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 sweet doughs, always bear the following points in mind:
1. Weigh the ingredients carefully, especially the salt.
2. If water is used in place of milk, add 2 oz. more lard and 3 oz. more sugar to each quart of water used in the place of milk.
3. The sugar and lard or butter should be rubbed into a creamy consistency and eggs added slowly, one by one, to the mixture, and this added to the sponge when sponge is ready, as described in recipes.
4. Sweet dough must always be luke-warm and kept in a warm place (not hot) for if allowed to chill it will rise very slowly.
5. If oven should not be ready for the sweet dough at the calculated time, the dough can be kept back by laying together before reaching full proof. It may be laid together frequently in this way, thus gaining considerable time.
6. First-class material should be used, as it greatly affects the flavor of the goods.
7. Lemon flavor is the best for yeast-raised cakes.
8. Set sponge medium soft, using about 2 1/4 pounds of flour to 1 quart of liquid.
9. Sponge is ready when it "breaks." Do not wait for it to fall, as sponges must be taken younger for sweet doughs.
10. Always make sweet dough as soft as can be handled; it makes the cake richer and shorter than if made of a stiff dough.
11. When butter is used and the same is very salty, the amount of salt called for in the recipe should be reduced accordingly.
12. Fruit should always be thoroughly cleaned and the raisins seeded before using; if not it will discolor the dough, and, after cakes are baked, they will look soiled and unappetizing.
All sweet doughs should be made in accordance with the following directions:
Dissolve the yeast in the liquid and set a medium sponge.
The sponge should be ready within from 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it begins to break. In the meantime rub the butter, lard and sugar into a creamy consistency, adding the eggs gradually, one by one; then add the flavor and salt, which has been previously dissolved in very little water. Add this mixture to the sponge and beat together thoroughly for several minutes. Then add the necessary flour, making dough of the consistency described in the recipe for the kind desired. Let rest 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until very light, and it is ready if it goes down when the hand is thrust into it. If raisins or other fruit are used the same should be dusted with the flour before added to the dough.
Always cover the dough well and keep out of draft, to prevent it from getting chilled. It is well to beat the eggs a little before adding to the mixture.