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Vanilla Chocolate Traybake (Tweed Squares)

This vanilla chocolate traybake is a simple bake, combining a chocolate flecked sponge which is smothered in vanilla buttercream and finished with a dark chocolate topping. The perfect sweet treat to serve with a cup of your favourite brew.

The recipe for this vanilla sponge cake with chocolate flecks originates from Newfoundland in Canada where they are known as Tweed Squares or Tweedies. This is a friends recipe for a simple tray bake reminiscent of her childhood growing up in Cape Breton and family gatherings, tweed squares remind her of home.

Although there are three layers to this chocolate chip traybake, this is not a complicated bake and each layer requires very little preparation.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • This vanilla traybake uses a few simple ingredients that most of you will have in your stores at home.
  • The perfect balance of flavours the bitter dark chocolate, working well with the sweet vanilla buttercream.
  • Tweed squares store really well, up to 5 days in the refrigerator, assuming they last that long!

Recipe ingredients

Cake ingredients (above left)

  • Flour – I use self raising flour to make the cake base.
  • Raising agent – baking powder helps to make the cake rise.
  • Margarine – is something I always use when baking a sponge cake as it results in a far lighter, fluffier cake and you really will notice the difference. However, if you prefer you can substitute the margarine for some softened unsalted butter instead.
  • Caster sugar: has a light texture making it ideal for baking. You can also use golden caster sugar in this recipe.
  • Eggs: I use free range eggs when baking.
  • Milk – I use whole milk when baking, however semi skimmed can work here too.
  • Chocolate – I use 85% dark chocolate which has a lovely bitter taste which balances well against the other sweet flavours in the cake.

Topping ingredients (above right)

  • Butter – I use unsalted butter both in the buttercream icing and also in the chocolate topping.
  • Sugar – I use icing sugar (powdered sugar) in the buttercream
  • Vanilla I add vanilla extract to the buttercream as it has the best flavour. If you can’t find extract use vanilla bean paste.
  • Milk – I use a spoon or two of whole milk to loosen the buttercream. making it easier to spread over the cake.
  • Chocolate – I use 85% dark chocolate which has a lovely bitter taste which balances well against the sweet buttercream.

How to make Vanilla Chocolate Traybake

Making the vanilla sponge with chocolate

  • Preheat oven to 170C/150CFan/340F.
  • In a large mixing bowl beat together the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy.
  • In a separate bowl sift together the flour and baking powder.
  • Add the egg yolks to the creamed butter and sugar mixture.
  • Now beat the dry ingredients into the creamed butter and sugar a little at a time, alternately with the milk until well combined.
  • In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites to form stiff peaks.
  • Fold the egg whites gently into the cake mixture.
  • Finally grate the chocolate into the cake mixture and fold in carefully so as not to melt the chocolate as you still want “flecks” to bake into the cake.

TOP TIP: Keep the chocolate in the freezer and grate directly into cake batter just before putting into baking tray. This will help the cake retain the flecks of chocolate once baked, and stop them melting into the cake batter.

  • Pour the cake batter into a tray bake pan (18x30cm/7×12″) and place the tray into the hot oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and set aside on a wire rack to cool completely in the pan.

How to make buttercream icing

  • Place the butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract into a bowl.
  • Starting with the lowest setting on your electric hand blender, whisk the ingredients together. Gradually work up the settings, beating everything together, until you have a smooth buttercream icing.
  • Now add the milk, 1 teaspoons at a time, and continue to beat to achieve the right spreading consistency.
  • Spread the icing over the cake mixture and allow to cool in the fridge for 20 minutes before adding the chocolate topping.

Make the chocolate topping

  • Break up the chocolate into a glass bowl and melt with the butter over a pan of simmering water.
  • Stir well and once melted together, set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Now spread the melted chocolate over the icing and again place in fridge and leave to cool. Once the chocolate has set, cut into squares and serve.

Recipe variations

  • I like using butter dark chocolate to balance out the other sweet flavours in this cake, but feel free to swap the bitter dark chocolate for any other variety of chocolate.
  • Add a thin layer of jam to the cake before you top with buttercream.
  • Make a chocolate orange flavoured traybake by adding orange zest and orange flavoured chocolate to the cake; and swap the vanilla extract for orange zest and the milk for fresh orange juice in the buttercream.

Useful hints and tips

  1. Chill the chocolate for the cake and grate it into the cake batter just before you bake the cake.
  2. Remove the butter from the fridge an hour before you plant to make the buttercream and allow it to come to room temperature. This will soften the butter and make it far easier to beat to a smooth buttercream.
  3. Ensure the cake is cool before spreading the buttercream on top.  If the cake is warm the buttercream will melt.
  4. Chill the cake for at least 20 minutes before adding the chocolate topping. Also once melted, set the chocolate aside for 10 minutes, otherwise the chocolate will melt into the buttercream.
  5. Allergy advice: soya free and nut free. For comprehensive and detailed allergy advice go to Allergy UK.

FAQs

How long can you store vanilla chocolate traybake?

Once baked and cut into squares, place into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. You need to store in the fridge to stop the dairy in the buttercream from spoiling.

Can you freeze tweed squares?

This cake freezes really well. Once baked, cooled and cut into squares, wrap with clingfilm and place into a large airtight freezer bag or airtight container. Store the cakes in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, remove and defrost thoroughly before enjoying.

Where did tweed squares “tweedies” originate?

The recipe for these simple chocolate flecked vanilla sponge squares originates from Newfoundland, Canada, where tweed squares or “tweedies” as they are also known, are really popular. This recipe is one my friend and former blogging buddy grew up with, they remind her of her childhood and growing up in a large family in Cape Breton. This is her mum’s old recipe, one that she baked for any family gathering or party.

