How to Cheat at Baking

One of my favourite recipe books is Delia Smith’s How to Cheat at Cooking, first published back in the 1970s. The main point of the recipes is about making packet-foods or ready-made components taste “home-made”. Or, at least, not like they’ve just come out of a packet.

It’s about adding or combining flavours from actually fairly normal sorts of other cupboard-items to lift the taste from packet to something else. It’s also about knowing when to delegate the making of components, like pastry.

And with all this in mind, when I wanted cake recently, but couldn’t be doing with all the weighing and measuring and faffing, I took the cheat’s option: a Wright’s cake-mix. Very simple: tip the mix into a bowl, add the specified oil and water, stir thoroughly, bake for however long it says.

M and I have used these before. We’ve also tried them in the bread-maker before. The chocolate mix, especially, is excellent. Makes a very good squidgy sort of chocolate cake.

This time, though, it was the orange mix.

I had intended to sieve the mix into the bowl, but it turned out to have bits of orange peel in it. I thought about an orange drizzle over the top. That’s as far as it went, though: just a thought. Seemed too much of a faff for a lazy cake. But if you were trying to pretend it wasn’t just a packet-cake, that’s probably the way to go. To be fair, the recipe on the back does say to add whatever extra bits you want to it. Perhaps some nuts or chocolate chips.

It turned out a good sponge cake with an excellently orangey smell and taste. Very good with some plain yogurt for breakfast.

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