A Basic Cake and Its Variations

There are two classes of cakes, those made with butter and those without. I have a standard recipe for butter cake, and a great variety of effects can be secured by slight variations of this basic theme. To insure uniform success it is desirable to use an oven thermometer, so there will be no guesswork.
Thin cakes, or those baked in small tins, require a quicker oven than loaf cakes. Those containing molasses or chocolate should be baked more slowly than plain white cakes. Before mixing a cake it is well to see that all the ingredients are at hand and your tins greased. However, it is better to line the tin with greased paper in most cases. And always, if possible, use a vegetable fat, since butter burns quickly. A little flour sprinkled on the pans after greasing will prevent sticking on the bottom. Accurate measurements are most important, as even small changes in the proportions of milk or flour will affect the texture of cake.
Following is the standard recipe for butter cake. This will make two loaf cakes or one loaf cake and three small layers:

Standard Butter Cake
Work one-half cupful of butter with wooden spoon until soft and creamy. Add one cupful of sugar gradually working it into the fat. Beat two egg yolks until creamy and foamy. Beat the whites until stiff. Then mix and sift three cupfuls of flour, one-eighth teaspoonful of salt and four teaspoonfuls of baking powder. Add egg yolks to butter and sugar mixture. Beat until well mixed, then add sifted flour and one cupful of milk, alternately, to first mixture. Fold in egg whites and one teaspoonful of flavoring and pour into greased tins. Bake layer cake fifteen to twenty minutes in an oven of about 400 degrees. If it is a loaf allow forty-five to fifty minutes in an oven of about 350 degrees.
It is interesting to note the manner in which a cake acts during the different intervals of baking. During the first quarter it should start to rise, during the second it should continue to rise and start to brown, during the third it continues rising and browning and in the fourth it finishes browning, shrinks from the sides of the pan and settles down a very little. It can be determined whether or not the cake is done by touching it lightly with the finger. If it springs back quickly the cake is done.

Variations to Standard Cake:

Spice Cake
To the batter add four tablespoonfuls of cocoa, one teaspoonful of cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Mix well and bake according to rule.

Cocoanut Cake
Add one cupful of fresh or dried cocoanut and one teaspoonful of grated orange rind and one teaspoonful of lemon juice to standard recipe. Bake in loaf tins in a moderate oven about 350 degrees for fifty minutes.

Nut Cake
Add one cupful of chopped nuts to standard recipe. Bake in loaf tins according to rule.

Fruit Cake
Add one cupful of chopped raisins, one-half cupful of currants and one fourth cupful of shredded citron to standard recipe. Stir in fruit just before adding the egg yolks.

Devil’s Food Cake
Just before folding in the egg whites stir in two squares of unsweetened, melted chocolate in two tablespoonfuls of milk. Bake in layers and put together with white icing.

White Cake
Use standard recipe, omitting egg yolks and using four egg whites instead of two. Add milk to creamed butter and sugar, beat in sifted ingredients and fold in very carefully the well beaten egg whites. Use one-half teaspoonful of vanilla and bake in layers.

Gold Cake
Use standard recipe, omitting egg whites and using four egg yolks instead of two. Add one teaspoonful of lemon juice for flavoring. Bake the same as for white cake.

The following is an excellent recipe for gingerbread, which may be varied quite satisfactorily by adding fruit or nuts:

Rich Gingerbread
Cream one-half cupful of shortening with one cupful of sugar. Add two eggs, unbeaten, and mix well. Stir in one cupful of molasses and one cupful of sour milk. Then four cupfuls of flour, one teaspoonful of soda, one-half teaspoonful of salt, cloves and one teaspoonful of cinnamon and one tablespoonful of ginger. Bake in a large shallow tin or in muffin pans. If small cakes, bake for about twenty-five minutes in an oven of about 350 degrees, and if in a deep pan about thirty-five minutes.