This sponge cake is the basis of a lot of my cake recipes. It is a beautifully easy and simple recipe, and can be easily adapted if you would like a bit of variety – try grating in the zest of two lemons for a delicious and subtle lemony bite.
I also love it because it is a total cheat – it cuts out the whole creaming step, which can be such a bore if you don’t have an electric whisk!
However, the real star factor of this cake is that is is absolutely perfect for creative cooks, because it is the ultimate decorating cake. It is lovely and moist but has a fabulously firm outer texture which means that it can be easily cut into shapes and iced!
This recipe makes a cake which will serve 6 – simply double the recipe for a big party cake to serve 12. This can also be used as a cupcake recipe.
What you need:
170 g (6 ounces) self-raising flour
140g (5 ounces) caster sugar
140g (5 ounces) butter, at room temperature
3 medium eggs
30ml (about 1.5 tablespoons) whole milk
½ a teaspoon of good quality vanilla extract (I like Taylor & Colledge Vanilla Bean Extract)
A set of scales
A measuring jug
A mixing bowl
A standard cake tin, greased well with butter and lined with baking parchment (you can also use a round silicon baking tin, as I have, which you can grease but don’t have to line. Yay!)
A wooden spoon and whisk, an electric hand whisk or a food processor
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees c.
Sift the flour into the mixing bowl. Keep the sieve as high up as you can whilst sifting; this gets lots of air into the cake and will keep it as light as possible.
Break your three eggs into the flour.
Add your butter – remember, it must be at room temperature, i.e. very soft. If it’s too cold, it will be very difficult to work with.
Now add your caster sugar…
…and finally, your milk and vanilla extract.
I know this mixture looks a little horrid now, but do not panic.
Now, mix it all together! In an ideal world you’ll have an electric food mixer or electric hand whisk, in which case just mix this on slow speed until thoroughly combined, light and fluffy – about two or three minutes.
However, I’m aware that not everyone has an electric whisker, so for the purposes of illustration I shall do this the old-fashioned way – by hand!
Lots of elbow grease is required. Make sure you beat it thoroughly with your wooden spoon. When the mixture is nicely combined, give it a good whisk for a minute or so just to get as much lovely air in as possible.
Your mixture is done when it is a beautiful even colour and drops easily off the whisk.
As a general rule, when I think my mixture is done, I give it 30 seconds extra of vigorous whisking.
Pour your mixture into your cake tin and pop it in the centre of your oven!
After 30 minutes, check your cake. Don’t open the oven door until 30 minutes has elapsed!
To check if your cake is done, lightly press the back of a spoon on the surface of the cake and lift it back up again. If it springs back easily and leaves no impression, it is cooked. If it still leaves a little impression, pop it back in for five minutes.
Once done, leave your cake to cool, in its tin, for five minutes before turning out carefully onto a cooling rack.
If you have used a non-silicon tin, carefully peel off the baking paper.
Note: I used a silicon tin with ridges on it, which is why my finished cake is ridged. If you use a normal tin, yours won’t be. Do not fear, this is not a recipe for ridge-cake.
When your cake has fully cooled, you can carve it into shape if you like (or just leave it as it is, if you prefer).
To shape your cake, simply place it on a chopping board and, using a sharp knife, gently score your pattern onto the cake.
When you are happy with your design, just cut it out! Don’t worry, this cake is nice and firm and it will not crumble.
Now, decorate it! Do make sure that you leave it until it’s totally cool before attempting to ice it, though; it needs to sit for at least twenty minutes.
Othewise all that will happen is your icing will melt and harden as it cools leaving a unwanted and slightly horrid visual effect. (Yes, I am impatient, I have made this mistake many times).
I covered mine in pink buttercream icing and made a ‘love cake’.
Yes, I know, ridiculous. It was a thank you present for someone who turned out to be going to Edinburgh, so after a frantic call-out on Twitter to see if anyone wanted a free cake, a taker was found.
See you tomorrow.
Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Ever wondered how to make a bed properly, how to cook easy bread from scratch, how to make the perfect cake, how to get tough stains out easily and quickly? My friends, I am rubbish at many things but due to a strange addiction to Mrs Beeton in my early teens and a very accomplished group of friends and family, I have access to a fairly sizeable amount of domestic knowledge. Test me – send me your domestic conundrums and we will see what we can do!