For years I have had people tell me my cakes are perfect. Well, they probably are, but they weren’t like that in the beginning. For example, Rohini Chaki makes a damn fine cake, and I have tasted it, so here I shall officially call her a good cake baker.
But what about the rest of the people who are getting this mail? What about them?
Well, if you have tasted the damnfinecake I bake, then drool no more. I shall divulge in this particularly merry episode of the series how to bake cake.
Before baking them, you would need a few things.
1. One OVEN. NOT MICROWAVE. I know micro cooking is soooper fast, but it kills cake. Literally. Even the ones with the convection stuff. Its just not as brown on top, or as flavorful. However, you can use them if you are ABSOLUTELY left without any other choice. Use microwave instructions, however, I have found out that 5 minutes in my micro does it for a 8” round cake.
2. Oven PROOF Pan. YES. NOT ENAMEL. NOT STEEL. Not anything but ovenproof. Otherwise thou shalt have egg on thy pretty face. Literally.
3. Whisk. Not fork. Not spoon. A WHISK. A BALOON WHISK. Not to be confused with whiskey, mind you.
4. Baking powder. Its is IMPORTANT to have POWDER and NOT SODA, gettit?
So, now that we have clarified on that, you would need a few things.
First up, flour. No fancy schmancy cake flour. I refuse to use self-raising, cake flour which has no gluten. Gluten is good. It has plenty of fibers without ending up like atta. You shall use ALL PURPOSE FLOUR. MAIDA.
Second, EGG. Please refrain from using weird eggs. Standard chicken eggs shall do. Pasteurized/non-pasteurized is completely up to you. Me, I like murgir dim.
Sugar. Please use normal or refined sugar, or if the recipe calls for it, dark brown sugar. Castor sugar is just a fancy way of saying powdered sugar, which is not to be confused with icing sugar, which has a small quantity of cornflour mixed with it to give that slightly sticky note when mixed with water.
Cocoa/Vanilla/other flavoring – use flavoring sparingly. Cocoa should be either Cadbury’s or Hershey’s. You can use dutch processed, but it is coarser, so does not mix easy. But flavoring is your party. You’ll eat it. I don’t give a damn what you are mixing up unless you feed me some.
Milk – PLEASE REFRAIN FROM USING SKIMMED MILK.
FAT – CAKES ARE MEANT TO BE FAT. There is no such thing as a low fat cake. If you think that fat is too much go and don’t ever look at another slice of that dark chocolate brownie ever again. Kapeesh? So before you take out your little pack of margarine, remember, its processed, and without any water content, so actually adds more fat, and those poly-unsaturated crap they say is actually BULLCRAP.
So, now to the good part. Cake.
For universal subidhe I shall disclose how to make normal cake* first.
You will require a cup (now you should not bring out your teacup. Use buddhi and get yourself a measuring cup where a cup is 250 mls liquid. Fill it up to the brim with flour and there you have it) of flour. Put it in a bowl. Lots of people like it sieved. If you have one, I suggest you sieve it. While in the process, stir in 1 teaspoon’s worth baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and knock yourself out.
In another bowl, break three eggs. Yes, three. No more, no less. Use a whisk to fluff them up pretty well, and stir them to your heart’s content. Add to it about 200 gms of sugar (that shall be 4/5th of that damn cup you used for flour). Mix together the egg and sugar and add to it about half a cup of normal yoghurt (plain yoghurt, doi, not low-fat, and use that same cup), and 3 tablespoons of normal canola or other refined oil which isn’t too smelly like mustard or olive oil. if you like, to thin out the batter, use about 1/3rd cup of milk. No more.
Mix these ingredients together and add the flavoring of the day (NOT COCOA. Tar process alada), and if I am making chocolate cake I add about ½ cup melted chocolate at this point.
Now, dump the wet team on top of the dry team, mix just about enough to see that this has settled evenly, and then walk away. Leave the spot and come back after 10 minutes (oh, and before leaving, please put your oven on heat. 180 degrees Centigrade please).
Return, and prepare your cake tin. This means you take some butter paper (paper in which the butter is wrapped in) and give your tin’s interior a good scrubbing. Now sprinkle some flour in it and just sift the bowl around till you see the flour’s sort of covered the surface area.
Pour the batter in the pan after giving it a gentle stir. Make sure the top is even, i.e. nothing stands up, sticks out. Evenness is the key.
Now gently put it in the middle rack of your oven, and let it be, like the Beatles sang. Keep it for twenty minutes, no peeking, before checking.
For checking, use a toothpick. If toothpick comes clean, with just a bit of crumb sticking to it, you are done. If it comes out covered in cakey goo, you aren’t done. Park it back in for another 5 minutes before checking, and so on.
Remember, de-panning a cake is HARD. A lot of people do this by lining the pan with parchment paper. This makes it easy, no doubt. But boss, amar kache nei, so I shall tell you what I do. Let cake rest and settle for 10 minutes. Then run a sharp, thin knife along the edge of the pan to free the cake, and quickly turn it upside down. If you are smart, turn it over a wire rack and let it cool for half an hour before you jump on it.
*For chocolate cake lovers, I shall suggest using about 1/3rd cup of Cocoa and 2/3rd cup of maida in the dry team.