Baking my first cake

Between bouts of Nintendo DS game playing and sleeping, my time is being occupied by another hobby recently. I’ve borrowed a copy of Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook from the library and got inspired by the beautiful photos to try my hand at baking.

Aside from muffins and the occasional quick bread, I haven’t done much use of our oven. Although hubby likes his sweets, he’s not that much into cakes and with me not being a sweet tooth at all, there was just no motivation to progress beyond what I’ve been doing. However, Gabriel has been hankering for some pound cake lately and couldn’t find a Sara Lee version anywhere so I thought it might be a good opportunity to learn how to make one.

First though, is the problem of equipment. Hand mixing is fine for muffins and quick breads but I don’t think I could cream butter and sugar with just a wire whisk. So after several days of researching mixers, going to the shops to compare prices and going back and forth between getting a handheld one and a stand mixer, I finally settled for a basic Breville Wizz Mix. While shopping, I also got myself a pastry brush, cake tester and a rolling pin (for when I try my hand on pastries and breads).

Next, I scoured the Net for a suitable recipe and bought some ingredients. Since we have some leftover yogurt in the fridge, I decided that my first try on cake baking would be for a pound cake using yogurt instead of the usual sour cream. Then there’s the problem of creaming butter and sugar, I just don’t know how to do it and there’s nobody who can teach me!

Enter YouTube with instructional videos galore. When I first read about creaming with sugar and butter until the batter is light and fluffy, I didn’t believe it possible or if it is, what does light and fluffy look like? What if I don’t mix it enough? How do I even know what is enough? As it happened, I shouldn’t have worried about not mixing enough.

Once I started the creaming process, I found that I need to get a bigger bowl if I’m to do this again. Next, I had some difficulty with the bowl wandering about in the counter top at first but I soon got used to controlling the mixer’s speed and direction. The rest was easy and an hour later, I have baked my first cake. Ten minutes of letting it cool on the rack and it was time for the taste test.

Hubby and I shared a fragrant slice and pretty soon decided that it was too sweet for our tastes. We also noticed that the cake was too crumbly – some searching on the Internet later suggested it was caused by too much mixing.

Anyway, there was no way for us to finish off a whole loaf and I brought the rest of the cake to the office. I left the cake slices anonymously on a plate and when I checked on it an hour later, there was only a small half slice left. I guess that was a good sign although I suspect that some people were just feeling peckish and thought morning coffee goes well with a piece of cake.

Would I be baking another cake? Perhaps, although I’m mighty glad I didn’t plonk out major cash for a stand mixer. After seeing the amount of sugar that goes to into a cake, the experience reaffirmed my preference for muffins and breads. What’s my next kitchen experiment going to be? Stay tuned.

Published in: on July 16, 2008 at 10:55 pm  Comments (2)