A quarter of bought breads have more salt in per slice than a packet of crisps, and shop cakes and biscuits are packed with trans-fats; if only they didn’t taste so damn delicious. As we discover more about what is going into our processed food, it’s not too surprising that there is resurgence in home baking.
I’ve been baking for a few years now, mainly cakes and biscuits for the kids, but occasionally stepping up to bread and pies when the mood takes me. It is a healthier way for the family to enjoy naughty food, but I wish my motives were so pure. The fact is that I am a weak person, in fact my only real strength is that I am so aware of the extent of my flaws.
Needless to say I cannot keep cakes or biscuits in the house; otherwise I would be discovered on a daily basis drowning in crumbs and self-loathing. However I have three young children who want cake, and they want it now -I should mention that a low irritation threshold to whining is another of my weaknesses- so I inevitably give in to Marie Antoinette’s suggestion.
I’ll assume that you’ve already guessed that laziness is another of my weaknesses (apply in email for a comprehensive list) and I quickly worked out that rather than getting my feral boys suited and booted, into the car, out of the car, dragging them round the local Coop, putting up with the requests for chocolate and magazines and the deafening tutting from other customers, it would be a lot simpler and quicker just to whip up something at home. Plus, there is the value added smugness of baking with (well, near) the children.
Nowadays I just hand over the ingredients to the little fellas who make the mixture up in the food processor. Within 20 minutes they are eating cake. A dozen little buns, just enough to get them to shut the hell up, and just enough to make sure they are gobbled up before my ability to restrain myself around deserts gives in (exactly 73 seconds). No trans-fats in sight. I suppose I could go a step further and use organic flour, but then it stops being fun and gets a bit too worthy and expensive.
A dozen fairy cakes.
125 g Self-raising flour
125 g Caster sugar
125 g Butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
dash (couple of tablespoons) of milk
Bung everything in a food processor (or large bowl) and mix up into a batter, dish out into muffin size cases and pop into the oven for 15 mins or so, until they are golden. You could also check by poking them with a cake tester (or knife) if it comes out comes out clean, they’re done, maybe even overdone, there’s only one way to find out and remember that generous icing forgives all.