Baking a cake from scratch
I’ve been baking cakes for over 20 years and always baked from scratch. I have never used a box mix ever? Baking a cake from scratch is how I was raised; a box mix was never an option.
I always thought people buy box mix because of the convenience factor. But I have met a lot of people who are afraid of baking a cake from scratch. Even when you give them a good, tried and tested recipe they still prefer the box?
To me, why consume all those preservatives and chemicals when you can avoid it.
I’ve read that most commercial mixes contain hydrogenated fats, additives, preservatives, and lots of salt. They also include artificial colors, flavorings such as tartrazine which has been linked to ADHD disorders. (this is from an article I read by Jane Clarke, a leading british nutritionist
It’s true that baking is food science that needs precise measurements and temperature controls but it’s nothing to be afraid of. I believe the packaged food industry has made us believe that box mixes are faster than from-scratch cakes. They really are not! and the taste tradeoff is huge. All it takes is patience and a good recipe.
In an attempt to encourage my friends and fellow bloggers to enjoy the joys of baking a cake from scratch I am sharing with you today a very basic cake recipe. To me this is the mother of all cakes. I will also post more recipes, some a bit more complicated than this but if you are new to baking, this is a good place to start. Trust me; its a lot easier than you can imagine.
This is the first recipe I learned when I was 10 from my godmother Georgina. I can honestly say my confidence in baking skills are a reflection of her teaching and blessings. She use to say, this is the foundation of all cakes. You master this and you will never ever have a failed cake.
She was right. This has always been the foundation for all my cake baking and today I do try different variations and have gained the confidence to play with my ingredients.
I have come up with my own signature cakes which dominate my business almost exclusively. I very rarely have an order for anything other than my signature cakes.
So here it is – the mother of all cakes. I urge you to try it. If you have any questions feel free to send me a note. I’d be glad to help.
This recipe will make
one – 8inch cake layer about 2 inch tall or two 6 inch cakes each 2 inch tall.
To view pictures of the cake process please view my post Baking Tips
Basic Vanilla Cake
250 grams (2 sticks) unsalted butter. (room temp.)
250 grams (1 + 1/8 cup) white granulated sugar
4 large eggs (about 60 to 70 grams each – room temp.)
250 grams (2 1/2 cups )sifted cake flour (measure for sifted cake flour is different from unsifted cake or all-purpose flour)
2 tsp. of Baking Powder
200 ml milk
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 170C or 340F. Prepare two 8” cake pans. Either grease and flour it or line it with baking paper.
- In a bowl, measure your dry ingredients, add the baking powder, salt and set aside. Measure the milk and set aside.
- Start by creaming the butter and sugar in your kitchen mixture (or by hand) for about 3 to 5 min. until light and fluffy.
- Next, add eggs one at a time, beat until well combined.
- Add the vanilla extract
- Add the flour and milk in three batches, starting with the flour and ending with the flour. Mix until just incorporated. Here you do not over mix.
- Take the bowl off the mixture – give it one last stir scraping the bottom of the bowl. Pour into your prepared pan and place in the oven (middle rack) for 20 to 25 min. Or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Make it light and airy
separate the eggs and egg yolks. Add the yolks into the batter as normal. Beat the egg whites with 1/8 tps. cream of tartar until soft peaks form then fold into the batter before pouring it into the baking pan.
Sour-cream Vanilla cake
sour-cream adds a lovely softness to your cake and don’t worry you will not taste the sour cream. Reduce the butter to 200 grams, reduce the milk to 50ml and add 150 grams of sour cream and add ¼ tsp. of baking soda.
reduce the quantity of milk to 140ml and add about 60ml of lemon juice plus the zest of one lemon. (zest if optional)
replace the milk with 150 ml of orange juice. Replace the vanilla extract with orange extract.
reduce the flour to 200 grams and add 50 grams of dark coco powder.
Chocolate Mocha Cake
reduce flour to 200 grams and add 50 grams of coco powder. Dissolve 2 tbsp. of coffee in 2 tbsp. of hot water. Add to the batter before you pour into the baking pan.
For more information on baking from scratch please read my previous blog post on baking tip.