Baking is an enjoyable experience, as long as you remember that it requires accuracy. A few does and don't, a little discipline, and straightforward easy to follow recipes are the key to perfect baking. Classic baking recipes are often formulaic, but you can always be creative with flavorings and fillings.
Once the basic cake recipe is mastered, you can experiment with different flavors. Chocolate cake just requires a tablespoon of sieved cocoa powder added with the sifted flour. Lemon zest or orange zest can be added into the creamed butter for a citrus cake. Mixed spice or nutmeg will spice things up a little, if added with the sifted flour at the end. Coffee is always a favorite. Add a teaspoon of ground coffee, mixed with water, to the creamed butter.
This method will produce feather light sponge.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease and line 2 x 8 inch (20 cm) round cake pans. Put 8 oz (225 g) of softened butter in a mixing bowl, with 8 oz (225 g) of granulated sugar, and cream together, using an electric mixer or wooden spoon, until pale and fluffy.
Lightly beat 4 room-temperature eggs. Add them slowly, a little at a time, to the butter and sugar mixture, beating well after each addition. Add a tablespoon of sifted flour, taken from 8 oz (225 g) of self-rising flour, to prevent it from curdling. Continue until all the egg has been added.
Using a metal or wooden spoon, fold in the rest of the flour. The mixture should drop off the spoon easily when it's ready. Add a tablespoon of water if the mixture is too thick.
Divide the mixture between the two pans, and smooth out evenly. Put in the oven, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cakes have risen, are golden, and feel springy if you lightly press the top with your fingertips. Remove, and allow to cool in the pans for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
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