We love the advice that many vintage recipes have for baking beautiful cakes. In this post, we have collected the best secrets for baking perfect cakes.
The freshest eggs make the lightest cakes. You can also get lighter cakes by beating your eggs in a warm dry place. A small pinch of soda sometimes has the same effect.
In making cakes it is particularly necessary that the eggs should be well beaten. When beating the surface should look smooth and level, become as thick boiled custard.
The whites of eggs should be beaten until they become stiff, with no liquid in the bottom. You can check if it is stiff enough by seeing if it will stick to a fork without dropping off.
Creaming Butter and Sugar
Butter and sugar should be beaten (creamed) until it looks like thick cream, and it stands up in the pan. It should be kept cool. If too warm, it will make the cakes heavy.
If large cakes are baked in tin pans, the bottom and sides should be covered with sheets of paper, before the mixture is put in. The paper must be well buttered.
Sponge cakes, and Almond cakes should be baked in pans that are as thin as possible.
If the cakes should get burnt, scrape them with a knife or grater, as soon as they are cool.
Always be careful to butter your pans well. Should the cakes stick, they cannot be got out without breaking.
For queen-cakes, &c. the small tins of a round or oval shape are most convenient. Fill them but little more than half.
When the cake is baked, let it remain in the tin until it is cold; then set it in the oven a minute, or just long enough to warm the tin through. Remove it from the oven; turn it upside down on your hand, tap the edge of the tin on the table and it will slip out with ease, leaving it whole.
Water can be used in place of milk in all dough.
Where any recipe calls for baking powder, and you do not have it, you can use cream of tartar and soda, in the proportion of one level teaspoonful of soda to two of cream of tartar.
When the recipe calls for sweet milk or cream, and you do not have it, you may use in place of it sour milk or cream, and, in that case, baking powder or cream of tartar must not be used, but baking-soda, using a level teaspoonful to a quart of sour milk; the milk is always best when just turned, so that it is solid, and not sour enough to whey or to be watery.
More Secrets For Baking Perfect Cakes
Flour should always be sifted before using it.
Eggs should be well beaten, the whites and yolks separately, the yolks to a thick cream, the whites until they are a stiff froth. Always stir the butter and sugar to a cream, then add the beaten yolks, then the milk, the flavoring, then the beaten whites, and, lastly, the flour.
While the cake is baking care should be taken that no cold air enters the oven, only when necessary to see that the cake is baking properly; the oven should be an even, moderate heat, not too cold or too hot; much depends on this for success. A cake is often spoiled by being looked at too often when first put into the oven.
If, after the cake is put in the over, it seems to bake too fast, put a brown paper loosely over the top of the pan, care being taken that it does not touch the cake, and do not open the door for five minutes at least; the cake should then be quickly examined, and the door shut carefully, or the rush of cold air will cause it to fall. Setting a small dish of hot water in the oven, will also prevent the cake from scorching.
To ascertain when the cake is done, run a wooden skewer into the middle of it; if it comes out clean and smooth, the cake is ready.
Never stir cake after the butter and sugar is creamed, but beat it down from the bottom, up and over; this laps air into the cake batter, and produces little air cells, which cause the dough to puff and swell when it comes in contact with the heat while cooking.
When making most cakes, especially sponge cake, the flour should be added by degrees, stirred very slowly and lightly, for if stirred hard and fast it will make it porous and tough.
FROSTING OR ICING.
Before you ice a cake cover it all over with flour and then wipe the flour off. This will enable you to spread the icing more evenly.
Before you cut an ice cake, cut the icing by itself with a small sharp penknife. The large knife with which you divide the cake, will crack and break the icing.
Spread the frosting with a broad knife evenly over the cake, and if it seems too thin, beat in a little more sugar. Cover the cake with two coats, the second after the first has become dry, or nearly so. If the icing gets too dry or stiff before the last coat is needed, it can be thinned sufficiently with a little water, enough to make it work smoothly.
A little lemon juice, or half a teaspoonful of tartaric acid, added to the frosting while being beaten, makes it white and more frothy.
The flavors mostly used for frosting are lemon, vanilla, almond, rose, chocolate and orange. I