“It’s simple. Great ingredients make great food.”
Cakes are no exception. Each and every seasoned baker will tell you that making a delicious cake is both an art and a science. But while some people just seem to have a natural flair for it, no one becomes Mary Berry overnight. It takes a lot of practice to perfect, plus some clever ingredients to produce a real masterpiece. There are so many different ingredients out there, but here are five must-haves for your most delectable cake yet…
The need-to-have ingredient: flour
Flour is arguably the most crucial ingredient when it comes to baking a cake. Reason being, it forms the structure of the whole thing. There are many different types of flour, such as all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour and gluten-free flour. The best type of flour for cake making, though? Well, the clue is in the name. You guessed it – it’s cake flour. Cake flour has got a lower protein content than the rest, so it’s finer, lighter and softer. It’s bleached, too, which means you get a more aesthetically pleasing, pale colour.
The other need-to-have ingredient: eggs
Another must-have for baking a cake? Eggs. In fact, they’re just as important as flour when it comes to your cake structure, thanks to their brilliant protein content. Think of flour and eggs in the same way you think of Ross and Rachel, Ben and Jerry, or salt and pepper. They just come as a pair. Fats in the egg yolks will make your cake lovely and rich and stop it from becoming too chewy, plus the yolk emulsifiers ensure all the ingredients blend together nicely.
The multi-purpose ingredient: sugar
You’d be forgiven for thinking that sugar simply adds a sweet taste to a cake. Not the case. In actual fact, it does way more than that. You see, air bubbles get trapped between the sugar crystals, expanding as the cake cooks. The result? A cake texture that’s beautifully fluffy, light and airy. Lastly, sugar will keep the cake moist. It’s clever stuff, isn’t it?
The smooth operator ingredient: fat
Just like flour, there are loads of different fats on offer for baking cakes – butter, margarine, oil, dairy-free, the list goes on and on. You need fats in your cake in order to create a treat that’s smooth, rich and soft. Fat acts as a tenderizer, you see. Solid fats, like butter and marg, also create those air bubbles that ensure your sponge’s finished result is one that’s lovely and soft.
The make-it-really-yummy ingredient: flavouring
What’s your flavour? Whether it’s an indulgent chocolate creation, a zingy lemon delight, or an explosion of fruits, you’ll need to choose and give your cake a delicious flavour to impress your willing tasters. To do that, you can add what’s known as essence or extract – vanilla, for example, is used for a traditional Victorian sponge cake. You might stir in coffee or cocoa, or spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon. Or, you could add in juicy fruits or chocolate chips.