There are basically two categories of cakes:
- Shortening types.
- Foam or sponge types.
Shortening-type cakes contain shortening, margarine, or
butter along with flour, eggs, a liquid, and a leavening agent, such as baking
powder or soda. Shortening cakes are the basic white, yellow, chocolate, and
pound cakes. A good shortening-type cake has:
- An uniform shape.
- A slightly rounded and smooth top.
- A fine grained, velvety, even texture (not crumbly).
- An evenly browned crust.
- A tender crust.
- A tender, slightly moist crumb.
- A pleasant, sweet flavor.
Foam-type cakes depend on the air beaten into egg whites
for lightness. Examples of foam cakes are angel food, sponge, and chiffon.
- Angel food cakes depend entirely on beaten egg whites
to rise; no leavening agents, such as baking powder or soda, are used. In
addition, angel food cakes have no added shortening or egg yolks, so they
are excellent choices for those concerned with weight control or heart disease.
- Sponge cakes use both egg whites and egg yolks. Additional
leavening agents are sometimes used. There is no added fat in a sponge cake;
fat would break down the foam created by the beaten eggs in the batter. A
jelly roll is an example of a sponge cake.
- Chiffon cakes combine the lightness of foam-type cakes
and the richness of shortening-type cakes. These cakes contain egg yolks,
leavening agents, and vegetable oil.
There is another kind of cake, called a torte. A European
torte is a rich cake make without flour. It contains bread crumbs and/or ground
nuts instead of the flour along with eggs, sugar, and flavorings; fruit fillings
or cream generally are spread between two to six layers of the torte. A torte
can also refer to a tradional multi-layered cake.
- For shortening-type cakes and fruitcakes, use a sharp,
long, thin knife.
- If frosting sticks to the knife while cutting the cake,
dip the knife in hot water and wipe with a damp towel after cutting each slice.
Before storing, be sure cake is completely
cool; they will become sticky if covered while warm. It takes approximately
2 hours for a cake to cool completely.
Cakes should be stored in a container with a tight cover,
but if a regular cake keeper is not available, invert a large bowl over the
cake to keep it fresh and moist for several days. Cakes can be stored in the
refrigerator, too, and likewise covered well. All cakes containing dairy products,
including cream cheese, in the filling or frosting must be refrigerated.
For frosted cakes, the storage method depends on the type
of frosting on the cake.
- Cakes with creamy-type frosting can be stored in a cake
keeper, under a large inverted bowl, or loosely covered with aluminum foil,
plastic wrap or waxed paper.
- Cakes with fluffy frostings should be served the same
day they are made, otherwise, the frosting liquefies and runs.
If the cake must be stored, use a cake keeper or inverted bowl with a knife
slipped under the edge so the container is not airtight.
Cakes can be frozen either frosted or unfrosted.
- Unfrosted cakes keep longer in the freezer (4 to 6 months)
than frosted cakes (2 to 4 months).
- Egg white frostings or custard-filled cakes are not recommended
- Butter cream frosting freezes best.
A good freezer packaging method:
- Place cake on a stiff foil or waxed paper covered cardboard.
A bakery box can be used, too.
- Wrap over cake or box with moisture-vapor resistant material.
Or slip a freezer bag overall or wrap in foil. Place a frosted cake in the
freezer so frosting can harden before wrapping.
- Seal with freezer tape.
- Store in a box to protect cake from crushing during storage.
The best method to thaw a cake depends
on whether the cake is:
- Unfrosted, thaw at room temperature, covered, 2 to 4
hours and then frost or serve as desired.
- Frosted, thaw loosely covered overnight in refrigerator,
or thaw uncovered at room temperature.
What can you do with leftover egg whites?
- Use leftover egg whites for foam-type cakes, meringues,
or certain frostings.
- Freeze leftover egg whites. Lightly beat and place in
plastic freezer containers. Freeze. Thaw frozen egg whites in the refrigerator.
Use like fresh egg whites. One egg white measures two tablespoons.
Frosting and Glazes
The following characteristics make up a
- Has a smooth consistency.
- Holds swirls.
- Is soft enough to spread on a cake without running down
Cakes baked in fluted or plain tube pans, such as angel
food, chiffon, or pound cakes, are often glazed. A glaze should be thin enough
to pour or drizzle but not so thin that it runs off the cake.
Special Hints for Frosting
- Fluffy frostings (made with corn syrups, sugar, and egg
white) are not as stable as creamy frostings made with powdered sugar, milk,
and butter or margarine. They should be prepared with caution in humid or
rainy weather. When it is humid, slightly reduce the amount of water in the
recipe, and be aware that the beating time will be longer. There is no hard-and-fast
rule for how much to reduce water because it is dependent on the areas
humidity levels; experiment with reducing the water.
- If a creamy frostings is too thick, it can pull and tear
the cake surface being frosted. Thin the frosting with a few drops of water
- For the best-shaped frosted cake, use upward strokes,
bringing frosting up high on the sides of the cake.
- Use a flexible rubber spatula and a light touch when
Frost a Two Layer Cake
- Brush loose crumbs from the sides of cooled cake layers.
- Place one cake layer rounded side down on a serving plate.
To keep the serving plate clean, arrange four strips of waxed paper under
the edge of the cake layer.
- Evenly spread approximately 1/3 cup frosting to within
1/2-inch of edge.
- Place second cake layer, rounded side up, on the frosted
- Spread sides of cake with a very thin layer of frosting
to seal in crumbs. Use approximately 2/3 of remaining frosting to spread a
thick layer over the sides; use upward strokes. Make a rim approximately 1/4-inch
high around the top.
- Spread remaining frosting over the top of the cake, just
to the built up rim.
- Carefully remove waxed paper strips.
How to Glaze a Cake
- Brush loose crumbs from the sides of the cooled cake.
- Place the cake rounded-side down on a serving plate.
- Pour or spoon a small amount of glaze on top of the cake.
- Spread glaze, allowing some to drizzle unevenly down
the sides of the cake.
- Repeat the above steps until all glaze is used.
Alternatives to Frosting
Cakes do not have to be frosted or glazed. There are other
easy cake decorations that can be used instead.
- Drizzle melted chocolate around the top edge of the cake
to make a border effect.
- Sift powdered sugar onto the cake.
- Make a beautiful lace pattern on the cake by placing
a paper doily on the cake, and sprinkling powdered sugar over the entire top
of the doily. To remove the doily, carefully lift it straight up.
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