All good cakes come to those that wait!!
Hello again, I don’t want to sound or get too serious over this cake making thing, but like everything in life if we want to do something really well we do need to spend time, going through it stage by stage until we ‘get it right’. So, this is my long winded effort in an attempt to help in just that. By going through the basics first, I hope that someone out there will follow and achieve an end result of a really good cake as opposed to one that is just ok. My goal is that you can walk into your kitchen and without stress ‘knock up’ a little cake, for friends, the local charity, school or just as a treat for the family.
Cakes Step by Step
So, here we go: Never forget the first and major rule is having the ‘passion’ for what you do! Last week I left you with the classic recipe for a ‘sponge cake’. Ok – so a few people commented that I didn’t give the full instructions. That has thrilled me no end because it means SOMEBODY is reading my post!!! I didn’t give the full recipe because I want to go through it thoroughly, over a number of weeks. We cannot expect to make a recipe work unless we understand what we are doing and why. Just one more rule to remember: making a cake is a science, we need to treat it with respect. (as well as the love!!)
I will now explain the ingredients for this recipe fully step by step. So from our list of rules: use good quality ingredients.
Sugar – caster sugar is the best to get a finer lighter finish to the cake. You may have trouble getting this. It is a little more expensive but well worth using. If you use granulated sugar, you will need to mix longer in the early stages, but more on that next week.
Butter gives a richer flavor and is my personal preference for wedding cakes. Margarine gives a very ‘light’ result – which is good if you are watching calories!! Remember to use a good quality brand of either.
For this recipe self -raising flour is used. Spanish flour is very coarse. It’s heavy and robust, being more suitable for making bread than cakes - even their version of the self-raising, (probably that is why many people say the Spanish can’t make cakes!!) They do however now make some finer ‘reposteria’ flour which is lighter and can be used at a push, but still you won’t get as good results because it’s heavier than English or French flours. The French make very fine flour which is perfect for making crepes and light ‘angel’ cakes so you can use this if of course you can find it here! English flour is perfectly fine, I use ‘Homepride’ (Thanks to Sophia at ‘White Island’ in Santa Eulalia). It is a lovely light flour ideal for all sorts of cake making, especially the classic recipe we are using here. Baking powder can be added as an extra ‘raising ingredient’ (only 2 level teaspoons though). Baking powder is available in most supermarkets and the most common trade name is ‘Royal’ , again visit White Island if you are having trouble locating it. It is not an essential to use this as the flour has its own raising ingredient which is sufficient, it does though give an even lighter cake if the finished result is to be layered with whipped cream and jam. Do not add baking powder however if the cake is to be iced and layered (as in a wedding cake).
Eggs - free range have more flavor so consequently better, it is essential to use fresh eggs for making light sponges, and always use large eggs.
Flavorings: for this recipe I use Madagascar vanilla bean extract. Most vanilla comes from Madagascar, so don’t worry if it doesn’t say it on the label. I use a good quality natural organic extract (Taylor and Colledge from the UK), although there are many available, Lakeland make a very good one for example. If you want to use lemon in the cake – use freshly squeezed, it gives a fuller flavour, and as we have an Island full of them it really would be rude not too!
So there we have a list of the right ingredients to use. Next week I will explain how to mix and make this cake to have perfect results.