We all know that energy is costing A LOT at the moment. It doesn’t take much looking to find loads of articles about saving money in the kitchen, but they don’t really cover baking, and people need *proper* cake, right? Especially when it comes to making a special birthday cake. And nope, there’s no way a slow cooker or a teeny tiny air fryer is catering for your birthday party.
Baking is also one of the most popular hobbies across households in the UK - half of British people bake at home at least once a week. And cake brings joy - the making as well as the eating. But we can't ignore the energy crisis because it's literally costing us money. Keeping an eye on the energy we’re using could do us all, and the planet, some good. No need to resort to mug cakes yet!
So, keeping it simple there’s 5 things you can do - easily - that’ll help.
Five Ways to Reduce Your Energy Consumption For Baking
1. Make a Pull-Apart Cupcake Cake
A batch of a dozen muffins or cupcakes takes a third of the time to bake in the oven than sponge layers do. You can also easily double or triple up the recipe to make up to 4 batches simultaneously in the oven by using all the levels of your oven. You can then place the cupcakes together on a large cake board and pipe buttercream over the top in a pattern and when it comes to serving time, you simply pull the cupcake apart! It has the wow factor of looking like an elaborately decorated cake, but then you save yourself loads of time in baking as well as washing up after serving! Win-win-win.
2. Choose An Energy-Efficient Recipe
I’m presuming by this point you’ve decided a full-blown cake is what’s needed, instead of cupcakes or muffins which, being smaller, take a lot less time to bake.
Start by choosing the right recipe. This is so basic but often over-looked in terms of energy consumption. The BBC’s “easy vanilla cake” recipe instructs to bake your cake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. ONE HOUR AND TWENTY FREAKIN’ MINUTES?! Do we need to take out a second mortgage for a Victoria Sponge?!
Other than taking baking times into account, you need to think about how many layers you need and how many tins you have. Baking separate shallow layers in separate sandwich tins at the same time will consume less time and energy than baking one deep sponge.
The recipe you should be using is our Hero Sponge recipe as you don’t need an electric mixer to make it, you can make countless flavours out of the same base recipe at the same time, and you only need 24-28 minutes of baking time so won’t need to re-mortgage.
3. Pre-Heating Plan
Pre-heating an oven takes approximately 15-20 minutes each time. If you’re going to have your oven on then get the best value out of it by using it efficiently. And you can only do that with a plan.
Make a plan of not just what cake you’re making, but also the rest of your meal/s for the day - this is to maximise the utilisation of your oven and save on energy costs by avoiding having to pre-heat it multiple times!
What else could you need the oven for? Perhaps you need to blind-bake a pie crust for dinner, or roast some vegetables for your side?
You can also pre-plan! You don’t necessarily need to bake your cake on the same day - using the oven for pizza the night before? Bake your sponges! Our Hero Sponge keeps really well for up to 5 days and even longer in the freezer. If it does need all doing on the same day then plan the order. Use the falling heat method - start with the hottest temperature, decreasing as you go through your dishes - so you’re using up the heat from before. Even once the oven is turned off, you can make the most of the residual heat by cooking or heating up something else (perfect for warming up potatoes and sides!)
4. Clean Your Oven
We know it’s not the most glamorous suggestion, but honestly a clean oven is a more efficient oven. At the very least, clean the oven door so you can see inside properly. You wouldn’t have to open it as much to keep an eye on things, so won't let as much heat escape.
5. It’s not all about the oven
Ovens are a big part of baking but the humble microwave has its place too - using it instead of the hob for melting can be much more efficient! You can make chocolate ganache in the microwave, or temper chocolate for decorations. And if all else fails...there’s always mug cake.
I know for a fact these aren’t all the things you could possibly do in your kitchen to use energy more wisely - if you’ve got any other tips or tricks then do leave a comment below, especially if they relate to proper delicious cake.