As so much depends on good ingredients in cake making, each ingredient will be dealt with separately.
Flour is one of the most important ingredients used in cake making, so much depends on the flour that it is absolutely necessary to have the best if you wish your goods to be first class.
The best flour for cake making is soft wheat, also called pastry flour, this flour is ground fine, and is especially adapted to cake making. You can make cake from hard wheat flour but you must learn how to use it, as a general thing you should use a little less, much depending on the strength and milling of it. As there are so many brands of this kind of flour it is impossible to give a rule that will suit all. The only way is to buy a good brand, learn how to use it and stick to it.
Flour should always be kept in a dry place, before using it for cake, it should be well dried out, but never mix warm flour into cake, it should always be cool. Always sift the flour before using it.
Butter is another important ingredient, it should always be thoroughly washed in several waters, the waters always being cold enough to keep the butter firm. Washing takes out the salt and buttermilk and makes it fresher thereby making it easier to cream.
It is hard to make good cake, using butter that has butter coloring in it. It won't cream white. Oleomargarine is not a good substitute for butter in cake, but if you have to use it always use less than the recipe calls for. Cottolene comes nearer filling the place of good butter than anything else. But in using it only use about three-fourths as much as the recipe calls for butter if a recipe calls for one pound butter use twelve ounces cottolene. If your butter is strong use more flavoring.
Any good grade of sugar will give good results, but for best results and ease of working use powdered sugar.
There are so many different brands of flavoring and baking powder, that it is impossible to tell just how much to use, buy a good brand and learn to use it, and stick to it, and if the amount given in the recipe, in your judgment is not enough or is too much change to suit yourself.
Eggs should be fresh if you wish good flavored and good looking fine grained cake. Eggs should always be beaten up cold, in whipping the air into the egg if it is warm the walls of the air cells are weak and they soon break returning to liquid again, they are then hard to beat up again, but when they are cold it makes the air cells strong and once whipped up they stay, provided nothing warm is mixed in with them, therefore you can see that it is very necessary to have the other ingredients a little cool.
For many years it has been customary to beat the yolks and whites separately, and many of the recipes in this book contain this in its instructions accompanying the recipe, this is done simply because it has been the custom. It is now being argued by many of the best workman in the baking trade that finer cake is made where the butter and sugar is creamed and the eggs are added one or two at a time and either whipped in with a good strong egg whip or creamed in with the hand. It is recommended that you try both ways and see for yourself which is the better way, this applies to where whole eggs are used. Where whites only are used they should be whipped stiff. A pinch of salt or soda added to eggs makes them beat easier. And always whip the same direction.
Soda should always be dissolved in a little water or milk. Baking powder and cream of tartar should be sifted with the flour.
All fruit such as raisins, currants, figs, etc., should be carefully picked over, and washed if necessary, then dried on a cloth near the fire. If not well dried the cake in which you put them will be heavy. Fruit should be rubbed in flour and the surplus flour shook off.
Use ground spices or pulverize them.
Cake pans should be thoroughly cleaned and greased, unsalted butter is the best, let a little butter melt the salt will sink to the bottom, large pans should be lined with paper which should also be well greased, if the mould is not large enough you can let the paper extend above the mould, at least two thicknesses should be placed in the bottom, layer cake tins should be well greased then dusted with flour, then turned over and all surplus flour jarred out.
Never stir around after the butter and sugar are creamed, always mix from the bottom up and lap it over, this laps air into the cake dough and produces little air cells, which causes the dough to puff and swell when it comes in contact with the heat while baking.
It takes work and experience to make good cake, if you will learn to do three things you will have no trouble, they are select good materials, cream and mix properly and be careful in baking.