Eden's finances in the news

February 29, 2012
Author: Gaynor Coley

Eden Project build

The financial situation at Eden has been in the news a lot during the last few days and as a result we felt it important to post an update here just to clarify exactly what the position is and be open about what it all means.

Eden, as a Social Enterprise, has always financed its capital investment by a mixture of public sector support, private sector loans and lease finance. In order to build the project we originally had loans of £20m including £3m from Cornwall Council. Our county was facing high levels of economic deprivation in 1999 (hence the support from the EU through Objective One). Unlike many Local Authorities, Cornwall Council was not in a financial position to gift land or give a major grant, but the Council did support Eden as a key regeneration project by taking investment funds off the London money markets and making a £3m loan to Eden. This enabled us to start the project and keep on budget and on time for the Millenium. It was a critical decision that meant we were able to go forward and have the widely publicised economic impact now valued by external sources at over £1 billion.

Over the last ten years £15m of our £20m debt has been repaid and our current loans and mortgages stand at £5m. The majority of this is a term loan with our bank. There is no outstanding balance to Cornwall Council.

To put this into context, a £5m loan on a £140m asset with a £20m turnover is a very reasonable level of debt. The current commercial borrowing maximum which banks are happy to lend stands at around 65% of the asset value, so as you can see, our debt figure is much lower than that of some other organisations.

Whilst interest rates are historically low, the issue for us is our ability to service the interest and repayments on any debt from net income. We operate in a mixed economy, with 75% of our income coming from customers (that mainly visit the site) and the balance of 25% from fundraising for the charitable purpose and new projects.

With all of these under extreme pressure in the current economic climate, we’re having to make some difficult decisions including making redundancies. We expect to have to make between 25 and 35 posts redundant and during the next four weeks, we’ll be working hard to keep the number to an absolute minimum by exploring all our options including varying contracts and changing working hours.

Many of the institutions established by the Victorians, such as the museums and botanical gardens, benefit from annual revenue grants but we do not. We rely on customers, donations and sponsorship to keep our 'green cathedral' running every year.

The team will continue to work extremely hard, using imagination and energy, to design and deliver a sustainable model for our social enterprise.










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Cornwall, Tourist attraction

The story behind Cornish pasty crimps

February 29, 2012
Author: admin

A stack of 4 Cornish pasties all with different styles of crimpIf the pasty is a package of tasty foody goodness then the pastry is the wrapping and the crimp is the seal holding the whole lot together. So although the crimp’s job is a simple one, it’s also very important which is probably why nowadays every pasty maker whether amateur or pro has an opinion on how it should be done.

The origins of the crimp are a topic of debate in themselves. Some will tell you that the crimp was originally a handle by which miners would grasp their pasty as they ate it and then throw away - along with the dirt and toxic substances from their hands. But others dispute this: there’s plenty of evidence suggesting miners ate pasties wrapped in muslin or paper bags meaning that they would have got to eat every last bit just as we do today.

While we’re on the subject of crimp controversy, we should also acknowledge that the location of the crimp is still something that folks like to argue about. The Cornish Pasty PGI status rules state that for a pasty to be Cornish, it must have the distinctive ‘D’ shape and be crimped on the side, not on the top. A pasty crimped on the top is considered by many to be a Devon pasty. Nevertheless you’ll still find many people West of The Tamar who maintain that pasties can and should be top crimped though now they can’t technically name or sell one as ‘Cornish pasty’, it’s just a ‘pasty’.

Whatever views we hold, we can all agree that a good hand crimp is usually a sign of a good handmade pasty. That’s why makers will evolve and fiercely protect their own signature crimps, why the number of crimps will vary from pasty to pasty and why you can even tell whether your pasty was crimped by a left-hander (making it a ‘cock pasty’) or a right-hander (making it a ‘hen pasty’).

Four Cornish pasties

Read more about crimps and pasties in Emma Mansfield’s Little Book of the Pasty.

Find out how to crimp a Cornish Pasty

Cornish Pasty Association video

Homemade 'how to crimp' video'

BBC Food techniques video featuring Paul Hollywood

Local comedian Kernow King learns how to crimp (an illegal top crimp!)

