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 baking 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 baking paper before the mixture is put in.
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 removed without breaking.
For queen cakes, the small tins of a round or oval shape are most convenient. Fill them just a little more than half full with batter.
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, 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, but 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. For the best results whisk 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 into 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 avoid opening the oven door, only when necessary to see that the cake is baking properly. The oven needs to remain at a moderate heat, not too cold or too hot. 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 oven, it seems to bake too fast, put brown paper loosely over the top of the pan, while being careful that it does not touch the cake, and then do not open the door for five minutes at least. Then quickly check the cake 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 check 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 are 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 little by little, 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.