CAKE making is an easier and simpler matter when everything is prepared before hand. Cream-tartar or baking powder should be measured and sifted with the exact quantity of flour; butter and spices measured. Raisins seeded, citron sliced fine, etc. It is a very good plan to pick over raisins by the . pound, when first brought into the house, while a large quantity of Zante currants can be washed and dried almost as easily as the:
1 cupful required. This method saves a vast amount of time.
Cream-tartar and soda should always be rubbed smooth with a clean, dry knife, before measuring out the required quantity. Some notable housekeepers measure and sift a quantity of flour, cream-tartar and soda, or baking powder together and put aside in a jar or tin for use. This is a great convenience, but still better is the Self-rising or Prepared Flour. This can be purchased at all large groceries in quantities to suit purchasers. This is not only convenient, but a saving, as regards baking-powder, etc. It will not answer where sour milk or yeast is to be used.
Sweet Milk and baking-powder, or cream-tartar, go together; sour milk and soda.
To 1 quart of flour use 1 teaspoonful of soda and:
2 teaspoonfuls of cream-tartar; or to 1 quart of flour 2½ teaspoon-fuls of baking-powder.
One cup of flour means a level cupful of unsifted flour.
A Testes should generally be baked before the cake is put in the oven. A teaspoonful or so of the batter put in a patty-pan or on a greased paper. If too solid add a few teaspoonfuls of milk, if too soft it will fall in the middle. Add a tablespoonful or a little over of flour.
Cake to be good must be made of nice materials. Butter and eggs should be fresh, Cooking butter should never be used. Sometimes, however, perfectly fresh eggs that will not make frost-ing, will beat up nicely in a cake batter.
Break the eggs in a dish separately that by mistake a poor one may not spoil the whole lot.
Yolks of eggs, when not used in the cake, may be utilized in various ways.
Eggs for frosting should be dropped in cold water one hour before using. A pinch of salt added to them hastens their frothing.
Eggs are beaten separately for almost all cakes, i.e., yolks and whites are beaten in separate dishes. This is always an improvement, and should be done unless the recipe directs otherwise. Two exceptions there are to this rule, custards and gingerbread, Sugar is to be used as follows. Powdered or pulverized sugar for Delicate Cake, Angel's Food, White Sponge Cake, etc. Coffee sugar for layer cakes (except the most delicate which require powdered), White Fruit Cake, Pound Cake and other rich cakes. Coffee Cake, Fruit Cake, and other dark cakes require brown sugar. Granulated should never be used if it is possible to avoid it, as it does not dissolve well, and either goes to the bottom or rises to the top.
A Cake-pan with a tube bakes a large loaf more uniformly.
Lard is better to grease cake pans, for the salt in butter, causes the cake to stick. After rubbing the pans with lard, sprinkle with flour, shaking off the surplus.
Cake tins should be warmed gently before putting in the batter.
Cake materials should be gotten together in cold weather some time before they are needed, and kept in a warm place that they may mix more easily.
Eggs should be beaten in an earthen dish.
Butter and sugar should always be creamed in an earthen or stone dish with a silver or wooden spoon. Tin or iron prevents their perfect whiteness.
Cake batter should be beaten with a wooden spoon. A very large quantity is better beaten with the hand, especially in the winter.
Cake should be tried with a clean broom splint; if nothing adheres the cake is done.
Butter that is too salt should be washed in cold water, 2 or 3 times before using it in nice cake.
Oven doors must be kept closed ten or fifteen minutes after a cake is put in to bake. Open then very carefully just a crack. When necessary to turn exercise great care that the cake may not fall.
Shake and jar a tin with the cake batter in before putting in the oven. This expels the air bubbles, and renders it less liable to fall.
Wine, where given in any recipe, (it is not so given in this volume,) may have a wine glass of rose-water, the juice of a lemon, an extra yolk of an egg, or a few more spices substituted.
Cake tins are very nice lined with thoroughly greased paper, white or light manilla; butter the tin itself before putting in the paper. For a large fruit cake, 2 or 8 may be used, buttering each one, and the last one very thoroughly. This is very useful to prevent the cake burning as well as sticking.
A half-pint cup should be used in all these measurements. Occasionally some brands of flour require more than others.
Test the heat by putting in the oven a little flour; if it browns too quickly let the oven cool slightly.
Always start up the fire when commencing to make the cake that it may not have to stand when in the tin; if obliged to wait, leave the batter in the dish and beat constantly; beat not stir; beating drives out the air bubbles.
A TIDY table saves much work. Put everything back in its place as soon as used. Use the same dish as often as possible for all materials that will not injure color or flavor. For instance, the same cup that measures the sugar and flour may be used for the butter and then the milk if care is taken. Some cooks measure all their dry materials and put them into little paper sacks. This saves many steps and much washing of dishes.
Nutmegs, if good, when pricked with a pin will show oil instantly.