Cairns has just published The Birthday Cake Book (Quadrille, £18.99) sharing tips and some of her baking secrets providing treats to delight lovers of all kinds of cakes.




140ml sunflower oil, plus more for the tins
360g self-raising flour
60g cocoa powder
2tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
400g golden caster sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
4tsp white wine vinegar
400g raspberries
Icing sugar, to dust


Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas mark 3½. Oil two 23cm cake tins and line the bases with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

Stir in the sugar. In another bowl, measure the oil, 400ml water and vanilla extract, then add to the flour mixture, stirring in the vinegar last of all.

Pour the batter into the prepared tins and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer emerges clean.

Leave for a few minutes in the tins, then run a knife around the rims and turn out on to a wire rack.

Remove the papers and leave to cool completely.

Put one cake on a cake stand or serving plate and top with most of the raspberries. Place the other cake on top and scatter with the remaining raspberries. Sift over an even layer of icing sugar to serve.