Cake Making Shortcuts: How to Cheat!

Required to whip up some home baking in a hurry? No problem – we know the best cake shortcuts! Here are some of our favourite quick-fix cakes.

Refrigerator Cheesecake

Cheesecakes are traditionally baked (and even those are quite easy) but this one’s a whiz-and-pour affair that takes absolutely no time to make. It’s just perfect for summer eating, and you can top it with any fruit conserve or fresh berries.

You Will Need:
  • 400g (14oz) hobnob (or similar) biscuits
  • 150g (5oz) butter, melted
  • 75g (3oz) icing sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 800g (1lb 12oz) mascarpone (Italian cream cheese)
  • Fruit – fresh or tinned – to decorate (try cherries, strawberries, kiwi slices or mango and tinned lychees)

Melting the butter is the only chore involved in making this easy cheesecake. Mix the melted butter with the biscuit crumbs and press into one large tin (9”) or 4-6 small ramekins. Put the tin or ramekins into the freezer while you mix up the filling.

Put the mascarpone into a large bowl and beat briskly until it’s slack and smooth. Sift in the icing sugar and rub the lemon zest through your fingers (to release oils) and into the bowl. Feeling adventurous? At this stage you could also sift in some cocoa powder (2-3tbsp, and omit the zest), swap the lemon zest for lime or orange, or add vanilla seeds or fresh grated ginger. Now beat the cheese mixture thoroughly, and spread it over the biscuit base with a spatula. If you’re in a hurry, put the cheesecake back into the freezer for 20 minutes or until it’s set – otherwise let it firm up in the fridge. Decorate with fruit to serve.

Try “Dump Cake”

It’s an American classic. You may never have heard of it, but ‘Dump Cake’ is served in some of the most prestigious American bakeries!

Though it’s based on a packet of sponge cake mix, Dump Cake is greater than the sum of its parts. Typically containing a tropical mix of cherries, pineapple, coconut and pecans, Dump Cake has many variants. It’s not an elegant dessert – but it’s a much-loved comfort food all over the States. Ready to try it?

You’ll need:

  • two boxes of cake mix (a total weight of 460-500g 1lb 2oz)
  • 1 tin of crushed pineapple (400g or 14oz)
  • 1 tin of cherry pie filling (400g or 14oz))
  • 150g (5oz) butter, cut into pieces, and (optional) 150g (5oz) pecans.

Get out a 12” cake tin and dump in the pineapple, cherries, the dry cake mix, and sprinkle over the pecans. Bake at 170 ºC for 50-60 minutes, until golden on top. Serve warm with ice-cream!

Boston Pie – The Shortcut…

Supermarket cakes and ingredients are continually improving and they’re a great source of cake shortcuts. You can, for instance, buy excellent butter pastry and cherry pie filling – roll to line a pie dish, tip in the filling, then cover with a lattice top and bake.

You can also buy sponge mixes for quick cakes – jazz yours up with some fresh custard and a chocolate glaze, to make the traditional Boston Cream Pie. First bake a Victoria Sponge, according to packet instructions, in two tins. Whip 100ml of fresh custard (from the chilled cabinet at the supermarket) with 100ml whipped double cream. Pile the creamy custard into the sponge cake and put on the cake top.

Finally make the Chocolate Glaze: break 100g chocolate into a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. When it’s almost melted stir in 2tbsp olive oil. When smooth and glossy, dribble the glaze over the cake, letting it run down the sides. Cool to set before serving.

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