The Great Hunt: How to bake cheaply

edited 28 August 2014 at 3:10PM in Gone Off!
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  • Chris25Chris25 Forumite
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    52reynolds wrote: »
    Just to explain a bit more about using milk powder in my scones, cakes & muffins, I mix the milk powder in with the flour before I add the liquid and oil. I just stir the powder into the flour, then pour the oil and water onto the dry mix and bring it all together into a dough ball. I don't cut out the scones into rounds either, just pat the ball flattish into one large round then cut into wedges and bake - saves plenty of time and fiddling around.
    !

    I'm really interested in trying the scones but prob don't have time now until the weekend/early next week.
  • Former_MSE_AndreaFormer_MSE_Andrea Former MSE
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    Hopefully most people will have caught up on last week's episode by now so I don't think we'll be spoiling the pudding if we ask...

    Any top but economical tips to avoid your Baked Alaska melting? ;)
    Could you do with a Money Makeover?


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  • I do love a bargain. Charity shop bakeware is excellent. Don't be put off by the fact that it is not non stick and looks a bit grubby. A good greasing with butter/margarine and thorough flouring will release every time on well seasoned tins. No need to buy tin liners - however well priced. Old fashioned loose bottomed cake tins often fit snugly and will not need lining for anything thicker than a loose batter cake; the thicker the base of the tin the better. Remember to give your cake 5 minutes to cool in the tin before turning out.
  • red0209red0209 Forumite
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    I re-use the paper cake cases when making 7 or 8 inch cakes in a big tin. If you buy the really cheap cake cases, the cake will stick terribly to them. If you buy good ones, that tend to advertise themselves as greaseproof, you can just peel off when cake is cooked and re-used over and over again. Cheaper in the long run. I keep a separate one for chocolate/ginger cake to prevent discolouring around the edges on light coloured cakes.

    One ingredient I have never found particularly cheap per kilo in any shop is baking powder. You never use much of this per cake, but I bought myself a 3kg bag of it online and two years later it is still perfectly fine to use. Keep it cool and dry, preferably in an airtight container and it will keep for years.

    A false economy I find is cheap whisks. They break easily and are not very good to use. I have had a Kitchen Craft stainless steel balloon whisk (not particularly endorsing just this brand, although it's very good) for years, while previously replacing cheaper ones every few months.

    As has been mentioned, one of the greatest supermarket rip-offs, although not many people will buy them, is vanilla pods. I bought a large quantity around 5 years ago, and keep them in an airtight Tupperware container away from sunlight, and they're still fine. When you cut them open, the seeds are as good as 5 years ago. I should probably use them more often, but when I do no complaints have been made about the resulting food despite the age of the vanilla pods! Buy in bulk and store them rather than buying in supermarkets when you need them.
    Use the cheapest of everything - it's all the same, almost but you will save yourself a fortune.
    Not always, I've tried a variety of different flour and Bero is definatley the best compared to supermarkets own. I can tell the difference.

    My mother is a flour snob, and for a while I'd only buy Bero because she told me it was "the best". If you actually think about it and look closely at the flour, there is little difference between brands, including value ones. If you can tell the difference between a Bero flour cake and a non-Bero flour cake then you are better than me!
    toadfinder wrote: »
    Slightly odd one this, but I wish someone had told me so I didn't have to learn the hard way!

    When buying flour, check over seams (and on the shelves) for small pale brown crawling insects. Don't buy if you see any, as they spread extremely fast - if you spot even one, the whole shelf is probably contaminated.

    When you get your flour home, as an extra precaution store it in the freezer for at least 24 hours (this supposedly kills any eggs inside the pack).

    If you find them in your home, check all your flour and other dry goods - you'll probably have to throw out most of them, although if you are made of sterner stuff than me you can still bake with it as they're not dangerous, just rather unpleasant!

