This section is from the book "Mrs. Allen's Cook Book", by Mrs. Ida C. Bailey Allen. See also: The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat.
The proper oven temperature depends upon the kind of cake to be baked; for fruit cake, or a rich wedding cake, demanding two or more hours' cooking, the oven should be very slow, about 225 degrees F. For sponge or angel cake the temperature should be higher, about 300 degrees F.; for loaf cake about 350 degrees F., and for layer and cup cakes 375 degrees F. In using gas a small pan of cold water, or a pan of custard surrounded by water, or some apples to bake, should be put in along with the cake to provide a more moist heat.
During the first quarter of the time the cake should rise, little bubbles appearing all over the top. It may be moved as desired during this period. During the second quarter of the baking time it should rise to its full height and brown in spots. During the third quarter it should brown all over, and, during the last, it stops steaming, shrinks away from the sides of the pan, and rebounds when lightly touched. If it is necessary to use a still further test, plunge a common steel hat pin or knitting-needle into the cake; if it comes out free of dough, the cake is done. The cake should be allowed to stand for at least five minutes, after removing from the oven, before being turned from the pan, and should cool on a wire cake rack, so that there will be a circulation of air about it. If a boiled icing is to be used, it should be put on the cake after it has cooled; an uncooked icing may be spread on a warm or cold cake. Although a frosting adds to the deliciousness of the cake, there are many times when it may be omitted, the cake fitting into the meal to better advantage without it.