Butter Cake Recipe for Beginners

CAKE RECIPE FOR BEGINNERS

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How to make a cake with some basic tips!

Before you start baking, there are a few essential things you need, and then there are some tools which are not must-have but more a nice-to-have to make your baking journey easier. I have listed only the essentials based on my opinion and experience.

  • An Oven – although there are methods to make cake without an oven like this pressure cooker cakes, this microwave cake recipe and this steamed chocolate cake, baking in an oven is still the most conventional and convenient methods to bake a cake
  • Electric beater – while this is not completely mandatory and there are lots of cake recipes you can successfully follow without an electric beater or stand mixer, it’s good to have one to aerate your batter more. Invest in a basic handheld one for a start and see how you go. This is a good option to get started
  • Other tools – here’s a post detailing the baking essentials for beginner bakers which include mixing bowls, spatula, measuring cups and spoons, etc. with pictures

A kitchen scale is a good idea once you bake for a while and realise you enjoy it. Weighing ingredients is usually more preferable as it’s more accurate and less prone to mistakes like scooping too much flour, or not using a level measure when using a cup, etc. I am often lazy to weigh my ingredients when baking a basic cake but have definitely found that I get more consistent results when I weigh ingredients. In fact, my mum used even to weigh eggs when baking because if you are using, say, an American cake recipe, the size of their eggs may be larger so if the recipe calls for 2 eggs, we may need to add 3 normal eggs.

Recipes

The recipes you choose to make the cake in your early days of baking will define your success and failure. Pick one that’s basic, a single layer, a flavour you and your family/friends like, and doesn’t need frosting or any fancy techniques.

 

  • Basic cake recipes for beginners
  • Fruitcake
  • Lemon Diva cake
  • One bowl chocolate cake
  • Orange cake
  • Marble cake
  • Basic pound cake

If you are wondering how to make a cake without eggs, then check out this post for a list of eggless cake recipes and here are some cupcake recipes if you want to try them.

8 Things to Keep in Mind When You Bake Cakes

  1. Oven temperature – this is a crucial one, and often, our ovens lie. If you set your oven to, say, 180C or 350F, it’s highly likely it’s a few degrees off. An oven thermometer can help catch this, and I postponed buying one for the longest time thinking it’s not really needed. Trust me, getting one has really changed the game for me. My oven is actually 10 degrees hotter than what the dial claims so for 180C; I need to set it at 170C. I also leave the thermometer inside the oven, of course, to monitor the temperature and to ensure it is what it needs to be. Mine is similar to this model. It’s also vital that you preheat your oven before baking. Check this post on how to preheat an oven.
  2. The temperature of ingredients – another important one which we often ignore. Butter is often a tricky one since recipes mention “butter at room temperature”, but often our rooms are very different in temperatures depending on where we live! As a rule of thumb, a block of butter should shield to gentle pressure from your fingers and sink in. If it doesn’t, it’s too hard and if it melts on your fingertips and is gooey, it’s too warm. Also, leave eggs out well before you plan to use them and if you store flour in the fridge or freezer like I do (the bugs in Singapore hate me!), leave those out well in advance too.
  3. Measuring 101 – I touched on this before, but there’s a right method to measure your ingredients even if you use measuring cups. The spoon and level method has given me the best results so far. Use a regular spoon to transfer the flour/sugar/cocoa etc. to your measuring cup and then level the top with the back of a knife. This ensures you don’t use too much of any ingredient. Don’t press down on any ingredient (brown sugar is probably an only exception when recipes say “packed”) as you fill the measuring cup, use a light hand. Using a weighing scale is a more accurate and consistent method to weigh our your ingredients
  4. Use the right size and type of pan – In general, metal cake pans work best since they conduct heat more evenly than, say, silicon bakeware. Buy a basic round cake pan, a square pan for brownies and bread (I use them for loaf cakes too, like banana cake), and one loaf pan and you should be fine. A cupcake pan would be a good idea too if you plant to start with baking cupcakes rather than cakes or you can even make your cupcake mould.
  5. Use the right type of ingredients – Baking is largely forgiving to reasonable substitutes but as a beginner baker, stick with what the recipe recommends. I would highly recommend finding a recipe that’s tried and tested rather than find a recipe that sounds good to you and then changing a lot of ingredients in it. For example, if you can’t or don’t eat eggs, find eggless cake recipes rather than substitute eggs in a cake recipe that uses them. If you want to try healthier bakes, find cake recipes with whole wheat, or that use oil instead of butter, or that use healthier sweetener options than regular white sugar. Once you get comfortable with baking, you can start exploring or even coming up with your own proportions and recipes.
  6. Follow the recipe – There are some techniques in baking that are best followed closely. For example, when you mix the cake batter, the vigorous beating usually happens when you are mixing the fats like eggs and butter together. Once flour enters the picture, the idea is to use a very light hand and “fold” the batter. The nature and role of each ingredient play a big part here and even if you are not keen on learning the science behind it, do follow the instructions in the recipe as closely as possible. Also, note that baking powder and baking soda serve different purposes and are not interchangeable. Not all recipes need both, some need just one, and some don’t need any. Use a trusted recipe source and take the leap!
  7. Tray position in oven – We already spoke about oven temperature, but it’s also important where you place the cake pan while baking. Typically, positioning the cake pan on the middle rack in the middle of the oven is the way to go. This ensures even heat distribution and prevents cakes from burning on top or not cooking properly in the middle.
  8. Preparing the baking tins – Most recipes will call for greasing the cake pan, and this is a crucial step on how to make a cake. The additional fat or grease you use in the cake pan not only helps the cake out in one piece after baking but also helps the baking and rising of the cake while in the oven.

