Cakes are flour mixture that are made from variations of basically the same ingredients; flour, fat, eggs, sugar, liquid and flavoring. Cakes are grouped according to the amount of fat and sugar that is used with the flour. When half or less than half the fat is used the cake is ‘plain’. Cakes that have more than half the fat to flour are called ‘rich cakes’. The different methods of making cakes are highlighted below.
Methods on How to Prepare a Cake
Rubbing-in-method: The fat is rubbed into the flour with the finger-tips until the mixture looks like bread crumbs. This method is good for simple buns, plain cakes and scones.
The creaming method: The fat and sugar of equal proportions are beaten until it is creamy. Examples of cakes with this method are: queen cakes, rich wedding and Christmas cakes, plain butter sponge cakes like Victoria sandwich e.t.c
The whisking method: The egg and sugar are whisked together until thick and frothy. The flour is folded in lightly. This method is used for plain sponge cakes, swiss rolls etc. They are very light and digestible because very little or no fat is added.
The melting method: The fat with the sweetening agents- sugar, syrup, or treacle are melted together. This method is used in ginger bread.
Hints on cake making
- Collect all apparatus needed before hand
- Grease cake pans with salt less fat
- Prepare all ingredients well before mixing them
- Sift flour and salt (if used), to remove lumps and impurities
- Use quality ingredients; eggs must be fresh, flour should be dry and free from smell
- Handle cake mixture lightly and beat in an upward direction
- Bake the cake immediately the mixing is completed or the baking powder may lose some of its strength.
- Add liquid to obtain the correct consistency.
- Constant opening of the oven door lowers the temperature and causes cake to ‘fall’ so open the oven door as little as possible.
- Do not move a cake until it has set.
How to know a well baked cake
After cake preparation, if you want to know whether you have baked it well, the following methods can be used to check if it was well baked:
- If a cake has an even brown color or a firm crust
- If the cake feels light
- If it is tender, the grain is fine and uniform, and the color in keeping with the ingredients and without discoloration from utensils
- The cake should shrink away from the side of the tin.
- If the cake springs back quickly after it has been pressed gently on the top with a finger
- If a clean tooth-pick, sharp knife or skewer is inserted into the center of the cake, it should come out clean.
- The odor and flavor are pleasing.
Recipes for Cakes
- 500gm of flour
- 1 egg made up to ¼ pt with water or milk
- 1 level teaspoon salt
- 4 level teaspoons baking powder
- 150g fat
- 150g sugar
- Sieve flour with baking powder and salt into bowl
- Rub fat lightly into flour with the finger tips until the mixture looks like fine bread crumbs with no lumps of fat
- Add the sugar.
- Add the egg mixture all at once to the flour and mix thoroughly until a soft mouldable sticky dough is formed.
- Divide into small portions and put them on a greased tray , allowing at least a centimeter of space around each one or put into appropriate greased baking tins.
- Bake in a preheated oven (400 degree) for 15 minutes.
- 175gm of self raising flour
- 125g of fat
- 125g of sugar
- 1-2 eggs
- Few drops of Vanilla essence (optional)
- Cream sugar and fat until soft, white and creamy. Use a wooden spoon and work lightly with a circular motion.
- Add the beaten eggs by degrees, continuing the creaming between each addition. If mixture begins to curdle, add a little flour to make it smooth again
- Using a metal spoon, fold in one third of the flour, adding a little milk if necessary. Repeat with the second one-third of the flour and a little milk.
- Add any fruit available and the final third of the flour to which baking powder has been added. Add more milk if necessary to give the mixture a soft dropping consistency i.e, it should be soft enough to drop from the spoon. Add the essence.
- Bake in a moderate oven- small cakes for 20 minutes and a little longer for larger cakes.
Recipe: Plain sponge cake
- 80g flour
- 100g castor sugar
- 4 eggs
- 3-4 teaspoons baking powder
- Sieve the baking powder and flour. Sieve the sugar separately.
- Break the eggs into a mixture bowl and whisk them for about 5 minutes.
- Add the sugar lightly and continue to whisk until the mixture has doubled its bulk and becomes thick and white. Stand the bowl over a pan of hot water while whisking. This helps to increase volume and to thicken the mixture. Be careful to not to make the water too hot and not to allow the bowl to touch the water or else the egg will curdle and the texture will be spoilt.
- Remove from the heat and scatter about one half of the flour lightly over the mixture and then fold it in lightly with a metal spoon, be careful not expel the air which has been whisked into the egg.
- Scatter the remaining flour over the mixture and continue folding until all is absorbed.
- Pour the mixture lightly into a cake tin which has been greased and dusted with a teaspoonful of flour and castor sugar mixed together.
- Dredge the surface lightly with castor sugar and bake in a moderate oven for about ¾ – 1 hour. Be careful not to overcook sponge mixtures or they will shrink and become tough.
- 400g of flour
- 200g of sugar
- ½ pint milk
- 1 level teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg
- 300g syrup
- 150g margarine
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- Sift flour, salt and raising agent into a bowl and rub in the fat. Stir in the sugar.
- Stir in enough milk to make light, spongy dough.
- Turn on to a floured pastry board, knead very lightly to make it smooth; roll lightly to 1 inch thick.
- Cut rounds with a sharp cutter, or cut into triangles or diamonds with a sharp knife.
- Mould trimmings together, roll out and cut.
- Place on a flavoured baking sheet. Brush the tops with milk and bake in a hot oven for seven to 7-10 minutes till brown and well risen.
- Cool on a rack.