Enter or attend the World Pasty Championships at Eden on Saturday 3 March!

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Cornwall, Food, Uncategorized
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Vegetable stew recipe: bean goulash

February 26, 2012
Author: Hannah

This simple bean goulash recipe from our chef makes a mildly spicy vegetable stew that can be cooked up in under an hour and served with crusty bread.

Stew and bread served up in Eden's Mediterranean Biome

Ingredients (for 4 – 6 portions)

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 150g onion, diced
  • 400g potato, diced
  • 300g tinned red kidney beans
  • 100g green peppers, sliced
  • 150g chopped tomatoes (tinned or fresh, skins and seeds included)
  • 250g carrots, sliced
  • 150g parsnips, sliced
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1.5 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground caraway seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 20g chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Pinch of salt
  • Ground black pepper


  1. First, put the green peppers and chopped tomatoes in a heavy-bottomed pot, season with salt and pepper and a good pinch of sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer and reduce this down to a thick consistency, then set aside.
  2. In another pan, heat up the oil, add the onions and fry them until they’re a nice golden colour – don’t rush it!
  3. Turn down the heat before you add the paprika, then give it a quick stir and add some water. (If your oil is too hot the paprika will burn and taste bitter.)
  4. Reduce the ingredients down until the water has evaporated and you’re back to just the oil – then add the beans, carrots, parsnips, garlic and caraway seeds, and season well.
  5. Add your tomato and green pepper mix to the pan, plus the vegetable stock, and bring it to a simmer.
  6. Add the diced potatoes.
  7. When the vegetables are cooked through, add the parsley and season to taste.
  8. Serve the stew with crusty bread.

If you’re keen to try our chef’s stews at Eden, why not treat yourself at our Bakery or inside the Mediterranean Biome? Take a peek at the delicious food we serve at Eden.

Food, Tourist attraction

Cornish pasty world map

February 24, 2012
Author: Tom

In anticipation of the World Pasty Championships at Eden on Saturday 3 March 2012, we've put together a Google Map (see below) of similar handheld, filled snacks from around the world. While some are directly related to the Cornish pasty, others are merely similar in their size, shape and portability. Click on the pasty icons to read descriptions and see photos.

It's hard to trace the links between some of these snacks, although the Cornish pasty tradition did travel far and wide in the 19th century when Cornishmen crossed the world spreading their mining expertise. What is common to all of these snacks is that they're cheap, easy to carry and eat, and versatile: these pastries and dumplings can be stuffed with practically any filling!

If you know some more handheld snacks that should be added to the map, let us know below this blog, or post some pictures on our Facebook Wall, or via Twitter.

It's worth noting that not all the snacks detailed on map are exclusive to the countries shown – versions of the snacks are often found in surrounding areas.

Many thanks to Keith Ryan, whose Cornish Pasties website provided inspiration for this map.

View Cornish pasties and their relations in a larger map

Cornwall, Food
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How to work with young people on neighbourhood planning

February 22, 2012
Author: Guest

If you’re running a community consultation or creating a Neighbourhood Plan, it’s essential that you include the views of as many different groups of residents as possible – including young people.

Eden Education Team member Bran Howell shares his advice on how to make this task easy, rewarding and useful.

Top tips for including young people in neighbourhood planning

Many of these suggestions work for people of all ages anyway – because we all like to be engaged in creative ways!

A boy writing down his thoughts

1. Avoid a classroom layout in meetings
If you meet where people are comfortable, you’re far more likely to get a better picture of their opinions. Stuff like making sure all the chairs are at the same height and – although it’s a cliché, I know – setting the room out in a circle, really works.

2. Don’t have too many adults in the room
Young people mustn’t feel that they have to say what adults want them to say and, if the adults are strangers, it can be intimidating having them looming over their shoulders.

3. Bribes and free food are always good
Biccies and cake work particularly well. So do interesting activities. When consulting about play provision I took the young group on a tour of top playgrounds in the area for them to ‘research’ – by playing on them.

4. Be creative
Avoid clipboards and questionnaires if you can. Asking young people to make a film, a play, draw a mural or make a model will engage and enthuse young people far more effectively. It might take more time, but you are more likely to empower young people to speak from the heart. These sorts of approaches are especially appropriate if the outcomes of your consultation aren’t likely to become tangible for a while.

