Tips & Hints.

INGREDIENTS.

Margarine. Yes. I mostly use margarine when baking. There, I’ve said it. If you use a good one made with buttermilk, you will have all that buttery taste for half the price. There are exceptions. I only use butter in frostings for example. And in pastry. And for things like All Butter Shortbread, the clue is in the name.

Flours. You can get a decent bag of flour at the supermarket for 45p. You don’t really need to be buying expensive brands. That chap Fred in the bowler hat doesn’t get penny one from me. You shouldn’t be excluded from baking because you can’t afford organic gold standard spelt flour from a bijou windmill in the meadows of Provence.

Flavourings And Extracts. Conversely, when you are buying things like vanilla, orange or lemon extract, it pays to shop around. I only use Nielson Massey for vanilla extract, though you can get good alternatives for less money. The best orange and lemon extracts I’ve found are Asda’s own Extra Special range. You should really shop around until you find the ones you like.

Eggs. Unless otherwise stated the eggs I use will be the standard size you pick up from any supermarket. And free range please, for the benefit of the chickens if nothing else.

Whole Milk. The milk in my recipes will mean whole milk. You could try semi-skimmed or skimmed, but it may alter the delicate balance of the universe or something.

Yoghurt. I also tend to use full fat Greek yoghurt. You might want to use low or non-fat yoghurt, but I can’t vouch for either. And why would you want to anyway. It’s just bizarre.

PREPARATION.

Tins. When writing a recipe I will try to be as specific as possible about what size of tin to use. You don’t want lovely plump pillow cake to come out like a wafer because the tin was too big. I will also tell you, to the best of my ability, how to prepare the tin. You don’t want half the cake to be left behind when you turn it out. Which leads neatly on to…

Cake Release. Shop bought cake release is quite expensive. I will put a recipe on the blog for a homemade alternative that is cheap as chips to make, lasts almost indefinitely in the fridge and works every time. Well almost every time. I too have stood over the remains of a stuck Bundt cake, wondering where it all went wrong. That falls into the category of “You can’t win them all”.

Read Through. It pays to read the recipe through before you start. You don’t want any surprises when you’ve gone to all that trouble. I should have separated the eggs, you say? Oh fiddlesticks – or words to that effect.

Room Temperature. Always allow ingredients from the fridge to come to room temperature before you start baking. It’s just makes things easier to mix.

Folding In. When you are folding ingredients into the cake mix, the harder you beat, the tougher the cake will be. It is best to use a large spoon and be gentle. Unless you were intending to bake some cake flavoured house bricks. In which case…congratulations.

Oven Temperature. Preheat the oven for a good twenty minutes before you start baking. There are bakes that start off in a cold oven, but they are rare as hens teeth. And if that is called for, I promise I will let you know in advance.

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