Watch How to Cook Well with Rory O'Connell at 8:30pm on Tuesday evenings on RTÉ One.


This cake is quite the confection, but when the seperate elements are broken down, it is perhaps not quite as complicated as it at first sounds. The cake consists of a classic Victoria sponge, raspberries both frozen and in the form of jam and a big cushion of marshmallow to cover the whole thing. I like to decorate the cake with either fresh or crystallised rose petals which make it look ridiculously pretty.

This is not a cake to make on a whim. I suppose it is for a celebration, yes definitely a party cake. It would make a glorious birthday cake and would also be suitably romantic in appearance for a small wedding.

You would expect this combination of ingredients to taste delicious, but what was a surprise to me is to how well this cake keeps. Normally I find a Victoria sponge starts to stale on the second day and by the third day I am thinking trifle might be its best future. However in this case it seems that the cloak of marshmallow keeps the cake fresher in texture and in flavour than I would normally expect. I have tasted the cake after four days and found it to still be remarkably good. 

Because the berries in the cake are essentially preserved and not fresh, it means that this cake can be made at any time of the year. The frozen berries have a sharp tartness and when combined with the sweet and intensely flavoured raspberry jam - they really cut through the sweetness of the other ingredients. The other curious advantage of using the frozen berries is that they melt somewhat in the cake giving an almost trifle type texture to the part of the slice they are sitting in.  

Fresh floral decorations, edible of course can react to the season in which you are making the cake.  For many months of the year, roses will be available. Yellow primroses and deep purple violets could herald the arrival of spring. Some lilac flowers would be gorgeous as would a light scattering of cherry blossoms. Apple blossoms and pink or white elderflowers would be equally pretty. In summer, dahlia flowers will provide a myriad of colour possibilities.

In autumn, there will be fresh raspberries for an appropriate garnish. Watch out for the variety known as Autumn Bliss which sometimes is still proving a few berries in a mild November. In the winter months, myrtle berries would be charming.

Serves 12-20 


  • 125g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 175g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk


  • 25g powdered gelatine
  • 125ml water
  • 50g egg whites
  • 500g granulated sugar


  • 6-8 tablespoons raspberry jam
  • 225g frozen raspberries
  • 3 teaspoons rosewater
  • To decorate
  • Fresh or crystallized rose petals to garnish


  1. Begin by making the cake.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180c. Brush 2 x 20cm cake tins with a little melted butter and line the bottom of each tin with a disc of non-stick baking paper. Dust out the lined tins with a little flour and tap the bottom to remove excess. 
  3. Place the butter in a large heavy bowl such as Pyrex or ceramic and beat with a wooden spoon until it has paled somewhat in colour. Add the caster sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.
  4. Sieve the flour and baking powder together and mix well. Fold into the egg and butter mixture and fold in gently but thoroughly.
  5. Divide the batter between the prepared tins and bake for 20-25 minutes until the cakes are well risen, a rich golden colour and feel somewhat spongy to the touch. The cakes will have shrunk very slightly from the edge of the tins and a skewer inserted into the cake should be completely clean when withdrawn. 
  6. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack, still in the tins. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then gently remove from the tins and place paper side down on a wire rack to cool completely. 
  7. To make the marshmallow, place the gelatine in a small heatproof bowl such as Pyrex or ceramic. Do not use plastic or light metal or the gelatine will stick to it. Pour the water over the gelatine being careful not to splash it. Allow to sit and sponge for ten minutes. The gelatine will swell and literally take on a sponge like appearance.
  8. Place the bowl in a saucepan of simmering water and cook gently until the gelatine had dissolved into a clear liquid. I prefer not to stir the gelatine but allow it to melt in its own time. There should be no un-dissolved grains of gelatine still visible in the mixture. Turn the heat off under the saucepan and allow the gelatine to sit.
  9. Place the sugar and 250ml water in saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. You do not have to stir continuously, just occasionally. Increase the heat and continue to boil until it reaches 122c on a sugar thermometer. Remove from the heat and stir in the melted gelatine with a wooden spoon.
  10. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to a stiff but not dry peak. With the machine still running, pour the syrup down the side of the bowl on to the egg whites. The mixture will liquefy somewhat at this stage. That is fine. Continue whisking at a high speed until the mixture becomes really thick but still pourable. In my machine this takes between 10 and 15 minutes.
  11. To assemble the cake, remove the baking paper from the cakes and split each one in half horizontally. Place the first half on a wide flat plate and spoon on 2 generous tablespoons of the jam not pushing the jam tight out to the very edge, but leaving a 1cm rim around the edge of the cake. Scatter on the frozen raspberries. I tend to squash the berries between my fingers to get them to sit flat.
  12.  Drizzle 1 teaspoon of rosewater over the berries and smear with two generous tablespoons of the marshmallow, again not going quite out to the edge. Place the next layer of cake on top, firming it gently into place. 
  13. Continue as previously and place the final layer of cake on top. You will now have four layers of cake and three layers of jam, berries, rosewater and marshmallow. Spoon some of the marshmallow on top of the cake and spread it down over the edges.
  14. Continue using the marshmallow until the side and top of the cake are generously iced. If you have a little marshmallow left over, pop it into a tin lined with oiled parchment paper and dusted with a teaspoon each of icing sugar and corn flour sieved and mixed. 
  15. Place the cake in a cool place to allow the marshmallow to set, but do not refrigerate.
  16. When ready to serve, decorate the cake with organic rose petals, fresh or crystallised.
  17. Serve softly whipped cream to accompany the cake.