Cakes are a family of sweet treats that come with a mystery of their own. Here are some simple suggestions that should help make your “baking from scratch” a delight!
General: At first, follow your cake recipes closely – even small variations can have big results (and not always in your favor). Once you’re confident with the basic recipe, then get adventurous and play! In particular, pay close attention to the raising agents – more is NOT better. Extra may make your cake rise too much, too early, and then fall flat.
Sifting: Traditionally, sifting was done as a matter of fact, but has lost favor in more recent generations. Supposedly if you sift twice, it can make your cake extra light and fluffy. Try one batch without sifting and one sifted, and see if it makes a difference – if it’s not perfect you can always eat the evidence…
Mixing: When mixing the cake batter – blend until just moistened, do not over mix. Stop as soon as the mixture looks evenly combined. Whisks work well, if you keep an eye on the batter and stop soon enough. However, if you’re stirring something like a carrot or fruit cake, you may want to use a spoon because they’re often too thick to whisk.
Baking: Make sure you pre-heat the oven to the correct temperature before putting the cake in. If your oven bakes super evenly, that’s great – but if not, rotate your pan halfway through the baking time. Make sure to do it quickly though, so you don’t lose your heat with the oven open too long, and that could make your cake go flat (cakes are very sensitive to change in pressure and heat).
Here’s a simple recipe for Lemon Cake for you to try:
1 ½ C soy milk
2/3 C vegetable oil
1 C powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp grated lemon zest
3 C all purpose flour
3½ tsp baking powder
• Pre-heat oven 350 degrees
• Grease a 7” round or 8”x10” non-stick baking pan
• Place the soy milk, oil, sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest in a large bowl and whisk
• Add sifted flour and baking powder (hint – add baking powder to flour before sifting, and it will blend them together). Mix well.
• Pour the mixture into your baking pan and bake for 50-60 minutes (7″ round cake) or 35 minutes (baking pan) or until a knife stick comes out clean.
• Top with icing and sprinkle grated lemon zest on top to decorate and bring out the bright lemony flavor.