I do love our obsession in the UK with Bake Off. There might be nutters overseas threatening our lives with their fingers poised over the nuclear weapons launch button, but what do we care when there’s cake on the telly? The pound is collapsing against the Euro, the government is in disarray but what really winds Brits up is when one elderly lady cookery writer gets substituted for another on the Bake Off judging panel.
Anyway, I’m all for following a trend particularly when it involves making cake rather than doing actual real work (what someone, according to Nigella, dubbed ‘procrastibaking’). So I decided to put my home made effort up against the shop-bought alternative and see how the cost – and taste compared. This isn’t an experiment which would stand up to scientific scrutiny but, anyway... First I bought a cake from the local bakers. It weighs 500gms and cost me £2.25. I could have got cheaper, no doubt, from the supermarket – Tesco’s 450g chocolate fudge cake costs £1.50 – but I thought I should go with something comparable with home-made.
Then I made chocolate cake. The cost of the ingredients (3 eggs, 250gms of flour, butter and sugar plus a tablespoon each of cocoa and milk) I worked out as £2.50 (the butter, at £1.30, being the most expensive; eggs coming in 62.5p, sugar 40p, flour 9p and cocoa 8p – allowing 0.5p for the milk). The electricity to cook them (half an hour at 200 degrees) costs 17p based on information at www.goodtoknow.co.uk). So I’m already behind the shop bought one and I haven’t iced it yet. I can’t be bothered to make chocolate icing – I hate clouds of icing sugar everywhere – so I buy a tub (£2.50 for 400gms) and use about half, so £1.25. Add on the Ripple bar (60p) and a few chocolate chunks (say, 20p) and the grand cost of my cake comes in at £4.72. However it weighs in at a massive 1.4 kilos, nearly three times the size of the shop bought one (I couldn’t make a tiny cake as I don’t have small cake tins). Given that, mine is quite a bargain bake costing just over double the store one.
But what about the taste? My judging panel made up, like the TV programme, of a grumpy Alpha male and an elderly lady (i.e me and the boy) decide the shop bought cake is nicer – it’s more chocolatey while my cake is lighter and not very chocolate flavoured. The icing is indistinguishable (not surprising given both were probably made in a factory) but my cake wins on the toppings – a Ripple bar being preferable to a titchy bit of Flake and some white chocolate dandruff. All in all, a respectable draw, I suppose: I won’t make star baker but I might not be booted off the first week...