Other topics in the Basics of Baking series:

    • How to choose an oven!
    • How to preheat an oven!
    • Baking essentials for beginners
    • Pressure cooker cake


                               Cake Recipe

After several trials, it will be easy! This is a basic sponge cake recipe with whole eggs whisked together.

Ingredients
(15-cm round cake mould or make 1.5 times with 18-cm mould)
Eggs
2, medium
Granulated sugar
60 g
Plain flour (sifted)
60 g
Butter
20 g
Milk
1 tablespoon
Vanilla oil
a small amount

 

1. [Prepare the utensils] You will need a large bowl, hand mixer, cake mould (line with baking paper. If you use a paper mould use as it is), frying pan, flour sifter and a plastic spatula.
2. [Prepare the ingredients] Put the eggs in a large bowl. Measure the flour and sugar with cling film on a scale. Put the butter, milk and vanilla oil in a saucepan over bain-marie.
3. [The last preparation] Fill the frying pan with water and put over heat. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
4. Beat the eggs in a large bowl lightly with a hand mixer. Add the granulated sugar in one go and start to beat at high speed.
5. Check if the water in the frying pan is warm enough to have little bubbles on the surface. Turn off the heat and place the large bowl over the warmed water. Continue to beat with the hand mixer over bain-marie.
6. After the mixture is slightly warm to the touch remove the bowl from the hot water. When you touch the mixture with your clean finger, and it doesn’t feel cold, it is about right.
7. Place a pan with butter in the hot water in the frying pan to melt.
8. Tilt the large bowl and continue to beat with hand mixer. You need to move your hand mixer time to time and rotate your bowl.
9. Continue to beat to make the batter voluminous with plenty of air.
10. When you lift the hand mixer and try to draw 8 on the surface clear 8 remains on the surface for a few seconds, it is ready.
11. Stir the mixture gently at low speed for 1 minute and stabilise and smooth out the texture.
12. Hold the flour sifter up above the bowl and sift the flour again evenly onto the surface of the mixture. If you don’t the weight of the flour pushes out the air of the mixture.
13. Fold in several times with a plastic spatula. Stop folding in when you see the flour partially combined. Do not over-mix.
14. After melting the butter over a bain-marie, stir in a few drops of vanilla oil and a spoonful of the sponge batter. Mix well to ensure the butter and batter are thoroughly mixed in.
15. Add the mixture from Step 14 into the large bowl. To avoid the heavy butter mixture from damaging the airy sponge batter pour the butter mixture onto the spatula and drizzle over the butter mixture evenly. After adding, fold in several times as you did in Step 13. Stop folding in once it’s evenly mixed! Do not over-mix!!
16. The sponge batter is done. Pour the batter into the mould and give several tips to get rid of excess air. Bake in the oven pre-heated to 180°C for 16 to 18 minutes.
17. When a skewer inserted in the middle and comes out clean, it is ready. Remove the sponge from the mould and peel off the baking paper. Leave to cool.

If you enjoyed this post on how to make a cake and before baking tips, please leave a comment below and share with your friends on social media. I appreciate the support!

Recipe By Humera Chowdhry

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