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Sunday, July 25, 1999
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Cakes for all occasions
By Harkiran Sodhi

CAKES are very popular all over the world, be it as a snack or the perfect end to a meal. A western tradition that has now become a part and parcel of many Indian homes, cakes are not only popular as the main feature in a birthday party, but indispensable at coffee parties, tea parties, a great idea for children’s school lunch boxes, and a must at wedding receptions and anniversaries.

Butter cakes are perhaps the most popular cake variety, possibly due to the flavour that the butter gives it. Most cakes can be roughly categorised into four main divisions — butter cakes, sponge cakes, quick mix cakes and rich continental cakes. These categories are based on the amount of sugar, fat and egg content of the cakes with the rich continental cakes being mostly used as after dinner dessert cakes to be served with coffee.

Butter cakes are perhaps the most popular cake variety, possibly due to the flavour that the butter gives it. These cakes taste great as a basic vanilla, lemon, chocolate or a host of other flavours and can be eaten plain or with icing or frosting on them as well. Often the butter is replaced by margarine or oil by people who feel the butter is a fattening addition. Though a butter cake is best made with butter not only for the special flavour but the lighter texture as well as the extra volume it gets. Butter cakes are also popular, as they are easy to keep for a few days; they store well due to their high proportion of butter to the flour.

Basic butter cake


125 gms or 1/2 cup of butter

180 gms or 3/4 cup caster sugar (finely ground sugar).

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

2 eggs beaten well

250 gms or 2 cups of flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

A pinch of salt

120 ml or 1/2 cup of milk


Mix the butter, sugar and vanilla essence together till the mixture is light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat them well after adding in each one. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and keep it separately. Fold this into the egg and sugar mixture adding a spoonful at a time and alternating it with a spoonful of milk. The first and the last spoonful should be of the flour.

When you are folding a cake make sure that your movement is correct. Ideally, the entire movement is from the wrist where you hold the spoon and turn it inwards with a clean twist of the wrist. This folding action is essential in the cake baking process as this traps air into the mixture which is what gives the cake the light and fluffy texture once it is baked. But be warned, over-folding a cake mixture can be as bad as under folding it.

Grease two-8-inch-in-diameter cake tins with butter and pour the mixture into them. Lightly smooth the tops if needed with a flat knife. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degree C or 350 degree F for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. In case you are using a deep baking dish and only one instead of two, then the cake baking times will change to between 45-50 minutes. Upturn the cakes onto a wire rack and let them cool. Once they are cool you can ice them or sandwich a filling into them if you like.

Variations on the basic butter cake

Lemon cake - To make a lemon cake you will use the recipe for the basic butter cake given above making a few changes. Add in 2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice and the grated rind of one lemon to the mixture instead of the vanilla essence.

Almond cake - Add a handful of roughly chopped almonds to the basic butter cake recipe, keeping a few to sprinkle on the top of the cake.Back

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