Raspberry and White Chocolate Cake {Maypole Cake!}

raspberry and white chocolate cakeA cake dressed up for my favourite day of the year, May 1st. Underneath the ribbons is a raspberry sponge, filled with raspberry jam and covered in white chocolate buttercream. The cake is decorated with a ‘Maypole’, complete with colourful ribbons, representing the traditional village Maypoles that would be hung with ribbons for the May Day celebrations. Dancers weave in and out of each other, holding the ribbons, and the ribbons criss-cross down the pole until the dancers meet.

We are down in the Yorkshire Dales for a couple of weeks, for a few house sittings. This cake was baked at one of them on a gloriously sunny May first. I had a nice big kitchen to work in so I decided to bake a celebration cake in honour of the May holiday celebrations.

maypole dancing ~ Vagabond Baking

There is a May Day Gala on the first saturday in May at Long Preston, a nearby village, so we took the afternoon out to go and enjoy it. A Maypole stands on the village green and once a year is hung with ribbons for the Maypole dance. The local village children take part, dressing in simple costumes, the girls in colourful skirts and the boys in white with sashes and bells.

The children danced some traditional folk dances, some with ribbons and the boys did a Morris dance with sticks before moving on to the Maypole. They wove in and out of each other and the ribbons intertwined down the pole. The dances looked rather complex, I’m sure one false step could have caused all sorts of ribbon-related chaos, but the children were brilliant and mesmerizing to watch.

It is wonderful to see these old customs still enriching people’s lives in this fast, modern world. The children appeared to be thoroughly enjoying it and the crowd clapped along to the music, it was a lovely atmosphere.

After the Maypole dancing, the gala moved to another green in the village where we pottered round the stalls while a brass band played. We chatted away to some friends before grabbing a very satisfying hot dog with lots of onion for lunch {hoorah, there were veggie sausages!}.

raspberry and white chocolate cake | Vagabond Baker

The sponge is made with freeze-dried raspberry powder which I buy online, this adds a subtle flavour and a bit of colour. If you want you can add food colouring to make the colour richer {I didn’t use any}.

Raspberry and White Chocolate  Cake

20 cm deep round springform cake tin, buttered and lined with baking parchment

Oven 180 C / gas 4 / 350 F

  • 200 g { 1 + 3/4 sticks } soft unsalted butter
  • 200 g { 1 cup} caster sugar
  • 4 free-range eggs, beaten
  • 4 tbsp freeze-dried raspberry powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 220 g { 1 + 3/4 cups } self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • red gel food colouring {optional, makes the sponge pinker}

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy looking with an electric hand mixer or food mixer.

Add the eggs a bit at a time along with a spoonful of the flour, beating well between each. Once the eggs are added, sieve in the freeze-dried raspberry powder to catch most of the pips {discard them} and add the vanilla. Beat in along with a drop of food colouring if you are using it.

Sieve the flour and baking powder into the batter then fold in with a metal spoon. Loosen the batter with the milk.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and gently level it with the back of the spoon.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, check for done-ness by inserting a skewer or stick of dry spaghetti, it should come out clean. The cake should be springy when gently pressed. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack, peel off the paper and cool completely.

Once cool, cut the cake into thirds to create three layers.

raspberry and white chocolate cake | Vagabond Baker

To decorate the cake:

  • 125 g { 4  + 1/2 ounces }  white chocolate
  • 200 g {1 + 3/4 sticks } soft unsalted butter
  • 400 g { 3 heaped cups } icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp raspberry jam, sieved if it has seeds

Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, or in 20 second bursts in a microwave. Set aside to cool.

Put the butter into a large bowl and beat with a food mixer for a minute or so until is appears pale. Add a quarter of the icing sugar and mix in on a low speed to start {to prevent the icing sugar covering you!} then increase the speed to mix until smooth. Repeat this step until all the icing sugar is used, then beat in the vanilla.

Pour in the cooled white chocolate and stir in.

Place the bottom layer of cake onto a cake stand.

Spread some of the jam over this bottom layer of cake then spread some of the buttercream over the bottom of the next layer and sandwich them together. Repeat with the next layer. Use the rest of the buttercream to completely cover the cake, using a palette knife to smooth it.

raspberry and white chocolate cake | Vagabond Baker

To turn it into a Maypole, use a striped thick straw, I used a retro paper one, and erect it into the centre of the cake, pushing it in. Cut some lengths of ribbon to reach from the top of the ‘pole’ to under the cake. Cut a V into one end of each of the lengths, this makes the ends thinner so they will fit into the straw. Bring all the V cut ends together, twisting them tightly and binding with sticky tape.

Remove the straw from the cake and fit the ribbons by pushing the taped end into it. Return the ‘pole’ to the cake, pushing it back in. Use a bit of tape to stick the ribbons under the cake, onto the underside of the cake stand. And there you have it, a Maypole cake!

For more May Day customs see last years post!

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No Responses

  1. lovely post! love the photos of the festival!
    the cake looks delicious. wonder where I can get freeze dried raspberry powder without paying too much for shipping.

    • I don’t know! You’ll have to google it. I have to order mine online, that’s where I found it. It’s a fun ingredient if you can find it. The sponge would be just as good without it though 🙂

  2. Aw, I love local traditions like this. I used to get to go to loads of them in my former job! Love the cake too. After trying out your treasure cake this weekend I now have a new one to add to my list!

    • Lovely, this one is pretty easy other than the process of covering it in buttercream {I’m rubbish at that!}. You can make it without the freeze-dried rasps and it will be equally delish.
      What was your former job that meant you got to got to lots of traditional things? that would be a great job!

  3. I’m sad I’ve never gotten to be apart of a May Day celebration. Maybe next year! Your cake looks beautiful.

  4. plumful says:

    This is amazing! I used to maypole dance when I was at school, and it always heralded the beginning of summer, I miss it! Lovely cake too, that maypole is so creative! Thank you!

  5. mmmarzipan says:

    looks and sounds delicious! and I love the maypole feature! here in Sweden there is a mid-summer pole and the same idea would translate well 🙂 thanks for sharing another gorgeous post! x

    • I’d love to experience the midsummer one there, how cool! Sweden is on my list, now I now when I should come, thank you!

      • margaret hodgson says:

        Having sampled Rachels cake can honestly say it was heavenly, the down side was that there was only one slice – boohoo!!!