Monday, October 20, 2008

Improvised lemon cake

Is it possible to make a cake as I make most of the savoury dishes on this blog: by assembling ingredients according to general principles rather than precise recipes? That is what I asked myself yesterday, when I fancied making a lemon cake (sometimes one gets these particular urges), but could find only recipes that were more complicated than appealed, and that involved ingredients I did not have.

Butter, sugar, eggs, flour: these are the basic ingredients. So: I creamed 50g of butter and 50g of golden caster sugar. I beat in three eggs, and added the zest and juice of a lemon, as well as a tsp of vanilla essence. I have noticed that some lemon cake recipes include cornflour, so I added a few dstsps of that. Then I added self-raising flour, dstsp by dstsp, until I arrived at that gloopy, "dropping" consistency. I poured the mixture into a buttered loaf tin, and baked it for half an hour.

It wasn't bad. It had risen in the centre, and cracked; and the consistency was somewhat dense, though not unpleasantly so. Perhaps I should have separated the eggs, beat the whites, and folded them into the mixture. Or perhaps a spot of baking powder would have helped. The cake was not moist and sticky, as the best ones are (thanks often to lemon curd, I believe).

If things are not right with savoury dishes, I usually know why. But I don't understand baking nearly as well.


Anonymous said...

Depends what general principle you select... Try making cakes with ingredients whose names begin with the letter b - that's a general principle.

elwyn said...

Cake baking is not as amenable to improvisation as savoury cooking as you have discovered with your improvised lemon cake. Certainly there are general principles involved but a certain degree of precision is also required as with the ratio of flour to sugar to fats to eggs.
May I recommend Rose Levy Beranbaum's "Cake Bible"to you. This is an American cookbook so of course the measurements are for the U.S.A. but she does set out some good basic instructions. Another suggestion is to get hold of a technical school cookbook for baking or a basic Women's Institute handbook.

Nicholas Clee said...

Thank you. A bible is what I need.