This section is from the book "A Treatise On Flour, Yeast, Fermentation And Baking Together With RecipesFor Bread And Cakes", by Julius Emil Wihlfahrt. Also available from Amazon: A treatise on flour, yeast, fermentation and baking, together with recipes for bread and cakes.
In making yeast-raised cakes, the raw material employed, both in quality and quantity, is a very important point.
To begin with the flour, the richer the cake the softer should be the gluten contained in the flour.
It is a well-known fact that the softer the dough for sweet goods the richer they will be after baking. Therefore, the stiffness of the dough must be regulated with the strength of the flour. A soft Winter wheat patent, one very fine in quality of milling, will give very good results. A stiffer dough, one more easily handled, can be made by the use of such a flour than if a blend containing Spring wheat flour is used.
Of course, there are different kinds of sweet cakes, and in such as American tea and coffee cakes, large expansion is often wanted. Then stronger flour must be added. But just as the percentage of strong flour is increased, so the shortening materials, such as eggs, butter, lard and sugar, must also be added in the same proportion, to overcome the effects of the strong flour upon the richness of the cake.
Sweet cakes are governed by a directly opposite rule from that which governs the bread-making, and this in direct proportion to the richness of the cake. The bread baker selects flours which shall absorb the greatest quantity of water, together with a due regard to quality, and this because flour is his most expensive ingredient.
In the manufacture of cakes it is the opposite, because in rich cakes, flour is about the cheapest substance, and is apt to increase the cost of manufacture if it is too strong. This is because the wetting up is not done by water, but partially by milk and the other parts in some cakes altogether by fats, eggs and such other materials which may be employed. Strong flours, which absorb large quantities of water, will also absorb a large quantity of eggs, and since an egg itself is a binding material in the manufacture of dough, it is for this reason that strong flour has little advantage to be used in cakes.
If strong flour is used alone, it will always make a drier cake, with same proportion of enriching ingredients, and lacks the mellowness of a cake made of a soft Winter patent.
The next point for consideration in the manufacture of fermented cakes is the yeast. Little need be said concerning this, as the nature and properties of yeast in fermenting dough have been fully explained, so that it is only necessary to remind the reader that more yeast is used for cakes than for bread.
A remarkable fact, and one which no first-class cake baker will refute, is that, in shops where other yeast is employed, Fleischmann's Compressed Yeast is always used for the richest cakes, and, while some of the other yeasts sometimes make good bread, they often prove a failure when used for a rich dough. I wish to make the point very strong to the reader that the following recipes, especially in the manufacture of cakes, must be worked with Fleischmann's Compressed Yeast, as I would not wish to have the correctness of the recipes criticised through failure caused by the use of other yeasts.
The amount of compressed yeast for sweet cakes is from 1/2 ounce to 2 ounces per quart of liquid, and, therefore, is regulated by the richness of the dough. All sweet doughs should be made and handled as soft as possible to improve the quality of the cake.
With reference to eggs, everyone knows that when properly used, they improve the lightness of the cake, and, therefore, act in two ways upon the quality of the dough. The other effect they have, besides improving the richness of the cake, is their binding qualities, and in this respect it can be figured that, unless a larger amount of shortening is used, one egg possesses the binding quality of 1 1/2 ounces of flour. Therefore, the recipe calling, for instance, for 4 eggs to the pound of flour, and if it is the desire to make this cake richer, the amount of eggs can be doubled, and then, accordingly, 6 ounces less flour be used. This would bring the result that only 10 ounces of flour would be used to the 8 eggs, which represent nearly a pint of liquid and naturally make a very soft dough; but the result will be, also, a very rich cake. This refers to the cake where no milk or water is used for doughing.
If milk is used and a larger amount in liquid measurement than eggs, only one ounce of flour should be reduced from the original amount for each additional egg. For very rich cakes the white of the eggs should always be beaten to a froth, and when light, one ounce of each pound of sugar beaten into it thoroughly. The butter or lard is creamed with the rest of the sugar, and, when very light, the yolks, one by one, added. Great care must be taken that neither the whites of the eggs nor the shortening with the yolks griddles, and should this happen, it is better to save this mixture for some cheaper cakes, where it is of less importance. The safest way to prevent the griddling of the ingredients is to have them as cold as possible, and in very hot weather, set the mixing bowl into another larger one containing ice water. If butter is used instead of lard, it will not only improve the richness of the cake, but also its lightness. Butter itself has a lightening tendency when used in cakes, while lard alone has only a shortening tendency. The amount of sugar used, on the average, in all sweet cakes, should not be more than 25% of the weight of the flour; that is to say, 12 ounces to each quart of milk or liquid. If eggs are used alone, comparatively less sugar is employed, since too much sugar has the tendency to make the cake heavy, and if a sweeter cake is desired, naturally more yeast must be used.
Salt is used in proportion to the richness of the cake. For sweet dough in which milk is used predominantly, two-thirds of an ounce of salt may be used to each quart of milk, while in a dough where no milk is used, but eggs alone for wetting, a proportionate less amount of salt is employed. No general rule can be given for this, as it depends a good deal upon the quality of the cake.
Yeast-raised cakes naturally require a slower oven than bread, and the heat of the oven is regulated according to the richness of the dough.
The most difficult thing is to incorporate the sugar shortening and eggs with the sponge, which should be lifted in very light and not beaten in.