Let us eat cake


According to historical legend, at some point around 1789, when being told that her French subjects had no bread, Marie Antoinette said: “Let them eat cake” and this is exactly what Courant readers will be doing the next few weeks. Chef Suné Niemand will share her wisdom on how to bake the perfect cake.

Cakes fall into two major groups:

Butter cakes, also called shortened cakes or creamed cakes, contain butter, margarine or vegetable shortening, which contribute to a finely textured, tender and moist cake. Both foam and butter cakes lend themselves to limitless variations, depending on the flavourings added to the basic ingredients, the shapes of the pans used in baking, and the fillings, icings and decorations used.
Sponge cakes are light cakes and their leavening comes only from beaten egg whites (no baking powder or soda), they have little or no butter, thus having very little fat content. As a result, a sponge cake takes well to being soaked with flavoured syrups and such.

Baking Tips:

  • Always pre-heat your oven 20°C higher than the recipe requires
  • 250ml flour = 140g
  • Always sift your flour even if the recipe doesn’t require it
  • One large egg = 55g to 60g
  • Add pre-mixed eggs to batter slowly
  • One extra egg can only enhance the batter mixture. If you think that the eggs are too small add an additional egg
  • The more you aerate the batter, the drier your cake will be
  • Never fill you cake tin more than half with batter
  • Always bake in the middle of the oven
  • You can use less bicarbonate of soda than needed
  • When you use cacao it must be alkalised (Nestlé)
  • Sugar is very important in a cake as it adds moisture

Peacn and baby marrow cake
Makes 3x20cm cakes
Oven: 170°C
Line bases of cake tins with baking paper

3 eggs
300ml sunflower oil
300g soft light brown sugar
2.5ml vanilla essence
300g cake flour
5ml baking powder
5ml bicarbonate of soda
10ml cinnamon
2.5ml ground ginger
2.5ml ground nutmeg
  Pinch of salt
300g washed and grated baby marrows
100g pecans, roughly chopped


  1. Mix together the first four ingredients in the mixture using the paddle attachment until just combined.
  2. Sift dry ingredients together and fold into egg mixture in two batches.
  3. Lastly add the baby marrows (lightly season the baby marrows with salt) and pecans – mix well.
  4. Divide cake batter into three baking tins and bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool in cake tins before turning them out – cool completely on a wire rack.

Cinnamon frosting

240g butter, softened
7.5ml ground cinnamon
750g icing sugar
75g plain Greek yoghurt


  1. Cream the butter, cinnamon and icing sugar together using a paddle attachment until the mixture is sandy in consistency.
  2. Add the yoghurt (warm the yoghurt briefly in the microwave) and mix on a low speed until the ingredients are combined – increase the speed and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  3. Sandwich the cakes together by using the frosting in between the layers.

Variation Carrot cake

Replace 300g grated baby marrow with 150g grated carrots, 50g mashed banana, 50g tinned crushed pineapple and 50g grated pear. Continue as in step 2 for baby marrow cake.