Materials of the best quality should be used for cakes. Pastry flour and the finest granulated sugar are necessary ingredients.
In determining the kind of fat to use in a cake, one should consider all of the ingredients in a recipe, and then decide which one will give the most pronounced flavor to the combined materials. If a cake contains so much fat that the fat will be one of the predominating flavoring ingredients, table butter should be used alone or combined with some bland fat. When but little fat is used in Plain Cake, there is little difference in the flavor of cake made with butter or substitutes. Oleomargarine, tried-out chicken fat, suet, lard, or vegetable fat may be used for spice cakes or other highly flavored cakes. Cake is one of the foods whose ingredients require the greatest accuracy and care in measuring. When a cake contains much fat, the latter can usually be more easily and accurately weighed than measured.
Since cakes contain much more fat and sugar than muffins, a different method of mixing the fat with the other ingredients of the cake has been used quite generally. The fat and sugar have usually been blended by creaming them.
However, many experiments in the mixing and baking of cakes have been made. These show that a cake of good quality may be made by following the method of mixing fat in a muffin mixture, i.e. melting the fat and adding it to other ingredients. The following is the method of mixing cake when melted fat is used:
Beat the eggs, add the sugar, liquid, and flavoring. Melt the fat and add it to the other ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients, i.e. the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add these through a sifter to the egg and sugar mixture. Beat from 1 to 2 minutes.
In cake mixing, the yolks and the whites of the eggs are often separated. When this is done, the yolks and sugar are blended, the moisture, flavoring, melted fat, and dry ingredients are added, the mixture beaten, and finally the beaten whites are folded in.
In combining cake ingredients, great care must be taken to mix all ingredients thoroughly. Cakes, except those containing very little moisture and much fat, such as Jumbles or Pound Cake, can be made satisfactorily by adding melted fat. It has been estimated that half as much time is required for mixing a cake in which melted fat is used as one in which the fat is creamed. It has been found that the amount of mixing and the preparation of ingredients in a cake are much more important factors than the manner of combining the ingredients. Too little beating makes a cake of coarse, crumbly mixture. Too much beating makes it compact in texture with "tunnels" through it.
The pans for cakes that contain fat should be well oiled. It is well to line the pans with paper and to oil the paper thoroughly, or to oil the pans well and to sprinkle a little flour over them before adding the cake batter.