Blackberries are popping up everywhere now it's August, and we're collecting them like mad - we love a blackberry cake!
But what to do with the enormous mountain of blackberries? There's only so much cake you can eat (don't tell anyone I said that!!) and with so much other yummy summer fruit about, you can't just limit yourself like that.
That's when your trusty freezer comes in. You can freeze fruit, and blackberries freeze especially well. Simple follow these steps and you'll be enjoying blackberries and blackberry baking (check out our top 3 blackberry cake recipes!) well into the Autumn.
1. Remove any under- or over-ripe blackberries. You want to freeze them in their best state.
2. Spread the blackberries out on a baking tray in a single layer. Then put it in the freezer. This will stop the blackberries sticking together and make them easier to handle when defrosted.
3. Once the berries are frozen - about 2 hours or so - put them into a freezer bag or box for easy storage. They will keep for up to three months.
4. To de-frost, put the box in your kitchen and leave to soften naturally to bake with or eat as berries. Microwaving them will make them mushy - but then, this is great if you want them for smoothies only.
Enjoy - and carry on picking until your freezer is burstng!
Some Rules are Good. Always Drive on the left. No heavy petting at the pool. However, these baking rules were meant to be broken!
1. WHEN USING BUTTER AND SUGAR IN THE CAKE MIX, CREAM IT TOGETHER FIRST BEFORE YOU ADD THE OTHER INGREDIENTS
This works with a lot of recipes, and is beneficial, but I saw Mary Berry has said that there's two ways to make a Victoria Sponge: The traditional way of creaming the butter and sugar together, then add the other ingredients, or there's the way she prefers, which is to put everything into the bowl together and then mix. I would say that not creaming the butter and sugar is totally ok, then, if Mrs B says so! Do follow the recipe though - some recipes it might be especially pertinent for.
Not sure what 'creaming' means, in baking terms? It's simply mixing the sugar and butter together until they are well combined, and you can't really see the sugar anymore.
2. ONLY USE HIGH QUALITY BUTTER FOR THE FAT NEEDED IN CAKES
Well, you can throw that one right out the window! Over 60% of the orders we have are for vegan cakes, so there's no butter at all there. We use other things like bananas, avocados, oil and dairy-free margarine.
Yes, the cakes will taste different, and if you'd prefer to use high quality butter when 'real' butter is required, that's a good thing, but cakes can easily be made with no butter at all. Check out our recipe for Chocolate Guinness Cake, for example.
3. ALWAYS PRE-HEAT YOUR OVEN
If we were just talking cake baking, I'd agree. Pre-heating the oven is essential for cakes to ensure a consistent bake - and also for bread, actually, as the dough needs to be baked hot and fast. However, when baking pies or crumbles, it's totally fine to whack the dish in the over before it's up to temperature, and it makes the process more heat efficient too.
Can you think of any more rules you can break while baking, cakes, bread or otherwise?
The Team @ 280 Bakes
If you have no scales or your set has broken, don't despair! you can still bake a delicious cake!
It's always best to weigh your ingredients when you bake, especially flour, as it can be a huge variable in terms of the dryness of the cake and the quality of the bake if you get it wrong. However, you do have a few ways you can make a cake if you don't have any scales - let's take a look...
1. Bake a cake using a yoghurt pot
1 pot of yogurt
2 yogurt pots of sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
3 yogurt pots of flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 yogurt pot of neutral-tasting oil or melted butter
Heat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC.
Beat the yogurt and the sugar together in a bowl.
Beat in the eggs and lemon zest. Sift the flour with the baking powder and beat in.
Finally, add the melted butter (or oil, although it doesn't taste quite as nice) and beat the whole mixture well.
Pour into non-stick muffin tins or a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, approx. 25 minutes for a loaf, 15 mins for buns.
2 level tablespoons sugar
4 level tablespoons butter
9 level tablespoons flour
Cream together the butter & sugar, stir in flour.
Roll out the dough, shape/cut out, and cook for 10 mins at 180 degrees.
Look away now, we don't approve of this final idea!!
5. Buy a packet mix
Everything's already weighed out in these mixes, you just need to add eggs normally, sometimes oil or milk. I warn you now, it won't taste as good as 'proper' cake, but it kind of had to be included on the list as an option...
Next time your battery goes in your digital scales or you old ones break, don't give up. Why not try one of these baking hacks? Let us know how you get on!
Owner, 280 Bakes
You've spent your afternoon finding a good recipe, buying the ingredients and baking a cake - and then it cracks while baking. Dilemma!
Cakes shouldn't crack under pressure. Humans sometimes unfortunately do, but cakes should not. And when we say pressure, we mean heat. Simple 'doming' isn't an issue - cakes can be trimmed down before decorating, but what to do about the cakes which come out the oven with more crack than anyone ever wants to see?
Even the best of us have had a cake crack but there are some things you can do to prevent it happening again - even if they do make comical smiley faces sometimes.
Check your oven temperature
A cake can crack when it's cooked at too high a temperature, causing it to rise too quickly without the structural support below and the flexibility in the crust. A cheap oven thermometer can help you calibrate your oven.
Easy on the baking powder
Go easy on the white stuff, as it can make the cake too excited and grow like crazy, too fast for an even bake. The same goes for baking soda - too much of either of these will make the cake taste a little 'off' anyway, so make sure you follow the recipe.
Problems with pans
Always try to bake your cakes on the middle shelf in the oven - top shelf baking is more likely to cause cracks. Dark coloured, heavy pans can also absorb more heat than lighter ones, so bear this in mind when you come to purchase new cake tins.
The Tea Towel Effect
Wrapping a wet tea towel around your cake tins while they're in the oven can help too. It's all about insulation and an even distribution of heat for an even bake. Silicone cake pans also insulate the batter better, but they do tend to cause more doming.
Don't over-stir your batter
Over-stirring can make the batter form too much gluten, making the cake dry, leathery and crack-prone. Just mix as the recipe says (e.g. mix until combined, beat for 2 minutes), and you should be ok. Obviously, this tip doesn't apply to gluten free baking - you're off the hook!
And if it all gets too much and you need some help, we'd love to bake for you - no cracks, promise!
We'd love to hear if any of our advice has helped with your cracking cakes. What's you're favourite tip?
The Team @ 280 Bakes
Welcome to the 280 Bakes blog! Most posts are by our team, but if you fancy guest blogging, give us a shout!