(1) For popovers, griddlecakes, muffins, and plain cake.

Sift together the dry ingredients.

Beat the eggs, without separating the yolk and white, and stir the eggs and milk together.

Pour the liquid gradually into the flour, first stirring, then beating.

Melt the butter or other shortening, and beat it into the batter.

(2) Biscuits and shortcakes.

Sift together the dry ingredients.

Cut in or chop in the butter. Add the wetting slowly.

(3) A richer, fine-grained butter cake. Sift together the dry ingredients. Cream the butter, and beat in the sugar.

Beat the whites and yolks of the eggs separately.

Beat the yolks into the creamed butter and sugar.

Add the flour and milk alternately; that is, a quarter or third of the flour, then a portion of the milk, and so on. First stir, then beat vigorously.

Fold in the beaten whites lightly and do not beat the mixture again.

(4) Sponge cake.

If baking powder is used, sift with the flour. Beat the whites and yolks of the eggs separately. Beat the sugar into the yolks, and add the liquid and flavoring. Add the flour and beaten whites in alternate portions, dividing both into quarters or thirds.

Baking

This is a science and an art that requires much practice. Do not be discouraged if you do not succeed at first.

Concerning the utensils for baking, see Chapter II (Kitchen Furnishings). The cups or pans are prepared by warming and greasing. Use a bit of soft paper or a brush for greasing the pan and ordinarily an inexpensive fat, reserving butter for delicate cake. Flour sprinkled on a pan is sufficient for biscuit and cookies. Line a pan for loaf cake with white paper, and grease the paper.

See that the oven is ready before the mixing begins. We shall not be able to bake accurately until our ovens are equipped with thermometers. In the meantime we must use some simple oven test. The indicators on the doors of some ovens are a guide, although they are not really accurate according to the scale of the thermometer. A glass door is also a convenience.

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A loaf should be baked at a lower temperature than a biscuit or muffin. Why?

For loaves, 380° F. Test by the hand, counting fifteen slowly, fifteen seconds. A piece of white paper will become a delicate brown in five minutes.

For biscuits, muffins, and small cakes, 425° to 450° F. - Test by the hand, a count of ten. A piece of paper becomes a deeper golden brown in five minutes.

Any mixture containing baking powder may stand some little time before it is put in the oven, provided it is kept cold. The action of the baking powder is not immediate, and is very slight at a low temperature.

The stages of the baking are first, the rising; second, the crusting over; third, the baking of the interior; and last, a shrinkage of the whole.

Many ovens bake unevenly, and pans must be shifted. This should be done with care and not before the third stage of the baking. It is often well to cool off the oven the latter part of the time. An oven that is too hot may be cooled by a pan of water. Paper may be laid over the top of the cake if the browning has been too rapid. These are all makeshifts, and indicate a poor oven, or poor management of the fire. Do not look into the oven for the first ten minutes of baking, and always close the oven door gently.

When we are privileged to have electric ovens, with glass doors, and an accurate thermometer, baking will be an easy and accurate process.