While baking a cake, I love to experiment and try out new stuff. Maybe add some blueberries or crushed almonds or simply drizzle some fruity syrup over the plain old basic cake – Anything. Anything and everything will do. Gradually you inherit the good sense of what goes with what. And if not, what’s life without a few mistakes, or in this case, a few badly turned / burnt cakes?

First, you need to know how to bake the basic cake. Once that foundation is made, it is easier to branch out, give a solid structure to your new ideas and bake.

Here are a few extremely basic age-old favourite cakes. Feel free to dab in your innovative ideas anywhere.

Let’s start with the basic Vanilla Sponge Cake. It is pretty easy to make and you can tempt your inner creative genius to work. (I usually add some raisins and cashew nuts to it.)

 

Vanilla Sponge Cake

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Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients: 200g plain flour, 2 tablespoons cornflour, 200g caster sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 70g margarine,150ml milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract,1 egg

Method: Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Grease and flour a 20cm square tin.Sieve flour, cornflour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add margarine and milk. Mix until smooth, then add vanilla and egg. Mix well.Pour into prepared tin. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Princess Cake (this cake was invented in the 1930s )

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Time: 1 hour

Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients: 1 ready-made 18cm round vanilla sponge cake, 500ml double cream, 200ml thick vanilla custard, 3 tbsp raspberry jam, 200g fresh raspberries, 350g marzipan (coloured pale green), icing sugar (for dusting)

Method: Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the sponge cake through the middle into3 layers. Whip the cream until stiff. Spread a thin layer of cream on top of the bottom cake layer, then carefully spread over the vanilla custard within 2cm of the edge. Spread the raspberry jam on top of the middle cake layer and arrange about half the raspberries in the centre. Place on top of the bottom cake. Position the final top layer of the cake on top of the raspberries. Using a palette knife, spread a little of the whipped cream around the side of the cake. Keep the best-looking raspberry for decoration, pile up the remainder in the centre, then cover these with the remaining cream. Try to create a dome effect across the top of the cake. On a surface dusted with icing sugar, roll the marzipan to a circle large enough to cover the cake completely. Carellfully drape it over and gently smooth it in place, letting it fall into neat folds. Using scissors, trim away any excess marzipan around the base. Sit your star raspberry on top, then dust with icing.

 

Basic Chocolate Cake

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Time: 1 hour

Serves: 9 – 10 people

Ingredients: Cooking Spray, 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups sugar, 1 ½ tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, 3 large eggs, ¾ cup vegetable oil, ½ cup sour cream, 2 tsp vanilla extract

Method: Preheat the oven to 170C. Coat two 9-inch-round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Whisk the cocoa powder and 1 ½ cups boiling water in a medium bowl until smooth; set aside. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl until combined. Add the eggs, vegetable oil, sour cream and vanilla and beat with a mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low, beat in the cocoa mixture in a steady stream until just combined, then finish mixing with a rubber spatula. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and tap the pans against the counter to help the batter settle. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pans and turn the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely. Remove the parchment. Trim the tops of the cakes with a long serrated knife to make them level, if desired.

 

Marble Bundt Cake

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Time: 1 hour

Serves: cuts into 8 – 10 slices

Ingredients: 300g butter (softened, plus extra for greasing), 300g golden caster sugar, 6 medium eggs, 150ml whole milk, 280g self-raising flour (plus extra for the tin), 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 100g dark chocolate (coarsely chopped into chips or chocolate chunks, plus extra for decorating (optional) ), 25g cocoa powder (sifted), 1 tbsp dark rum, icing sugar (optional)

Method: Heat oven to 170C. grease a 25cm bundt ring mould with butter, then dust with flour. Cream together the butter and sugar in a food processor. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the milk. Divide the mixture between 2 large bowls. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Add 150g of the flour to one bowl and fold in carefully with the vanilla, then fold in the chocolate chips. Fold the remaining flour and the cocoa into the other bowl, along with the rum. Spoon the cocoa mixture into the base of the mould, creating a slight trough, then smooth the vanilla mixture on top. This arrangement of the 2 mixtures with the cocoa mixture on the base should minimize the possibility of the cakes sticking. Bake for 50 minutes until risen and set. Run a knife around the inner and outer edges and leave to cool in the tin for about 30 minutes. Put a cake stand or plate on top of the mould and invert it. Leave to cool completely.

 

So grab your aprons, take the baking tin out, pour in some batter and start baking!

“Let them eat cake.”

Marie Antoinette

 

Recipe Courtesy: foodnetwork.com, bbcgoodfood.com

Image Courtesy:foodlibrarin.com, flick.com, yourrecipesonline.com, foodnetwork.com