Chocolate Baskets – easy on the rations

Following through on my promise of more cake, here is another recipe taken from my grandmother’s recipe journal that was given to her by a friend in 1941. The book, which my aunt gave me this summer when I visited her in Nairn, is providing me with so much culinary inspiration that it’s hard to keep up. It contains over 325 handwritten recipes and cuttings dating predominantly from the fifties, when Britain was in the grip of post-war rationing – a fascinating subject that intend to look into in more detail in coming posts. For the moment, however, since everyone in the country is watching The Great British Bake Off, here is a recipe for pretty ‘chocolate baskets’ aka butterfly cakes.

The recipe comes from a cutting for Royal Baking Powder that proudly declares that these cakes are ‘delicious, and not too heavy on the rations’. As I am living in a time of relative abundance I made mine with double cream whipped with a little sugar but the original recipe is paired with one for ‘mock cream’ – a cream substitute made from margarine, sugar, evaporated milk and a few drops of vanilla essence.

Chocolate Baskets
Author: Gannet & Parrot / Royal Baking Powder
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
  • 85g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa
  • 1 rounded tsp
  • baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 55g butter
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 6 tbsp warm milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • For the cream filling
  • 150ml double cream, whipped with 1 tsp caster sugar
  • Preheat oven to 200°
  1. Line a 12 hole baking sheet with paper cases and set aside. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Cream together the butter, sugar and egg until light and fluffy.
  2. Gently fold in the flour mixture along with the warm milk, a little at a time, to form a soft batter. My grandmother taught me to fold cake batter ‘like a pill’, going round the bowl with your spatula and then cutting straight down the middle.
  3. The batter will be quite wet, but don’t fret! When combined, divide the batter equally between the paper cases and place in the hot oven for 15-20 minutes until well risen and cratered on top.
  4. Cool on a wire rack while you prepare your cream.
  5. When cool, slice off the tops of your cakes with a sharp knife and then cut the tops in half. Put a spoonful of cream on top of each cake and then arrange the tops so that they pop out of the cream like wings. Finish with a fresh berry or two if desired.



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About Chloe King

I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.

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