Recipe // A Cake Baking Secret

January 09, 2018

Happy, healthy New Year! Kind of contradictory that this post about cake follows my wellness series on nutrition and fitness but it's all about balance and what would life be without cake, right?! I adore making cakes but in the past have had a number of disasters when making proper tiered Birthday cakes. Traybakes/brownies and things like that are easy and almost never fail. But I remember the times where I just wanted to cry after getting sponges out of the oven that haven't risen enough or end up falling apart. I think of myself as a fairly good baker but even the best bakers will have failures. The cakes that have come out well have been time consuming and you have to follow the recipe scrupulously, making sure you have the right tin etc. But then I found a cheat, and have been making Birthday cakes fast and fail-proof ever since. The one that I made for my Mother in Law's Birthday a couple of weeks back got declared 'the best chocolate cake ever'. So I'll let you into my little secret... 

Use 2 x Betty Crocker Tempting Chocolate Cake mixes for the sponge!

I know, I know it's cheating and my domestic goddess status {if there ever was one} will be ripped away from me. I still love to bake properly, and weigh out all the ingredients, and follow a recipe, when I have more time. But really the fun is in decorating a cake, and with these mixes you never have to worry about how the sponges will come out. That stressy element is taken away. Every single time I've used them I've had 2 well risen, even topped {not domed}, soft chocolate sponges. They stay fresh for a good few days {compared to Delia/Mary Berry sponges that are dry within a day or so} and you don't even need an electric mixer! It will take you about 10 minutes to put together plus the baking time.

You can find them in all good supermarkets, I get mine from Waitrose and Sainsbury's depending where I am on the week that I need to make a cake. You want the 'Tempting' chocolate cake mix. And you'll need 2 of them if you want a deep sponge. Literally just follow the instructions on the packet, you just add eggs {3 per box}, oil and water and then stir until smooth. Pre-line your cake tins and bake. By using a whole packet in each tin, to give a deep sponge, rather than splitting into two like they suggest on the pack means that it will take longer to cook than the instructions. So just keep checking on it, you'll know when baked properly as it won't be wobbly anymore and should spring back from your finger when you press it. Or do the skewer test to make sure the skewer is clean when pulled out. 

Let the sponges cool and then put onto a stand. I turn mine over so that the flat, bottom edge ends up on top. But both sides tend to be pretty flat anyway. You can use whatever icing you like, chocolate buttercream or vanilla. Homemade or shop-bought. But if you're ever short on time then the Betty Crocker or Sainsburys ready made buttercream is a teeny bit artificial tasting but saves so much mess in your kitchen and time. I won't tell if you won't...

To ice your cakes, you'll need to do a crumb coat first. So chuck some icing in between the two sponges before putting a thin layer of icing around the whole cake, it doesn't matter about the crumbs at this stage. You just want a smooth thin layer the whole way round. Use a palette knife for this. Once covered, put in the fridge for a good couple of hours {or overnight} before bringing out for the last layer of icing. Spin the cake stand and smooth the knife round.

Then bring out the cold cake, where the first layer of buttercream should have set hard and use a clean batch of icing and a clean knife. Now re-ice the cake again until it's smooth and you won't have any crumbs!

You can smooth it off as much as you like but I quite like a few ripples around.

Now you'll have an iced cake ready to decorate however you wish. I really like to use fresh flowers and in the summer use roses out of the garden like on the pink cake I made for my Grandma last July. But at this time of year there isn't much growing {and make sure that the flowers you use are edible. Roses are but not everything is}. I found for this cake I made for my Mother in Law last week, edible flowers grown in England, in Sainsbury's of all places! In January! So I used these and some sparkler candles. 

I'll leave the decorating up to you and your theme depending on who it's for and what kind of Birthday they're having. Once you have a good sponge, and it all iced, you're left with the fun part.

Happy Baking! All hail Betty Crocker.

R <3 xx 

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