Saturday, 16 March 2013

Cake Types For Beginners

A sample for a prospective client for his wedding. Enough to feed 12 instead of one,  I admit I got carried away and tossed proportions out of the window!

A guide I created for my clients to inform them further

This guide I have created to help show that there are more cakes than just the simple sponge, which at most weddings aren't sponge by definition but pound cakes (you'll learn further down). There's so many recipes and techniques online, just as there are formulations in maths, but this you could say is my version of the times tables of cakes haha. Although it's incomplete, I will update it as I learn more. 

Cake texture types

Pound cake (fruit/cream) is graced with a rich, buttery flavor, good on its own but decadent with fruit and nuts. Its dense texture is thanks to heavy-handed proportions of whole eggs and butter, which pack each slice with moist mouthfuls of fat and calories.

Though gateau (French for cake) is a sponge like cake, the ingredients combine to form a doughlike composition that can end up resembling (and even substituting for) a heavy pastry. It has a rich flavour and is laden with fat and calories due to butter and eggs.

Sponge cake is known for a subtle flavour that pairs well with hot beverages. It has a very light texture, so it's a popular teatime snack and has a reputation for being healthy (in context, of course). It similar to a genoise but has no melted butter added.

Génoise (Madeleine’s) has a dry texture and delicate flavour that are well suited to other snacks. On its own, it's a fairly light cake, but be wary of the fillings and butter creams that are usually part of a package deal. Uses air as the leavening agent. Commonly soaked in flavoured syrups or liqueurs and often served with a whipped cream frosting. Uses the fat from egg yolks.

Baked Flourless Cakes: These include baked cheesecakes and flourless chocolate cakes. For easy removal, they're often made in a spring-form pan, though some can also be made in regular round layer cake pans. Often the filled pan is placed in a larger pan that's half-filled with water to insulate the delicate, creamy cake from the oven's strong bottom heat, which might give the baked cake a porous rather than silky texture. This is called baking the cake in a water bath.

Ingredient Compositions

Angel Food Cake: This type is made with egg whites alone and no yolks. The whites are whipped with sugar until very firm before the flour is gently folded in, resulting in a snowy-white, airy, and delicate cake that marries beautifully with fruit. Most angel food cakes have a spongy, chewy quality derived from their relatively high sugar content and the absence of egg yolks. Baked in ungreased two-piece tube pans, angel food cakes are cooled by being inverted, since this type of cake would collapse if cooled right-side-up in the pan or if removed from the pan while still warm.

Sponge Cake: Sift the flour with any other dry ingredients (such as cocoa or spice). The eggs, which may or may not be separated, are beaten with sugar to the highest peaks you dare attempt, and then gently folded with the flour. The French often bake sponge cake in a high mould, rather than a tube or flat pan. Don't undercook a sponge cake or it'll collapse.

Pound Cake: Combine a pound each of butter, sugar, flour and eggs, along with flavourings and a teaspoon or so of baking powder. Bake in a loaf pan at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until done for about an hour. The recipe can be reduced as long as you stick to the proportions.

Gâteau: Recipes vary wildly depending on the desired outcome, but the basic formula is as follows: Blend together flour (often augmented with finely ground almonds or hazelnuts), butter, sugar and egg yolks. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks, and gently fold into the first mixture. At this point, the concoction can be used for pastry recipes or baked as a cake in a slow oven.

Génoise: Probably the most complicated of the bunch, the generally accepted ratio for génoise is two parts flour (225g) , two parts sugar (225g), one part hot melted butter (for smoothness) and several eggs. Dry flavoring, such as cocoa, is sifted into the flour, and the amount of flour is reduced accordingly. The eggs and sugar are whisked together over a simmering water bath (bain-marie) and then in a mixer until the volume expands dramatically (ribbon stage). The flour, which has been kept warm all this time, is gently folded in. Bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven until the edges begin to shrink from the pan and the top is springy.


  • Cream (Soft/Stiff Peaks)
  • Jam
  • Fruits
  • Pastry Cream
  • Ganache (2 dark chocolate :1 Cream)
  • Butter cream (2 icing sugar: 1 unsalted butter)

Base/final coats & finishes

  • Butter cream
  • Ganache white or dark (Pouring 1:1 or Fillings 2:1 ratios)
  • Marzipan
  • Fondant (Marshmallow optional)