Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Cakes and bakes

I have been interested in baking for quite some time now. But it's only recently that I revived my inner baking goddess. This post was triggered by a recent success story. I made a cake for a small birthday party of twenty guests. If this is any indication of how good it was, everyone, all six ladies, wanted to take home the small remaining portion of cake that was left after party.

One of the easiest cake to bake are tea time cakes, also called fruit cakes. I suggest any beginner to start with this type. I also like these cakes because they can be eaten on their own and do not ask for a layer of icing, ganache or creamy cheese. 

One such favorite tea time cake in our household is carrot cake. They are no way close to being healthy other than the carrot part of it. It is loaded with a generous dose of sugar and baking soda, but they are the tastiest of all tea cakes. 

Here is the version of the recipe that I tried: (from allrecipes.com)

2 eggs
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 spoon baking soda
1 spoon baking powder
1/4 tspn salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1.5 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

- Whip together eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla extract.
- In another bowl, mix together the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, baking poweder, cinnamon and salt. Add this flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat till all the ingredients are mixed well.
- Stir in carrot and the walnuts, finally.
- Pour this mixture into a greased pan.
- Bake this in a preheated oven at 175-180C for roughly 45 minutes.

While baking, the kitchen fills with the caramelizing fragrance of carrot mixed with vanilla and cinnamon, making you impatient to taste the goodness. The soft, moist, grainy textured, freshly baked carrot cake with a hint of cinnamon aroma is a real treat.

By trial and error, these are the few tips I use for baking:
- Bring all the ingredients to room temperature before preparing the batter. Watch out for egg and butter(if recipe calls for it) temperature.
- Use exact measurements of ingredients as specified in the recipe. Invest in a good measuring cup and spoon. Some recipes are stated in grams. A weighing scale would be perfect for such recipes. Follow the recipe exactly for a better cake.
- Preheating the oven to the said temperature is the key for baking success. My oven has a light indicator that switches off when the oven reaches required temperature.
- Grease the cake pan with butter and coat with flour. This prevents the cake from sticking to the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Fill the unused molds of a cupcake pan with water before baking. This helps in even baking.
- Position your rack properly. If a high rack is used for backing it might burn the top of the cake.
- Do not over bake. A toothpick test is generally useful - a toothpick inserted at the center of the cake must come clean. Also around the specified timing in recipe, the cake begins to pull off from the edges, top layer is evenly browned and lightly sprigs back when pressed at the center.
- Give sufficient time for cooling before cutting the cake.

Now, I only wish I had taken snaps of the finished carrot cakes.

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