If like me, you were enjoying The Great British Bake Off this season, you might now be inspired to try your hand at a bit of caking. And if like me, you’ve never been much of a baker, you might be grateful for a few easy ideas to get you started. ‘Getting ideas’ was the pretext for persuading my kids to start watching the Bake Off with me for the first time ever this year (we were late to this particular party), and although it was really just an excuse for me to spend a rare pre- 9pm hour in front of the telly, I was still a bit embarrassed when my seven year old asked me: ‘if you keep getting all these ideas Mummy, then why aren’t you ever using them?’
You see, I’ve never been much of a baker, preferring to pick up one of those cute caterpillar cakes from the local supermarket for parties while admiring the lavish baked creations of some of my friends and family. But when my son asked me to make a Stampy Cat cake for his birthday this year I knew I couldn’t refuse him, and luckily Mr Stampy came to the rescue with a recipe for his very own cake inside the publication ‘Stampy’s Lovely Book’ (available from Amazon and *all good bookstores*). It took me nearly 5 hours and a lot of fiddly effort, but I found that making a cake from scratch wasn’t nearly as difficult as I imagined as long as I followed the instructions (it helped that these were probably aimed at 5-10 year olds). And at the end of it all my little boy thought his mummy had made the best cake ever! (which evidently wasn’t true, but did make me feel very happy all the same).
Since then, I’ve managed to adapt the basic recipe for that cake to make a few cakes of different shapes and sizes as shown here in the photos. The Stampy Cat cake was made in two 20cm square tins but I’ve also used the same mixture to make a cake in two 20cm round tins, and a single heart shaped one (with enough cake mixture left over to make lots of little cupcakes). We even used the basic mixture to make my 40th birthday cake recently, which was then adorned with buttercream and a white chocolate ganache drip and decorated in the style of something I saw on the Honest Mum website.
If you want the exact recipe for the very versatile Stampy cake you’ll have to buy the book yourself, but to give you an idea, here is an outline of a basic cake mix you could use to make any of the cakes shown in the photos above:
For the cake: 350g caster sugar, 350g softened butter, 350g self raising flour, 2tsp baking powder, 6 eggs, and 1tsp vanilla essence.
Beat the sugar, vanilla and butter together then add the eggs gradually. Add the flour and baking powder and beat until smooth. Divide the mixture into 2 20cm square (or 2 20cm round cake tins, or a single cake tin with some left over etc)…and bake in a preheated oven at about 200 degrees C for about 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean (you may need to adjust the cooking time slightly for the different variations). Leave the cake to cool before filling with buttercream and jam, and topping with more buttercream – yum yum!
For the buttercream you’ll need: 600g icing sugar, 300g unsalted softened butter, 1 tsp vanilla essence and approx 2 tablespoons of milk. Make by creaming the butter and icing sugar together, adding the vanilla and milk and mixing till you have a smooth blend – ta da!
As you can see, I’ve made this cake in many different variations – and you too can roll out the same old cake a hundred different ways at your parties and celebrations. Experiment with different coloured icing and decorations and no one will ever be any the wiser (until you start posting all your secrets on the internet of course).
I do hope this article has given you some easy cake making ideas. And on the subject of ideas, I’ll be sure to tell my seven year old that I have indeed been using mine.