Baking a cake to suit your own tastes is surprisingly easy, but most people just don’t have the confidence to give it a go and add their favourite flavours. In this series, I will give you the basic steps you need to make a cake with the opportunity to change it to make it perfect for you!
First things first, you have to get the sponge right because it’s not a cake without the sponge; luckily though, the process is really easy and adding your own flavours is simple!
Ingredients (makes a two layered sponge cake):
- 250g softened butter
- 250g caster sugar
- 5 medium eggs (roughly 250g)
- 250g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking power
- Flavours of your choice
- A splash of milk
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.
- Line two tins with baking paper and then grease (or use the cake-sized paper cases that you can pick up from any pound shop, they save a lot of hassle!)
- Whisk the butter and sugar together. This really helps if the butter is softened and if you start by mashing the butter and sugar together with a fork. It is important that you beat it until it turns a lighter colour to get plenty of air in the cake so it can rise. It is far easier if you can use an electric whisk, otherwise be patient and expect a good arm workout!
- Add the eggs one at a time and mix well until each egg is fully combined.
- Fold in the flour, baking powder and any of your flavours (see below!), until it is all combined and smooth.
- Now you need to use a little bit of judgement. At this stage your mix may be a perfect dropping consistency that gently flops off the spoon when you lift it and wobbles a little when you shake it. If not, just slowly mix in some milk if it’s too thick or some flour if it’s too wet, a little at a time until the consistency is right!
- Split the mixture between the two tins and roughly level them out. Then put them in the oven to bake. For a normal size cake this should be about 20 minutes. To check, it should spring back at the touch and/or a toothpick should come out clean when you skewer it in the middle. Then let it cool before you decorate.
How to make the cake your own
- For a chocolate cake add a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder.
- If you want fruit or chopped nuts just chuck some in.
- To add some essence like vanilla, add a couple of teaspoons and taste until it’s right.
- You can use this mixture to make smaller or bigger cakes but you do need to change the temperature and bake time. Turn it up to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 if you make tiny cakes or down to 160°C/Gas Mark 3 if you’re making a particularly big cake. A tiny cake may take 10-15 minutes to cook, and a massive cake may be around 40 minutes. The best advice though is to just keep an eye on your cake and judge for yourself when it’s ready.
Just give it a go and see how it turns out! The flavours may not always be perfect, but you will (almost!) always finish with a decent cake, and a cake’s a cake!
Then, once you have your perfect tasting cake, all that’s left is to decorate it, and in the next article I will go through the different types of icings and fillings you could use to do so. Watch this space!
Images: Josh Caldicott