Thursday, 8 November 2012

Basic Sponge - The basis of all cakey creations!

Over the last year, I've tried a few different sponge recipes with varying results. There are so many recipes out there, so it's important that you find one that's right for you to ensure success every time.

I've tried the all-in-one methods, everything in individually, recipes with and without baking powder - the list goes on!

But so far, the best one for me has to be the old fashioned weighing method. It's also much easier to adjust to the amount of cake you need too; whether it be cupcakes or a full on cake.

To make a sponge by the weighing method, you'll need:

Eggs (Free range give a richer taste; Med or Large)
Butter (or baking spread/margerine)
Caster (superfine) Sugar
Self-Raising Flour
Vanilla Extract
Milk (Optional - you may or may not need this)
Oven Temp - 160°C Fan

  • If you're making cupcakes, arrange your cases onto tins.
I've found they bake better if you leave a space next to each one.
For example: 6 cases on a 12 hole tin. With the short side facing you, put 1 case in the middle of the first and third rows, and a case on either side of the second and fourth.
  • If you're baking a cake, make sure you've got your tins greased and lined - both base and sides!
I've learnt the hard way to always grease and line, even with silicone tins. A few my cakes have been eaten by the tins!

Greased and lined tin.
  • Put the oven on to pre-heat.

  • Now, you'll need to weigh your eggs. This is the base weight that you'll weigh the dry ingredients individually to match. Digital scales are easier for accuracy, but analogue are fine too.
You can adjust the amount of eggs needed to match your bake. For two 7" sandwich tins, I'd generally use 180-200g of eggs, which is about 2-3 depending on size. 200-220g of eggs will generally do 12 cupcakes.
For 24 cupcakes, around 350-400g of eggs works well.
Bear in mind that cupcake cases are larger than traditional British fairy cake cases!

  • Now you have the egg weight, weigh the same amount of flour, sugar and butter separately.

    Weighed ingredients - Ready to go!

  • Next, beat the butter and sugar together in a large mixing until pale and fluffy.
An electric hand mixer makes this much quicker and easier, and a non-slip mat helps to keep your bowl from dancing away! Remove the mat before folding though, otherwise you may spend five minutes trying to figure out why the bowl won't turn...

  • Add the eggs, one by one, beating in between each addition. Add 1 Tsp. vanilla essence (or 2 Tsp. if you've gone for more eggs!) and mix. It might look a bit curdly, but this is normal!

  • Using a spatula, sift in a little flour at a time and fold. Turn the bowl with your other hand while running the spatula gently round the side (about a quarter of the way round the bowl) and gently fold into the middle. Repeat folding, sifting and folding until all the flour is mixed in evenly. (Didn't forget to remove the mat, did you??)
Here's where you may or may not need milk.
 You're looking for a nice dropping consistency, which drops of the spatula with a gentle flick of the wrist. If you've used baking spread, you'll be unlikely to need the milk. However, if you have used butter, you may need to add 1-2 Tbsp. and fold again until incorporated.

Finished cake batter

  • Spoon the mixture evenly into your tins or cases, and level off with the back of the spoon.

    Ready to Bake!

  • Bake for 20-25 minutes for cupcakes, or 25-30 minutes for cakes. The top should be lightly golden and spring back when gently pressed, and a skewer inserted should come out clean.

No gooey-ness please!

  • Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, before removing the cake and paper. Cool on a wire rack. Cupcakes can cool on the rack straight from the oven.

Finished Sponge!

  • Sandwich the cakes or decorate your cupcakes with your desired topping when cool.

I'll be adding topping and filling idea's over the next few days.



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