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 choice of flour has its effect on the cake; a good winter wheat or pastry flour gives a much more tender texture than bread flour because it contains less gluten. Good butter lends a peculiar richness, when used in large quantities, as in making pound cake. But, generally speaking, oleomargarine may be used in precisely the same quantities as butter; lard and beef fat in half the quantity of butter; and the vegetable oils and chicken fat in about two-thirds the proportion of butter. All of these give good results, provided the cake is carefully made and the fat of good quality. If nuts or cocoanut are added to a cake formula, the amount of shortening should be reduced one-eighth, as both these ingredients contain fat.
Whatever kind of sugar is used, it must be free from lumps. Brown sugar makes a moist cake, and powdered sugar one that is dry. Fine granulated sugar is the best for general purposes. Sweet milk is the best liquid for cake, a half cupful being the right proportion for a cupful and a half of flour. Water or cold coffee may be substituted, if a tablespoonful less is used, but the texture will not be so fine. Cocoa, or potato, or rice, or macaroni water (water in which potatoes, macaroni or rice have been boiled) may be cooled and used in the same quantity as milk. If cream is substituted for milk, the amount of shortening must be decreased, and the amount of liquid increased, one-half cupful of light cream being equal to six tablespoonfuls of milk and two tablespoonfuls of butter. Sour milk and buttermilk may be used interchangeably; they make a very tender cake. If the milk is not very sour, the method may be that followed with sweet milk, provided it is neutralized with a little soda, one-fourth teaspoonful usually sufficing to sweeten a cupful of the sour liquid. The amount of baking powder used should then be decreased - a tea-spoonful to every fourth teaspoonful of soda added to the sour milk.