As I am sure you know there are two types of flour, strong (high-gluten) and weak (low-gluten). The strong is for break making and the weak is for cakes and biscuits.
Deciding which flour to choose to bake with is another question often asked. Self raising or plan flour? Self-raising gives you a good balance of raising agents, but with plain flour you can control what you add. Generally they say 2 ½ tsp Baking Powder should be added to every 250g/8oz plain flour.
They also say that sifting flour makes a ‘lighter’ cake.
With such a choice of sugars it’s difficult to decide which one is best. They say caster sugar should be used for sponge cakes, soft brown dark or light is good for ginger and fruit cakes. Only use demerara if the ingredients you are using have been heated before baking as its courser and requires dissolving before cooking.
Other sweeteners include treacle which is good for chocolate, ginger and fruit cake. However its not as sweet as golden syrup which is nice mixed with spices, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Honey is an excellent sweetener but you should be careful as it is sweeter than sugar. Using honey can also keep your cakes fresher for longer.
What fat to use is more simple as butter or margarine both are good but NEVER use it straight from the fridge.
If you are adding dried fruit then it should be plump and soft, if it has gone horrible and hard, then soak in hot water for a few minutes before adding it to your mixture.
Finally eggs, which type free range or ordinary the only difference that I can find is that free range to taste better and have a richer colour, but they are more expensive, so any type will do.