The best thing about birthday’s is that you can eat cake for breakfast, and no one can be mad at you. The best thing about other people’s birthdays, is that you can hide away in kitchens for days beforehand, and no one is allowed to miss you. (Ditto, at birthday parties, for the socially awkward among us).


For his Mama’s birthday tea, O and I whiled away a very sunny Spring Tuesday in my mama’s brand spanking new kitchen, to whip up a Pistachio and Rose Sponge Cake, and a mountain of lemon cupcakes and carrot cake muffins. Although the piping is a little wobbly, the sponge was a goodun – taken from an old Jamie Oliver recipe.


Cake –
225g butter
225g sugar
225g plain flour
4 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp rose water


Buttercream –
250g icing sugar
80g unsalted butter
Splash milk
Splash rosewater

Pistachio Brittle –
100g sugar
100g chopped pistachio


I like to use the all in one sponge method – chuck everything into a bowl and use a mixer, or beat byhand until lump free (don’t overmix!)

Split into two sponge tins (greased and lined) and bake in a moderate oven (about 180 fan) for 20-30 minutes, until lightly golden and a knife comes out clean.

Whilst the cake is baking, put the sugar and 3 tbsp of water over a medium heat. Leave to bubble (watching all the time) until a light golden caramel has formed. Remove from the heat, stir in the chopped pistachios, and pour onto greaseproof paper to set.

Once the cake has cooled, use 1/3 of the butter cream for the middle, alongside the smashed pistachio brittle. Add the second cake, and finish by piping buttercream roses all over the top (use a Wilton 2D nozzle for the finish above).