Must have basic recipes - Part 1

Refer to this collection whenever you need a classic basic recipe that you can trust.

1.  Meringues

Makes: 60
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 1 hour, plus drying time
Oven temperature: 120 °C


  • 4 large egg whites
  • 2ml cream of tartar
  • 15m vanilla essence
  • 230ml (200g) white sugar
  • 2ml vanilla essence

  1. Beat the egg white until soft peaks form. Add the cream of tartar and a pinch of salt and beat until stiff.
  2. Add the sugar, 25ml at a time, beating well between each addition to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Fold in the vanilla with the last 25ml of castor sugar.
  4. Line baking trays with baking paper. Spoon small round shapes of the meringue mixture onto the trays Bake in a preheated oven for one hour Switch the oven off and leave for two hours to dry out.

2. Basic Vanilla Cake

Makes: 2
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Baking time: 45 - 60 minutes
Oven temperature: 180 °C

  • 260ml (240g) butter or margarine
  • 370ml (320g) white sugar
  • 15ml vanilla essence
  • 4 large eggs
  • 880ml (480g) cake flour
  • 20ml baking powder
  • 250ml milk

  1. Beat the butter until light Add the sugar a little at a time and beat well. Add the vanilla essence and then add the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture well after each addition.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt together Fold into the butter mixture alternately with the milk.
  3. Spoon the mixture into a greased and lined 25cm round baking tin Bake in a preheated oven for 45 to 60 minutes, until cooked through and the skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a baking rack.

3. Short crust pastry

Makes: 2x22cm pastry cases
Preparation time: 35 minutes, plus chilling time
Baking time: 20 - 35 minutes
Oven temperature: 200 °C

  • 515ml (280g) cake flour
  • 15ml white sugar
  • 135ml (125g) cold butter
  • 125ml ice-cold water
  • 5ml lemon juice

  1. Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Add the sugar. Rub in the butter with your fingertips or use a food processor and process until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
  2. Mix the lemon juice into the water and then add to the dry mixture a little at a time. Add only enough water to form a stiff dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  3. Roll the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface until it is 3mm thick. Line two 22cm pastry tins.
  4. To bake blind, place a sheet of baking paper into the pastry crust. Fill with ceramic baking beans or dried beans. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the paper and beans and fill, then continue to bake until the filling is cooked.
  6. If you are going to use a filling that doesn't require cooking,you will need to bake the pastry shell completely. Once you have removed the beans and paper, return the pastry shell to the oven and continue to bake for a further I0 minutes, until golden and crisp.

4. Muffins

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 15 - 20 minutes
Oven temperature: 220°C

  • 50ml (40g) sugar
  • 500ml (270g) cake flour
  • 15ml baking powder
  • 2ml salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 175ml milk
  • 125ml melted butter, cooled
  • 125ml berries, chocolate chips or dried fruit

  1. Sift dry ingredients together.
  2. Beat the eggs, milk and melted butter together. Fold in berries, chocolate chips or dried fruit. Fold together. Don't over mix.
  3. Spoon into muffin tins lined with muffin papers so that they are two-thirds full. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

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