Search this site
This is where you can find out about all the amazing things going on in the Online Community. It's where you'll find news about events and awareness months; ways to get involved with Macmillan and up-to-date campaigning news from Macmillan HQ.
Baking supremo Eric Lanlard has kindly agreed to answer your baking questions in advance of our World's Biggest Coffee Morning on Friday. If you're not already attending one, you can find your nearest one here. We'll also be celebrating in the Online Community, so keep your eyes peeled for more information tomorrow.
I am happy to be supporting the Macmillan World’s Biggest Coffee Morning in Pembrokeshire in West Wales. My wife is making Welsh cakes and Bara Brith to offer with the coffee. Can I ask you to please help me to make crispy bread, I can make great rolls and bread but once they cool down, they go soft. I have followed so many recipes and read so many books but cannot make crispy rolls and crusty bread. I do have a commercial combination oven that will also steam I have tried all of the settings up to 250C with varying amounts of steam but don't seem to be able to achieve that crispy crust.
I buy par baked baguettes and after baking I get a great crispy product but want to do it myself please can you help me?
The secret to a good crust is to make sure that your oven is very humid and that it is set at the right temperature – oven temperatures vary so always use a thermometer to check that the temperate is correct. After putting in the dough, I would use a spritzer to spray water into the hot oven before closing the oven door. Putting a small baking tin of water in with the bread would also work.Please can you tell me why my sponge cake crumbles when I try to butter cream it.
Maybe it is too fresh – best to leave it to rest and wrap in cling film for half a day or a day to prevent the sponge from crumbling.
We would like some baking tips ready for Thursday Coffee Evening at South Bromsgrove High School.
Baking tips – always be well-prepared. Clean kitchen and a clean surface. Pre-weigh all ingredients and pre-heat the oven. Ensure that your ingredients are the best quality, this always gives much better results! Baking is a science so stick to the recipe and don’t be tempted to improvise or to rush things. Happy baking!
I've only got 2 apple trees but have had an amazing crop this year. I’m hoping to bake an apple cake for the Macmillan Biggest Coffee Morning on Friday. I've tried some apple cakes and they are a bit dry. I like to use plenty of apples and to be able to taste them. Do you have a really good apple cake that is easy to cut?
My two personal favourite recipes featuring apples are apple crumble sponge – a great combo of crumble and hot baked sponge – best served with hot vanilla custard. The other is a ricotta, apple and cinnamon cheesecake. They both feature in my book Home Bake – also visit Baking Mad for some more inspirational apple recipes.I'm hosting a Macmillan coffee morning at my company on Friday and being one of the regular 'bakers' at work, will be baking big time on Wednesday and Thursday nights. This year I'm including a chocolate cake. I don't like bitter chocolate cake, particularly toppings, so do you have a really good chocolate or choc/fudge filling/topping that I can use?
I would suggest using a Chocolate glaze for the topping – use 150g (5oz) dark chocolate – broken into pieces with 50g (2oz) unsalted butter and 2tbs golden icing sugar – melt the chocolate in a bain-marie – stirring occasionally, then stir in the butter and sugar. Leave to cool down. This is not bitter at all and will add a touch of glamour to your chocolate cake.
I often bake cupcakes with fruit at the bottom - one recipe is a pineapple and coconut cupcake. Sometimes they are absolutely perfect, but occasionally the fruit stays stuck to the case while the cake lifts out - completely ruining the taste combination! Do you have any advice? I have pre orders from friends as they were so good last year! Aaaaah!
I would put mixture at the bottom of the case and then add the fruit next and finish off with topping so that the fruit becomes the sandwich filling.
Could you tell me why my cakes always sink in the middle!It is usually due to using too much raising agent or it could be that your oven is too hot. Check your oven temperature – it is worth investing in an oven thermometer. My scones never rise - help!
Change the recipe – sometimes recipes do not always work! Make sure that your self-raising and bicarbonate of soda is fresh – the flour and self-raising agents can go ‘off’ particularly if they are kept in humid conditions. I am told that Mary Berry’s scone recipe is fail-safe.
I’d like some ideas for gluten free biscuits, cookies, etc
I would recommend using any recipe but just simply replace the flour quantity with a good quality gluten free flour. I always recommend Dove. There are also some ideas on Baking Mad.
I am having a problem with cupcake cases coming away. I use muffin size (culpit) cases so they are not cheap.Help what am i doing wrong???
Sometimes the batter shrinks in the oven. Make your batter a bit thinner by adding a bit of milk to the recipe or if it keeps happening try a new recipe.
Lots of recipes include desiccated coconut but don't specify whether to use sweetened or unsweetened, what’s your opinion?