5. Arrange a fun event
Activities, rather than meetings, are a great way to spend time with young people. You can use the time to find out their views. Find out what the group of young people you want to talk to are into and then arrange something to appeal to them, for example a skating competition. Remember that all young people are very different though, so you won’t be able to engage all groups or ages in one go.

6. Ask young people what they would like to do rather than what they would like to have
This avoids you ending up with a huge shopping list of ‘things’. People often get carried away making huge lists of kit, equipment and resources rather than thinking about what it can do for them. Questions like ‘Okay, what do you want?’ often produce unhelpful responses such as ‘Disneyworld’ or ‘an Olympic swimming pool’.

7. Be clear about their role in the process
Explain your role in the consultation, too, and how much their views might (or might not) be taken into account. Young people (especially teenagers) expect to be let down by adults, society and the world in general, so make sure you aren’t promising something that is not in your gift to deliver. Manage expectations and be honest about the project and point out all the pitfalls before you start; they will appreciate your honesty.

8. Avoid tokenism
Young people make great photos for local newspapers, but make sure that isn’t the only reason they are invited. They’ll see through this sort of ‘rent-a-crowd’ project very easily and it’s much harder to rebuild trust once they have been let down.

9. If you can’t get young people to come to you, go to them
They are also much more likely to open and honest in a situation where they feel at home. I heard about a great example where the residents group chatted to young people at the bus stop while they were waiting to go to school – brilliant!

A few golden rules on how to engage with young people

Here are a few things I’ve picked up over my 16 years working with young people and adults, which will help you engage with them in a natural and inspirational way.

  1. Be yourself
    Treat all groups as you would your friends; smile, be friendly and respectful. Only change your language if it’s appropriate.
  2. Don’t try too hard
    Being ‘down with the kids’ isn’t cool, and they can see through it immediately. Being cool only happens to people who don’t try too hard.
  3. Don’t take yourself too seriously
    Be prepared to laugh at yourself. And to admit you are wrong sometimes. Of course it’s also good to appear confident, nothing beats a well-planned event. Knowing your subject well isn’t essential, but it helps.
  4. Enjoy yourself
    When you’re running these events, remember that if you appear bored and fed up about missing your favourite TV show, then how must your audience feel?
  5. Enthusiasm rules
    We can listen to anyone as long as they are full of enthusiasm. I had a friend who had a PhD in marine biology and he was a real star on rock pool rambles. I didn’t understand all his big words, but his enthusiasm meant that young people followed him into the deepest muddiest corners of the beach.

These tips were put together as part of the Planning Camp which took place in February 2012, arranged through the Building Community Consortium. See a creative diagram of these top tips, to give you more inspiration.

Get free advice and access inspirational case studies for your neighbourhood planning on the Eden Project website.

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Community, How to
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Cornish pasty poems and songs

February 21, 2012
Author: Tom

Ahead of the World Pasty Championships we’re holding at Eden on Saturday 3 March we’ve gathered some rhymes, songs, poems and ditties that celebrate the oggy (that’s Cornish for pasty).

Write your own pasty lyrics

Have a listen and read below, and if you think you can do better, why not post your pasty poem or song below this blog or on our Facebook Wall? We’re also inviting pasty-themed haikus on Twitter: find out how to write a haiku poem here.

Pasty songs and rhymes by Hilary Coleman of traditional Cornish band, Dalla

A Cornish Pasty, sung by Year 2 pupils from St Agnes School, Cornwall

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John Rowe, sung by the Lev Krev singers

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Pasty Seller’s Cry, sung by Hilary Coleman

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Matthew, Mark and Luke and John sung by Year 2 pupils at St Agnes School

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These songs are taken from Hilary’s Cornish songbooks for schools: Hoolybus and Lev Krev

Poem by Walter F. Gries of Marquette, Michigan, USA

I dearly love a pasty, a 'ot leaky one;

With mayt, turmit and taty, h'onyon and parsley in 'un

The crus' be made weth suet, shaped like 'alf a moon;

Crinkly h'edges, freshly baked 'e es alway gone too soon!

