To Premix or not to Premix, that is indeed the question
I love baking. Baking cakes, cupcakes, puddings, tarts. You name it I want to make it or, more likely, already have made it! The problem that I have of late is time. As my daughter gets older, finding the time to do any baking becomes increasingly difficult. And so the inevitable happens – Premix. Yes, that dirty little word that will make true bakers and cake makers spit in disgust. So, should I defend Premix? Absolutely!
Just because I no longer have the time to bake, (come on – I barely have the time to drink my tea in the morning these days and that is a real crime against my soul!) does not mean that I have lost my craving for pudding! On the contrary, I probably desire it even more now that I am quite deprived of it. My dilemma, then, is how to make something sweet and delicious (or indeed savoury – I do enjoy savoury baked stuff just as much as sweet!) in those few minutes I manage to steal away from my busy day. Premix it. Now, I am not saying that it is impossible to make something wonderful, from scratch, in a short time. Of course you can (and of course, that is a post for another day). However, in my opinion, when you have had a hectic day – and a typical one for me is clearly illustrated in my post about not being late – and finally have that little bit of time to put up your feet and have that glass of wine, the last thing you want to do is start prepping and cutting and mixing and measuring and blending and stirring and adding and blending some more and cooking and checking and decorating. Do you see what I mean. I bet you’re tired already;). So, those are the days when Premix comes in handy.
Now, some of my favourite Premixes include the ones that make what I call Royal pudding. The reason I call it Royal Pudding is because that was the brand name of the dessert I used to use in South Africa ( on the same lines of hoovering instead of vacuuming, yeah you know what I’m talking about!). It is a whipped up, mousse style dessert. This Premix is super easy for a pudding because all you do is add milk, whip it up for a minute or two and stick it in the fridge for ten minutes or so. I serve it with tinned fruit in syrup. Yummy!
Another favourite is the Pancake flour Premix. Just add water and eggs (which is all you will have to add to most Premixes). Okay, so pancakes are easy enough to make from scratch. With the Premix, however, it’s literally two or three minutes. The longest part of the process is the cooking. But that’s fine because it’s fun .
My personal favourite of the Premix type has to be the cake Premixes (and all the cake makers make a choral gasp of horror ) but most Premixes actually turn out very good. And, if you buy a good brand, they will have used the finest ingredients so it would be the same as buying the finest cake flour, the best baking powder, the most refined castor sugar, etc. Are you sceptical? I know I was the first time I used a Premix. But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding or in this case, the cake! So here it is:
The first picture is the Premix before baking. This particular one is for a chocolate cake. All I had to add were two eggs and eight tablespoons of water. I was supposed to mix it in a blender for several minutes but as I felt that this would defeat the purpose of being quick and easy, I blended it all together with a whisk until it was mixed. It had a few lumps – sugar I think. I was not too concerned about it. I divided the mixture between two 18 cm baking tins. I use Pyrex non stick but still shove some greaseproof paper in the bottom. It just makes life a bit easier when turning the cake out after baking. The two cakes were baked together for twenty minutes. Because I have a fan oven, I had to turn it halfway through baking. Just remember not to turn it too early or it will collapse in the middle.
Twenty minutes later, I turned the two well-risen cakes out to cool. Once cool I made the icing. Easy chocolate icing consists of two cups of icing sugar, two tablespoons of butter and four teaspoons of cocoa powder (more or less depending on how rich you like it – I like it rich) dissolved in a dribble of hot water. If you’re wondering why it has to be dissolved then you have never made anything with cocoa powder It has to be dissolved or it doesn’t blend properly and you end up with speckled icing. Blend it all together until smooth. This amount of icing will cover these two cakes.
To sandwich the cakes together, I scoop about four tablespoons of jam (whichever one takes your fancy – I like berry jam with chocolate cake and peach with vanilla) into a bowl, splash on some water and microwave for a few seconds. This makes the jam easier to spread.
Spread the jam over the lower cake and sandwich together then cover the cake with the chocolate icing, which should be easily spreadable. Place in the fridge for about ten minutes so the icing can set a little then decorate any way you want to, or don’t decorate further if you prefer . In the picture, mine is decorated with some grated chocolate (using the small grater to cover it then the big one for the centrepiece) and some lemon and orange candied wedges which you buy in a packet in the shop – cake decorating aisle. In all, this cake would have taken about forty minutes.
Did it save me time? A bit. Did it save me energy? Definitely . And does it taste more or less the same as a cake made from scratch? Well, nothing tastes quite like homemade from scratch but for a quick mix, it went down a treat!
Happy Baking Everyone !
Copyright © 220612 by Karen Payze