So blog updates have been a bit scarce lately because I've been overseas in Tokyo and Melbourne. I've been having the time of my life and I've dedicated part of each day to going to a different cake shop or bakery to taste and photograph their specialty. I've picked up an immense amount of inspiration, and learnt a lot about what makes each place special. In some cases it's the branding and beautiful packaging which makes the place unique, for some it's that they specialize in one thing and focus on that, for others it's all about the beautiful, wholesome ingredients that go into the cakes. When I arrive back home in preparation for a massive 2012, I want to combine all of these elements to make the most perfect cake shop there ever was!
In the meantime though, you can all bake spectacular cakes with my top baking tips (or just order off me!):
1. Firstly, do follow a recipe - stick to the exact measurements of ingredients stated and order of the steps. Baking is a science, unlike cooking, and before you have gained the true knack of it, it requires precision which can only be learned from a good recipe.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until it is really light, fluffy and pale. Melted butter won't do, it has to be at room temperature.
3. Use organic eggs at room temperature. The richer the color of the yolk the better.
4. Use full fat milk or yogurt in your cake, trim wont work quite the same.
5. Do not overwork the gluten, fold the sifted flour through last because you don't want to push all the air out of the mixture.
6. Make sure your cake tin is lined properly with baking paper or you'll have a tricky time getting it out once cooked. Your oven must be at the correct temperature and avoid opening it, especially within the first 20 minutes, or you'll interfere with the rising of the cake.
7. Wait until the cake is perfectly cool before icing it.
For gluten free cakes, ground almonds are my favorite flour substitute, but quinoa or brown rice flour work well too.
For dairy free cakes, you can use a margarine such as Olivio instead of butter, and soy milk instead of milk.
For vegan cakes, bananas, dates, ground nuts, soy milk and apple purée are all great ingredients to use.
When making a cake which contains a lot of chocolate, make sure you use a high quality one, it will make a huge difference to the resulting taste. Never use imitation vanilla, it may be cheaper but tastes terrible.