Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Baking in Bulk

Traybakes. The basic mix is given, and then additional flavours/ingredients can be added to suit your needs - suggestions for these follow. In every case (apart from one) the tin used is a greased and base-lined 12" x 9" (30 x 23cm) roasting type tin (in other words deeper than a Swiss roll tin) and the oven temperature is 180C, 350F, gas 4 . As to how many cakes can be cut from the slab depends upon what size you want. Some guides are given.

Basic Tray-bake Sponge Cake Mix: (F)
8 oz (225g) soft margarine
8 oz (225g) caster sugar
10 oz (275g) self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
4 tblsp milk
Sift the flour with the baking powder, then put into a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and beat well together until completely blended. Pour into the prepared tin and smooth right into the corners and across the top to make a level surface. Bake for about 35 - 40 minutes. It will be done when the cake has shrunk slightly away from the sides of the tin and when pressed in the centre springs back. Leave to cool in the tin. Will keep for up to a week in an airtight container.
The freezing instructions are the same for all variations based on the above. Overwrap and pack into rigid containers, interleaving layers with kitchen paper. Use within 3 months with the exception of the Gingerbread which will freeze for 6 months. Thaw at room temperature for approx. one hour. If intending to ice any cakes, this should be done after thawing.

Marble Cake: Blend one tblsp cocoa powder with 1 tblsp hot water. Spoon in dollops of the plain mix into the baking tin and dot spoonfuls of the cocoa paste between them. Swirl with a knife to give a marbling effect. Then bake as above.
Lemon Cake: Add grated zest of 2 lemons to the above mix before beating. Ice cakes with lemon icing (after thawing if frozen) by mixing 3 tblsp lemon juice with 8 oz (225g) icing sugar.
Tip: if wishing to ice the cakes later, freeze the juice of the lemons in a covered container.

Orange and Sultana: To the basic mix add the zest of two oranges and 8 oz (225g) of sultanas, stirring the sultanas into the mixture once it has been beaten. Pour into the tin, following basic directions. If you wish for a different topping, bake for 25 minutes then sprinkle over demerara sugar and continue baking for the full time.

Coffee and Walnut: Follow the basic recipe but use only 2 tblsp milk and include two tblsp coffee essence (or make up the milk to four tblsp by stirring in a couple or so teaspoons of Camp coffee. If using instant coffee, use 1 tsp coffee granules to 1 tblsp water). Stir in 3 oz chopped walnut pieces (pieces being cheaper than halves), after the initial beating. Then continue as per the basic recipe.

Coconut and Orange: Follow the basic recipe replacing some of the milk with the juice from 2 oranges (firstly removing their zest for the topping). Follow the basic recipe, but after 20 minutes baking spread over the following topping, then return to oven for a further 15 - 20 minutes until golden.
2 oz (50g) butter, melted
4 oz (100g) brown sugar
4 tblsp milk
4 oz (100g) desiccated coconut
grated zest of two oranges
Mix ingredients together and spread over cake following above directions.

Gingerbread Tray Bake: makes 30 squares
3 oz (75g) soft margarine
3 oz (75g) brown sugar
3 tblsp black treacle
9 oz (250g) plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
3 - 4 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
half a pint (300ml) warm milk
3 eggs, beaten
Cream together the margarine, sugar and treacle until well blended. Sift together the flour, baking powder and ginger, and stir this into the creamed mixture. Dissolve the bicarb in the milk then beat this into the mixture along with the eggs. Pour into the prepared tin and bake at same temperature as the rest but for 50 - 6o minutes until firm and risen. Cool in the tin before cutting. Ice top with 3 oz (75g) sieved icing sugar mixed with just enough hot water (2 - 3 tsp) and either using a piping bag, or at worst - a spoon - drizzle over zig-zags of icing over each little cake and decorate each with pieces of chopped crystallised ginger or stem ginger. Will keep for 2 weeks in an airtight container.

This next traybake makes use of the nutty shortbread recipe given either yesterday or the day before, but omit the nuts. Note the different sized tin and a slightly higher oven temperature.
Almond Slices: makes 16 slices
1 batch shortbread mix (without the nuts)
3 tblsp red jam
1 tsp almond essence
12 oz (350g) of the Basic Cake Mix
1 oz (25g) flaked almonds
Make the shortbread and press into the bottom of a greased baking tin 11"x 7" (27 x 17cm). Prick the base and bake for 10 minutes at 190c, 375F, gas 5. Remove from oven and spread the jam over the base. Add almond essence to the basic cake mix and spread this gently over the jam, smoothing the top and sprinkle over the almonds, as evenly as possible. Return to the oven and bake for a further 25 - 30 minutes or until risen and golden and firm to the touch. Turn out whole, upside down with the shortbread base uppermost, onto a wire cake airer. Cut when cold, through the shortbread down through the cake, into slices.

The basic mix being easy to adapt, try adding a few chopped glace cherries and flaked almonds, or chopped glace pineapple and coconut. Just remember if you add extra liquid by the way of citrus juice, you may need to reduce the milk by the same amount. Or if adding more dry ingredients, either reduce the flour or add a little extra liquid. Always have the fats at room temperature, or what I call 'spreadable' ('cos winter and summer room temperatures are not the same) , and - to make the cakes a bit more luxurious, you could use butter instead of margarine. On the whole though, soft margarine does make a good cake and that this the only good thing I can say about it.