A Good Cake
WOMEN AND THE HOME
HELEN G. CAMPBELL
Director, The Chatelaine Institute
NOT SO LONG ago, I listened to a group of women deciding where to hold their next meeting. In the church parlor or the dub room? Yes, that might do. At Mrs. So-and-so’s? Applause. And so that matter was settled.
I asked the reason. Was Mrs. So-and-so the town’s social leader? No, but she makes the best cake.
I went to that meeting.
A good cake adorned with a fluffy delicate frosting is a drawing card any time. Isn’t it worth a little trouble to master the art of making it?
Success is a matter of high-grade ingredients in the right proportion, correct procedure and baking at the proper temperature for the proper length of time. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But there is a lot to settle about each point before you can count on “good luck” every time.
No cake is better than the ingredients that go into it— hence the importance of superior quality. Cake flour or pastry flour is preferable although you may get as good, but not so delicate, a product from bread or all-purpose type. Sift it an extra time or two before measuring and deduct two tablespoon fuis from each cupful of flour called for in your recipe. Packaged cake flours are made from soft wheat specially milled to produce fineness and velvety texture.
Shortening must be fresh, but there is quite a choice— butter, the favorite; vegetable fats of different kinds, and sometimes vegetable oils which make a light cake but a somewhat coarser crumb. Fat of a more pronounced but not off-color taste can be used in batters where the flavor of spice, chocolate, molasses or fruit predominates.
Eggs should be fresh but not necessarily new-laid. Finely granulated sugar helps to produce a fine texture, and if you have only the coarse on hand, roll it to break down the granules. Confectioner’s and powdered sugars are apt to result in rather a dry compact cake. Brown sugar has a pleasing flavor but results in a coarser grain and a crust thicker than when white is used. If you are substituting it for one cupful of white sugar in a recipe, use instead 13'3 cupfuls of brown.
Baking powder is an important ingredient, for the carbon dioxide formed, when moisture is added and heat applied, causes the batter to rise. Baking powders differ in type; some liberate less carbon dioxide than others before the batter goes in the oven and, therefore, less is required. Read the label and follow the manufacturer’s recommendation— too much is as bad as too little, you know.
Carbon dioxide, to lighten the mixture, is also produced by soda plus an acid such as buttermilk, sour milk, sour cream or molasses. The proportion depends on the degree of acidity of these liquids and that is not always the same— dark molasses is more acid than light and clotted milk more than milk which has just “turned.” So to overcome any uncertainty, it is good practice to use one-half teaspoonful of soda for each cupful of sour liquid and add baking powder in the proportion of one teaspoonful to each cup of flour in the recipe. Remember this rule if you are substituting sour milk for sweet in cakes, muffins and other batters.
Milk is the most common liquid used in cake making. Powdered or evaporated forms give good results if diluted according to the directions on the label. Instead of mixing
the milk powder with the water, you may sift it with the flour and other dry ingredients—the right amount for the quantity of liquid, of course. Water is then used as the liquid.
A Variety of Flavors
V^THY USE always the same flavor when there is such ** an array of different extracts and spices? Often a combination of two of them gives a new interest almost as good as a new recipe. Such additions as chocolate, nuts, dried fruit, peel and coconut, all give variety and add their own food value.
In up-to-date tested recipes, quantities are definitely given. No “butter the size of an egg” any more. But what is the use of all this clarity unless you measure carefully? Amounts are based on standard-sized cups and spoons so with these utensils you cannot go far astray provided you have the proper technique. Flour should be sifted first, then piled lightly, never packed down in the cup. Level it off with a knife or spatula. Too much flour makes a cake “hump” or crack on the top. This is a common cause of failure with those who measure before sifting or shake the cup as they are filling it.
The same accuracy is needed for baking powder although it need not be sifted beforehand. Level spoonfuls are always meant, for no two people have the same idea of a “heaping” or a “rounded” spoonful.
Shortening may be measured by level spoonfuls, but if many are called for, there is an easier and quite accurate way. To arrive at half a cupful exactly, fili a cup with cold water to the halfway mark and add pieces of fat until the water reaches the top. So also for other fractions; twothirds of a cupful of water if you are measuring one-third of a cupful of fat; three-quarters of a cupful of water, for onequarter cupful of fat. A pound of butter is two cupfuls; therefore, when you slice the print in four you have four slices of one-half cupful each, and that is sometimes an easy way to measure this ingredient.
