How to bake a cake from scratch!
Baking can be a very rewarding pastime and the joy of pulling a freshly baked, perfect cake, from the oven is a fantastic experience.
Ovens and worktables have been discovered in archaeological digs as far back as 5600BC and bread baking is known to have started in Ancient Greece around 600BC. However, cake baking is a little more recent with evidence placing its origins back to the 13th Century. I'm guessing that back in the 13th Century they weren't pondering whether to use gas, electric or fan assisted ovens or debating whether to use a Kenwood or Kitchen Aid mixer!
There have been a lot of cakes baked over the past 800 years so there are countless recipes to try out. Most of us have our favourite sponge flavour and filling, but there's also a lot of fun to be had experimenting and playing with tastes and flavours.
Of course, there are numerous options available if you want to buy a cake. However, there is a huge amount of pride and satisfaction in being able to present a beautiful cake that you have baked from scratch.
In this post we will explore some of the key points to consider and run through Paul Bradford's favourite chocolate cake recipe, which has been tried, tested and appreciated by thousands.
Key things to consider when baking from scratch:
- Ensure that your work surfaces and equipment are spotlessly clean
- Use quality ingredients
- Have a lined cake tin ready before you start baking
- Put the oven on just as you start mixing the ingredients to ensure that it reaches the desired temperature before the mix goes in the oven
- Ensure that the cake batter is not over or under mixed
- Make sure the cake has fully baked throughout by testing with a wooden skewer
At CakeFlix we have tried many recipes over the years, but this chocolate cake baking recipe has been voted the favourite by many happy customers over the years.
Paul Bradford's Chocolate Cake
This recipe is straightforward and creates a delicious and moist chocolate cake, which is excellent for carving and decorating.
(for an 8" round cake approximately 3" deep)
Check out CakeFlix recipe re-calculator if you want the ingredients for a different size of cake
4.5 teaspoon instant coffee
5 teaspoon vegetable oil
0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 medium eggs
40g cocoa powder
360g golden caster sugar
165g dark chocolate (min 55% – max 75% cocoa)
95g plain flour mixed with 95g self-raising flour
(Note UK self-raising and US self-rising flour have different ingredients. UK self-raising flour can be made by adding 1 heaped teaspoon of baking powder to 95g of plain flour)
165g unsalted butter
- Mix the butter, chocolate, coffee, and water
- Melt and mix on a low heat
- Mix eggs, vegetable oil, and buttermilk
- Whisk together for 1-2 mins until thoroughly mixed through
- Pre-heat oven:
- Fan 150C (302F)
- Conventional 170C (338F)
- Sieve the self raising flour, plain flour, cocoa powder, and bicarbonate of soda
- Mix together and place into a mixing bowl
- Add the caster sugar and mix together
- Mix a little chocolate sauce in the dry ingredients
- Add some egg mix and mix together
- Repeat the process, alternating between adding the chocolate and egg mixes, until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed together
- Place the mix into the tin then straight to the oven
- Bake for 2 hours
Points to consider
Chocolate, cocoa powder, and coffee powder are used, primarily to enrich the flavour of chocolate cakes.
Chocolate is used to give that distinctive flavour and also helps to produce a moist cake. Cocoa powder also gives flavour, but it also absorbs moisture, so be careful not to add too much or you will end up with a dry cake. This can be helped by mixing the cocoa to a paste with hot water and cooling, before adding to the mix. The combination helps with the taste and keeps the cake moist. However, Paul does not use this process, as he is happy that his mix of ingredients provide a delicious moist cake. Using real chocolate and cocoa powder helps to enrich the taste and keeps the cake moist.
Coffee powder is often added to bring out the flavour of the chocolate, without contributing any of its own flavour. Many people are surprised by the existence of coffee in chocolate cake, but you really don’t get any of the bitterness associated with the coffee bean.
There are a number of oil and butter based recipes available, but Paul has always gone with the moist chocolate cake shown in this lesson.
It’s easy to bake and it not only tastes delicious, it remains moist and is great for carving.
After baking, ensure the cake has cooled to room temperature. Chocolate cake is best stored by wrapping in cling film (clear wrap) and placed in the fridge. Remember to carry out your taste test to work out the ‘best before’ date for the cake.
You can watch Paul in action baking the cake from scratch on CakeFlix Youtube channel or by clicking the play button on the video below.