See how many mistakes you can find in this video clip from Jamies Home Cooking Skills Programme

A soft margarine like Stork makes an excellent sponge and it can be used straight from the fridge. The mixture should turn paler in colour and look fluffy. When you think it is ready, beat for a couple of minutes more!

A microplane is a brilliant bit of kit for zesting. An everyday grater is fine for cheese but zest just gets clogged up in the little holes.

A soft dough is key to good bread – it also makes kneading a lot easier. The dough will get less sticky as it is kneaded so try not to add flour at the beginning. Rubbing a little oil onto the worktop beforehand is a good tip. Remember to use your dough scraper to clean up before wiping down to avoid clogging up your dishcloth.

A template recipe for a basic sponge mixture that can be used in numerous ways.

There are lots of different recipes for sponge cakes but a simple formula of 1 egg + 60g butter + 60g caster sugar + 60g self-raising flour is easy to remember. A two egg mixture is normally enough to make 12 cupcakes (cases should be filled no more than 2/3rds) and a 3 egg mixture will make a traybake in a 20cm square x 4cm deep baking pan.

A “template” recipe for a white sauce. A technique worth mastering because it is the basis of numerous other sauces. An easy formula to remember 25g of plain flour + 25g butter +300ml milk. This will give you a medium consistency sauce. Just double or treble this amount as needed. For example a pasta bake would be 75g butter + 75g flour + 900ml milk + 300g pasta shells + grated cheese to taste. The amount of cheese will depend upon the strength but around 250g-300g should be enough.Then add extras of choice – canned tuna, cooked vegetables, cooked ham or bacon – whatever you have in the storecupboard or the fridge.

Remember that flour varies in its absorbancy rate so don’t hesitate to add a drop or two more milk if needed. Focus on the consistency rather than the precise recipe. Any milk can be used. We prefer semi-skimmed as this is less rich than full cream milk but not totally lacking in flavour liked skimmed milk. You can use cold milk but it takes a lot longer than making the sauce with warm milk.

When making a pasta bake remember to have your sauce ready before the pasta is cooked as pasta just dries out when hanging around. If you want to make the sauce a long time ahead, wet a piece of clingfilm and sit this directly on top of the sauce. This will stop a skin forming.

To see the sauce being made, watch the video clip under the Cooking Techniques section.

Equal quantities of butter and plain flour mixed together = a “roux”. Remember the formula 25g butter + 25g flour + 300ml milk for a medium consistency sauce. Just double or treble these quantities if you want more sauce. Using a balloon whisk as well as a wooden spoon makes it easier to get a lump free sauce. (For every day cooking there is no need to bother with the onion, bay leaf and cloves)


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