Feel Good

Pine cone cakes

The cutest festive cakes to leave out for Santa.

Written by Beth Williams
Published 13.12.2023

Makes: 16



200g softened unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

50g cook’s Belgian dark chocolate (54% cocoa solids), roughly chopped

200g self-raising flour

40g cocoa powder

200g light muscovado sugar

2 large eggs

200ml soured cream

1 tsp vanilla extract


175g softened unsalted butter

250g icing sugar

50g cocoa powder, sifted

1 tsp vanilla extract

75ml double cream


200g flaked almonds

1-2 tsp cocoa powder



Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, gas 4. Grease and line a 20 x 30cm baking tin. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir until smooth; cool slightly.

Sift the flour, cocoa and ½ teaspoon salt into a mixing bowl, then add the softened butter and sugar and beat together with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. In a separate bowl or jug, lightly whisk the eggs and mix in the soured cream and vanilla. Slowly add this to the mixing bowl, beating until thoroughly mixed, then add the cooled melted chocolate and mix until smooth. Scrape into the prepared tin and level out the surface with a palette knife. Bake for 30 minutes until firm to the touch, and starting to pull away from the sides of the tin.

Remove the cake from the oven, cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out to cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing, using an electric hand whisk, beat the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla, and beat again for 2 minutes. Add the double cream and beat for 3 minutes until fluffy.

Cut the cake into 16 ovals using a cutter. For a perfect cone shape, slightly trim the top edges of the cake to give a more domed top. You can use the cake trimmings for a trifle.

Cover the top and sides of each sponge with a generous coating of the whipped buttercream. Then, taking one flaked almond at a time, insert a third of the way into the buttercream, working from one end to the other to create a pine cone effect. Dust with the cocoa powder to serve.


Recipe credit: Sainsbury’s Magazine

Other stories by Beth Williams

The Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Beth Williams

Caprese-stuffed chicken

Beth Williams
Easy mid-week dinner recipe

6-ingredient tomato gnocchi

Beth Williams
New York Times most popular recipes of 2023

Gochujang butter noodles

Beth Williams

Lip care saviours to moisturise your dry lips

Beth Williams
Grilled Cheese Social recipe

Honey grilled cheese with crispy chilli

Beth Williams