May 2, 2012

Cakes like a bit of care and attention, just follow a few simple rules to improve your cakes...

General: Follow the cake recipe strictly as even a small deviation can alter the end result. Leave experimentation until you feel confident with the recipe... and then have some fun playing around with it! It is particularly important to be precise with raising agents. Don't be tempted to add a little extra for good luck. The extra may cause the cake to rise too much and then go flat.

Sieving: I have never done this, but heard it makes the cake extra-light if you sieve the flour twice. Not strictly necessary, but worth trying if you have time.

Mixing: When you are mixing the cake batter, do not overmix. Mix everything in well, but stop as soon as the mixture looks evenly combined. I like to whisk my batter and find this works well, but always keeping an eye on the batter. I use a spoon to stir my carrot cake and fruit cake mix because they are too thick to whisk.

Baking: Make sure the oven is pre-heated to the correct temperature before the cake goes in. Usually cakes needs turning halfway through baking time, but if your oven bakes super-evenly, there is no need. if you turn the cake, do it as quickly as possible so that the oven door isn't open for too long... and don't open the oven door any more than you need to (once to turn the cake) or the cake may go flat as they are sensitive to oven changes.

And finally... a simple recipe for lemon cake to try: Lemon Cake

350 ml soya milk

170 ml vegetable oil

200g caster sugar

tsp vanilla essence

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest

350g plain flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1. Pre-heat oven to 175C/350F/Gas 4.

2. Grease a 7 inch round tin (or for a traybake use a tray about 10" x 8").

3. Place the soya milk, oil, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest in a large bowl and whisk thoroughly.

4. Measure out the flour and baking powder. Give a good stir to combine.

5. Sift the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix well to combine. Whisk if necessary).

6. Pour the mixture into your tin and bake for 50-60 minutes (7" cake) or 35 minutes (traybake) or until a cocktail stick comes out clean.

7. Top with icing and sprinkle grated lemon zest on top to decorate and also enhance the lemony flavour.

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