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Additional recipe suggestions

If you like this recipe then try some of my other favourite baking recipes:

If you enjoyed this bake have a look at my Ultimate Guide to Baking with Kids or my Best Cake Recipes post, full of great recipe suggestions along with lots of helpful hints and tips.

Vanilla Chocolate Traybake (Tweed Squares)

Chocolate flakes buried in a moist sponge cake, topped with a light vanilla buttercream and more glorious chocolate!
5 from 3 votes
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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Chill time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 493kcal

Equipment

  • Baking tray with sides 18x30cm (7×12")
  • baking parchment
  • large mixing bowl
  • 2 Medium mixing bowls
  • Electric hand whisk
  • weighing scales
  • measuring spoons
  • Saucepan
  • Glass pyrex bowl

Ingredients

Cake

  • 225 g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp teaspoon baking powder
  • 220 g stork baking margarine
  • 175 g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs (separated)
  • 120 ml milk
  • 25 g dark chocolate (keep in freezer and grate directly into cake batter just before putting into baking tray)

Buttercream icing

  • 125 g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 250 g icing sugar
  • 1-2 tsp milk

Chocolate topping

  • 75 g dark chocolate
  • 25 g unsalted butter

Instructions

Cake

  • Preheat oven to 170C/150CFan/340F.
  • In a large mixing bowl beat together the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy.
  • In a separate bowl sift together the flour and baking powder.
  • Add the egg yolks to the creamed butter and sugar mixture.
  • Now beat the dry ingredients into the creamed butter and sugar a little at a time, alternately with the milk until well combined.
  • In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites to form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites gently into the cake mixture.
  • Finally grate the chocolate into the cake mixture and fold in carefully so as not to melt the chocolate as you still want "flecks" to bake into the cake.
  • Pour the cake batter into a tray bake pan (18x30cm/7×12") and place the tray into the hot oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and set aside on a wire rack to cool completely in the pan.

Buttercream icing

  • Place the butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract into a bowl.
  • Starting with the lowest setting on your electric hand blender, whisk the ingredients together. Gradually work up the settings, beating everything together, until you have a smooth buttercream icing.
  • Now add the milk, 1 teaspoons at a time, and continue to beat to achieve the right spreading consistency.
  • Spread the icing over the cake mixture and allow to cool in the fridge for 20 minutes before adding the chocolate topping.

Chocolate topping

  • Break up the chocolate into a glass bowl and melt with the butter over a pan of simmering water.
  • Stir well and once melted together, set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Now spread the melted chocolate over the icing and again place in fridge and leave to cool. Once the chocolate has set, cut into squares and serve.

Notes

  • When making buttercream icing, remove the butter from the fridge an hour before hand and allow to come to room temperature. This will soften the butter and make it far easier to beat to a smooth buttercream.
  • Ensure the cake is cool before spreading the buttercream on top.  If the cake is warm the butter will melt.
  • Chill the cake for at least 20 minutes before adding the chocolate topping. Also once melted, set the chocolate aside for 10 minutes, otherwise the chocolate will melt into the buttercream.
Nutrition Facts
Vanilla Chocolate Traybake (Tweed Squares)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 493 Calories from Fat 261
% Daily Value*
Fat 29g45%
Saturated Fat 11g69%
Cholesterol 55mg18%
Sodium 192mg8%
Potassium 151mg4%
Carbohydrates 53g18%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 37g41%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 1025IU21%
Calcium 51mg5%
Iron 1.3mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

• Please note that the nutrition information provided above is approximate and meant as a guideline only •

Course : Baking
Cuisine : American, Canadian
Keyword : easy bake, simple recipe, tweed squares, vanilla sponge cake with chocolate, vanilla traybake, vanilla traybake with chocolate chips
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Recipe Rating




Hazel

Tuesday 9th of April 2024

How could I resist a recipe called Tweed Squares! This was so easy to make and a nice change from other traybakes I usually make. I love the sponge base with the flecks of chocolate and so did my family.

Lesley

Wednesday 10th of April 2024

Thank you Hazel, it is something a little different and I'm glad you enjoyed them.

Moonsparkle (ZM)

Monday 18th of June 2018

I made thee the other day and they were nice. :) I'd never heard of them before. Thanks for sharing!

Zania

Michelle

Thursday 21st of June 2018

Thank you, lovely to hear and glad you enjoyed them.:-)

Kat (The Baking Explorer)

Monday 7th of August 2017

I've not heard of these before, but they sound right up my street! I would end up scoffing a few pieces! Thanks for linking up to #TreatPetite and don't forget to add these to the linky on my page! I can't see them on there yet.

Michelle

Tuesday 8th of August 2017

Thanks Kat, oops, I must have forgotten to add the link! Trying to do too many things at once! Will go do that now:-)

Angela / Only Crumbs Remain

Friday 4th of August 2017

These sound absolutely amazing, and clearly such a winner given that your Mum mae them for every family occassion. It's a bake I've not heard of before, but I know definitely want to try them! Thankyou for sharing with #BakingCrumbs ladies :-) Angela x

Michelle

Tuesday 8th of August 2017

THanks Angela, I still love these now and they make a regular appearance at Guide Camps with my girls now too, which I think is fab! Cheers, Michelle x

ema

Saturday 29th of July 2017

have never heard of these! They look delicious :)

Michelle

Tuesday 1st of August 2017

Thanks Ema, very nice with an afternoon cup of tea!:-)