When I was 3 years old I fell out of my mum’s moving car. Luckily she wasn’t going very fast, turning the corner into our street, and I was wearing a thick parka that protected me. This was the mid-’70s and there were no child locks on car doors, no children’s car seats, and seatbelts were optional. Yes, most of us survived these times. Thankfully though, car manufacturers and relevant authorities saw fit to make improvements. Progress is a wonderful thing!
There are some things however that should remain unchanged. All the technology in the world cannot improve on something already perfect. For as long as I can remember, my Nonna made this most perfect Butter Cake. Sometimes she’d make it for a special occasion, or to give to a neighbour or friend, but usually for no reason at all. Everyone who set foot in her house would have tried this cake at least once. This cake could always be depended upon to turn out the same every time. No improvements necessary. And we never got sick of it. Ever.
The original recipe came from the side of a packet of Mother’s Choice flour. It was called Quick Mix Plain Cake. A fitting title as this is one of the quickest and easiest cakes to make. Because it’s plain it lends itself to easy variations. My grandmother added lemon essence and lemon zest to the basic mix. Add cocoa powder to make a chocolate cake or use it to make a marble cake. Add sultanas for a change. Use it to form the basis of kids’ birthday cakes. It can be baked in any number of tins or as cupcakes. The possibilities are endless.
The recipe given below has been adapted to reflect today’s usage in terms of measurement. The original recipe called for margarine but I prefer butter. My recipe also reflects my grandmother’s addition of lemon zest and essence. Cooking times for various tins are also given. In my opinion, this comes best in an aluminium bundt tin, very well greased with lard. Try to avoid the dark coloured non-stick tins as the cake darkens too much on the outside. This Butter Cake requires no further embellishments other than a dusting of icing sugar. Enjoy!
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: Varies with tin (up to 45 minutes). See below.
Serves: 12 portions
2 cups self-raising flour
¼ level teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
125 grams soft butter
½ cup milk
Finely grated zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon lemon essence (optional)
Preheat oven to 190°C (electric), or 160°C (gas).
Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl.
Beat for 2 minutes with electric mixer on low speed.
Cook in well greased tins as follows:
18cm shallow layer pans, 30-35 minutes
20cm ring tin, 40-45 minutes
25cm x 11cm loaf tin, 40-45 minutes
28cm x 18cm lamington tin, 25-30 minutes
muffin tins, 12-20 minutes
Cool for 5 minutes in tin before turning out.