For First-time cooks

 

First time cooks

I love my kids. And I’m mighty glad they’ve saved me from years and years of searching for the best pound cake recipes, though I was instrumental to this salvation by buying the book (not blowing my trumpet though).

I have two daughters, who love to cook. Even when I’m rustling up my pots of stews and the like, they still want to help. So I went out in search of kids cookbooks and settled on a couple.

Kids cookbooks

A few days later, they had friends over and we decided to make some cupcakes from the Children’s First Cookbook and that was when I discovered the recipe for this super duper delicious cake, which I have made time and time again. And the amazing thing is it was all done by hand zonder (without) food processor or hand mixer. All that was required was putting all the ingredients together in a bowl while preheating the oven at 180 degrees centigrade (350 degrees fahrenheit)

2 large eggs
125 g caster sugar
125g soft margarine
125 self-raising flower
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Then I had to mix the cakes and then bake them in bun tins (could also be baked in a pan), and then I baked them for about 20 minutes. They came out perfect. No creamed butter and sugar. No separating egg yolks and whites. No nothing.  The key to success here was the proportions which I had never gotten right.

Or shall I mention that the best scones I’ve ever made were from The Baking Book? Yet another kid’s cookbook!

The oven was preheated to 220 degrees centigrade (425 degrees fahrenheit).

The recipe called for rubbing together 50g of butter and 225g of self-raising flour in a large bowl till they looked like breadcrumbs
Then adding in 25g of caster sugar(for plain scones)  OR 25g of caster sugar and 125g of raisins (for fruity scones) OR 75g of Grated Cheddar cheese (for cheesy scones). Mix together well
Next step  – adding 120 ml of milk and stirring the mixture together using a table knife
Then a clean surface is floured so dough can be shaped into a flat cake (about 3cm thick)…..taking care not to over handle the dough
Then a tray was greased and the dough placed on top.
Using a knife, the dough was cut into sections (8 pieces), by crossing from end to end to result in wedges
Milk was brushed on  for a glossy finish
Then Scones were baked for 25 minutess.
 
Finish… the end.  Easy as anything.

These are just 2 of many easy recipes….. so if you’re struggling with issues in the kitchen like cooking, then I’d highly recommend using kids cookbooks as a stepping stone to conquering this paper tiger. Though if you’re not interested (like my husband), this advice will go to waste. But for those who are, you’re guaranteed to start strong and finish big!

Kids cookbooks are especially excellent because

–          They’re easy to follow – clear, concise instructions

–          They’re illustrated – so you see pictorial steps

–           They tell you all you need in terms of ingredients and utensils/equipment and show you what they look like.

–          They even let you know when you need the help of an adult 🙂 

When you have the books,

1) Start with the very basic recipes. A few of which are cakes and bakes – breads, cakes, scones; simple sauces; and  delightful deserts. One tip as well is to measure out whatever ingredients the recipe calls for so you have everything, in the right proportions and to hand before you start the ‘process’. Don’t be afraid. If things go wrong, you have a second chance. Thats why I love food – for its very forgiving nature (At least if we talk about the cooking without references to calories, weight gain et al)

All we need Butter For the oven Bakin' delight

 2) Continue by introducing variations. This will slowly build your confidence.  I use Google to up my game by searching for ways I can vary recipes. But you too know also what you want to taste, smell, see in your recipes. Why don’t you try them, one at a time.  I love citrus flavors in cakes and so in the basic cake recipe, I’ll swap the Vanilla for the Citrus peel. After greasing the baking pan, I’ll sprinkle flaked almonds over the base and around the sides. The result – an elevated cream cake with fairly humble beginnings.

Flaked-almond wrapped cake

3) Expand your horizons by refining your baking techniques. The basic cake recipe I make doesn’t call for using a food processor.  Its an all-in-one recipe. Mix all. Whisk together. Bake.  But when I want to raise the bar, I start by getting my food processor out, especially since I now know the basic proportions. I’ll cream the butter and sugar and then add the eggs and then follow through with the rest of the recipe. Then bake. Voila – cake – to share or not!

Creaming butter and sugar In the mixAdding eggs Liquid mix

Yellow cake mix

 The key to success is starting small and finishing well – take time to build the basic skills and refine them]\] as you go along. Wishing you every success.