Good materials and accurate measuring go far. Now for the correct procedure of mixing the ingredients. Read the recipe first, slowly and carefully. Collect the things you require—the food and necessary utensils, which include mixing bowl, measuring units, wooden spoon, flexible spatula, flour sifter, cake pan, waxed paper and scissors for cutting it, cake rack and oven thermometer if your oven is not equipped with one.
Get the pans ready and the oven lit, then you are ready to measure and combine the various ingredients according to directions outlined in the method of your recipe.
Cream the shortening in no half-hearted fashion, either. Mash and beat it, until fluffy and light, to about the consistency of thick cream. Add sugar a little at a time, keeping up your creaming motion until it is all a well-blended mixture. Eggs or egg yolks should be beaten first, then added and thoroughly combined with the sugar and fat. If the egg whites are whipped separately they go in last, after all the other ingredients—never beaten or stirred in, but folded with a down, up and over motion.
It is best to sift the dry ingredients together not only once, but two or three times. Then add them alternately with the milk or other liquid to the creamed mixture, giving it a short but vigorous beating between each addition. After everything is combined, a final beating of half a minute, no longer. Then the batter is ready for the cake pan, lined and waiting.
Spread it evenly or rather higher at the sides, then make two cuts at right angles through the centre of the batter to break any large bubbles. Tap the pan sharply on the table once or twice to get rid of smaller bubbles which would result in holes in the finished cake.
With an electric mixer, combining ingredients is quicker and easier. It creams the shortening for you and blends the other ingredients into a light fluffy batter.
The Right Way to Bake
MANY AMATEURS and some experienced cooks fall down in the baking of their cake. There are not so many failures if your oven has a heat regulator or you depend on a reliable oven thermometer. It is difficult to judge temperature in any other way and a proper degree of heat is important to your success. Be sure to place your thermometer where it can be read easily and quickly without keeping the door open while you peer at it. Have the oven anywhere in the range of 325 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit for most butter cakes, using the higher temperature for layer cakes and the lower temperature for loaves. Put in the batter and leave it undisturbed for ten
Continued on page 54
Continued front page 52
minutes. During that time it will begin to rise and in the next ten minutes it will continue rising and begin to brown slightly. Now you may peek at it if you want to, but leave it alone until it finishes rising and browning and begins to draw away from the edge of the ixin. Any time after the first ten or fifteen minutes you may change its position, if necessary, to have it evenly browned.
How can you tell w hen a cake is done? A cake tester is a handy gadget for this. Insert it and if it comes out clean, that’s a good sign. There will be no singing sound and when the cake is pressed lightly with the fingers it will spring back without showing any imprint.
When you take a butter cake from the oven, invert it on a wire cake rack to let the air circulate around it and prevent a soggy crust. If you do not possess one, your broiler may serve the purpose and failing that or some other improvision, invert the cake on a clean towel. Let it stand for five minutes, then lift off the pan, remove the paper and turn it right side up to cool.
All that remains is the filling and icing to add a crown of glory to your perfect cake
light, fluffy, fine-grained, tender in texture and delicate in flavor.
Favorite Plain Layer Cake (illustrated)
% Cupful of shortening
1 Cupful of fine granulated
Cupful of milk
2 Cupfuls of sifted pastry
or cake flour
3 Teaspoonfuls of baking
Yx Teaspoon ful of salt (less,
if butter is the shortening)
1 Teaspoonful of vanilla
Cream the shortening thoroughly, add the sugar gradually and continue creaming until the mixture is very light and fluffy. Separate the egg yolks and whites and add the well-beaten yolks to the creamed mixture.
! Beat thoroughly. Measure the sifted flour and sift two or three times with the baking ]X)wder and salt. Add alternately with the milk to the first mixture, beating until smooth after each addition. Add the vanilla and .lastly fold in the egg whites, beaten until stiff but not dry. Turn into two nineinch, greased layer cake tins and bake in a moderate oven—375 degrees Fahr.—for about thirty minutes. Cool on a cake rack and put the layers together with any desired filling. Frost the top and sides with boiled or butter frosting.
