"Never slam the oven door, Cakes will fall to rise no more."
Cakes form pleasant adjuncts to the food necessities of the household, and are of only secondary importance to bread-making.
There are four principal ways of making cakes.
The first method is used for plain cakes. The fat is rubbed into the flour in the same way as for short pastry; then the dry ingredients, such as sugar, fruit, and spice, are added, and lastly the eggs and milk. All are then well mixed together.
The second way is used for fruit, pound, and seed cakes. The fat and sugar are creamed together, the eggs beaten in one at a time, and the fruit and flour stirred in quickly and lightly at the last.
In the third way the eggs and sugar are beaten together until thick and creamy; then the flour is stirred in lightly and quickly. This is used chiefly for sponge cakes and cakes of that texture.
For the fourth way the sugar, fat, milk, and sirup or molasses are melted together, then cooled slightly and added to the dry ingredients. This method is used for gingerbreads.
Care must be taken to insure the right consistency of cakes. The mixture should be fairly stiff. If too moist, the fruit will sink to the bottom. Good cakes can never be made with indifferent materials. The greatest care in cleanliness must be exercised in all cake making; and accuracy in proportioning the materials to be used is indispensable.
The flour should be thoroughly dried and sifted, and lightly stirred in. Always sift flour before measuring, then sift it again with the baking powder to insure a thorough blending. Always buy the best fruits for cake making as they are the sweetest and cleanest. Candied peels should be of good color and flavor. They should not be added to cake mixtures in chunks, as is often done, but should be in long shredded pieces. Large pieces of peel are sometimes the cause of a cake cutting badly.
Raisin and Apple Pie. Page 196.
Rhubarb Pie. Page 196.
Peach Pie. Page 195.
Cocoanut Birthday Cake. Page 203.
,ESS, MlLKLESS, AND BUTTERLESS CAKE. Page 206.
Eggs are used both as an aerating agent and as one of the "wetting" materials. It is not economy to buy cheap eggs, for such eggs are small, weak, colorless, and often very stale.
If a cake cracks open while baking, the recipe contains too much flour. When a cake batter curdles, the texture will not be so even as if curdling has not taken place. Sometimes the mixture will curdle through the eggs being added too quickly, or if the butter contains too much water. This forms a sirup with the sugar, and after a certain quantity of eggs have been added the batter will slip and slide about, and will not amalgamate with the other ingredients.
When baking cakes, if no sweet milk can be procured, the same amount of water can be used with good results.
Cake tins should always be prepared before the mixing of the ingredients is commenced; as many cakes will spoil if the mixture is allowed to stand and wait because the tins are not ready. For inexpensive cakes the tins should be greased and dusted out with flour or potato flour. For rich cakes the tins should be lined with paper, the paper coming a short distance above the tins, so that the cake is protected as it rises. For very rich fruit cakes, experience has shown that it is best not to grease the paper or tins. The cake is not so liable to burn, and the paper can be removed easily when the cake is done without injuring it. On the other hand, if tins are lined for sponge cakes or jelly roll, the paper should be greased.
For small cakes have a quick oven, so that they set right through, and the inside is baked by the time the outside is browned. For all large cakes have a quick oven at first, to raise them nicely and prevent the fruit from sinking to the bottom. The oven should then be allowed to become slower to fire the cakes thoroughly. Cakes should not be hurried. Keep the oven steady, though slow, and after putting a large cake into it do not open the oven door for at least twenty minutes. If the door must be opened, special care should be taken to close it gently; if it is slammed carelessly, the shock may make the cake fall, and a quantity of cold air will be shut in which will check the baking.
A very light cake put into a quick oven rises rapidly round the sides, but leaves a hollow in the middle. An excess in fat and sugar may also cause this; but there are other causes. If a cake is made too light with eggs or powder, and an insufficient quantity of flour is added, it will sink in the middle. Another frequent cause is the moving of cakes while in the oven before the mixture has properly set. The same defect is produced if the cakes are removed from the oven before being baked sufficiently.
Before turning out a cake, allow it to remain in the tin for a few minutes. It is best to lay it on a wire cake stand, or lay it on a sieve; but if these things are not handy, a loosely made basket turned upside down will do. Do not place cakes in a cold place or at an open window, or the steam will condense and make them heavy.