Dont Fear Baking - Making Cakes Is Easy!

For many, the very thought of baking sends shivers down the spine. Yet a sponge cake is one of the easiest and most enjoyable recipes you can make. Whether you're making a very simple classic Victoria sponge or something more elaborate, you could go from making the cake to eating it in under 90 minutes!

I'm not really certain why cakes have a reputation for being daunting. In fact, cakes are what recipes were invented for. Follow the recipe and the cake will turn out perfect every time! There's no playing around, no adding your own 'little touches'. You read the recipe, buy the ingredients then prepare the cake according to the recipe and hey presto, you have a cake ready to eat.

Perhaps part of the problem lies in the variability of ovens. Everything else in a cake recipe follows a set pattern but ovens can differ from house to house and type to type. Many of the basic recipes we have today were written in the 1960s and 1970s and 1980s where fan-assisited ovens were rare. As a result, those trying those recipes in the new ovens found that no matter what they did, the cakes would almost always burn.

If you are following an old recipe and you do have a fan-assisted oven then turn the temperature of the oven down by 10°C lower than the temperature in the oven. Bake for the same amount of time as given in the recipe, but cover the top of the cake with kitchen foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking to prevent the cake from burning. Then you will get perfect results.

Remember also that when you can smell the cake cooking it's almost done. Even if the recipe says you have another 20 minutes to go always check the cake when you can smell it, as it may have cooked much faster than you thought.

Below you will find recipes for a classic, simple Victoria sponge and a slightly more elaborate cake:

Victoria Sponge

60g butter
60g caster sugar
1 medium egg
60g self raising flour

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then beat-in the egg. Sift the flour over the mixture and fold in using a metal spoon. You are aiming for a batter of dropping consistency. If it's a little too thick add just a little milk.

Tip the batter into an 18cm cake tin that's been well buttered and lined with baking parchment. Flatten the surface with a spatula then place the cake in an oven pre-heated to 180°C and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake emerges cleanly.

Take out of the oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust the surface of the cake with icing sugar and serve.

Death By Chocolate

175g plain cholocate (40–45% coacoa solids)
50g 70% coacoa solids coacoa powder
140g butter
4 eggs
210g sugar
60g flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp thick buttermilk

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C then line a 23cm cake tin with greaseproof paper and grease the tin.

Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt with the butter in a bain-mari (double boiler) over hot water. Whilst the chocolate is melting, beat the eggs with sugar, flour, coacoa, baking powder and vanilla extract. Slowly fold the chocolate mixture and the buttermilk into the batter and spoon into the cake tin.

Place in the centre of the oven and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the tin. At this point remove the domed top of the cake, slice the cake through the centre to make two layers. For the filling cover the bottom half of the cake in black cherry jam and make a butter icing from butter, sugar and coacoa powder. Layer over the jam, add the top layer and add chocolate frosting, as below.

Create a frosting by melting 225g of dark chocolate with 225g of butter in a bain-marie. Add about 40ml of liqueur (Kirsch is good) and when molten spread the chocolate over the cake using a knife heated in boiling water.

I hope these recipes have shown you how easy cakes really are to make and how you can take a basic recipe and make something more elaborate out of it.

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About The Author, Gwydion
As part of his Celtnet Recipes Archive Dyfed Lloyd Evans presents a large selection of Cake and Baking Recipes. Why not fetch some recipes and try your hand at baking today! And if you're afraid of baking, why not search the Cooking Tips and Tricks article database for some help with your problems.