Orange Layer Cake
Vi Cupful of shortening
1 Cupful of fine granulated
1 i Cupful of orange juice 2% Tablespoon fuis of water
2 Cupfuls of sifted pastry
or cake flour
2 Teaspoonfuls of baking
Y Teaspoon ful of salt
Cream the shortening thoroughly, add the sugar gradually and continue creaming until the mixture is very light and fluffy. Add the beaten egg yolks and beat well. Combine the orange juice and water. Measure the sifted flour and sift again two or three times with the baking powdei and salt. Add alternately with the liquid to the first mixture. Beat thoroughly and fold in the egg whites which have been beaten until stiff but not dry. Turn into two greased layer cake tins and bake in a moderate oven375 degrees Fahr, for about thirty minutes. Cool and put together with orange frosting. Cover the top and sides with the same mixture.
Juice of one-ha If orange
Grated rind of one-half orange
4 Cupfuls of sifted icing sugar
Beat the egg and add the orange juice and rind. Add sifted icing sugar until the mixture is the right consistency for spreading. Beat until smooth and light.
Parisian Chocolate Cake Chocolate Mixture
2 Squares of unsweetened chocolate (grated)
Vi Cupful of cocoa
1 ■> Cupful of sugar
2 Egg yolks
% Cupful of milk
Combine the chocolate, cocoa and sugar. Beat the egg yolks, add the milk and mix with the dry ingredients. Cook over hot water, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Take out one cupful of the mixture and allow it to cool. To the remainder add one tablespoonful of flour mixed with three tablespoonfuls of sugar. Cook, stirring constantly until thick and smooth and set aside to cool for the filling.
% Cupful of shortening 1 Vi Cupfuls of brown sugar 2 Eggs
1 Cupful of chocolate mixture 1Yv Cupfuls of sifted pastry or cake flour
1 Teaspoonful of baking
Vi Teaspoonful of salt Vi Teaspoonful of baking soda /4 Cupful of boiling water
Cream the shortening thoroughly, add the sugar gradually and continue creaming until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the well-beaten eggs and beat well. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and blend thoroughly. Measure the sifted flour and sift again two or three times with the baking powder, salt and soda. Add alternately with the boiling water to the first mixture. Pour into two greased layer cake tins and bake at once in a moderate oven350 degrees Fahr.—for thirty to thirty-five minutes. Cool, and put the layers together with the chocolate filling. Frost the top and sides with boiled frosting to which the following chocolate syrup is added;
2 Squares of melted chocolate Vs Cupful of sugar
Cupful of water V Teaspoonful of salt
Boil the sugar and water together for four minutes, add all but about one tablespoonful of the melted chocolate and add the salt. When cool combine with a boiled icing and spread over the top and sides of the cake. Decorate the top with the tablespoonful of melted chocolate reserved for the purpose, swirling it on with a spatula.
Rich Spice Cake
1 Cupful of shortening
2 Cupfuls of brown sugar
1 Cupful of cold, strong coffee
3 Cupfuls of sifted pastry or
1 Teaspoon ful of baking powder
Yx Teaspoon ful of baking soda 1 Teaspoon ful each of ground cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg
1 Cupful of raisins
Cream the shortening thoroughly, add the brown sugar gradually and continue creaming until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the beaten eggs and beat well. Measure the sifted flour, dredge the raisins with a little of it and sift the remainder two or three times with the baking powder, soda and spices. Add these dry ingredients alternately with the coffee to the first mixture. Combine thoroughly, stir in the floured raisins and turn into a greased cake pan. Bake in a
moderate oven350 degrees Fahr.—for forty-five to fifty-five minutes When cool, cover the top thickly with Mocha icing made as follows:
11 •> Tablespoonfuls of butter \ 2 Tablespoonful ol cocoa 1 2 Cupful of icing sugar 23 2 Tablespoon fuis of strong coffee
1 Tablespoonful ol thick cream
About one cupful more of sifted icing sugar y2 Teaspoonful of vanilla
Cream the butter, blend in the cocoa and the half-cupful of icing sugar. When thick and blended, add the coffee and cream alternately with sifted icing sugar until the mixture is of spreading consistency. Add the vanilla and spread on the cake.
