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So you want to bake a cake from scratch, no cake mix no ready sponge cakes a cake that you made all by your self with nothing but basic ingredients? Well you are at the right place, this is my step by step guide to baking your first cake from scratch. Not only will we bake a cake but I will also explain the reasons behind every ingredient and preparation method.
For our first cake from scratch we will bake a classic vanilla sponge cake and as an added bonus, I will share with you my amazing chocolate buttercream frosting which is so easy and delicious it will blow your friends taste buds right off. Use the index below to jump to any section of this tutorial or go to the bottom of the page for the recipe card and print button.
Baking a cake from scratch requires some basic ingredients. Each ingredient plays its own role in the flavour and texture of your first cake. Lets have a look at all the ingredients and what they do.
Think of flour as the bricks to your house. It provides structure and the basic texture of cake. There are many different types of flour but baking usually requires one of two types, All Purpose Flour or Self Raising or Cake Flour. Self Raising flour already contains some of the ingredients usually added to cakes like soda or baking powder. But since we are making our came completely from scratch, we will use plain old all purpose flour and add any raising agents ourselves.
Egg’s are probably the second most important ingredient in our basic cake. They add to the structure of the cake, act as a leavening agent (help the cake rise) and add to the colour and flavour of the cake.
Baking Powders (not to be mistaken with baking soda) is a complete leavening agent. Leavening agents cause a chemical reaction that released gases during the baking process. These gasses are trapped in the batter creating a sponge like texture making the cake fluffy and light. A complete levelling agent contains all the required chemicals for this process. Other leavening agents such as Baking Soda, require an acid to cause the same reaction.
Salt is a flavour enhancer and can bring out or bloom the flavour of other ingredients. Small amounts, usually 1 tea spoon, are required for an 8-9 inch cake. Flavour enhancers are a common practice in baking, chocolate cakes for example often use coffee to bloom the cocoa flavour. Salt is also used in caramel as the contrast of flavours really enhances the overall flavour and taste.
You may think that sugar just makes cakes sweet, and while that is true, it also has many other functions. For example, we often cream butter and sugar to add air to the recipe. This makes the cake fluffier and buttery. The chemical reaction between sugar and water keeps the cake moist and fresh.
Milk is another multi functional ingredient in cake, the proteins in milk add to the texture while the flavour and colour are also influenced by Milk. Some recipes will call for Butter Milk, this usually applies when using Soda as a levelling agent. The acidity in Butter Milk reacts with the Soda adding more air and fluff to the cake. In todays recipe we will use plain full fat milk.
Is a key ingredient in cake, the gasses expelled from the leavening agent are trapped in the fat of the butter. So without butter, the cake will not rise. Its really a combination of all the ingredients that makes a fluffy cake fluffy.
As a rule of thumb, we will always add either Vanilla or Lemon Zest to our recipes. First and foremost, this masks any egg flavour but also adds to the overall flavour of the cake. It spices up the flavour and makes it more exciting.
Oil’s main purpose in cake is moisture. Adding a little vegetable oil to any sponge cake will make it moist and keep it tasting fresh much longer. Vegetable oil is optional but if omitted, it should be replaced with another liquid ingredients such as milk, to keep the cake from being to dry.
Basic Cake doesn’t require a lot of equipment, this is hard to admit coming from a total kitchen equipment addict but its the truth. You only need a very few things to bake a cake, sure, once you get into baking you might want to get more tools to express your creativity and make baking easier. But these are the basics you will need to bake this cake.
Baking forms or pans come in many sizes, shapes and forms. The most basic form is the round cake pan, this is available in different sizes all the way from tiny 3 inch forms to massive 20 inch forms for wedding cakes. In my recipes whenever I use a round baking pan, I use 8 inch pans. For me this is just the perfect size, you can easily fit them into your oven, most recipes will accommodate enough batter for 8 inch forms and you can easily stack three to four layers without any accidents. There are other shapes you can use such as loaf pans and Bundt pans which will just give you different shapes.
You will need some way to whisk all the ingredients together. A basic whisk will do the trick, just add some elbow grease and you are good to go. Its true that a Hand mixer will make your life a little easier but hey, you are baking you first cake from scratch, if you get into baking more frequently, invest in a Hand Mixer or even a nice stand mixer.
This is an absolute must, no oven = no baking. Any type of oven will do as long as there is adequate space for your baking pan. Generally when talking about consumer ovens, there are two types, your basic oven and a convection oven. Convection ovens circulate hot air creating a more even temperature inside the oven which in turn makes a more even cake. Also note that if your oven is not a convection oven, you will need to slightly increase the baking time.
