Forecasters predicted the coldest May in 100 years and so far I don’t think they’ll be too far off the mark. Not only has it been unseasonably cold, it has also been very, very wet. This is never a good thing but for me personally it is very bad because when it’s wet and miserable outside I combat the grey by baking, and then eating of course. This May will go down on record in our house as the month I baked almost every day. Some of it savoury and healthy, but the majority of it being of the not-so-healthy comfort food variety. My jeans are a little tighter than I’d like so June had better bring warm weather and sunshine to get me out of the kitchen and into the park.
I use this recipe all the time and while it isn’t going to win me Masterchef or be talked about as being the most innovative recipe of the year it is special to me, and I thought it was high time it made bluebirdsunshine blogging history.
It’s a recipe handed down through the generations – from my great grandmother to my granny, to my mother and now to me. I remember calling my mum to get this recipe when I was a student living in Paris, before the days you could just google a recipe, I didn’t have a computer let alone internet access at home. Anyway, I still have the recipe written on a scrap of notebook and treasure it just the way it is – with the cup measurements used in Australia converted to grams when I was without my set of measuring cups – it’s all part of the family history of food that makes it special.
Anyway, I digress, it’s a basic sponge recipe that uses the all-in-one method and I’m guessing that as my granny had six children in quick succession she was pretty thankful for this method and recipe. You can make the batter in 5 minutes, although it will take you longer if you have little helpers in the kitchen like I do most of the time.
It is super versatile. You can use it for cupcakes or divide it between two 8″ sandwich tins and make a classic sponge cake. You can also add all manner of things to change the flavour of the sponge, like substituting some of the flour for cocoa to make chocolate cake, or adding lemon or orange zest to take it in a fruity direction.
You can also do whatever you want to the top. If I’m feeling all retro I make butterfly cakes by slicing the top off each cake, slicing it in half and sticking it back on the cake to form the wings using some sweetened whipped cream. You can also make basic icing using icing sugar and water or milk, which you can leave plain or flavour with lemon juice or vanilla essence or rosewater or anything that takes your fancy. You could also decorate them with buttercream and pretty little cupcake toppings if you’re feeling in a party mood.
The ones pictured that I made last week were plain sponge with lemon icing (icing sugar and carefully add lemon juice until you have a spreadable consistency) dipped in dessicated coconut while the icing is still wet.
My Granny’s Plain Cake Recipe
Makes 12 large cupcakes or 16 medium
2 cups (270g) self raising flour
1 cup (175g) caster sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 cup (125ml) of milk
4 oz (125g) softened butter
Preheat oven to 180 C and line a cupcake tin with paper cases and set aside.
Add everything to a mixing bowl and using electric beaters mix until just combined, take care not to overmix or your cakes won’t be as light and fluffy as they could be. The batter should be slightly thicker than pancake batter, ‘dropping consistency’ I think it’s called in fancy baking terms. Add a little more milk if your mix is too thick.
Spoon the mixture evenly between the cupcake cases.
Bake on middle shelf of the oven for 20 mins. Check they are done by using a skewer or lightly pressing on the top of one of the cupcakes. The skewer should come out clean, or they should spring back when pressed, if not give it another 5 minutes and check again.
Remove when done and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.