frustrating, and then kind of embarrassing as I presented both cakes at once, and one had patently fallen apart in the kitchen moments before…

To focus back on the positive, then, let me quickly tell you about the topping on both cakes. When I made the plain chocolate Nutella and white chocolate and macadamia Nutella, I reserved a few of the toasted nuts after the first stage. I ground these up to a coarse powder with a few bigger chunks, then made a sort of nut brittle crumble for use in cake decorating. I made it up as I went along, and the basic steps to make macadamia brittle are as follows:

  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp water
  • 5 macadamia nuts, coarsely ground

Heat the sugar and water in a frying pan over a medium heat, until the sugar has melted and mixed with the water. Add the ground nuts and mix thoroughly, then cook until lightly browned and very bubbly.

Be careful because this will be extremely hot and liable to leap out and burn the unwary baker.

Once browned, pour the mixture out onto greased paper or tinfoil and allow to cool. When cool, break and crumble into bits – job done!

This was such a simple idea but it really made the cake. It adds crunch and flavour, and it looks really fancy into the bargain. Depending on your definition of fancy, I suppose.

Finally, then, here is the recipe for second best every buttermilk cake. I’m going to continue to work on it. This makes one six inch, five layer cake.

  • 250g plain flour
  • 250g margarine
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 3 large eggs

Put all the ingredients in a bowl, and mix until just combined – no need to overdo it, that’s the secret to a light sponge. Maybe. I think it’s one of them, anyway.

Pour a fifth of the batter into a lined cake tin and bake at 170C for 10 – 15 minutes. If you have more than one six inch cake tin, you can bake several layers at once. I had to do them separately, which is fine but you do get sick of hearing the oven timer. It’s really important that you line the tin with a circle of greaseproof paper when you’re reusing a cake tin, to prevent sticking. Also brush the sides with butter before you pour a new load of cake mix in.

As you remove each layer, place it on a cooling rack. This is also important for keeping the sponge light – if you cool a cake in the tin or flat on a worktop, it will end up more dense as more moisture remains inside the cake. Once all five layers are done and cooled, fill and ice with your favourite homemade Nutella, then stack Mikado round the outsides.

White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Notella (Get it?)

On Monday we looked at a plain chocolate Nutella from a recipe on Leite’s Culinaria. It was a great success, and got me thinking – what could I do to make this recipe even more interesting? Change it up, of course! I had a think about different kinds of nuts that might work well with chocolate – of course, almost all of them do – and also thought about trying white chocolate instead of the traditional milk. I landed on macadamia nuts as a good thing to experiment with; I’ve never baked with them before, so this seemed like a good opportunity to give them a whirl.

Without any further introduction, here’s my recipe for White Chocolate and Macadamia Nutella:

  • 150g macadamia nuts
  • 300g white chocolate, broken into squares
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp skimmed milk powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • pinch of salt (optional)

The method is just the same as the original recipe. First, toast the macadamia nuts in the oven until lightly browned, then allow to cool. Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool, too.



Once the nuts are ready, grind to a paste in a food processor, then add the oil, icing sugar and milk powder and whizz together to mix.



Pour in the melted chocolate and mix again. Taste, and add vanilla and salt if you like.

Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, if you would like a smoother spread. Then pour the chocolate spread into a jar and leave to cool. It will be very firm at room temperature (depending on the room, of course) so you may want to heat it a little before using it – just 10 seconds in the microwave and a good mix around should do the trick.

The macadamia nuts are much more oily than hazelnuts are, so you end up with a much softer paste when you grind them up. I countered this by adding extra milk powder and less vegetable oil, and the end result, when cooled, is still firmer than Nutella from a jar. It also took a bit more mixing to fully incorporate the oil with the other ingredients, but it produced a smoother finish in the end, with hardly any bits of macadamia remaining in the sieve when I strained it.

The macadamias are also naturally salty so they play off well with the sweeter white chocolate. Depending on your chocolate, you may not need to add any extra vanilla, you want to strike the balance between sweet and savoury so hold off on both vanilla and salt until you’ve had a taste. The milk powder makes a good substitute for cocoa powder, adding more creaminess to the spread without changing the colour – I thought this was a spark of genius, myself.
This was a fun way to play with a recipe and the variations are, if not limitless, at least multitudinous. Have a go yourself!


Homemade Plain Chocolate Nutella

I first saw a recipe for homemade Nutella on Leite’s Culinaria at the start of the year. What a great idea! Like many people, I have such a soft spot for Nutella; it features in childhood memories, when I would sometimes get a Nutella sandwich or Nutella on tea biscuits as a treat. As an adult, I had mascarpone and Nutella ice cream in Italy, on a balmy June evening. One of the top ice cream moments of all time. I’ve also used Nutella in baking, to make these gianduia brownies.

Other brands of chocolate spread are available, of course, with varying degrees of deliciousness.

I finally got round to making my own Nutella – or Notella, if you will – just last month. I swapped plain chocolate for the milk chocolate, to make something a bit more sophisticated and less sweet, but otherwise I more or less followed the recipe on LC. I converted one cup of hazelnuts to 150g, and 12 ounces of chocolate to 300g – I figured those amount were close enough, and fit in well with the packet sizes of hazelnuts and chocolate, respectively. The end result  really is the Nutella you know and love, but a bit thicker at room temperature – I found it needed a little warming up to make it spreadable. You can use it in any way you use the real thing, which by the way includes pressing it into service as an icing and filling for cakes.

It’s a slightly time consuming process, mainly due to the opening stages of toasting, skinning and cooling the hazelnuts, so you’d be forgiven for asking why you’d bother when you can buy Nutella right off the shelf and ready to use. If you’re asking that question, this recipe probably isn’t for you. There are some of us who want to do it just so that we can say we did, just to try to recreate something in our own kitchens. You can also be sure of exactly what’s in your chocolate hazelnut spread if you make it yourself – there are no added preservatives and you can make sure the chocolate and cocoa are Fair Trade, for example. You can also make the spread chunky or smooth, as you prefer, and toy with the sweetness by adding an extra pinch of salt along the way.


Start with melted chocolate and skinned, toasted hazelnuts

Blend the hazelnuts to a paste with a few other ingredients

Add the melted chocolate

Homemade Nutella!


This was just the starting point in my Notella experiments – I have an even more exciting recipe to share with you on Wednesday, which was inspired by this one but, if you ask me, surpassed it. I look forward to posting it!


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