Many recipes will tell you to butter and flour your cake pan, and while that works great for the sides of the pan the bottom is always best covered with a piece of baking paper. It will make it so much easier when getting the cake out of the pan. Leave the butter out of the fridge 20-30 minutes before baking it has to be at room temperature to combine smoothly and to avoid curdling.
You will need a medium sized mixing bowl for your dry ingredients and a large mixing bowl for wet ingredients.
In a medium bowl, combine The flour, baking powder and salt. Give it a quick whisk and set aside. You can sift the flour if you want but I never sift flour and it always works out great without any lumps.
Note: When it comes to baking cake, always keep the dry and wet ingredients separated. There is a good reason for this. Whisking flour with wet ingredients creates gluten, gluten makes cake texture more elastic and tough so once we combine wet and dry ingredients we keep the mixing to a minimum.
In a large bowl whisk the butter until even and fluffy. This should take around 1-2 minutes with a hand mixer and 3-4 minutes with a hand whisk. While still whisking add the sugar and keep at it for another 5-6 minutes or until smooth and pale. Now gradually whisk in the eggs one at a time until smooth an combined.
Note: This process adds maximum air to your batter, more air = more fluffiness. Also note that sugar although dry, is always considered a wet ingredient.
Now that the dry ingredients are combined and the wet ingredients are ready, its time to mix them together. Remember, at this point we DONT want to over mix, its important that we stop as soon as the ingredients are combined to avoid creating too much gluten. Remember Step 1 more mixing is more gluten and more gluten makes a dense cake.
With your hand whisk in one hand and a spoon in the other, add 2-3 table spoons of the dry ingredients mix and slowly fold it in with the whisk. I find sometimes its better to use a spatula to fold the dry ingredients in. Continue gradually adding 3-4 more spoons until all the dry mixture is all mixed in. Time to prepare the baking form.
Its time to preheat the oven, set the oven to 170C or 340F, this is the perfect temperature for an 8 inch cake as it will bake it evenly without burning the tops or edges.
Before we bake the cake, we need to prepare the baking pan or form. There are many different types of Baking pans made out of different materials and in different shapes. I find that aluminium pan’s work the best. Aluminium is an excellent heat conductor. This means the pan will reach its target temperature quickly and evenly. Before we add the batter into the pan we need to butter and flour it.
To butter your form, grab one table spoons of butter with your Index finger, Ring finger and Thumb and evenly spread the butter in the pan covering the sides and bottom. When the whole inside of the form is covered, add 1 table spoon of butter and swerve the form around until all the butter has an even layer of flour attached to it.
Expert Tip: No matter how well you butter the form, there is always a risk of breaking the cake when removing it from the form. To avoid this, I like to cut out a round piece of baking paper and place it on the bottom of the pan. This will loosen the cake much easier from the corners and centre when removing it from the pan.
To cut a perfectly round circle, place the pan on the baking paper and trace it with a sharp knife. Best do this on a cutting board to avoid damaging the counter or knife.
Now put the batter into the cake pan. Bang the pan lightly on the kitchen counter a few times, this will remove any bubbles trapped in the batter.
Place the cake pan on the centre rack of your preheated oven. Cooking time is usually around 40 to 45 minutes but this can vary depending on the oven. To make sure your cake is done, you can do a skewer test at the 40 minute mark. The skewer test is simple, all you need is a wooden skewer, stick it into the centre of the cake and pull it out right away. If the skewer comes out clean without any wet cake batter on it, the cake is done. If the skewer comes out covered in batter, bake for another 4-5 minutes and try again. Repeat until the centre is baked and then remove from the oven.
Let the cake cool for a couple of minutes until warm to touch. Don’t let the cake cool completely before unmoulding, cooled cake breaks easier so make sure its still warm but not hot.
Place a large plate that will hold the cake, upside down on the cake form. Hold with both hands and swiftly turn around so that the cake form sits upside down on the plate. A few light taps on the form should loosen the cake.
Note: you can do this with a cooling wire or rack instead of a dish if you have one. Cooling wires help the cake cool evenly and avoid condensation being caught between the cake and the plate. Cooling rack’s are a great addition to any bakers tools. They are not only great for cakes but also for cookies and baked goods.
The basic cake from scratch is now done, its delicious and ready to eat but if you want to give it an additional kick, you can make my buttercream frosting which is easy and tasted amazing.
If you have followed all my detailed steps, you should have a lovely and tasty vanilla cake ready to share with your loved ones. If you skimmed through the post, here are some important points to consider when baking any cake.
A basic vanilla cake recipe baked from scratch with a detailed explanation and a step by step guide.
Yield: 12 slices
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Whisk and set aside.
