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Basic Vanilla Cake



1. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

2. Add the vanilla extract then eggs one at a time, beating well between each. Fold in the flour and baking powder until just combined.

3. Pour batter into a greased tin (21cm round, 21cm square or a loaf tin) and then bake at 175°C for 25–35 minutes.


  • The butter needs to be soft but not melted. If you have forgotten to get the butter out to soften, don’t be tempted to nuke it in the microwave, this will almost always mean melted butter. Cut the butter into small cubes and put in a warm place. It will soften in no time.

  • Creaming the butter and sugar is a crucial step and unless you are up for a serious work out, best done with an electric mixer. Don’t confuse mixing with creaming. When you cream sugar with butter, the water in the butter starts to dissolve the sugar, trapping air as tiny bubbles in the fat. It is these bubbles that will make the cake rise when it bakes.

  • Use room temperature eggs and add them one at a time – this makes it easier for them to incorporate into the butter and sugar and avoid the mixture curdling. The egg proteins strengthen those precious air bubbles you made by creaming the butter and sugar, so when heated the air can expand and turn to steam causing the cake to rise.

Summer Fruit Combinations

Plum and Vanilla: Add good quality vanilla bean paste into the batter to bring through a stronger vanilla presence. Slice new season plums thinly, then arrange on the top of the cake batter just before it goes into the oven. Dust with icing sugar before serving, no need for icing!

Fig: Finely dice a few figs and fold through the cake batter. Bake in a loaf tin and once cool, smother with icing and arrange fig wedges on top.

Strawberry and Thyme: Fold two teaspoons of fresh thyme through the cake batter with the flour. Brush a thyme infused syrup on the sponge when it is fresh out of the oven. Top the cake with a pile of fresh strawberries, finishing with another drizzle of syrup.


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