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Cakes And Cake Making

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

A good cake must be tender and melting. Cakes contain eggs, and if the egg is overheated the cake is tough and dry.

Cake is hard to digest because in it ingredients are combined that should be cooked at different temperatures. Those that contain batter are apt to disturb the digestion on account of the coating of fat that covers the starch grains of the flour. Sponge cake and angel cake contain overcooked egg, or, if the egg is properly cooked, the flour is not done. Cake should be used in moderation and eaten very slowly.

Cake Flour. A good cake flour holds its shape when pressed in the hard and is velvety to the touch. Bread flour does not make such good cake because of the gluten it contains. If bread flour is used in a recipe that calls for pastry flour, use only seven-eighths of the given quantity. The recipes in this book are based on a high grade flour which makes good biscuits. A good biscuit flour is not so rich in gluten as bread flour. In substituting pastry flour for it, use one-sixteenth more.

Other Ingredients. If sugar is coarse, roll and sift, for coarse sugar will give a hard crust and a poor texture. Eggs must be fresh ; if old the albumin cells are broken and air cannot be beaten into the white. Use only the best flavorings and baking powder.


Cakes are made light by carbon dioxide gas (From what is this gas obtained?), by air, and by steam, just as muffins and breads are lightened. Eggs are used to give additional lightness as they form a film to hold the gas and air bubbles. Much air can be beaten into egg, particularly into the white. Baking powder and other leavening agents are used with egg in most butter cakes. In sponge cake and angel cake the lightness depends on the air beaten into them. If the number of eggs is lessened, as in hot water sponge cake, baking powder is added.

Proportion of Principal Ingredients. In cake' as in biscuit, muffins, and yeast bread there is a general proportion of liquid to flour, and of sugar to flour. Fat becomes liquid when melted, so in cakes rich in fat (the old-fashioned pound cake is an example) no other liquid is used. If the fat is increased more flour must be used, or the milk or water, if either is used, must be lessened, as the batter must be thicker. When egg yolks are substituted for the whole egg the quantity of fat added is lessened because egg yolk is rich in fat. (See Yellow Cake, page 352.) Egg seems to be a liquid when uncooked but acts partly as a thickening when heated. Therefore, if egg is used as the liquid element instead of fat or other liquid, less flour is required. Sponge cake and angel cake are examples.

Order of Work. (1) Get out all the necessary utensils. Light the fire, if wood or coal is used.

(2) Prepare the materials. Roll sugar, if necessary; measure and sift dry ingredients, then measure fats and liquids.

(3) Prepare the pans. Thin aluminum cake pans are the most satisfactory. Have the pan very clean and smooth. Brush with a little sweet melted fat on a brush or a soft paper. If a smooth surface for frosting is desired dredge the pan with flour, then invert and strike sharply on the table to remove the loose flour. If there is danger that the cake will stick or that bottom and sides will cook too fast, line the pan smoothly with thin white paper and then grease the paper.

(4) Mix the cake and have the oven ready just as the cake is finished. If using a gas stove, light the gas in time for the oven to be heated to the temperature desired.

Baking Cup and Layer Cakes. Heat a gas oven with both burners for ten minutes or until it is moderately hot. Put in the cakes. Close the oven door and turn off both burners for eight minutes. Then light both burners and turn on half way, leaving on for fifteen minutes. Watch the cake carefully and if there is danger of its burning lower the heat. Test the cake when it seems done ; the exact time needed depends on the range. After the cake begins to rise do not move it until it becomes firm, as it will fall if moved.

In a coal or wood stove start the fire in time to have the oven moderately hot when the cakes are put in. After they are in take off the top lids and turn the damper so that the oven will not be heated any more for five minutes. Then put on the lids and let the heat increase ; it must never be as intense as for biscuit. If the oven cooks the top of the cake too fast put a pan of water on the top shelf in the oven for the first ten minutes. If the bottom is too hot cover it with an asbestos mat. If the oven is too hot the cake will brown before it can rise, and will burst through the center and form a peak; if not hot enough, the cake will not rise well or will fall before the baking is finished.

Divide the time for cake baking into quarters. During the first quarter the' cake rises, but does not brown; during the second quarter it continues to rise and browns in specks; in the third quarter browning continues, and it is finished during the fourth quarter when the cake shrinks slightly from the pan.

Testing the Cake. Lift the pan and see if there is a singing sound. If there is, the cake has not cooked long enough. Test with a wooden toothpick in the thickest part ; if it comes out clear, the cake has been sufficiently baked. Cake when done shrinks from the pan and comes quickly back into place if presssed gently with the tip of the finger: Cup cakes should be turned on to a platter to cool and should be served fresh.

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