    I've only ever suffered this once, but the bag of flour was absolutely crawling with insect life! I didn't realise it might be a bit more common than I thought until I read your post.
  • General
    I think the main trick with economical cake baking is to make sure you have good recipes that works with your oven and tins you have. This just avoids any wasted ingredients as you know that the recipe is tried and tested by you and works with your equipment.

    Ingredients
    Free range eggs from Iceland are £1 for 6 (great value) if you want free range. They sell other eggs a lot cheaper as someone mentioned above.

    Flour is very cheap and most of the time it doesn’t matter too much if you use the value/basic kind. I believe one of the big differences between flours I think are the protein content (which can make cakes tough), and cheap flour can be quite variable. Expensive cake flours tend to be very low protein and this, I think, means your cakes will be lighter, but normal flour should be fine as long as you don’t overmix the cake batter (which can develop the gluten and mean you get a tough cake).

    I read that you are supposed to actually get a better bake with cheap margarine blocks rather than using butter because they contain emulsifiers that help the cake’s structure (I believe there’s some science to it!), but of course you don’t get the buttery taste, so it’s better to use those when you are adding some other flavouring. (Delia recommends spreadable butter as it works like margarine but tastes like butter, but that’s not a moneysaving ingredient).

    The other basic ingredient is sugar, which is usually caster sugar (as you need the finer grains to help trap air in the cake, so granulated sugar won't do. I don't have any tips on moneysaving on caster sugar though... apart from buying the bigger own brand bags rather than little ones.

    Tins
    Every recipe seems to require a different size tin and it can add up really quickly if you are wanting to try lots of different cakes. I am guilty of spending a fortune on new tins in different shapes and sizes. I do think that it’s generally risky to try to adapt a recipe for the “wrong” tin, as, in my experience, you can easily get it wrong unless you are a true pro (which I am not!)

    Books
    Note to self really – STOP BUYING COOKBOOKS! (I don’t think I will stop, but I know I’m buying too many!) As I said above, once you have a few recipes that you know work, it’s fun, but not really moneysaving, to try out lots of different cakes.
  • edited 3 September 2014 at 5:36AM
    pollysgpollysg Forumite
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    edited 3 September 2014 at 5:36AM
    Sugar:

    My mum always bought granulated sugar, and ground it down to make caster in her coffee grinder.
  • Poundland are now doing Jane Asher cake decorations as well as equipment. The decorations (sprinkles, choc stars, silver balls etc) are two for £1. A real bargain especially if cooking with children. I also agree with the others about Lidl for ingredients. Icing sugar is only 88p for 500g which is much cheaper than Tesco.
  • VampgirlVampgirl Forumite
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    toadfinder wrote: »
    Slightly odd one this, but I wish someone had told me so I didn't have to learn the hard way!

    When buying flour, check over seams (and on the shelves) for small pale brown crawling insects. Don't buy if you see any, as they spread extremely fast - if you spot even one, the whole shelf is probably contaminated.

    When you get your flour home, as an extra precaution store it in the freezer for at least 24 hours (this supposedly kills any eggs inside the pack).
    The freezer tip definitely works. ALL flour goes in the freezer for at least 24 hours (often ends up closer to a week though coz I forget its there) before it makes it into my baking cupboard. I've not had a single insect infestation since I started doing this several years ago.
  • VampgirlVampgirl Forumite
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    tain wrote: »
    Lb for lb, Stork is usually half the price of butter and works just as well for cakes

    article-1163680-03FD7ED2000005DC-953_233x150.jpg
    I've often wondered about using this - I have bad memories of cheap marge from when I was a student so I've tended to avoid. Can you tell any difference in the taste of the cake?
  • *zippy**zippy* Forumite
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    Vampgirl wrote: »
    I've often wondered about using this - I have bad memories of cheap marge from when I was a student so I've tended to avoid. Can you tell any difference in the taste of the cake?


    A while back one of the BBC2 cookery shows did a blind tasting with sponges made by Mary Berry with either butter and marg, they all preferred the marg one as said it tastes lighter. We prefer our Victoria sandwich with butter though.
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