Ah, Sunday. Day of rest and relaxation… yeah, right! More like a day of frantically washing sports kits that the Witchlets
couldn’t be bothered forgot to put out for washing, ironing supposedly crease-free shirts, putting up shelves (ok, not a standard Sunday thing!) and hoovering downstairs AGAIN even though you did it yesterday because the cats seem to be shedding enough fur to stuff a mattress.
But oh, there is always time for baking. Gluten-free choc chip cookies get baked on a Sunday ready for lunch box treats every time, but today I wanted CAKE.
Simple, easy, plain old Vanilla Loaf Cake.
It’s basically a Madeira cake with vanilla essence instead of lemon rind and lemon juice (I love all cakes, but lemon is a if-that’s-all-there-is-of-course-I’ll-have-a-slice rather than my FIRST CHOICE.
Easy-peasy no-lemon-squeezy recipe!
240g softened butter
200g caster sugar
4 medium eggs (get these out of the fridge at least a couple of hours before you want to use them – room temperature eggs are better for cakes – apparently. I always forget, and my cakes are edible, so feel free to ignore me on this one)
210g self-raising flour
90g plain flour
Extra caster sugar for sprinkling.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, or 160°C if you have a fan oven, or gas mark 4. Line a 22cm loaf tin with grease-proof paper. I didn’t have any (some person who will remain nameless but I gave birth to in 2008 has pinched all of mine to use as tracing paper) so I lined with kitchen foil. Worked just as well.
- Measure the sugar and butter into a bowl. Add the vanilla essence. You’re going to cream these together with a hand-held electric whisk thingy – really, really don’t try doing this by hand. How my Grandmother used to whisk butter and sugar together by hand and get a light, fluffy mixture I will never know. My arms would drop off. I’m a wimp, I know.
Expert I-learned-from-experience Tip – mash the sugar and butter together a bit with a fork first before whisking it together. Saves swearing at the large proportion of the sugar that will immediately shoot out of the bowl and over EVERY SURFACE IN SIGHT if you don’t. Or maybe that’s just what happens to me.
- Beating. The. Damn. Mixture. When you think it’s soft and fluffy, keep going for another five minutes. It will go from this: to THIS: Paler and fluffier. Yeah. THAT’S what they mean by pale and fluffy.
- Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk together with a fork. Honestly, this step makes incorporating the eggs easier – no digging shell out of the cake batter!
- Measure the self-raising and plain flour into a bowl. Don’t bother sifting it – just give the flour a mix around with a whisk. Works just as well!
- Add about a third of the beaten egg to the beaten sugar-and-butter-mixture. Add a big heaped tablespoon of the flour mix (this will prevent the mixture splitting as the egg is whisked in. Whisk this in with the electric whisk thingy. Repeat until all the egg is mixed in.
- Carefully stir in the rest of the flour – use a spoon or spatula for this. It stops you beating all the air out of the mixture. Apparently this is called folding in. Yeah, I’m still not sure why.
Blob all that gorgeous cake mix into the lined cake tin. You’ll have to scrape out loads – stop eating it – and get as much as you can into the tin. Honestly, however good it tastes now, it’s much better cooked. Smooth the top.
- Sprinkle about two tablespoons of caster sugar on the top. This gives it a delicious crust.
- Place into the middle of your oven for approximately ONE HOUR. Check after 45 minutes by sticking a metal skewer or knife into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, remove from the oven. If not, keep baking for another ten minutes and check again.
- Once cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from the tin and resting on a baking rack. I don’t have one, so my cakes sit on a chopping board!
- Do. Not. Eat. It. Yet. Let it cool. Or it will be hard to cut. STEP AWAY FROM THE CAKE. Go do something useful.
- Once cool, make yourself a cuppa and grab a slice.
Apparently this will keep well for a week if wrapped up in tinfoil, but we demolish it long before it gets to a week old!
Off to get the kettle on. There’s cake to be had, and it won’t eat itself.