rainbow cupcakes

One of the first cakes I made was for the school bake sale, our school used to take it in turns for each class to bake at the end of each half-term. Any money raised through the sales of the cakes went into your child’s class funds, for the little extras that help with some of the class needs.  I think a lot of mums feel under real pressure when these cake sales come round and certainly there are some very competitive mums out there…but I always felt I would leave them to compete amongst themselves and found that the simplest of cakes always sold the quickest. No one wanted to see their cake still unsold at the end, sitting there all on its own.

The first one I made was a simple Iced sponge in a square tin with icing and some chocolate buttons on top.  Plain and simple and pretty much fool proof.  It wasn’t left at the end and so that was a success!  After that I always kept it simple, played safe by not going too fancy, it kept me out of the competition, but it was never unsold!

So here are my top tips for turning your bake-fail into a win! 

  1. Never open the oven door when baking Cakes until almost baked. Why?  Because your cake will sink.
  2. You can open the oven door when you like if you are baking Biscuits or Cookies.
  3. To keep your cakes nice and light the trick is to not over bake and I have found margarine gives a lighter texture as opposed to using butter.
  4. Do weigh your ingredients, it makes a big difference, estimating will only end in disappointment.
  5. Don’t over mix, this can make your cake sink in the middle or not rise.

Handy bits of information you probably didn’t know about baking.

  • Sponge cakes like Victoria Sponge and Lemon Drizzle can be frozen, (they can be frozen for about 6 weeks).  Chocolate sponge can but perhaps only for a week, it does change the taste a bit if left longer.
  • If you do freeze them, the best time to do this is on the day you bake them and make sure they are cooled first! You can freeze them with the jam or buttercream already in them.
  • If you want to freeze them without the jam, buttercream or icing and want to add the icing etc after, you need to take them out and add the icing etc before, they defrost,  Otherwise when you try to spread the icing or jam or buttercream on the cake,  the top layer of cake will pull off and you end up with bits of wet crumb in with your icing, which doesn’t look very good, tastes ok, but doesn’t look impressive.
  • If you are going to freeze them, make sure they cool completely before you wrap them ready to freeze.  I always wrap them in a strong foil, but you can use polythene bags or cling film but that can tear when frozen sometimes.
  • Cookies, biscuits and flapjack freeze well too.

 About our guest blogger:

Marie is a loving mother of two daughters aged 14 and 19. She enjoys baking cakes, biscuits and puddings (only easy ones), reading and spending time with her family.