Too much care can not be given to the preparation of the oven, which is oftener too hot than too cool; however, an oven too cold at first will ruin any cake. Cake should rise and begin to bake before browning much, large cakes requiring a good, steady, solid heat, about such as for baking bread; layer cakes, a brisk hot fire, as they must be baked quickly. A good plan is to fill the stove with hard wood (ash is the best for baking), let it burn until there is a good body of heat, and then turn damper so as to throw the heat to the bottom of oven for fully ten minutes before the cake is put in. In this way a. steady heat to start with is secured. Generally it is better to close the hearth when the cake is put in, as this stops the draft and makes a more regular heat. Keep adding wood in small quantities, for if the heat becomes slack the cake will be heavy. Great care must be taken, for some stoves need to have the dampers changed every now and then, but as a rule more heat is needed at the bottom of the oven than at the top. Many test their ovens in this way: if the hand can be held in from twenty to thirty-five seconds (or while counting twenty or thirty-five), it is a "quick" oven, from thirty-five to forty-five seconds is "moderate," and from forty-five to sixty seconds is "slow." Sixty seconds is a good oven to begin with for large fruit cakes. All systematic housekeepers will hail the day when some enterprising, practical "Dixie" girl shall invent a stove or range with a thermometer attached to the oven, so that the heat may be regulated accurately and intelligently. If necessary to move the cake while baking, do it very gently. Do not open the oven door until the cake has had time to form, and do not open it oftener than necessary, then be careful to close it quickly and gently, so as not to jar the cake. Be sure the outside door of the kitchen is closed so that no cold air may strike it. If the oven bakes too hard on the bottom, place the grate under the pan; if too hot on top, set a pie-pan of water on the top grate. If one side bakes faster than the other, turn very gently. Be careful not to remove from the oven until done; test thoroughly before removing, for if the cooler air strikes it before it is done, it is certain to fall. Allow about thirty minutes for each inch of thickness in a quick oven, and more time in a slow one. Test with a broom-splint or knitting-needle, and if the dough does not adhere, it is done. Settling away from the pan a little, and stopping its " singing," are other indications that the cake is ready to leave the oven. When removed, set the cake, while in the pan, on an inverted sieve to cool; this secures a free circulation of air all round it, and cools it evenly. It should remain in the pan at least fifteen minutes after taking from the oven, and it is better to leave the "cap" on until the cake is carefully removed from the pan and set away, always right side up. A tin chest or stone jar is best to keep it in. Coffee •cake should be put away before it is cold, and so closely wrapped in a large napkin that the aroma will not be lost.
Sponge and White Cakes. The good quality of all delicate cake, and especially of spongecake, depends very much upon its being made with fresh eggs. It can never be perfect unless pulverized sugar is used. It must be quickly put together, beaten with rapidity, and baked in a rather quick oven. It is made "sticky"and less light by being stirred long.
There is no other cake so dependent upon care and good judgment in baking as sponge-cake. In making white cake, if not convenient to use the yolks that are left, they will keep for several days if thoroughly beaten and set in a cool place. The whites of eggs, when not used, must not be beaten, but will keep for several days if set in a cool place. The white or yolk of a medium-sized egg weighs one ounce, a fact that it is convenient to know, as sometimes the white or yolk of one or more eggs is wanted from several that have been put away together. Whenever it is necessary to cut a cake while warm, do it with a warm knife. To prepare cocoa-nut, cut a hole through the meat at one of the holes in the end, draw off the milk, pound the nut well on all sides to loosen the meat, crack, take out meat, and set the pieces in the heater or in a cool, open oven over night, or for a few hours, to dry, then grate; if all is not used, sprinkle with sugar (after grating) and spread out in a cool, dry place, and it will keep for weeks.