I know we use grams these days, but scales still have pounds and ounces on and it’s so much easier to remember the recipe in ounces because the ratio of ingredients 1:2:2:2 is so easy to multiply up depending on what you’re making.
1 egg (medium/large)
2oz butter / margarine
2oz flour (self-raising, or plain plus pinch of baking powder)
The quantities above make about 4-8 fairy cakes / cupcakes depending on the size of the cases and how much of the mixture gets eaten along the way 😉 It’s perfect for one small child to make on their own. For approx one dozen fairy cakes, double the ingredients; this also makes one half of a sponge sandwich. For a more substantial round/square cake, triple or quadruple the ingredients as required.
1. Mix butter and sugar
In theory: Butter softened to room temperature with caster sugar whipped until the butter turns a light colour makes the best tasting cakes.
Reality with small children: any kind of margarine that’s soft from the fridge with any kind of sugar stirred until they’re vaguely evenly mixed.
2. Mix in eggs
In theory: Crack the eggs in a separate bowl and whisk before adding to butter and sugar mixture.
Reality with small children: Crack the eggs straight into the mixture (fishing out any shell bits) and mix in.
3. Mix in flour
In theory: Sieve the flour and mix little by little into the mixture.
Reality with small children: Dump the flour in one go and stir until it’s all mixed.
That’s all you actually need for a basic sponge mix, but there are plenty of simple variations that you can make.
After step 2, stir in a dash of vanilla essence or other flavouring. I never follow recipes or measure exactly so I generally go by a ‘dash’ and test the finished mix for flavour adding more if required. It’s better to add too little than too much. Vanilla essence really improves the flavour of a plain or chocolate sponge, but you could also try orange, hazelnut, lemon, strawberry, or other essences that are available.
For chocolate cake, add some cocoa powder to the flour before you mix it. If you do sieve the flour, also sieve the cocoa powder for best results. Cocoa and vanilla flavouring work well together. Instead of cocoa powder you could use chocolate spread (e.g. nutella) or melted chocolate, including chocolates like caramel to vary the flavour.
MG and DG love making different coloured cakes. Although rainbow cakes are possible with small children, I tend to let them only have one colour each. We tend to have the entire rainbow in food colouring because mixing to make the right colours doesn’t quite work out 😉 If making chocolate cake, there’s not much point adding a colour as the cake will be brown regardless.
MG and DG’s favourite ‘bits’ to add are chocolate chips; any sort of small chocolate chunks work: broken buttons, chopped bars, other small chocolate sweets (e.g. caramel nibbles, honeycomb clusters etc). But of course anything can be added: raisins, sultanas, chopped nuts, other dried fruit, marshmallow pieces… We find it best to add the bits in last when all the rest of the mix has been made. Sometimes MG and DG just want a few bits in, sometimes the cake is packed with extras!
The picture above is of the cakes I made for MG’s 4th birthday. The cakes were handmade but the decorations are all from packets: Dr Oetker decorative icing plus sugar sprinkles and flower decorations.
Often our cakes are eaten before any decorations are added but sometimes MG & DG like to make icing (icing sugar and water; mix until it looks right!) or butter icing (butter/margarine, icing sugar and water; mix until it looks right!) in a variety of colours.