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Christmas is such a special time of year – the classic aromas of cinnamon, vanilla, and butter wafting through the kitchen along with the general good cheer that comes with decorating the house and catching up with loved ones, really makes these days something to look forward to all year!

This year I have teamed up with the good folk at CSR Sugar to show how simple it is to whip up beautiful Christmas bakes using their wonderful new buttercream mixes. Made with no added colours, preservatives or artificial flavours, the CSR Sugar All Natural Buttercream Icing Mixes are gluten free and available in the three classic flavours of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry…and taste so delicious!

I have used the vanilla flavor in this wonderfully easy celebration cake that could easily be the centerpiece of your Christmas dessert table. The buttercream is just perfect to pipe those simple vertical stripes on the side of the cake which raise the dessert to a new level of wow!

As always, please tag me in your creations or place #mckrecipes in the captions so I can see your wonderful creations! H xx

Serves: 8-10
Preparation Time: 30 minutes 
Cooking Time: 30 minutes


Cake Layers 

  • 200g unsalted butter 
  • 2 tablespoons CSR Demerara Sugar 
  • 2 cups self-raising flour, sifted 
  • 1 cup CSR Brown Sugar 
  • ¼ cup CSR Caster Sugar 
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, sifted 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, sifted 
  • Pinch salt 
  • 3 eggs, room temperature, lightly whisked 
  • 1/3 cup sour cream 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 
  • ¾ cup pecans, toasted, finely chopped 
Vanilla Rosemary Buttercream
  • 2 packets CSR Buttercream Icing Mix Vanilla, made according to packet directions 
  • ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, very finely chopped 
  • Glazed cherries, fresh raspberries or strawberries, to garnish 

1. Place the unsalted butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat and stir frequently until the milk solids have disappeared and the butter has browned and taken a nutty fragrance. Set aside and cool to room temperature.

2. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius for a fan forced oven. Grease and line 2x20cm round cake tins and line the base of each with baking paper. Lightly spray again and sprinkle a tablespoon of demerara sugar around each tin. Set aside.

3. Combine the flour, sugars, soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and whisk to incorporate.

4. Gently fold in the browned butter, eggs, sour cream and vanilla until they have just combined. Lastly, gently fold in the toasted pecans.

5. Divide the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Pop in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside for 5 minutes before inverting onto wire racks to completely cool.

6. Make the vanilla buttercream in accordance with the directions on the pack. Add the very finely chopped rosemary and fold in well to incorporate. Divide the buttercream into two large piping bags, one of which is fitted with a star nozzle (I use the Loyal No. 11 star piping nozzle) and set both aside.

7. Make sure the cakes are level and equal in height.

8. Place one of the cakes onto a cake stand and top with about 1/3 of the vanilla rosemary buttercream that is in the non-decorative nozzle piping bag, spreading the frosting to the edge of the cake.

9. Now place the other cake (upside down to ensure a smooth top) on top of the frosting.

10. Pipe the rest of the buttercream in the plain piping bag on the top and side of the cake. Smooth it with an offset spatula or ruler to create a smooth surface.

11. Next we need the piping bag fitted with the decorative nozzle. Pipe vertical lines around the edge of the cake using ¾ of the buttercream in this bag. Smooth the top of the vertical lines which reach the top of the cake to have a flat top surface.

12. Place the cherries or berries around the edge of the cake, leaving about a 2cm border around the boundary of the cake. To finish the cake, using an up and down motion, pipe small waves around the top of the cake to enclose the fruit.

13. Allow the cake to stand for at least 15 minutes to set before slicing and serving.