Sourced via the Michigan Tech website

Ode to the Pasty by Emma Mansfield

The pasty, a laden, honest bake,

A hand made pastry wrapping veg and steak.

A pregnant old pie, that cooks in its gravy

Best fresh from the oven, when it’s moist and tasty.

Fashioned through history, eaten by all,

It’s a kind of edible, hot water bottle.

And as you bite from a Cornish, traditional dish,

Let your palate feast on a history that’s rich.

Today, yes it’s still our proud daily bread,

Keeping bakers and crimpers paid and fed.

And as you sup on this carbo-filled find

Know that it’s legacy came from our mines.

And as our mining trade wound down its roar,

The pasty was taken around the wild world o’er.

It left our shores as cousin Jack went to find

New world opportunities, digging other peoples mines.

So enjoy your pasty, it sure does fill,

It’s one of Great Britain’s most famous of meals.

It nourished our miners as they cribbed underground

And now it’s known the wide world around.

And whilst the pasty’s home sits on the edge of Great Britain

This proud much-loved place has held many hearts smitten

So enjoy your pasty and wherever you may take it

Know in your heart that only Cornwall can make it.

Published in The Little Book of the Pasty

Extract from Ode to a Cornish Pasty by James Crowden

You may sink your teeth into me

Meaty morsel, croust and crib

Skirt and tatties with a touch of swede

Peppered up, crimped and folded.

Hot stuff, hoggan, convenient, fast

Baked to a turn, you can hold me close

Warm you hands on my curved body

Slide me into your pocket.

I reared the Cornish nation,

Gave men the strength they needed

Working lodes of tin and copper

Driving stope, level and adit

Faces that have eaten a thousand pasties

Stood the test of time.

A family affair,

Smuggled overseas, secret recipes

Still brought to surface down under.

You may sink your teeth into me

Feel the afterglow deep inside.

Tasty reminder of creature comforts.

Lick your lips, lie back and think of Cornwall.

Published by Prospect Books in Open-mouthed: a cutting edge book of food poetry

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Creativity, Food
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How to use Twitter, Facebook, blogs and more for neighbourhood planning

February 20, 2012
Author: Hannah

If used well, social media can be a fantastic free tool for anyone running a community consultation or mobilising residents to take part in neighbourhood planning.

While there’s no substitute for traditional methods of communication, such as door knocking, local meetings, posters and leaflets, Twitter, Facebook and blogs can help your campaign reach more people.

Here are five reasons why you should consider using social media for neighbourhood planning – and five golden rules to help you do it well. You can also download our in-depth Social media guidelines for neighbourhood planning for more detailed information about putting these into practice.

Delegates at the Planning Camp at the Eden Project

Five reasons to use social media for neighbourhood planning

  1. Start a debate
    • If you’re collecting views from neighbours about the local area, social networking sites like Facebook are a good place to encourage debate – and perhaps reach those who are more comfortable using this technology than attending meetings. Hoylake Village Life, a community-run enterprise spearheading the regeneration of this Wirral town, asked their Facebook fans ‘What is top of your list for making Hoylake better than it already is?’ and received over 20 suggestions within one weekend.
    • It’s an informal setting for people to throw ideas into the pot (some with a sense of humour, of course), while they’re online checking their own Facebook profiles anyway – very different from attending a scheduled meeting and having to stand up in front of everybody. What’s more, the Facebook Friends of anyone who comments will see that the have done so, meaning the debate sends ripples beyond those who are directly involved.
  2. Create a sense of identity
    • Half the battle of creating a Neighbourhood Plan is getting people to feel a sense of civic pride. Online forums and social networking sites like Facebook are a good way of sharing photos (for example, from recent events, such as this one from Lynton and Lynmouth’s Neighbourhood Plan launch) or enthusiasm about the project.
    • The Campaign for Queen’s Park, which is working to create the first ever Community Council in London, has opted for a closed online forum and a public blog to instigate debate, advertise events, share offers of help and generate a buzz about the campaign. (Anyone can set up a free forum like this one.)
  3. Connect in real time
    • There’s nothing like being able to post comments, images, ideas and last minute changes of plan as they happen. Rather than have to wait for the next parish newsletter, you can update people on what happened at the consultation event, for example, as soon as it’s over, or even as it’s happening, via a smartphone.
    • Twitter is also a good tool to do this. When we hosted the Planning Camp, for Neighbourhood Planning Front Runners, at the Eden Project, we encouraged people to live tweet from the event – helping to share it with those who couldn’t be there in person. By asking people to use the hashtag #planningcamp (essentially a label which lets people filter tweets by subject matter) anyone was able to follow the highlights of the event as it unfolded. Take a look at the results on Twitter.
  4. Establish a presence
    • Being seen online helps give your project more credibility in external circles too. If you want to take your campaign to the next level, for example to get funding or to win the support of your local authority, you’ll need to prove how many people were engaged in the process. Numbers of how many Facebook fans, Twitter followers, blog readers or forum members can demonstrate that your project is an active, inclusive one.
  5. Network and get help
    • Facebook and forums are a good way to communicate with people within your community, especially as many people are already active users of Facebook. Residents may not be so au fait with Twitter, but for community leaders it can be a great way to get in touch with people in other communities trying to do the same thing as you. Read our in-depth guidelines on how to find and give help on Twitter, and connect with useful people you’ve never met before.

