With the renaissance of baking on television and in British kitchens, Mary Berry and Delia Smith have become unlikely fashion icons. After a proliferation of modern, flamboyant TV chefs we seem to have gone back to more traditional ways utilising old fashioned baking equipment and methods. In fact, everything to do with good, old-fashioned baking is trendy right now. The process may seem daunting to novices but hopping onto the bandwagon really couldn’t be any easier. With a few basic recipes, some everyday store cupboard ingredients, a simple range of baking equipment and a bit of practice you can be knocking out classic Victoria sponges or fluffy fairy cakes like a seasoned professional, in no time at all.
Victoria Sponge Ingredients:
- 225g butter, softened
- 225g caster sugar
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 225g self-raising flour
- 2 x 18cm cake tins, greased and lined
- A free-standing mixer
- Large metal spoon
- Wire cooling rack
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of your mixer and cream together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs gradually, followed by the vanilla extract. Fold in the flour gently, being careful to retain air in the mixture. You should end up with a batter of soft, dropping consistency. If yours seems a little stiff, stir in some milk to loosen.
Divide the mixture between the cake tins and smooth over before baking for about 25 minutes, until the tops are golden-brown. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake will come out clean if it is cooked. Remove for the oven and leave for 5 minutes before turning onto a rack to cool. Remove the lining paper. Once the cakes are completely cool, sandwich together with a little jam and whipped cream and dust the top with icing sugar.
Baking Equipment & Accessories
This basic sponge recipe can be adapted to make a variety of cakes. With some baking accessories such as cupcake cases, piping bags, various shapes of baking tin and some other store cupboard ingredients (butter, icing sugar, lemon curd, cooking chocolate) you will be able to experiment until you have a useful repertoire of cake recipes. A selection of cake stands or cake boards will aid presentation and a sugar dredger for dusting with icing sugar is another handy piece of baking equipment.
Consider also investing in a couple of useful cook books. The internet is a useful tool but some of the old, classic books can’t be beaten for tried and tested recipes – Mary Berry, Delia Smith and Good Housekeeping all have well-proven options.