There are six basics ways to make cakes. Each method gives the cake a different texture and consistency. To get perfect results, it’s important to know how the different types of mixture should be prepared and what to look out for.
1. Classic Creaming Method:
Light cakes are made by the creaming method, which means that the butter and sugar are first beaten or ”creamed” together. A little care is needed to achieve a perfectly creamed mixture.
1.) Use a large bowl, and either an electric whisk or a wooden spoon to beat the fat and sugar together until pale and fluffy. As the sugar dissolves it blends with the fat, lightening it and making it very soft.
2.) Now add the eggs one by one, beating after each addition to form a slackened batter. Eggs for baking are always best used at room temperature to prevent the mixture from ”splitting” or curdling, which will happen with cold eggs.
3.) Adding a teaspoon of flour with each beaten egg will help to keep the mixture light and smooth and prevent the mixture from separating. A badly mixed and curdled batter will hold less air and be heavy, and can cause a sunken cake.
2. All-in-one Method:
This one-stage method is quick and easy, and it’s perfect for those new to baking, as it does not involve any complicated techniques. It is an ideal method for making light sponges. Butter or rub margarine at room temperature must be used.
1.) All the ingredients are placed in a large bowl and quickly beaten together for just a few minutes until smooth. Do not over-beat as this will make the mixture too wet.
3. Rubbing-in Method:
This method is used for easy fruit cakes and small buns such as rock buns. In this method, the fat is lightly worked into the flour between cold fingers, in the same way as for making pastry. The fat should ideally be cold.
1.) Rub the fat into the flour with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. This can be done by hand or using a food processor.Lift the mixture up as you rub it in so that the air going through it keeps it cool. Shake the bowl every so often to allow the larger lumps of fat rise to the surface, then rub in the larger lumps. Repeat until an even crumb is achieved.
2.) Stir in enough liquid to give a soft mixture that will drop easily from a spoon.
4. Melting Method:
Cakes with deliciously moist and sticky texture, such as gingerbread, are made by the melting , method. These cakes use a high proportion of sugar and syrup and may contain heavier grains such as ground nuts or oats. These cakes benefit from storing for at least a day before cutting, to improve their moisture and stickiness.
1.) Over a gentle heat and using a large pan, warm together the fat, sugar, syrup, until the sugar granules have dissolved and the mixture is liquid. Stir occasionally, but keep watching so that the sugar does not burn on the base of the pan.
2.) allow the mixture to cool a little before beating into the flour,eggs, spices and remaining ingredients to make a batter. Bicarbonate of soda is often used as a raising agent in this method, to help raise a heavy batter. These cakes rise but the texture is heavier.
5. Whisking method:
Light and feathery sponges are made by the whisking method. These are not easy cakes for beginners, and require a little skill and care. The only raising agent for this method is the air that has been trapped in the mixture during preparation. As the air in the mixture expands in the heat of the oven, the cake rises. Fatless sponges such as a Swiss Roll (jelly roll) are made by whisking.
1.) A classic sponge is made by whisking eggs and caster (superfine) together over a pan of hot water until the batter is thick enough to leave a trail when the whisk is lifted away from the bowl. When the mixture is pale, thick and airy, remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whisk until cool and double in volume.
2.) Add the flour by sifting some over the surface and gently folding it in, using a large metal spoon, until all the flour is evenly blended.
3.) Be gentle with the mixture; it is essential not to knock the air bubbles when folding in the flour.
6. Making Fruit Cakes:
Rich fruit cake recipes usually begin with the creaming method, then soaked dried fruits are folded in with the flour.
1.) Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl, add the eggs, a little flour to stop the eggs curdling, and in this instance, treacle (molasses).
2.) Add the flour and any spices then add the dried fruits last,stirring well to incorporate all the ingredients.