Almonds are blanched by pouring boiling water over them. The skins will then rub off easily. If one application is not sufficient, another will be. The skin is tough and hard to digest.
The easiest way to reduce almonds to a paste is to chop them a little, then roll with a rolling-pin. If rolled on a table, put a light sprinkling of sugar under them so there will be less oil absorbed by the board. A marble slab is the best. Use a marble-top table if you have one and have no slab. It will not harm it.
2 teaspoons pulverized cochineal.
1 teaspoon alum.
1 teaspoon cream of tartar.
Mix in 1 cup hot water. Bottle and cork for future use. Make it the shade wished by using more or less of the preparation. Coloring may be bought already prepared at fancy groceries.
It is better to put a greased paper in the pans for all loaves of cake. For very large cakes - especially fruit cakes - line the pans with 2 or 3 heavy greased papers, pasted between with a thick paste of coarse flour and water. Paste the papers together to keep them in place, grease the outside of the upper paper, and pour the batter in. This lining will help very materially to keep the cake from burning on the bottom.
With tubes bake more uniformly than those without. A tube may be improvised by using a tumbler, lamp-chimney, or bottle. Grease and stand in the middle of the pan and pour the batter around it.
Those who burn wood have comparatively an easy task to get the oven heat just right. It is oftener too hot than too cool. But with reasonable care, and the selection of good hard wood, letting the fire burn clear until there is a heavy bed of coals before the damper is turned onto the oven, it can generally be regulated to suit the degree of heat wanted. If fuel must be added, add it by littles in order to keep the heat as uniform as possible. Fruit cakes and other large loaf cakes require an oven heat nearly equal to that required for bread. If the bottom is too hot put the oven-grate under the cake-pan. If the top is too hot, put a pan of water or a pie-pan on the grate above the cake. For patty-pans and layer cakes, let the fire be brisk and hot, to bake them quickly. Large cakes should rise and commence to bake before browning, hence the slower heat required. With a coal fire, the ashes are a source of trouble. The fire-box should be cleared, and if a quick hot fire is wanted, empty the ash-pan also. If a slower, steadier heat is wanted, the draft should be less. Build the fire up fresh and as soon as there is a bed of clear, bright coals turn the damper for the direct oven heat. If a large baking is to be done, fill the fire-box even with the oven-plate (never above) and as soon as the oven is hot close the drafts. A draft from an open door or window will often check the heat and interfere very seriously with baking.
The supposition thus far is that the coal burned is the anthracite. If soft coal is used, the tendency is to too great heat, and due care is necessary to keep the fire under control.
The instructions given for wood will apply equally as well to soft coal.
At the first sign of a cake browning too soon, it should be covered with smooth, brown paper. It is easy to make covers for cake-pans and keep them on hand. Use the paper from groceries and dry goods stores. Cut the corners from a square, and either pin or take stitches in plaits to fit the cake. Newspaper will not answer, being too light and inflammable.
If a cake has to be turned or moved in the oven, do it very gently.
A lady says that to prevent cake from falling, lift it up, and let it drop suddenly to the table after putting it in the tin. The air-bubbles will rise and when baking there will be no falling.
If the oven is thought to be too hot do not leave the door open, but lift one of the stove-lids off a little way, for a short time.
When a cake is taken from the oven leave it in the pan for 15 or 20 minutes. Do not put it in the cake-box until cold.
Put fruit cake in a steamer and steam 3 hours, then remove quickly to a well-heated oven and bake 1 hour.
This has proven more satisfactory than baking alone. It keeps more moist.
If fruit cake is allowed to stay in the oven till the fire dies out, it is a great improvement. Plan so as to make it after dinner, and get it about done before the fire decreases much; then leave it till bed-time.- If fruit cake cracks on the top, it is because the oven is too hot when first put in. In place of wine or other liquors, you can use an extra egg and a trifle more spices.