Posts tagged "baking"

How can I use up/reuse/recycle cakes that haven’t risen?

We’ve had an email from Janet:

I love your site – it really inspires me to go to lengths to reuse and recycle things I never thought I could, and since I’m a student, that’s wisely frugal too!

I have a bit of a blind spot with cake baking, and they always come out unrisen and heavy, and doughy in the middle. Any ideas how I can reuse this (and other) lemon flavoured brick-cake?

You did cakes before, but focussed mainly on dry and stale cakes (breadcrumbs, biscotti etc)…obviously this is not going to work for me :D

Since the 3Rs always starts with reducing, we should think about reducing the occurrences of these sad brick-cakes ;)

I don’t make sponges that often so can’t be specific with my advice but one thing I will say that’s good general baking advice is check the temperature of your oven with a separate thermometer. Borrow one if you can but they’re only a couple of ££/$$ on eBay if you have to buy one – and they’re well worth it — everyone I know who has used one found that their oven thermostat was rather wrong: ours was off by about 30°C! That sort of temperature difference can make a heck of a difference when baking. Any more cake-specific advice on why Janet might be hitting the not-rising/doughy middle problem a lot?

As for reuses, could they be served as a heavy tart like pudding with cream? Or warm with custard as a pudding? A few sites also suggest bodging it by slicing the cake in half then stacking one piece on top of the other and adding a layer of cream & jam or buttercream in the middle to fake a bit of height. It still would be rather dense though.

Any other suggestions for using it up?

How can I repair a silicone baking mat?

We’ve had another email from our good friend Petra:

I’ve got a question about a silicone baking mat.

I have two of them, but accidentally in both of them there is a cut from a knife or pizza slicer.

Does anyone know of a method to repair these cuts?

I can’t think of something myself and also google doesn’t give any glues. So who knows…

It’s a very good question – silicone cookware seems to be *the* thing in the shops at the moment – mats, trays, cake trays – but I would worry about accidentally slicing it or whatever too.

So does anyone know how you might go about fixing one?

The Really Good Life: Baking things that’ll last

Hey guys, sorry I haven’t got time to write a full Recycle This post today – but can I point you to the latest article on my new blog The Really Good Life?

It’s about how to reduce food waste and having to rely on supermarket supplies by getting the most out of each home baking session – how to make baked goods that’ll last.

Do you have any tricks to stop bread, biscuits, cakes etc from quickly going stale?

Do you freeze dough or part-baked/fully baked items? Any tricks or tips?

Any special ingredients to include or avoid to make things last that little bit longer?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

How can I use my oven more efficiently during baking?

Yesterday, over on my new growing/cooking/making/frugal blog The Really Good Life, I discussed my love affair with slow rise/no knead bread. It’s really frickin’ ace – it doesn’t take much effort, reduces our food waste, is cheap in itself & stops us spending money in other ways too – and most importantly, tastes great. However, at the moment, we’re not making the best use of our oven while we’re baking it – meaning we’re wasting energy and therefore money.

The recipe needs the oven to be hot (230C/450F/Gas mark 8) and in addition to the 40-50 minute cooking time, it needs to be well pre-heated (the cast iron casserole dish needs to be sizzling or the bread will stick) – so a lot of heat for a long time. We don’t generally eat enough bread to warrant making multiple loaves at once so I try to use the other space for other things. I’ve made scones/biscuits a few times and we nearly always have egg shells that need baking before crushing & returning to the chickens as grit.

Any other suggestions for things I could cook/bake alongside the bread? It’s not a huge oven and the casserole for the bread takes up quite a bit of space but there is a spare rack for things no more than 6cm/3″ high, a narrow strip next to the casserole, and the oven floor too.

(We usually bake mid-morning so we have cooled fresh bread for sandwiches at lunchtime. Since I’m usually working then, I don’t have a lot of time to make things from scratch and also it’s not a suitable time to make things that need to be eaten immediately after cooking. The oven is too hot for slow-cooking anything for lunch/dinner. Any suggestions would be welcome but suggestions taking these points into account would be especially great!)

How can I reuse or recycle muffin/cupcake cases?

(Oooh, alliteration!)

We’ve had a Compost This email from Charlie:

Can I compost those paper fairy cake cases?

I’m presuming the question is about used ones rather than a box of new ones (you’re not going to use them? Freecycle!) and the answer is a big, definite ‘maybe’.

The tiny cases I’ve got in my cupboard seem to be just paper so I’d probably risk those but other ones – particularly muffin cases and ones on bought-in cakes – tend to feel waxier. It might be that they’ve just been treated (supercalendered to make glassine) and are still just paper, but it also might be that they’ve been treated with a plasticizing agent, which may or may not be natural, and so may or may not be something you want in your compost heap. If you’re not sure of the composition of the material, it’s probably best leaving them out.

(If you’re baking at home and your cakes are always going to be eaten in the home, it might be worth getting some reusable cake cases – although they tend to be made from silicone so have a higher initial impact than paper ones.)