Delegate using an iPad

Five golden rules for using social media in a neighbourhood planning context

  1. Post regularly
    Make sure your online spaces don’t have tumbleweed blowing through them. That means making your social media updates as important a task as writing your newsletter. Share the job amongst chosen people in the community (multiple users can log in to the same Facebook, Twitter and blog accounts). You could also try to someone on board from within the area who’s really into these social networking tools (teenagers often know a lot about this!)
  2. Publicise your online spaces
    Don’t forget to tell people in the community that they should ‘like’ the Facebook page or ‘follow’ you on Twitter. Include the link on your printed newsletters, or on a relevant website, remind residents at meetings, drop it into conversation on doorsteps if people are hesitant to actually ‘sign up’ to anything – they might just have a look online and be inspired by what they see going on.
  3. Try a range of social media tools
    You’ll learn that different people like different ways of communicating. You might find Facebook best for getting residents involved, whereas Twitter is better for networking across the country. Don’t necessarily stick to just one tool.
  4. Create dialogue both ways
    While it’s up to several key people to lead on social media and post regular updates, they should be facilitating* the debates, rather than being the only voice. For example, Facebook posts should ask questions and encourage participation rather than simply project information one way.
  5. Keep it visual
    Never underestimate the power of images. Facebook, blogs and Twitter can include photos. The last thing people want is to read too much text. Use photos to inspire people to get involved.

These tips were put together as part of the Planning Camp which took place in February 2012, arranged through the Building Community Consortium.

Get free advice and access inspirational case studies for your neighbourhood planning on the Eden Project website.

Community, How to
, ,

New primary teacher training and staff development packages from Eden Project

February 15, 2012
Author: Hannah

Teachers probably know Eden best for the fantastic school trips we offer around the rainforest! But we also run a range of teacher training programmes and staff development packages to support primary school teachers in getting pupils back outside.

Drawing on our experience of teaching, garden design, horticulture and wild play, we can offer bespoke courses on encouraging outdoor learning and play, school grounds development and sustainable education. So now, as well as you coming to visit us, we can come to you.

Teachers being taught new techniques in a playing field

More about our outdoor learning packages

We specialise in simple ideas that work and our aim is to help your school make the most of the resources available outside your classroom door. The idea is to explore different ways of learning rather than adding to your workload, and we aim to make the most of your own school’s outdoor opportunities as well as your own individual skills and creativity.

We cater for a range of needs, from a staff meeting, to full- or multi-day sessions, involving not only staff but pupils, parents and governors, if you'd like. We can run twilight sessions and introduce our thoughts on outdoor learning – or we can actually work with you over a few months to look at changing your whole school approach to the outdoors.

A clay face moulded on to a treeFor example, we helped Parc Eglos School make better use of their woodland area, by running a den building session to inspire creative writing and storytelling.

Our project with Pensans Primary School was developed over the course of six months, where we worked with staff, pupils and parents who wanted to create ‘the best possible place for learning and play’. Staff have not only gained confidence in introducing outdoor learning opportunities, but the school is now introducing a rooftop growing space as well as a woodland.

