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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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Latest Queries

  • Buttermilk Birthday Cake

    What size pan should I use if I do not wish to use a round cake pan for Nigella's Buttermilk Birthday Cake and how will this substitute pan affect the cooking time? I am also making this for somebody who adores lemon so how much lemon juice/zest/lemon oil/extract should I use in place of the vanilla? Thank you! Sandra Gillespie.

    From the nigella team:

    As a rule of thumb you should use a square cake pan that is 2.5cm/1 inch smaller than a round cake pan. For Nigella's Buttermilk Birthday Cake (from Domestic Goddess) a 23cm/9-inch round pan is usually suitable if baking the cake as one whole cake, so a 20cm/8-inch square pan would be a good one to use. If switching between pans then you do need a fairly robust cake, but this cake is ideal for most pan shapes. Make sure that you thoroughly grease the pan and line the base with baking parchment (parchment paper) to help remove the cake from the pan after baking.

    The baking time is usually 30-40 minutes. With square pans you do need to rotate the pan during baking as the corners will cook more quickly. We suggest carefully rotating the pan after 25 minutes and to start checking the cake after 30 minutes to see if it is done.

    To make a lemon version of the cake reduce the vanilla to 1/2 teaspoon and add the finely grated zest of a large, preferbly unwaxed, lemon to the batter. You can put the sugar and lemon zest in a bowl and rub the two together with your fingers before adding the butter as this will help to release some of the flavoursome oils from the zest. Lemon extracts can vary in strength so it is best to follow the guidelines on your bottle of extract. You can use lemon juice to flavour a buttercream for the cake.

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