Some handy tips for baking at home – this section will be updated as Ariane remembers baking tips, but bear with her – she can be forgetful.
Is my cake mix the ‘right’ consistency?
To check your cake, assuming it’s a simple sponge, is the correct consistency you will need a metal dessert spoon.
Get a good spoonful of your mix and bang the handle on the edge of the bowl. Most of the mix should fall off easily into the bowl.
If it sticks after a couple of good bangs, this means it is too sticky and needs some additional liquid.
Add a tiny splash of milk or water and fold it in before repeating the test. Keep adding small splashes of milk until it is the correct consistency.
Don’t add a lot of milk at once or you could make it too runny.
If it runs off the spoon, this means it is too wet and that it needs more solid ingredients.
Add a teaspoon of sifted flour and fold in before repeating the test.
If it is still wet, add more flour, but only do this a bit at a time as you don’t want to make it too sticky.
Is my cake cooked?
The first good indication is to look at your cake – does it look firm on top? If it still looks like liquid then just leave it in the oven.
If it looks firm, bounce your finger off the top of the cake and if it feels springy that means it’s done. If it is gooey then it needs to cook longer.
The other test to make sure it’s cooked all the way through is to use a baking needle (which looks a bit like a thin knitting needle) or a metal skewer.
Place it in the side (between the pan and the cake) to warm it up and then wipe it clean.
Place it in the centre of the cake and hold it there for a minute.
If the cake is fully cooked, the needle should be clean when you remove it.
Make sure you remove your cakes from the tin to a wire wrack to cool after the first two to five minutes, and make sure they’re fully cool before icing them or any form of icing will just slide off.
Using cocoa powder in cakes
- For however many tablespoons of cocoa powder you are using, take that amount from the flour (for example, if you’re using one tablespoon of cocoa powder then remove one tablespoon of flour)
- OR, add a tablespoon of liquid for each tablespoon of cocoa powder – this can be milk, water or even spirits like rum, whiskey or vodka
- For a really chocolatey spongecake or cupcakes, I recommend two tablespoons of cocoa powder for 170g of flour (a 6,6,6,3 batch of mix)
Remembering a simple sponge mix
The easiest way to remember a cake recipe is to remember the basic sponge mix: 6,6,6 and 3.
This means six ounces of self-raising flour, six ounces of caster sugar, six ounces of butter and three eggs.
This can be changed down to 4,4,4 and 2 or 2,2,2, and 1 or even up to 8,8,8 and 4 – just remember the eggs are half the amount of the other ingredients in ounces.
Six ounces is roughly 170g, however if you remember the ounces rule and you have access to the internet, you can just Google the weight conversion online.
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