Saturday, March 28, 2009

Excellent Cake

The other day I posted the proper way to have a picnic from a book called Breakfast, Dinner & Supper. One of the items it suggested taking along was something called Excellent Cake. When I wrote it, I knew I needed to look it up in that book and see if there was a recipe...Well, I wasn't the only one.

Acinom, of 5 Cat Shy, left me a comment saying: PLEASE tell me there is an accompanying recipe for "excellent cake"! I NEED THAT

You would think that with all of the extensive instructions on how to fold a napkin, how to have a picnic and a whole chapter dedicated on how to behave, you'd think that there would be more instruction on how to bake cakes. There are 73 cakes listed on 11 pages. Most of the cake ingredients/instructions take up 4-5 lines. A few actually have two paragraphs. Here is where I thought I would learn how to make a cake. This was the opening page to the section.


The best recipes in the world will fail to produce good cakes at the hands of a careless cook. There are, however, some simple directions which, if followed with care, will enable the most inexperienced to meet with success at least after a few trials; for here, as elsewhere, the old adage holds good, "Practice makes perfect."

It is an indisputable fact that too little attention is given to a preparation for baking; which consists in having all the ingredients at hand, tins lined with greased paper, and the oven just sufficiently heated. Great care should be observed in maintaining a uniform heat, which, when the over is of a desired temperature, may be done by closing the draft and occasionally placing a stick of wood upon the fire. If necessary, cakes should be very carefully turned, and not exposed to the cold air, as either such a change of temperature or a sudden jar will cause the cake to fall and become heavy. When thought to be done, try with a knitting-needle, to which no cake will adhere when sufficiently baked.

Procure good, sweet butter, which may be used either alone or with an equal quantity of drippings. If desired, the butter may be washed to remove a part of the salt. Baking powder or cream of tartar should always be sifted with the flour, and soda dissolved in the liquid. If sour milk be used, soda alone is necessary.

That wasn't what I expected, but I guess it was all a girl of the 1880's needed to know.

Here a few recipes and few hints on how to get the measurements that you need.

A Table of Weights and Measures.

3 level coffee-cups sifted flour equal 1 lb.
2 level coffee-cups pulverized sugar equal 1 lb.
1 1/2 level coffee-cups granulated sugar equal 1 lb.
1 3/4 level coffee-cups A sugar equal 1 lb.
4 scant teacups sifted flour equal 1 lb.
2 scant teacups soft butter, packed, equal 1 lb.
2 scant teacups granulated sugar equal 1 lb.
2 1/4 scant teacups brown sugar equal 1 lb.

Excellent Cake
Take 3 eggs, 1 1/2 c sugar, 2/3 c sweet milk, 1/2 c butter, 2 c flour, and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder.

Mutton Chop Cake
Cut jelly-roll in slices 1/2" thick; the slices cut in the shape of a mutton-chop, and dip one side in water icing. If properly shaped, the appearance of the cake suggests its name.

English Lady Cake
Beat light 9 oz butter and 1 lb sugar. To 1 pt. of the well-beaten whites of eggs add 1 lb flour in which has been mixed 1/2 oz baking powder. Unite the whole and beat thoroughly for ten minutes.

Fruit cake
Take 1 lb brown sugar, 1 of flour, 3 of raisins, same of currants, 1/2 lb of citron, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, same of nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ground cloves. Stone the raisins, brown the flour slightly, and bake slowly for three hours. This cake will keep good for a year.

Sponge Cake
Weigh 1/2 lb eggs; break and beat with 1/2 lb sugar until very light. Add 1/2 lb sifted flour, season with lemon essence, and bake in medium oven.

Rub thoroughly 1/4 lb butter with 1/2 lb sugar and add 3 eggs. Dissolve 1/4 oz soda in 1/2 pt. milk, and mix 1/2 oz cream of tartar with 1 lb 2oz flour. Add the milk, then gently stir in the flour. Season with a few drops of lemon essence, put into patty-pans, and bake in medium heat.

I guess patty cakes were named because of the pan that was used. I don't know what a patty-pan is. Now that I'm a diabetic, it's not likely that I will ever make any of these cakes, but I have a very strong desire to do so. I have always loved to bake. I'm not much into cooking, but baking is what I enjoy. I like to follow a recipe. I like to have step by step directions. In this book, the steps are kind of missing - like the baking part! - but I bet this would be direction enough to satisfy me.

If anyone decided to make one of these recipes, let me know.


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