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The Universal Cake Recipe- One size fits all
Step by Step - Sift the flour and baking powder into a large, warmed mixing bowl
Add sugar, fat, eggs and any flavourings. Beat for 2-3 minutes
Scrape the mixture into a prepared cake tin with a spatula
Smooth the top with a plastic spatula.
Test the cake with a fine, skewer. It should come out clean.
Allow the cooked cake to rest for 3 minutes to shrink from the tin.
Put wire rack on top of cake and carefully invert cake and rack.
Gently remove tin. Peel off lining paper and leave cake until cold.
Preparing a deep tin
Preparing a ring tin
“Grans Easy Cake” the hardest part of this recipe is deciding on the cake tin.
I have received so many questions about cakes, how and why questions about leavening. The most common questions are “what is the quickest and easiest way to make a cake” or "how do I make sure my cake will turn out".
Cakes are like anything in life, there are no guarantees. However as far as I am aware the only bullet proof cake recipe I know uses extra baking powder. Cheating really, but the success rate is high.
We will call this recipe “Grans Easy Cake” a cake that is easy to remember and quick and simple to make. The basic ingredients are: equal weights of selfraising flour, sugar, fat and eggs; plus 5 ml [1 teaspoon] baking powder to every 100 g [1 lb] self-raising flour. It can not get any easier. Once more.......
Equal parts of ;
- 1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder to every pound (100g) of self raising flour.
You simply put all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and beat them together until they are light and slightly glossy. None of the usual laborious creaming or whisking of air into the mixture is needed. The extra baking powder does most of the work for you.
The self-raising flour is always used for this type of cake because it includes a calculated amount of baking powder, soft and starchy, self-raising flour readily absorbs fat and produces a light crumbly texture which is just right for cakes. The baking powder included in self-raising flour is not enough for Grans Easy Cake, so extra is added.
Baking powder is a raising agent. It reacts with liquid and heat to produce a gas which expands,making the cake rise as it cooks. Baking powder begins to act as soon as it becomes damp, so always store it in an airtight container and in a cool dry place.
Soft butter is tailor-made for this method. Butter must be left to soften in a warm room for at least an hour before using so that it is easy to beat.
Cator sugar or soft brown sugar is best because their fine crystals dissolve easily. Soft brown sugar gives a slightly richer, darker cake. Avoid granulated or Demerara sugar which give a coarse heavy texture.
Eggs give colour and food value and help to bind (hold) ingredients together. They should be at room temperature so be sure to remove them from the refrigerator an hour before you want to use them. Always use medium-sized eggs which weigh an average of 50 g [2 oz].
Finally, fill your mixing bowl half full with hot water so that it, too, will be at room temperature when you need it. O.K. Start mixing your cake.
Successful baking depends to a considerable degree on using the correct size of tin. If the tin is too small, the mixture could overflow, the top might crack and form a peak or the cake may sink in the middle because it is not cooked right through. The depth is as important as the diameter: the same quantity of cake mixture will physically fit into, say, one 15 cm (6") deep round tin or two 17.5 cm (7')shallow round tins. Note that the cooking times will be different, so use the tin sizes as specified in recipes or remember to alter the cooking time if using alternatives.
Most cake tins are made of alum- or tin, with or without a non-stick finish. Non-stick are more expensive but are often stronger and longer lasting, still, the base and sides of all cake tins should be greased before the mixture is poured in, otherwise the cake may stick and prove difficult to turn out in one piece after cooking. Yes, you still have to grease tins even when using a tin with non-stick finish.
Lining paper is a must and greaseproof paper is the cheapest and most widely used lining paper, but vegetable parchment waxed paper or foil can be used instead. All lining paper, except vegetable parchment, must be greased after it has been put in the tin.
You start by cutting the lining paper to size. Place it on the greased cake tin base, then grease the top of the paper so that the paper will peel away easily from the cake. If a deep tin or ring mould is used, you will need to line and regrease the sides of the tin as well as the base.
The fat needed for greasing is in addition to the fat needed for the recipe. It is possible to use hard fat to grease tins and lining paper, but it is more difficult to get an even coating. A flavourless oil, melted or lard is better, and melted butter gives the cake crust good flavour.
Melt the fat gently in a saucepan, taking care it doesn't burn, and remove it from the heat. Dip a pastry brush into the melted fat (in a perfect world you should keep one brush specifically for greasing) and thoroughly coat the base and sides of the tin, making sure no spots are left ungreased. Aim for a smooth, even film and don't leave any visible lumps or hardened fat or pools of oil - if the tin is over greased the cake might have a crusty ring around the edges.
Cake making toolbox
In addition to the warmed mixing bowl and prepared cake tin already described, you will need:
• measuring equipment
• wooden spoon
• palette knife
• wire rack
Accurate weighing and measuring is the key to baking anything. After all it is a form of alchemy and your experiment, potion or cake mix can go horribly wrong very easily of you do not get the ingredients right.
The sieve is an important tool and can be either metal or plastic but it must have a fine mesh to sift the flour and baking powder together. This aerates the ingredients and ensures that the baking powder is evenly distributed.
Wooden spoon is best for beating the ingredients together, many have tried many other devices but the wooden spoon is your best friend. Of course you can use an electric mixer, but I find it is just as quick and half as much washing up when use the spoon.
Once you have added eggs, sugar, fat and any flavouring. Stir vigorously with swift light movements. Don't skimp it only takes 2-3 minutes to make the mixture slightly glossy and lighter in colour, and insufficient mixing may give your cake a speckled surface and coarse texture.
A rubber or plastic spatula is handy for transferring the mixture from the bowl to the cake tin and ensures you don't waste any of it. The palette knife with its round blade is useful for smoothing the surface of the cake mixture
Baking time varies according to the recipe, the size of the cake and the idiosyncrasies of your particular oven. Don't be tempted to open the oven door before the end of the recommended cooking time as a rush of cold air can make the cake sink disastrously in the middle.
The cake is cooked when it is well risen, firm to the touch and light golden brown in colour. A way to test the cake is by inserting a fine, warmed skewer into the centre of it: the skewer should come out clean, that is, without any of the baking mix adhering to it.
Always leave your cake to stand in its tin for 3 minutes after it conmes out of the oven - this is to allow the cake to shrink away from the tin. Then turn the cake on to a wire rack, because this allows a good circulation of air all round the cake, and leave it to become quite cold before storing or decorating. A large cake will take about 3 hours and a small cake 1 hour to become cold.