“I adore the smell of a cake baking in the oven, its one of those heartwarming aromas that remind us of a better time and the comforts of home.”

“The secret ingredient in light-and-fluffy sponge cakes is air”

There is nothing quite as satisfying as serving up a generous wedge of home-baked cake, bread or a satisfyingly sweet pastry..and let’s be honest, its difficult to beat the taste of something that’s been baked at home, whether it’s a simple sponge, a banana cake or even warm freshly baked bread. Baking at home seems to be more and more popular these day’s and its easy to see why, it is relaxing, rewarding and great fun.
The simple truth is it’s really not difficult to produce great results at home, but you will have to follow a few basic rules. Here are my top tips for perfect baking cakes.

1: Always read the recipe in full before beginning.

This sounds really obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a complete and total disaster in the kitchen because I didn’t realize a certain step was coming up. Reading ahead will help you know the how, why, where, and when of what you are about to do. It will take you 1-5 minutes max and could save you from wasting your ingredients on a failed dessert.

2: Always have your ingredients prepared before beginning a recipe.

Read through the ingredients and get them prepared and ready on your counter. There is very little room for error when you begin recipes this way. Trust me.

3: Weigh the ingredients carefully.

You wouldn’t believe how much can go wrong just because ingredients have been weighed incorrectly. If you’re just a little bit out it can have a catastrophic effect on flavour and consistency, yet it’s one of the easiest things to get right. Just concentrate at the start because any errors will only be amplified going forward!

4: Avoid using cold eggs & butter

Most of know to bring the butter to room temperature, but it’s just as important for eggs—otherwise the mixture won’t emulsify properly.

5: Cooking times should only be used as a guideline

Because all ovens vary and the number on the dial isn’t always the true temperature, an oven thermometer is a good tool. Conventional and gas ovens are hottest at the top, so it’s best to bake on the middle shelf to avoid burning things before they’re cooked through.

6:Keep your oven door closed

You now know how the oven’s temperature can ruin a recipe. But what can completely throw off the oven temperature is constantly opening and closing that oven to peek at your baking cupcakes or sponges.


Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins

200g unsalted butter
200g sugar
65g walnut pieces
4 eggs
200g            plain flour
4 teaspoons instant coffee powder
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Vanilla-coffee cream topping
1 vanilla pod
350g icing sugar
180g unsalted butter, softened
3tsp instant coffee powder

10 walnuts to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Line the base of two 20cm (8in) loose-bottomed sponge tins with baking parchment.

Beat the butter and caster sugar until light, pale and fluffy with an electric mixer.
Crack the eggs into a bowl, break them up with a fork, then add them a little at a time to the butter and sugar, beating well after each addition.
Combine the flour and baking powder and gently mix into the butter and sugar on a slow speed. Dissolve the coffee granules in a tablespoon of boiling water, then stir into the mixture. Chop the walnuts and fold them in gently.

Divide the cake mixture between the two tins, smooth the top lightly and bake for 20 to 25 minutes - the cake should be springy to the touch and a skewer inserted inside should come out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For the topping and filling
Pulse the icing sugar in the food processor until it is lump free, then add the butter and process to make a smooth icing. Dissolve the instant espresso powder in 1 tablespoon boiling water and add it while still hot to the processor, pulsing to blend into a smooth cream. Spread half the coffee cream over one of the cake halves and sandwich the cakes together. Smooth the remaining coffee cream over the top and garnish with walnuts.

Raspberry and yoghurt teacake

Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 65 mins

Ingredients            serves 6

200g fresh raspberries
250g plain flour
25g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
120g soft butter
250g sugar
zest of 1 large lemon, finely grated
2 large eggs
100g full-fat plain yoghurt
1 tbsp white sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C./350ºF Grease a 23-centimetre loaf tin and line with baking paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor for five minutes until pale and fluffy, then beat in the lemon zest. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon of the sifted flour with the second egg. Gently fold in the remaining flour and the yoghurt until the mixture is smooth, then fold in the ground almonds.

Spoon one-third of the cake mixture into a loaf tin and scatter with one-third of the raspberries. Repeat twice, finishing with a layer of raspberries.

Bake for 45 minutes until the cake is nicely browned, then cover loosely with foil and bake for a further 20 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven. Cool for five minutes and carefully remove the cake from the tin and put it on a wire rack to cool. Serve in thick slices.