2 Cups All-purpose flour, 2 Tsp Baking Powder, 1/2 Tsp Salt
In a large bowl, whisk the room temperature butter and sugar using a hand mixer at medium speed until light, pale and fluffy.
¾ Cup Unsalted Butter, 1 Cup Sugar
While still mixing, add the eggs, gradually add the milk, vanilla extract and vegetable oil.
4 Eggs Egg, 1 Cup Milk, 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract, 4 Tsp Vegetable Oil
Now using a rubber spatula (if you don’t have one use a whisk or spoon) and fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients 2-3 table spoons at a time. Go slow and don’t over whisk. Stop as soon as its evenly combined.
Prepare your baking tin and preheat the oven. Put the batter in the buttered and lined cake tin and place in the centre rack. Bake for 45 minutes but start doing skewer tests at 40 minutes.
Let the cake cool for 4-5 minutes in the tin, then place on a cooling wire (or plate if you don’t have one) and let it cool until ready to eat. If you are going to frost the cake make sure its completely cooled first.
Serving: 100g | Calories: 383kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 334mg | Sodium: 293mg | Potassium: 165mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 825IU | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 2mg
Last weekend I had the honour of having my friend and master baker, Balázs over to share his amazing Chocolate Glazed donut recipe with us. Without exaggerating one tiny bit, I can easily claim these to be the best donuts I have ever had or made. They are fluffy on the inside and their on the outside they have an ever so slight crisp going on. Paired with a super easy chocolate glaze, they look and taste out of this world.
And this comes as no surprise, Balázs is a master baker with years of experience and has worked on luxury cruise ships and hotels creating many fantastic creations. Make sure you checkout his Instagram (@borzon.balazs) to see some of his amazing creations.
Firstly let me say, baked donuts are awesome, plus they are somewhat healthier but, is it really a donut if its not fried? When I imagine a perfect donut, I picture a light fluffy fried piece of heaven with a thin layer of chocolate, and that is exactly what Balazs aimed for in this recipe. The difference between Baked and Fried donuts is mostly the texture and crust, a baked donut has a cake like texture while a fried donut has a fluffy spongy texture.
But here is a little trick, you can actually bake these donuts WITHOUT a donut pan, simply cut out the donut shapes, place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper, and bake until golden brown, voila.
Since this recipe is based on a yeast dough, the process is fairly similar to my Austrian Donut recipe with a few different ingredients and ratios. But the steps are pretty similar:
See, all simple and easy to follow steps, you will find all the details in the Recipe section below.
Here are Balazs top professional inside tips for the perfect chocolate glazed donuts:
Chocolate Glazed donuts require a very few and basic ingredients that most will already have in their kitchen, and if you have ever made a Brioche, you will realise that the ingredients are very, very similar. All you need is:
Professional Baker Balazs shares his amazing Chocolate Glazed Donut recipe with us. A yeast based donut dipped in a very thin layer of chocolate glaze. Simply AMAZING
In your stand mixer bowl, add the water, sugar, salt and yeast. Give it a quick stir and let it rest for 5-10 minutes until the yeast bubbles up. If you are using Instant yeast you can skip this step completely
Place the dough on a floured surface and using one hand work it by pressing it into the surface and forward. Repeat until it forms a perfectly round dough loaf. Watch the video for the technique. Now let it proof in a warm place for 20-30 minutes. Check the Tips & Tricks section.
When the dough has proofed, lightly flour your working surface and using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle that’s approximately a finger thick. (1/2 an inch or 25mm) Use the Biscuit cutters to cut out the main shape and then follow up with a smaller size to cut out the hole. Place on a baking tray and proof again for another 20 minutes.
Serving: 25g | Calories: 115kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 125mg | Potassium: 30mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 97IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg
A few weeks ago I treated myself to a new Silicon Mould for my White Chocolate Mousse cake recipe. I have a quite a few silicon cake and mousse molds but most of them are not branded and have basic cake and loaf shapes. I have had my eye on Silikomart for some time and with Christmas just around the corner, I treated myself to the Lana mould. I have since used it for semifreddo and mousse recipes so here is my first impression and review. Note, I have not used this yet to bake cake so I will update this review when I do.
Lana is a Yule log type silicon mold with a swirl 3D design. Here are some of the important specs of the Lana Silikomart mould.
|Length||245 mm||9.64 Inches|
|Width||95 mm||3.74 Inches|
|Hight||77 mm||3.03 Inches|
|Capacity||1200 ml||40.57 Fluid Ounces|
|Blast Freezer / Freezer Proof:||Yes|
As I already mentioned, Lana is a log shaped mould. It has structure support which ensures that the round shape doesn’t collapse when it has fluid in it. The mould works especially well with mousse and semifreddo although Silikomart mentions that it works perfectly well with baked cakes too.
