Friday, January 7, 2011

Look, Ma, No Hands!

I have never in my life baked without a recipe. I may have altered something slightly, like spices or flavoring, but the core of anything I baked was always based on something I found online, in a Gourmet Magazine, or a random cookbook.

I got to thinking, there has to be a science to all this baking business. After all, on TV I see people throwing things in a mixer without a recipe in sight, so what do they know that I don't know?

After some googling, I came upon an article in Fine Cooking that discussed the ratios in a standard cake. The article was brief and to the point and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand their baking ingredients.

The trouble with ratios is they are based on weight measurement. So when the article tells me that my sugar should equal my flour, it doesn't mean one cup = one cup. Sugar and flour don't weight the same, so throughout my attempt at a no recipe baking experience, I had to do estimated conversions.

Like, if sugar should equal flour, and I do 1 1/2 C of sugar, and a cup of sugar is approximately 7 ounces, then I need about 10 1/2 ounces of flour. If a cup of flour is approximately 4 1/2 ounces, then I need...2 cups and some more?

As you can see, much math was involved in this process. And I did not add "calculator" to my list of baking tools today, so there was some serious estimating going on.

But in the end, I did get a delicious cake. Moist, tasty, and perfectly cooked. If I felt anything was lacking, it may have needed the tiniest bit more flour flour or egg for structure.

Rather than make more frosting and slathering the entire creation in it, I used leftover frosting from the pumpkin cupcakes and only coated the inner layer and top.

I think the whole process would be even easier with a kitchen scale (it's on my wish list)...but it worked out...

Apple and Cranberry Spice Cake

8 oz butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 C sugar
3 eggs
3/4 C sour cream
slightly less than 2 1/2 C flour :)
1/2 t baking soda
2 t baking pwdr
1 T cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1/2 t cloves
1/2 t ginger
pinch salt
1 C chopped apples
handful dried cranberries

Cream butter and sugar. Mix all dry ingredients together.

Slowly alternate adding dry mixture to butter/sugar with adding eggs. Mix until smooth. Blend in sour cream.

Mix in apples and cranberries.

Pour into two round baking pans (greased) and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.


  1. I am really impressed! You seem to have a real talent for baking (and cooking).

  2. Thanks! I think its just a byproduct of having to fill my time with something productive. :)

    (That, and maybe some of those Italian "I need to feed" genes)