Baking Cakes: Cook’s Tips
A sandwich cake is fat creamed with sugar, whereas a sponge is usually fatless and the eggs are whisked with the sugar before folding in the flour.
Basic Sandwich Cake
100 gl 4 oz butter or margarine
100 g | 4 oz castor sugar
100 g | 14 oz self-raising flour
Prepare and weigh all the ingredients. Grease a 20-cm/8-inch cake tin or two 18-cm/7-inch sandwich tins and line with greased greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to moderate (160°C, 325°F, Gas Mark 3).
Place the softened fat and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Beat in the whole eggs one at a time, adding a little of the flour with the second egg.
If the eggs are added all at once or if they are too cold, the fat and sugar mixture can curdle.
If the recipe necessitates flavourings such as vanilla essence, grated lemon rind, etc., then mix in before the flour is added.
Finally fold in the sifted flour using a metal spoon. Spread into the prepared cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, or 25-30 minutes if baking two smaller cakes. If the surface of the cake is browning too quickly, cover with foil or greaseproof paper.
Allow to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire cooling rack.
• Sift the flour before using to remove any lumps. If using any other dry ingredients such as cornflour or baking powder, sift these with the flour, so that all the ingredients are thoroughly and evenly incorporated.
• Butter or margarine, eggs and milk must be taken out of the refrigerator in advance so that they reach room temperature before you begin baking.
• If the butter or margarine is very hard, soften before using. Soft margarine in tubs is very good for cake making.
• If the quantity of flour in the cake is high in proportion to the amount of fat and sugar, corresponding to about the weight of the combined fat and sugar, baking powder is sometimes added to the mixture to act as a raising agent.
• Do not over-mix at the folding in stage as essential air can be knocked out.
• In some recipes the eggs are separated and added separately. The yolks are added to the creamed fat and sugar, then the egg whites are whisked and folded into this mixture.
• Some Cake mixtures contain dried fruit. The fruit must be tossed well in the flour before folding into the cake mixture as this will prevent it from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
• If you are making a marble cake, add sifted cocoa powder to half the cake mixture with a little extra sugar. Place alternate spoonfuls of the plain and chocolate mixtures in the tin and swirl with a skewer to give a marbled effect.
Whisked Sponge Cake
This method of cake making is used for gateaux, bases for fruit flans, layered cakes and various small cakes. Whisked sponge cakes freeze well.
The eggs and sugar are whisked together until light and fluffy. The flour is then very carefully folded in together with cornflour if used. To add richness to the cake sometimes a little melted
butter is added at the end. Another method of making this type of cake is to separate the eggs and whisk the yolks with the sugar, and then to fold in the whisked egg whites.
25 g/1 oz cornflour
100 g/4 oz castor sugar
15g | 1/2oz ground almonds
50 g/2 oz plain flour
25 g/1 oz butter, melted (optional)
Prepare all the ingredients and equipment. Weigh solid ingredients exactly. Grease a 20-cm/8-inch springform cake tin with butter or margarine and sprinkle with flour or fine breadcrumbs. Preheat the oven to moderately hot (190°C, 375°F, Gas Mark 5).
Whisk the eggs with the sugar until thick and creamy and the whisk leaves a trail. Sift the flour with the cornflour and mix with the ground almonds. Using a metal spoon, fold into the egg mixture with the melted butter, if used.
Turn the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the surface and bake for 35-45 minutes. Do not open the oven door during the first few minutes, or the cake will sink Test with a skewer to check if the cake is cooked.
Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn on to a wire rack to cool completely.
To cut a sponge cake into layers, either pierce to the centre with a sharp pointed knife and turn the cake around until one layer is cut off, or cut through the layers with a strong thread.- It is best to lift off the layers with thick paper or thin cardboard.
25g | 1oz cornflour
100 g/4 oz castor sugar
15 g | ½ oz cocoa powder
50 g/2 oz plain flour
Follow the method given for Whisked Sponge Cake, sifting the cornflour and cocoa powder with the flour, and omitting the melted butter.
Making Swiss Roll
4 eggs, separated, plus 2 egg yolks
80 gl /3 oz plain flour
25 g | 1 oz cornflour
100 g | 4 oz castor sugar
Line a 33-cm x 23-cm/ 13 x 9-inch Swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper and grease well. Preheat the oven to hot (220°C, 425°F,
Gas Mark 7).
Whisk the egg yolks with half the sugar until frothy. Whisk the egg whites until frothy, slowly sprinkle in the rest of the sugar and continue to whisk until very stiff. Pour the egg whites on to the egg yolks.
Sift the flour with the cornflour on to the egg whites and fold all into the yolk mixture, blending carefully with a metal spoon. Place in the prepared Swiss roll tin and smooth over. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.
Turn the cake out on to greaseproof paper sprinkled with castor sugar and placed over a damp tea towel. Strip off the greaseproof lining paper, trim the edges, fill and roll up. If the Swiss roll is to be filled when cold, place a sheet of clean greaseproof on top and carefully roll up with the paper inside. Leave until cold then carefully unroll, fill as required and roll up again.
• A delicate mixture of egg yolks, sugar and egg whites must be made quickly. The whisked egg whites should never be beaten into the yolks, for this would break down the air incorporated into the whites and the lightness of the cake would be lost. The sifted flour too, mixed with cornflour, cocoa or baking powder as the case may be, must be carefully folded in using a metal spoon.
• Do not allow the mixture to stand for long once it is mixed, but place in a preheated oven and bake immediately If left to stand, the mixture can fall and lose its lightness.
How to Make Meringues
A meringue mixture consists of egg white and sugar. This light structure, as the name suggests, is of French origin.
6 egg whites
75 g / 3 oz icing sugar
225 g / 8 oz castor sugar
25g / 1 oz cornflour
Whisk the egg whites until stiff, preferably using an electric whisk, and slowly sprinkle in the castor sugar, whisking continuously. Sift the icing sugar and cornflour on to the egg whites and fold in with a metal spoon. (On no account use a whisk.) Fill a piping bag fitted with a plain or star nozzle with the mixture and pipe the shapes indicated in the recipe. The baking tray must be lined with non-stick baking parchment or rice paper for meringues. It is easiest to mark out the required shapes on the paper with a pencil, then to use this as a guide.
Meringues should be baked at a very low temperature, overnight if possible, with the oven door propped open slightly with the handle of a wooden spoon. Alternatively, bake the meringues in a cool oven (140°C, 275°F, Gas Mark 1) for 3-4 hours.
• When whisking egg whites make sure that the bowl and whisk are spotlessly clean, and there is not a trace of egg yolk, otherwise the egg whites will not whisk properly.
• Make sure that the whites are thoroughly whisked before adding the sugar. An electric whisk is an invaluable piece of equipment when making meringues.