What’s so special about outdoor learning and play?

On average, children today spend just 9% of their time outside; a lot less than previous generations. This change in lifestyle is affecting aspects of their wellbeing, including their cognitive skills, health, imagination and self esteem; all essential ingredients for a happy and successful young person. Why not take a step to make outdoor learning and play part of your daily school life?

Children next to a tree with the clay

How to book training or a staff development package

For more information and prices please have a look at our website.

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Education, Play
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Introducing... private guided tours at the Eden Project

February 14, 2012
Author: Hannah

These new private guided tours can help you make the most of your visit to Eden, whether you want to learn more about gardening, science, food, different cultures, or simply explore Eden behind the scenes.

Each lasting 90 minutes, our private guided tours for two make a great gift for a friend or loved one.

Tour guide showing visitors in the Rainforest Biome a cashew nut

You can choose from four different themed private guided tours:

Rainforest Biome private guided tour
Explore the largest rainforest in captivity. Find out how rainforests keep us alive and how to help conserve them. Explore a smallholding that grows cocoa for chocolate, compare the Malaysian back garden to your own and look out for the huge trading ship.

Mediterranean Biome private guided tour
Experience sights, scents and stories from the Mediterranean, South Africa and California. Take a journey from olive groves to flowers born of fire, heavenly scents to fallen gods, cowboys to cork, ancient cultures to new futures.

Chocolate and chilli private guided tour
Cocoa trees, the source of chocolate, originally grew wild in Central and Latin America. The Aztecs and Mayans liked their cocoa brewed up with chillies – the original hot chocolate! Explore the Eden Project for this ‘food of the gods’ and its unlikely hot and spicy companion. Take your tastebuds on a journey from the Americas to West Africa as you discover a deliciously dark tale of conquest, love and trade, and turn up the heat in the chilli taste test.

Discover the science of Eden private guided tour
Join a senior member of our Science Team on a journey to explore the scientific philosophy of Eden and discover how we maintain the world’s largest collection of plants of use to mankind. Find out about how we do things like create soil and make compost, control the environment to promote plant growth, and manage pests and diseases. You’ll take away with you ideas for your own home or business.

Check out prices and times for these tours on our website

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Science, Tourist attraction
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Marbled chocolate tray bake recipe

February 14, 2012
Author: Tom

Our chefs are cooking some delicious chocolate recipes – both sweet and savoury – for visitors to Eden to feast on at our Chocolate Jungle event this week. If you needed any encouragement to eat more chocolate, we’re sharing some recipes with you here on our Blog!

Try this tray bake recipe,  and let us know how it tastes!

Makes 15 squares


For the cake

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 200g butter or margarine
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp milk

For the buttercream

  • 100g butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 75g plain chocolate
  • 50g white chocolate


    • Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 30cm x 20cm baking tin.
    • Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.
    • Add the butter, sugar and eggs and beat using an electric mixer until smooth and slightly lighter in colour.
    • Beat in the vanilla.
    • Mark the cake batter in half using a spatula and then dollop tablespoonfuls of half the vanilla mixture at regular intervals in the tin, leaving spaces between each one.
    • With the remaining half of the batter, sift over the cocoa powder and beat in until well incorporated. Add the milk to slacken the mixture and mix well.
    • Dollop tablespoonfuls of the chocolate mixture between the vanilla blobs in the tin.
    • Take a skewer or thin-bladed knife and run it up and down through the mixture to swirl the two cake mixes together.
    • Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until risen and springy to the touch.
    • Leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.
    • For the buttercream, beat the butter until soft and creamy.
    • Sift over the icing sugar in two batches and beat well until smooth.
    • Melt the dark chocolate, allow to cool for 10 minutes and then beat into the buttercream. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up.
    • Spread the buttercream evenly over the top of the cake.
    • Melt the white chocolate and place into a piping bag with a small nozzle.
    • Drizzle the white chocolate over the top of the cake and leave to set before cutting into squares.

    This recipe and the image above comes courtesy of Apple and Spice Blog.


    1 comment
    Food, Inspiration
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