I have had three baking disasters recently but am pleased to say my run of bad luck is broken. I've learned a couple of lessons along the way so it's not all bad.
Lesson 1 - if a cake recipe has particularly moist ingredients such as a large quantity of banana; and the recipe calls for a long cooking time - trust the cooking time.
Lesson 2 - unless your cake is a tried and true recipe, test a piece before serving it to your unsuspecting morning tea guests. At the very least cut the cake open.
Lesson 3 - Baking Powder is a key ingredient and cannot be substituted with cornflour/ cornstarch.
So what really happened?
Well the first disaster was because I was being lazy and rather than using Dorie Greenspan's delicious banana cake recipe (which I first discovered on my friend Lisa's blog - La Mia Cucina) I opted for a melt and mix version. It had a cup of bananas in it and tested done in about half the cooking time. So far so good. I frosted it with chocolate icing and set it out for a morning tea which I did not attend. I asked for feedback since I'd told them it was a new recipe and the comment was "everyone loved the custard filling". Hmmmm
The second disaster was partly because I was baking at stupid o'clock in the morning and was probably not quite focussed. My baking powder and cornflour are in the same sized containers although they have different coloured lids and are clearly labelled. My first attempt at making Wondercake was a complete disaster and resulted in a squat, dense, baked product which I wouldn't give the courtesy of calling cake; and similarly (my third disaster) my batch of cheese, tomato and onion muffins were little stodgy balls of dough. I suppose that not only was there no leavening agent, the cornstarch would have played some weird chemical part in the mix.
Makes a small cake about 8 x 8
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
Flavourings as desired - cocoa, lemon, orange, coffee, spice, vanilla etc
Put flour, sugar and baking powder into a bowl
Add dry spices if desired
Whisk the melted butter with the 2 eggs and make up to 1 cup with milk
Add to dry ingredients
Beat with a handheld beater for 5 minutes
Bake 180 degrees /350 for approx 40 mins or until cake tests done
Ice as desired
This makes a light and tender cake. The first time I (successfully) made this cake I chose to use a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger and then iced it with a caramel icing and decorated it with chopped crystallised ginger as you can see below.
The second time I put orange zest in the cake mix and used fresh orange juice in the icing. I think this is my new "go-to" cake recipe and I'm planning a lemon/lime version next time round.
Interestingly, Wondercake bears a striking resemblance to my former go-to cake recipe Lazy Daisy Cake which I was introduced to by Deb. It is pretty much what they call a hot milk sponge and the proportions of ingredients are amazingly similar. The difference is the temperature of the milk and the fact that Wondercake is beaten for 5 minutes. I wonder... what would happen if I just beat it a little bit? I'll tell you later.
What's your go-to cake recipe?