Granny Robertson would not have dreamt of ‘popping out to the shops’ for cakes or biscuits. Sunday was baking day and all the cakes and sweetmeats for the week, well planned in advance naturally, would be made on this day and stored in airtight tins until needed. The recipes presented here date from the early fifties and define the popular varieties to be found on the home bakers tea table!
The line between a bread and a cake, always a fine one, was once almost indistinguishable. The main difference was the shape and that cakes had a sweetener, usually honey.
But over time their differences grew to the point where bread remained a staple food and cakes drifted into the area now considered ‘desserts’
Basic cake baking consists of two main processes:
First are the foam cakes. These have a high proportion of eggs to flour. They are leavened solely by the air beaten into whole eggs or egg whites. They contain very little, if any, fat and have a spongy texture.
The three categories of foam cakes are:
i) Those that contain no fat – Angel Food Cakes, Meringues, and Dacquoises.
ii) Those where the only fat is from egg yolks – Sponge Cakes, some Biscuits, Roulades
iii) Those that contain fat (butter, shortening) plus egg yolks – Genoises and Chiffons
Second are butter or shortened cakes.
These contain fat : (butter, margarine, shortening) and rely on a chemical raising agent (baking powder, baking soda) for their lift.
They are flavourful, and have a good texture and volume.
The English pound cake recipe of 1 pound of flour, 1 pound of sugar, 1 pound of butter, and 1 pound of eggs is a good starting point
Initially pound cakes had no artificial raising agent and volume was obtained through the mixing (aeration) of the batter.
A very interesting read =)