food

"I'm a podcast producer who's made well over 100 cakes. Here are the 3 baking rules I wish someone had told me when I started."

Grove Avocado Oil
Thanks to our brand partner, Grove Avocado Oil

If you’re someone who loves a good baking session, I don’t have to convince you why it is the best hobby.       

Something about the measured ingredients, the hundreds of different types of bakes to try, and the fact that you end up with a delicious treat at the end is relaxing, and fun at the same time.   

I’ve always loved baking (I even started Community Cakes). Like many others, I’ve stepped my skills up a notch during the last few years. 

I find that something about baking pushes you to try and improve and grow your skills; whether that’s trying a harder recipe (I still haven’t attempted the holy grail of a risen souffle though), perfecting your decorating skills, or just making the recipe bigger, better, or yummier. 

Throughout my baking journey, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks that can only come with the fails that often come with cooking; a lopsided cake, tough pancakes or muffins that didn’t rise. 

So here’s a few I’ve collated to give your home baking that bit of edge, so you can say, “What, this thing? I whipped it up in 20 minutes, it was easy!” And that’s without the graveyard of fallen cake comrades that came before it.

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1. If a recipe has an ingredient you don’t own, try Googling to see if you can make it yourself first.

I’m about to blow your mind. 

Self-raising flour is just normal flour with baking powder and salt. 

While admittedly this makes a lot of sense, I didn’t know this for ages. It would have been a game-changer when I wanted to make a recipe calling for self-raising, and I only had plain flour (remember the great flour shortage of 2020?). 

Listen to Mamamia's food podcast, What I Eat When. Post continues below.


So before you write off a recipe because you don’t have something in the pantry, give it a quick Google first. 

No icing sugar? Blend 1 cup of sugar with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. 

Cake flour? 1 cup of normal flour mixed with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. 

You’ll feel like a wizard in the kitchen, and you can avoid an unnecessary trip to the shops, AND the disappointment of discarding a recipe based on one single ingredient.

2. When icing a cake, make sure you include a crumb coat.

Have you ever iced a cake, only for the frosting to immediately pick up a bunch of crumbs from the cake and ruin the look? 

And then you add layer after layer of icing to try and cover it up until the cake is basically 80% icing? Maybe that second part is just me. 

But crumbs in your frosting, especially light colours, is a tragedy. 

The secret to those professional, silky smooth frosted cakes is that the baker has used a crumb coat. Basically, you do a ‘first coat’ of the cake with your frosting, by icing it with a very thin layer that picks up all the crumbs, and let it set in the fridge before frosting it properly. Then you have a blank canvas to make it look perfect! 

It’s also essential if you’re icing the sides of a multi-layer cake, as it fills in the gaps giving you a smooth surface to frost. 

3. Avocado oil makes for a great healthy fat substitute.

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The one thing that can hold me back from baking almost daily is an inability for my partner and I to eat a dozen cupcakes in a single weekend, or banana bread twice a day for 7 days straight. 

But seeking out healthier baking recipes and making ingredient substitutions means I can bake as often as I want, and try out new methods too. 

Baking needs some kind of fatty ingredient to bind it all and make it taste good (that’s my limited understanding of it anyway). Most of the time recipes call for butter, which obviously works great, but is not healthy in large quantities. 

If your recipe calls for 250g of butter, that’s a lot to consume if you bake several times a week. However, like sugar can often be substituted with honey or maple syrup, most recipes can use a healthy oil like avocado oil. 

And as a bonus: avocado oil is vegan, unlike butter. Whenever I’m cooking a cake for a group of people that include vegans I use avocado oil to ensure the cake stays moist, without animal products.

My go-to is Grove Avocado Oil (just from Coles or Woolies), I swear by it.

Here’s the thing: if you make your baked goods healthier (sweet or savoury), you can incorporate them into almost every meal, and still be absolutely delicious. If I make a soup, I also make cheese and herb scones to accompany it. 

For lunch I make tomato scrolls. Weekend morning pancakes and whipped up desserts can all be made healthy.

Grove Avocado Oil is one of those frequent swaps I’ve made as it’s produced from the pressing of good quality avocados, so it’s high in rich Oleic Acid (a very healthy fat) making it good for digestion, heart health and lower blood pressure. 

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It has a higher smoke point than other oils (home bakers, if you know you know), and there’s even 16 avocados in every bottle of Grove Avocado Oil.

Here are the three recipes I love making (putting my Grove Avocado Oil to good use) that I’d be happy to consume as often as I want.

Healthy Blueberry Muffins

Image: Supplied.

Ingredients

2 cups (220g) whole wheat pastry flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup (125ml) Grove Avocado Oil

1/2 cup (125ml) maple syrup or honey

2 large eggs

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1 tbsp coarse raw sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200°C and line a muffin pan with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, toss together the whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

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3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the avocado oil, maple syrup (or honey), eggs, plain Greek yogurt, and vanilla extract.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together until just combined. Fold in the blueberries.

5. Divide the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Sprinkle with coarse sugar if using. Bake at 200°C for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

These muffins have no refined sugar or butter in them, so I found they were perfect for breakfast.

Fluffy Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Image: Supplied.

Ingredients

1 cup smooth ricotta or coconut yogurt

1 cup milk (use plant milk, if vegan)

2 eggs or flax-seed eggs

1/4 cup Grove Avocado Oil

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Method

1. In a mixing bowl combine ricotta/yogurt, milk, eggs/flax-seed eggs, avocado oil, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice.

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2. Sift in flour with baking powder, mix until combined and no lumps remain.

3. Add in baking soda and mix until just combined. Let the batter sit for 5 minutes.

4. Drop about 2 tablespoons of the batter onto the pan over medium heat. When bubbles pop, flip the pancake over.

5. Cook for another couple of minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter.

I topped mine with Greek yoghurt, maple syrup and garnished with a few slices of dried lemon, but you can use whatever you want!

Orange & Avocado Oil Cake

Image: Supplied.

Ingredients

 ½ cup Grove Avocado Oil (plus more for greasing)

 ½ cup maple syrup

 Zest of 1 large orange

 ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

 ¼ cup full-fat coconut cream

 3 eggs, beaten

 1 ¾ cup almond meal

 ¼ cup coconut flour

 1 t baking soda

 ¼ t salt

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 Fresh or dried orange slices and orange zest for garnish (optional)

Image: Supplied.

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 175°C and grease a round cake pan with avocado oil. Line the base of the cake pan with parchment paper.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the avocado oil, maple syrup, orange zest, orange juice, coconut cream, and eggs until well combined.

3. In another bowl, combine the almond meal, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt.

4. Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk well.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is brown, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

6. Let the cake cool before slicing into it.

I poured some of the leftover orange juice over the cake while it was in the pan to make it extra moist but found it didn’t really need it... it was moist enough without it!

Not every oil is created equal. Find Grove's Cold Pressed Avocado Oil at Woolworths and Coles; it's the perfect accompaniment across your culinary creations.

Feature Image: Supplied/@seamusphelan

Grove Avocado Oil
Grove Avocado Oil is pressed from ripe avocados, and is brimming with ‘good’ fats, vitamins and antioxidants. With a neutral flavour and high smoke point, it’s perfect for everything from stir-frys to salad dressings and baking! Try it in any muffin or cake recipe that calls for oil and you’ll not only add more nutrients, but your baked goods will have a beautiful, moist texture! 100% pure and natural, Grove Avocado Oil is the healthy way to boost the nutrition of your family meals.