The mould shape is as close to perfect as it gets, there are no imperfections in the mould and the mousse I made looked just amazing. Its notable that the Lana mould is also compatible with a special insert offered by Silikomart that allows you to make separate flavor cores that you can add to the mould.
The only downside I could find was the size of the opening. Now I don’t think there is anything Silikomart could have done about this, as it is necessary to keep the shape of the log round. The opening is a little small making it difficult to remove cakes but fear not, the trick is to freeze the mousse long enough to ensure it is set and wont break or deform when de-molding.
I found that freezing mousse for at least 6 hours to ensures it comes out clean and in perfect shape. As to bakes, I haven’t tried yet nut I will update this as soon as I do.
The second downside is the price, since this is an Italian product, buying it in the states can be a little expensive compared to other moulds on amazon but the design and quality is totally worth it.
If you are looking for a high quality and beautiful silicon mould, Lana is a great choice for you. It will make beautiful cakes, mousses and semifreddos and will last a very long time. The support structure will ensure your cakes come out perfect every time. Check out my white chocolate mousse cake here which I made with the Lana mould.
For the past week I have been working on this delicious Double Chocolate Mousse Cake Recipe. I love making desserts with mousse because you can get super creative with shapes and colors. Unlike baked cake, mousse doesn’t expand or contract much which allows you to really control the layers and shapes. Ohhh did I mention its also super creamy and rich???? Well it is and you will just love making this one.
Besides making a ton of cookies this month, I have found myself obsessed with mousse cakes. It all started with my white chocolate mousse cake and its been all downhill since then. When making mousse right, its creamy, rich and looks just amazing. This has inspired me to come up with a few recipes, some of which are still in the making.
This chocolate mousse cake was my contribution to the Christmas family lunch and my mom said it was the BEST mousse cake she ever had. If you know my mom, that means a lot hehe. So let me stop blabbering and get into the actual recipe 🙂
Essentially this cake has three different layers, two of which are mousse layers made with white and milk chocolate. For the cake layer I made a rich chocolate sponge made with equal parts of flour, sugar and butter. So lets have a look at each one of the layers:
You won’t need a lot of kitchen utensils for this recipe although there is one thing that should be in your arsenal of baking pans when you make mousse cakes. An adjustable Cake or Mousse ring is a bottomless pan that can be adjusted to different sizes. Bottomless cake rings allow you to easily de-mold the frozen mousse. It is almost impossible to remove a frozen mousse from a normal cake pan.
Alternatively you could use a silicon mold. You can get these in all shapes and sizes, some companies like Silikomart and Pavoni make beautiful high quality molds.
Other than the mold, you will need basic kitchen utensils such as:
I mention this in all my mousse cake recipes, don’t rush the freezing times. Mousse takes 6 full hours to set in the freezer. Anything earlier and it will deform when removing from the mold. This is especially true when it comes to silicon mold. As a rule of thumb apply the following waiting times:
Mousse is a French dish and has been around since the mid 18th century. Traditionally Mousse is made by folding a meringue or whipped egg whites into a cold sugar base and milk or whipped cream. Now eating raw egg’s can be unhealthy, I once had salmonella and believe you me, it was not a fun experience. Since the application of gelatin in food in the mid 19th century, we can make mousse set and stay creamy without using eggwhites or raw eggs.
Mousse cakes are as the name suggests, the combination of cake and mousse in a single dessert. Since we can make mousse and cake with virtually any flavor, the combinations of mousse cakes seem to have no limit. Anything from fruits, nuts, chocolate and even savory flavors goes.
One of my favorite mousse cakes is this Chocolate-Amaretto and Espresso Mousse cake by Savourthebest.com. I really recommend you check it out.
110 gram All-purpose flour, 110 gram Crystal Sugar, 100 gram Unsalted Butter, 2 large Eggs, 1 tsp Baking Powder, 1 tsp Vanilla Extract, 1½ tbsp Cocoa Powder, 1 tbsp Milk, 1 pinch salt
In a large bowl, whisk the all the heavy cream (from white and chocolate mouse) until half whisked. You want a smooth fluffy consistency that is still runny and not totally whisked to stiff peaks. Set aside until needed.
120 gram Heavy Cream, 120 gram Heavy Cream
60 gram Milk, 2 gram Gelatin, 100 gram White Chooking Chocolate
Place in the freezer for at least 6 hours until the mousse is completely set.
Calories: 286kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 80mg | Sodium: 74mg | Potassium: 87mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 568IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 1mg
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