The Secret to Great Cakes is ................................
Yes, you are The Secret to Great Cakes.
Let me explain.
You have convinced yourself that you aren't a baker. Every time you try to bake it never turns out the same as the picture. You look at the results and wonder what the hell did you do to it this time. You tell yourself that you are a failure.
Am I right?
That voice in your head is holding you back from being the baker you want to be. If you stick with me I will hold your hand through each recipe, making sure that you avoid the pitfalls, and help you on your way to baking great cakes.
When you get the basics right you will have cracked the Secret to Great Cakes.
Let me tell you a little story.
I don't enjoy cooking meals. I can do them but I am not a fan. I am very lucky that my husband does and is a great cook, so I rarely have to cook dinner. Sometimes he can't cook so I have to. I immediately dread it and my nemesis meal is Yorkshire Puddings. No Aunt Bessie's allowed in this house! They never work. They are always flat and stodgy, not light and fluffy and reach the top of the oven like the Hubster's puddings.
Last week something different happened.
I made Yorkshire Pudding for a roast dinner. It rose to the top of the oven. It was light and fluffy, just like the Hubster's puddings.
What was different this time? Me.
I wasn't dreading making it. I did everything without a negative thought about how the pudding was going to turn out. I gave myself plenty of time to make it so I was relaxed too.
And Bingo!! Fantastic Yorkshire Pudding.
What's that got to do with baking?
If you give yourself plenty of time to make a cake, if you don't think negative thoughts about how it will turn out accepting that it will turn out fine, if you relax, then that is the first lesson. You will be surprised by the outcome.
Practice the recipes I am going to share with you. These are the foundation to my cakes whether it's a cupcake or a 5 tier Wedding Cake.
Image courtesy of Kelly Cotter Photography.
With every recipe I publish, my goal is to help you become a better and more confident baker. Baking from scratch doesn’t have to be intimidating or difficult. Let’s reverse that and put the FUN back into our kitchens. Dirty mixing bowls and all!
The first cake I learnt to bake at school and the cake my Nan used to bake every Sunday morning: The Victoria Sponge Cake.
The classic sponge cake that every baker learns to make first. Think of it as the foundations of your baked house.
Here are my Tips for Success:
1 Read the recipe.
From beginning to end. This is the step that most people ignore. By reading the recipe first you will see which ingredients are mixed together in what order. This can be the key to your bakes working or not.
2 Gather all of the ingredients.
Not only will you see if anything is missing, but you won't have to leave your cake batter at a vital stage to go searching for the next ingredient. This delay could ruin the batter because an ingredient isn't added at the correct timing.
3 Weigh the ingredients accurately.
Baking is a science and the weights used have been carefully tried and tested to get the perfect balance. Too much of one ingredient or not enough of another sends the mixture off balance and the cake won't turn out how you want it to.
4 Oven Temperature.
Always preheat the oven.
Too low and the cake won't cook through properly causing it to sink in the middle.
Too high and the cake will burn and be very dry.
5 Use the right cake tins.
Use the size given in the recipe as the baking time and temperature will change with the size. Using the correct size will make sure your cake turns out how it should.
6 Keep your oven door closed!
Step away from it right now. Don't touch that door whilst the cake is in there. It's important to maintain the correct oven temperature throughout the baking process but if you open the door part way through you let the heat out and the temperature will drop. the result is that your cake will sink in the middle.
7 Apply sprinkles liberally!
This should probably have been my first tip as sprinkles help anything look better.
But they will also mask any breaks or tares in your baked goods making them look instantly better.
At the end of the day it's only a cake. It's not going to solve world hunger or change the path of global warming so relax and breath.
Enjoy the process as well as the results.
To Decorate the Cake.
Make sure the cake has cooled completely. If the cake is still warm the buttercream will melt as soon as you start to spread it.
Turn out the cooled sponges onto a presentation plate or cake board.
Spread a thin layer of jam or curd over the bottom half of the cake.
Spread a layer of buttercream to the underside of the top layer and then sandwich the two layers together.
Finish with a light dusting of icing sugar
If you don't want to use buttercream you can use freshly whipped double cream and sliced strawberries, just be sure to keep it in the fridge and then eat it on the same day.
This is the first in the series of recipes that guide you through how I make my wowtastic cakes.
For more recipes and videos join The How To Bake group on Facebook to watch me demonstrate my baking skills live every fortnight, or you can watch later when you have more time.
If you make this recipe or have a question about any part of it then comment below, I'd love to see your bakes.