I always recommend using unsweetened dessicated coconut in recipes. If you can’t get hold of it don’t worry using a sweetened coconut will not affect the final outcome too much. I’ve just done a dummy run of choc-mint cupcakes for Friday. They’re light, taste good (even though I say so myself!) but the paper cases are opening out once the cakes have cooled. Is it the paper cases I’m using or is it something in the baking/cooling process that’s causing this? It doesn’t affect the taste but it doesn’t help the presentation.
I would imagine that the batter is too thick – thin it out slightly by adding some milk. I would always recommend using foil cases – it keeps the sponge fresher. Again if it’s not working change the recipe.
I like to experiment and try and devise my own cake recipes. What is the difference between bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and how do I know how much of each to use?
Here’s a text book answer for you – but as you experiment – you’ll know which one gives you the best results.Bicarbonate of soda is a pure leavening agent. It needs to be mixed with moisture and an acidic ingredient for the necessary chemical reaction to take place to make food rise. Because it needs an acid to create the rising quality, it is often used in recipes where there is already an acidic ingredient present, such as lemon juice, chocolate, buttermilk or honey. Baking powder, which contains bicarbonate of soda, comes pre-mixed with the acidic ingredient for you – so all you need to add is the moisture. The acidic ingredient most often used in baking powder is cream of tartar. You can make your own baking powder: simply mix two parts cream of tartar with one part bicarbonate of soda. Baking powder has a neutral taste and is often used in recipes that have other neutral-tasting ingredients, such as milk. Do you have any recipes for those of us who are intolerant to wheat and milk products? There are several people in this area who look longingly at the cakes and it would be nice to supply an alternative for them. My orange and lavender cake featured on my website is flour and milk free. It’s really easy to make and tastes absolutely yummy!
My cakes keep cracking at the top, what can I do to stop it?
It sounds like you have an oven that might be too hot – check the temperature – invest in a thermometer. Sorry I know I sound like a record but oven temperatures are so variable and you cannot always trust manufacturers’ guidelines.
Please help! My cakes seem to come out of the baking dish very dense, I’m sure I measure out all of my ingredients carefully, is there something else I need to do to get my cakes light & fluffy in the middle?
I think you might need to spend more time on creaming the butter and the sugar before adding in the eggs - this will ensure that your cakes are light and fluffy. It’s also worth investing in an electric whisk.
What is the best way to get my cakes to rise, I use self-raising flour, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to get lovely big cakes.
Add in some baking powder - whilst still following the recipe but do check that your self-raising flour has not gone off. It is really important to store flour carefully in an airtight container making sure that it’s not prone to humidity – the raising agent will go off as soon as it is open.
I am running my own coffee morning for the first time this year and I need some inspiration for some tasty cupcakes. What your favourite cupcake recipe?
My favourite cup cake recipes are featured on my website and include lemon meringue cupcakes – they were featured on my TV series Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard – I also love pineapple with amaretto cupcakes.
I enjoy very much baking cakes but I find that they are particularly hard to cut (especially the first slice) they seem to be very crumbly in the middle. Is there a trick to cutting cakes, without only getting half a slice?
Leave your cakes to rest – they actually taste better the day after when all of the flavour settles. – but do wrap in cling film to keep fresh. For easier cutting use a clean knife and dip in hot water before slicing the cake.
I find it very hard to get the same consistency all the way through my cakes, they seem to have a very hard crust, but nice and moist inside.
It could be due to temperature of the oven or the size of the cake tin I always recommend baking in shallow tins instead of deep tins. Use baking paper to line your tin to protect the cake from being over cooked.
Since my Stem Cell Transplant I have developed a Gluten intolerance - very few shops sell gluten free cakes and the range of flavours are limited. I am also unable to eat chocolate has my taste has also been affected.So - here's my question - do you have any SIMPLE and quick gluten free cake recipes that are also free from chocolate and dried fruit (as I'm allergic to dried fruit too!)
I have a delicious flour free cake – Orange and Lavender that features on my website and also do use Bakingmad.com and some other good foodie websites such as Delicious. Also my book Home Bake features some great tasting flour free cakes including Flour-free almond sponge cake.
Do you prefer the more bronzed, drier French pastries to typical English ones at all times, or does it depend on the dish?
I am a great fan of golden, flaky or butter pastry – homemade of course!
What’s the secret to getting your cake icing the right thickness? Mine always slops off the sides and looks horrible.
Allow the cake cool down – top with a thin layer of first and then let it set. Use the rest of the icing to top the cake. You should have much more positive results!
If you have any questions about our organisation our Macmillan team would love to hear from you
You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or YouTube.
© Macmillan Cancer Support 2010
what are these?