Peanut Caramel Cake Caramel Syrup
1 Cupful of granulated sugar
6 Tablespoonfuls of boiling
Put the sugar in a heavy pan and stir over low heat until the sugar melts and becomes nicely browned. Add the boiling water carefully and cook until all lumps are dissolved and the mixture is a heavy syrup. Cool.
y2 Cupful of shortening 1 y2 Cupfuls of fine granulated sugar
2 Cupfuls of sifted pastry or
3 Teaspoon fuis of baking
1 Teaspoon ful of salt
4 Tablespoonfuls of caramel
y Cupful of cold water
Cream the shortening thoroughly, add the sugar gradually and continue creaming until the mixture is light and fluffy. Separate the egg yolks and whites, beat the yolks until thick and light colored and add to the creamed mixture. Beat w'ell. Measure the sifted flour and sift again two or three times with the baking powder and salt. Combine the caramel syrup and the cold water and add alternately with the dry ingredients to the first mixture. Beat until smooth and fold in the egg whites beaten until stiff but not dry. Turn into two greased layer cake tins and bake in a moderate oven—350 degrees Fahr.—for about thirty minutes. Cool and cover each layer with boiled icing. Before the icing sets, decorate each layer with swirls of peanut butter syrup. Put the layers together and ice the sides. Decorate the sides with swirls of the peanut butter syrup.
Peanut Butter Syrup
y Cupful of sugar
yA Cupful of water
6 Tablespoonfuls of peanut butter
Boil the sugar and water together for four minutes, remove from the heat and beat in the peanut butter, blending completely. Allow to become almost cool and thickened before swirling as directed.
One-Egg Crumb Cake
y2 Cupful of butter 1 y2 Cupfuls of sifted brown sugar
2y¿ Cupfuls of sifted pastry or cake flour
y Teaspoon ful of salt y2 Teaspoonful of spda
y Cupful of thick sour milk
1 Cupful of seedless raisins
(put through the mincer;
2 Tables]xx>nfuls of granu-
y Teaspoonful of cinnamon
Cream the butter thoroughly, add the sugar gradually and continue creaming until
the mixture is light and fluffy. Measure the sifted flour and sift again two or three times with the salt and soda. Work this mixture into the creamed butter and sugar to form a crumbly mass. Take out three-quarters of a cupful of this mixture and to the remainder add the egg which has been well beaten and mixed with the sour milk. Mix thoroughly and add the ground raisins. Beat well and turn into a greased cake pan. Sprinkle the three-quarters of a cupful of butter, sugar and flour mixture over the batter and on top of this sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon which have been mixed. Bake for twentyfive to thirty-five minutes in a moderate oven—350 degrees Fahr.
y2 Cupful of sugar y Teaspoonful of salt
2 Tablespoonfuls of melted butter
Juice of one-half lemon
Grated rind of one-half lemon
1 Cupful of sifted pastry or cake flour y2 Cupful of sugar
Put the eggs, the half cupful of sugar and the salt in a bowl and place the bowl over boiling water, not allowing the water to reach the bowl. Beat with a Dover egg beater for about five minutes or until the mixture becomes thick and light colored. Remove from the hot water and continue beating until the mixture is cool. Fold in the butter, the lemon juice and rind and gently fold in the flour, which has been measured and sifted two or three times with the remaining half cupful of sugar. Turn into an ungreased loaf pan and bake in a slow oven—325 degrees Fahr.—for fortyfive to fifty-five minutes. Invert on a cake rack to cool. Serve plain or dusted with powdered sugar if desired.
1 Cupful of egg whites (about eight eggs; y Teaspoon ful of salt
1 Teaspoon ful of cream of tartar
1 y Cupfuls of fine granulated sugar
y Cupful of egg yolks (about six eggs;
Grated rind of one-half orange
\y Cupfuls of sifted cake flour
Beat the egg whites with the salt until foamy, add the cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff. Fold in the sugar a little at a time. Beat the egg yolks until thick and light colored, fold about one-third of the egg white mixture into them and when blended, fold this mixture into the remaining egg white mixture. Add the grated orange rind and carefully fold in the flour which has been measured and sifted two or three times. Turn into an ungreased tube pan and bake in a slow oven—325 degrees Fahr.—for about one hour or until done.
This makes a large cake; use a pan about nine to ten inches in diameter.