Sunday, 2 November 2008

Clare's perfect sponge cake recipe part 1

I’m told I write too much. So for those of you who don’t want to read all the fascinating and useful things contained in these pages, here is the recipe speeded up. You’re missing all the best bits though…

Speed baking...

- Pre-heat the oven: 180C (fan-assisted), 190C (no fan), 375f, Gas Mark 5.

- Combine 110g each of self raising flour, soft un-salted butter and caster sugar; with 2 eggs and a teaspoon of (good) vanilla extract. Mix with an electric hand beater or in a food processor for 3 minutes.

- Share the mixture between 12 cake cases in a bun tin and cook for 12-15 minutes. They’re done when golden and springy to the touch.

- Cool them. Done.

The calm version…


Before you start baking or even shopping, read these top tips for best results…

- Buy the best quality ingredients you can – like free range or organic eggs, butter not margarine and proper vanilla extract not flavouring

- Take the butter and eggs out of the fridge early. The butter should be properly soft. You forgot? You can soften it (carefully) in the microwave – low temperature and 10-20 seconds at a time, to avoid a mass of molten butter

Before you start baking:

- Weigh out all your ingredients
- Put paper cases into your bun tins
- Put the shelf in the middle of the oven and remove the splatter guard if you have a fan oven (for even baking results)
- Pre-heat the oven

Ingredients for 12 fairy cakes

110g/4oz unsalted butter - soft
110g/4oz caster sugar
110g/4oz self-raising flour
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract


Large mixing bowl and electric hand mixer
Or table top mixer, or food processor
Dessert spoon or ice-cream scoop
12-hole bun tin
Paper baking cases
Cooling rack


Get ready…
Take the butter and eggs out of the fridge in good time

Preheat your oven to 180C (fan-assisted), 190C (no fan), 375f, Gas Mark 5.
Get ingredients and equipment ready.

Put all the ingredients into your mixing or food processor bowl and mix thoroughly, on a medium speed for about 3 minutes. Stop every now and then to scrape mixture down from the sides of the bowl. The end result should be smooth and soft – a dropping consistency as they say; put some on a spoon and it should gently slide off.


A bit too solid? Add a tablespoon (or so) of milk and mix again
A bit lumpy and separated on the surface? The mix has probably curdled. Add a tablespoon (or so) of flour and mix again – it should come back together. In any event don’t despair; a curdled mix just won’t rise quite as well.


The raising agents that will make your cakes rise have been activated, so don’t go and make a cup of tea now. Instead, using your spoon or ice cream scoop, dollop dessert spoonfuls of mixture into the paper cake cases which of course are already in the tin/s, because you’ve followed all the tips…

- Share the mixture out evenly between the paper cases
- Try not to spill it up the sides or over the edges of the cases – it will burn and doesn’t look very nice
- Don’t over fill the paper cases – half to 2/3rds full is fine

Put the tray/s in the oven, set the timer for 12 minutes and resist the temptation to open the door before the pinger goes.

Now you can make a cup of tea, or lick the bowl, or both.

Check your lovely cakes after 12 minutes. They may take longer (up to 20 even) as all ovens cook differently. They’re done when they’re golden and springy to the touch.

Take them out of the oven (with pride), leave them to cool in the tin/s for about 5 minutes then put them out onto a rack to cool completely.