We’re lucky to have had the great pleasure of sitting down with Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood for some cake and chat. Being keen bakers ourselves, we couldn’t spend time with Mary and Paul without asking them to dispense some tips… fortunately they very kindly obliged! Here are their top five:
Mary Berry’s top five baking tips
1. To make cakes rise use the exact amount of raising agent and don’t over beat the batter or you’ll knock all the air out. Don’t have the mixture too thick either.
2. Use caster sugar in cakes rather than granulated. Speckled tops on cakes are usually caused by granulated sugar that has not properly dissolved in the mixture.
3. To avoid cakes cracking don’t bake them too high in the oven, If you do the crust forms too soon and cracks as the cake continues to rise.
4. When using glace cherries, wash wipe and cut them in quarters before adding to the mixture to prevent them sinking to the bottom.
5. When icing a cake, seal the top with apricot jam first to prevent crumb contamination. Add liquid gradually to icing, too. You can always add more and a thicker icing works better than one that runs off the sponge!
Paul Hollywood’s top five baking tips
1. Buy a good cookery book (like Paul Hollywood’s How To Bake!) and follow your recipe to the letter.
2. Don’t over bake or under bake or open the oven door too soon. Sunken sponges are the result of under baking.
3. Know the quirks of your oven and be aware that you can get ‘hot spots’ which can throw a bake out. If you’ve had your oven for many years get it serviced and check the efficiency of the oven thermometer. 180 degrees can mean different things in different ovens.
4. Sometimes old fashioned ingredients like Stork margarine work better in cakes than butter. You often get a better rise on a cake when Stork is used. (And that’s something that Mary herself taught me!) It depends on what you’re making, of course, if it’s scones, for example, then it has to be butter, My nan used to make them with half lard, half butter. But that’s ridiculous, we’ret not in the war now!
5. I like to use plain flour with the right amount of raising agent rather than self raising flour. If you add it yourself you know exactly how much you’ve put it. And I do like to be in control of what I’m baking.
We run lots of great workshops throughout the year and our baking tutorials are particularly popular. Take a look at our schedule.