The Tyranny of Tins
I could write a whole book just on this subject.
Over the years I have constantly had to re-jig cake recipes because the required tin sizes were no longer available. And this is the predominant reason more often than not that cake recipes sometimes fail - that is, you are simply not using the correct tin for the mixture.
The tin sizes I used in my first Book of Cakes in 1977 were no longer sold when we published my Baking Collection in 2005, so we re-tested them all for different sized tins. Now, for this book in 2013, those tins are no longer around!
It goes like this: add a few centimetres more to a tin and you can charge more. Reduce it by a few centimetres and it will be cheaper to make, so you can charge less and undercut the other guy. Translate that into what happens in the kitchen and we have the problem of egg, which unfortunately don't come in half or quarter sizes.
Let me explain the science. Sponge cakes go like this: mixtures containing 2 eggs and 115g each of flour, sugar and butter need 18cm tins, while 3 egg and 175g mixtures need 20cm tins. Ah yes, you will think, you can easily buy such tins (although there was a time when there were no 18cm tins at all!). But think again, or rather get your tape-measure out and check them. And while you're at it they both need to be 4cm deep (because the depth of the tin encourages the cake to rise). You will find that quite a few tins stating these sizes don't actually measure up.
But now for the good news. I and the team at the Deliaonline Cookery School have collaborated with what is, in our opinion, one of the best-quality bakeware manufacturers in the country to create a range of cake tins that not only fit our recipes but will also last a lifetime. Silverwood are an established, family-run, British business and their high-quality bakeware is still partially made by hand.
We have kept the entire range to a minimum, so your cupboards need no longer be clogged up with now obsolete versions circa 1970, 1980, or 1990. There are just 12 items in the range.
Does this mean the recipes here can only be made in these tins? No, it doesn't, but you will need to find the nearest size, remember a larger or smaller tin than the one stated will require an adjustment in cooking times (i.e. a larger tin will need less time, and a smaller tin will take more time). The Preserved Ginger Cake for instance, from the first Book of Cakes, has remained extremely popular with those who follow my recipes - the original tin has not been available for years and still people manage to make it. So, where there's a will there's a way!
In order to keep things really simple, we do not feel the need to use spring-form tins. They tend not to wear well as the clips break, and anyway removing a cake from a tin is extremely simple with a loose-based tin. In addition, the flat loose bases of these tins are perfect for lifting cakes onto serving dishes.