Cakes and courses

What seems like many years ago I went along to the Orchards School of Cookery to do the residential Designer Dinners for Beginners course. It was a fantastic week and I would (and have!) recommend it to anyone that has spoken to me about any cookery courses. This one is located in Evesham, Worcestershire, less than 2hrs from the city centre of Oxford and in a lovely setting, on their farm.

The courses they run are on their website:
Chalet Cooks

Designer Dinners for Beginners
Off to University
Corporate Days
One and Two Day Courses

Cakes are something that I had never really got into making for friends or work colleagues. It wasn’t that I couldn’t, but I just always thought ‘what a faff!’ until I came away from the Orchards Cookery course. I wouldn’t say that I make loads of cakes now, (not great for the waistline!) but I’m happy to volunteer my cake making skills to the office and birthdays, more than I would have done in the past!
Here is a sneak peak of the life of making a simple tasty cake.
First start with the standard recipe then add in most of the ‘changes’ to stage 2,  you really need the book that you can get when you go to the course, to get the full break down, but I will share the one that I took into work this week with you.

This is the recipe that I follow for all my cakes:

Standard Cake
This is the standard cake recipe. Additional ingredients can be used to make a variety of different cakes


170g soft marg
170g caster sugar
170g self raising flour
3 eggs
1tsp baking powder
1tbsp hot water

Preheat the oven 180C,350F
1 Line the base of two 18-20cm cake tins using greaseproof paper cut to size. Grease the sides with Butter.

2 Beat all the ingredients in a large bowl (or food processor) add a little hot water if the mix is too thick

3 Divide the mixture between the cake tins and spread evenly

4 Bake in the oven for 25-35 mins until golden (don’t open the oven during the first 20 mins, as it affects the rising of the cake) To see if the cake is cooked stick a skewer in the middle and make sure there is no mixture on the skewer.

5 When the cake has cooled slightly, slide a spatula around the cake to loosen it from the tin and turn out on a cooling rack.

6 Peel off the paper from the base of the cake and allow to cool before icing. Butter icing filling goes in between the two cakes, for most of the cake ‘styles’ in the book.

The other day I made Raspberry Jam and chocolate cake for the office, following the standard recipe mentioned above plus the following key ingredients below:
(I admit that it should have been black cherry jam, but the local garage only had raspberry!)

Raspberry and  Chocolate Cake
225g Jam
100g plain chocolate and a little extra to decorate

1 Melt the chocolate with a few drops of milk and allow to cool slightly

2 Make the standard cake, adding the chocolate and jam to the mixture at stage 2.

Scatter grated chocolate of the warm cake, or dust with icing sugar and chocolate shavings.

The book contains everything that you learn on the course plus more!
Isabel and her family make you feel very welcome and run a well oiled ship, for more information on the courses, visit the website:


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