Everybody has cake failures, but what separates the master baker from the average cook is the way that you deal with them. Burnt cake is almost impossible to rescue: because the burnt flavour tends to go right through the cake, even if the crumb itself isn’t burnt, but everything else can be restored, recreated or recycled into another, equally tasty, recipe. Don’t tell anybody it went wrong and you’ll get compliments on the versatility and range of your baking skills!
To misquote Monty Python what have the Ancient Egyptians ever done for us? Well, they’ve given us cake for a start! Roman and Greek history records cake-making but according to food historians it’s the early Egyptians who were the first skilled bakers. We’ve come a long way from there; what the Egyptians – and even mediaeval Europeans – called cake wouldn’t be recognisable to us as such today. Although the Egyptians wouldn’t even have called it cake; that’s a word that has been used in Britain since the thirteenth century...
So you’ve done all the mixing and folding; you’ve pre-heated the oven and put your cake in its greased and lined tin. Now you're going to pop it in the oven and hope the magic works. Keeping your fingers crossed that what is going in as a flat wet shapeless layer will come out as a soft risen recognisable cake. An alternative way of seeing if a fruit cake is cooked is to listen to it (yes, really!) If it’s whistling, it’s not ready to come out. When you’re satisfied that the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes in the tin.