Cake baking is one of the finest, as well as the most difficult of arts, and although hard to acquire in all its niceties, may be mastered by the average person by perseverance and experience.
In making cake, accuracy in measuring the ingredients is most essential. Give very strict attention to every detail. Measure everything before beginning.
Have your baking tins ready. Be sure your eggs are strictly fresh. Use wire egg beater in the shape of a large spoon, the five cent kind, to whip your whites of eggs; your cakes will be larger, lighter and finer grained.
Never use a Dover egg beater for whites of eggs; it cuts the air cells and makes your cake tough.
In mixing your cakes, don’t stir, but heat thoroughly, bringing the batter up from the bottom of the bowl at every stroke. In this way the air is driven into the cells of the batter instead of out, which is the case when you stir.
An eight quart mixing bowl and a slotted mixing spoon, a wire egg beater in the shape of a large spoon, a Dover egg beater for the yolks of eggs, a steel spatula, two half-pint measuring cups with fourths indicated; one for liquid and one for dry measure.
A spool of thin wire, (can be bought at any hardware store); six-inch pieces of which I use for testing sugar; an egg seperator, a flat sieve to fit into the tops of two three-quart cans, put sieve into one pan, measure your flour, put into sieve and shako pan until all flour falls through, then put sieve into the other pan and put your flour in the sieve again, as many times as necessary.
This way you keep your flour in just the two pans, not all over the table or floor. Never use the flour sifter with a revolving center, it pushes the flour through, thereby making it heavier instead of lighter. I use this sifter for sugar for if there are lumps in, it will pulverize them.
One quart aluminum pan for boiling sugar, two-inch blocks of maple wood to rest cake on when taken out of the oven. I use the spring form cake tins, ten inches across with a three inch center tube and three inches deep.
I use this large tin in preference to a smaller and deeper tin because I can cut nicer shaped pieces and more of them. I also use an eight inch square tin, three and a half inches deep for variety; I use the nine inch round and square layer tins. Never grease cake tins for any kind of sponge cake.
HOW TO MEASURE
One cupful of flour. Fill cup slightly heaping, do not press down, run knife across top to make level. When measuring butter, pack in solid and run knife across top to make level.
Teaspoonful. Fill spoon slightly heaping, run knife across top to make level. A half teaspoon is obtained by dividing through center lengthwise.
Use cane granulated sugar in preference to the beet sugar, if you can have your choice, it makes a better frosting as it does not grain as quickly as the beet sugar and is sweeter. Always use sweet, fresh butter; if it is at all strong it will spoil the flavor of your cake.
Rather use one-third fresh rendered leaf lard and two-thirds good butter. Have strictly fresh eggs, you cannot make a fine cake with packed eggs. I specify Kern’s Success flour because that is the kind I always use, and have had the very best results with it. If you use other flour, a little more or less may be required, as some flours take up more moisture than others; if other flour is used always bake a small patty cake first; if more flour is needed it will fall in the center and be crumbly. If too much has been used it will be hard and crack in the middle, if this should happen acid a few teaspoons of milk, but the cake will never be as light when milk is added last.
It is best to have your batter quite thin, as you can always add more flour without spoiling the texture of the cake. I stipulate Calumet Baking Powder, because I have used it for years with the very best of success. It is pure and always reliable. The amount I specify is what I use of Calumet Baking Powder; if you use other baking powder you will have to use according to the amount you are accustomed to use for the same amount of flour, as some baking powders are stronger than others, do not use too much or your cake will be coarse grained and full of holes.
I also use nothing but the Ambrosia Cocoa and Chocolate, as it makes a rich, dark cake and icing of very fine flavor. I make my own flavoring extracts and cake coloring. Full instructions of how to make on page 14. Don’t flavor your cakes too strongly, just use enough to give a pleasant suggestion of flavor desired.
To blanch almonds drop them into boiling water and let stand five minutes, then drop them, into cold water, the skins will slip off easily; dry on a napkin and let thoroughly dry in the air before using.
Do not dry in the oven, which takes away the oil thereby spoiling the flavor. Blanch Pistachio nuts the same way as almond nuts.
The beauty of all my cakes is their fine texture and moisture. My cakes will be as good the fifth day as they are the first—providing you can hide them from the family that long. The great trouble is one piece does not suffice; it is so good they always want more. Always keep your cakes in a tin cake box that you can close air tight and keep in a cool dry place.
The baking of the cake is the most difficult part for most people, for much depends on the oven for the success of your cakes. Be sure you understand how to regulate your oven perfectly so you can operate it according to instructions. I use a gas range to bake with, and I put my cakes into a cold oven and then light hut one burner and turn it down as low as possible to (begin with and then gradually, very gradually increase heat until cakes are done.
If you use a wood or coal range to bake with open the oven door fifteen minutes before putting your cakes in, so as to cool it sufficiently, it should be just hot enough to burn a piece of white note paper a golden brown in twenty minutes.
But if your oven should get too hot, put a pint basin filled with cold water into the oven, but do it very quickly, as a sudden rush of cold air will cause your cake to fall. Do not open the oven door any oftener than is absolutely necessary, and then not wide open.
Open and close very gently so as not to jar cake. Do not move cake while in a soft condition, as that will break the air cells before they are cooked, thereby causing your cake to fall. When cake is done it will spring back quickly if gently pressed with the finger on the center of the cake; test with a toothpick, if it comes out clean the cake is done.