IMG_0901Chocolate genoese sponge with chocolate ganache frosting

Just spent 2 days at Squires Kitchen learning about baking cakes for cake decorating with instructor Mark Tilling – amazing!

Along with finally making edible genoese and madeira sponges, successfully carving a cake in a straight line and learning that you get the best results icing a cake by precariously balancing it on your hand, the top tips I took away with me were:

  • Alway fold the flour in by hand (not mixer).
  • Use a (flavoured) sugar syrup to keep the sponge moist and to add flavour.
  • Definitely use marg for a victoria sponge (I’ve always found this made the best sponge but doubted myself).
  • Ensure all the ingredients are at room temp to prevent curdling – shamefully I admit to usually take the eggs straight out the fridge, but no more.
  • When baking a cake like a Madeira where you are going to want to carve the sides, then bake the cake to be 1 inch bigger than the size you intend it to be e.g. you want a 7 inch cake, so bake an 8 inch sponge and then carve the cake to size using a 7 inch cake board as a template.
  • Use a drum board as the base for a cake when icing – gives both stability and height.
  • Use a vegetable fat like Trex to moisten sugarpaste if it starts to get a bit dry through overworking e.g. when mixing colours together
  • Use half and half moulding chocolate to white sugarpaste to make a chocolate flavoured chocolate fondant icing.