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Mairi Sawyer’s chocolate cake

Written by Claire Jessiman, blogger at
A chocolate cake with several square slices piled on top, with a cup of tea
Mairi Sawyer’s chocolate cake with a cup of tea
To celebrate the Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, food blogger Claire Jessiman revives Mairi Sawyer’s delicious chocolate cake recipe.

It’s one of our best-loved places, but Inverewe – the lush garden in the far north-west of Scotland – is to be celebrated for more than its amazing plant life. Its co-creator, Mairi Sawyer, was also a keen cook and I’ve got my hands on her original recipes. Visitors tell of having tea with her 40–50 years ago, and they always speak of her chocolate cake with a light in their eyes.

Cherry is a natural partner for chocolate – a winning combination that has stood the test of time. The resulting bake is a delicious but not overly chocolatey cake, with a close texture akin to a gingerbread.


  • 6oz butter
  • 6oz melted chocolate
  • 4oz ground almonds
  • 4 eggs (separated)
  • Maraschino flavouring or cherry liqueur
  • 7oz sugar
  • 4oz plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • Water icing


  1. Heat the oven to 350F/160C fan
  2. Beat the butter and sugar to a cream and add the melted chocolate, flour, baking powder and ground almonds, beating thoroughly with each addition.
  3. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time.
  4. Whip the egg whites until fairly stiff and fold lightly into the mixture with a metal spoon.
  5. Put the mixture into a well-greased and lined cake tin (I found a 24x24x5cm tin worked perfectly).
  6. Bake in a moderate oven. The original recipe said 70 minutes, but I found 55 minutes did the trick.
  7. When cool, ice with thin water icing flavoured with maraschino.

Read more about Claire’s culinary adventures at

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