This makes an 8″/20cm vanilla cake, and uses the creaming method:

Ingredients:

200g salted butter

1 TSP vanilla extract/paste

200g caster sugar

4 medium eggs

200g self-raising flour

Method:

Turn the oven on: 180 degrees.  It is important to get the oven temperature right.  Oven thermometers can help and are fairly inexpensive.

Prepare the tin – grease lightly and then line with baking parchment – here’s a good link for this: http://www.deliaonline.com/how-to-cook/baking/how-to-line-a-cake-tin.html.

  1. Take the butter and eggs out of the fridge for about 2 hours before you start, depending on how hot it is. (TOP TIP: The butter should ease to the touch a little, but not sink…)

As a guide: I live in Berkshire, in the UK.  In the winter, 2 hours may not always be long enough.  In the summer, on one of our rare hot days, half an hour is usually more than sufficient.

  1. Cut the butter up a bit and whizz in the mixer (with the paddle attachment * see below) for a few minutes along with the TSP of vanilla extract.
  2. Slowly (I do it half a dessert-spoon at a time) add the caster sugar. (TOP TIP: Doing this slowly, helps get more air in the cakes, and helps them to rise).
  3. The whole mixing process should be about 10 minutes – I let it keep mixing to get to the 10 mins, on no.3 of my Kenwood, which is about medium-fast.
  4. In the meantime, crack the eggs and whisk slightly – you don’t want lumps of yolk but you don’t want to whisk till frothy either.
  5. Turn the mixer down (I put mine at no.2) and slowly add the egg mixture – I take about 3 minutes over this, so just a very little at a time – if you add too quickly, it will curdle. (If it does curdle, add a little of the flour. Note: It can also curdle if the eggs are still cold.)
  6. Turn the mixer down to it’s lowest setting.
  7. Add the sifted flour at a quickish pace, 1 dessert-spoon at a time. You just want to incorporate the flour – if you mix for too long, you will end up with a tough (dense) cake.
  8. Turn out the mixture into the tin, and with a palette knife, smooth the cake flat, right out to the sides and corners. Drop the tin onto your kitchen surface from a short height – this gets rid of any (too) large air-bubbles, and gives the cake a more even texture. It also helps to level it.
  9. Bake for 30 mins. Do not open the oven door before the first 30 minutes, otherwise you will expose the cake to cold air and it will sink. If a skewer / cake tester doesn’t come out clean, give it another couple of minutes and try again (keep doing this until the tester comes out clean).
  10. Leave the cake to cool for 10 mins.
  11. Skewer all over the cake (I probably skewer about 40/50 times) and brush sugar syrup (see below) on it.
  12. When the tin is cool enough to handle, turn the cake out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
  13. Wrap the cake in parchment and foil.

* I use a silicone-edged paddle attachment for my Kenwood, as it saves me having to scrape the bowl during the mixing.  If you do not have one, then I would suggest scraping fairly regularly (e.g. at least a couple of times when creaming the butter with the sugar).

Sugar Syrup

  1. Bring to the boil: 75g caster sugar + 5 TBSP cold water.
  2. When it’s cold, add 1 TSP vanilla extract/paste and stir. (It’s best to let it sit for a while, so the vanilla is properly infused.)

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