What is a Cake?

Cake is a form of bread or bread-like food. In its modern forms, it is typically a sweet bakeddessert. In its oldest forms, cakes were normally fried breads or cheesecakes, and normally had a disk shape.

Determining whether a given food should be classified as bread, cake, or pastry can be difficult.


HISTORY

The most primitive peoples in the world began making cakes shortly after they discovered flour.In medieval England, the cakes that were described in writings were not cakes in the conventional sense.

The term "cake" has a long history. The word itself is of Viking origin, from the Old Norse word "kaka.The Greeks invented beer as a leavenerfrying fritters in olive oil, and cheesecakes using goat's milk. In ancient Rome, basic bread dough was sometimes enriched with butter, eggs, and honey, which produced a sweet and cake-like baked good.

Early cakes in England were also essentially bread: the most obvious differences between a "cake" and "bread" were the round, flat shape of the cakes, and the cooking method, which turned cakes over once while cooking, while bread was left upright throughout the baking process.

The earliest examples were found among the remains of Neolithic villages where archaeologists discovered simple cakes made from crushed grains, moistened, compacted and probably cooked on a hot stone.

Cakes were called "plakous" by the Greeks, from the word for "flat." These cakes were usually combinations of nuts and honey. They also had a cake called "satura," which was a flat heavy cake.

During the Roman period, the name for cake (derived from the Greek term) became "placenta." They were also called "libum" by the Romans, and were primarily used as an offering to their gods. Placenta was more like a cheesecake.

Cakes were considered a symbol of well being by early American cooks on the east coast, with each region of the country having their own favorites.


THE MAIN INGREDIENTS USED IN CAKE MAKING & PURPOSE


FLOUR

Flour thickens the batter and provides gluten, a protein that gives the cake structure. It forms when flour is combined with a liquid and agitated. Don’t over mix, this can cause your cake to turn tough.


EGGS

Eggs make cake batter richer, help provide color andآ volume and also bind the ingredients together.


SUGAR / SWEETENER

Sugar provides “food” for yeast tor baking powder which converts it to carbon dioxide and alcohol; sugar enhances bread or cake flavor; gives the crust a golden color.

Improves the crumb texture; and helps retain moisture in bread or cake . White sugar, brown sugar, honey, corn syrup and molasses can be interchanged equally in bread dough or cake batter.

Artificial sweeteners do not provide food for the yeast so they cannot be used in breads and cakes to perform the same function as sugar does.

FATS / BUTTER

Fats include butter, margarine, oil and shortening. They add richness, moisture and make the bread tender

SALT

Salt regulates the rate of yeast or baking powder activity, providing a slow, steady rise. This allows the yeast or baking powder to develop the characteristic bread or cake flavor. Salt strengthens the gluten structure of the dough or batter, not allowing the trapped carbon dioxide bubbles to expand too quickly. This helps produce bread or cake with fine texture and grain. Salt also enhances the flavor of your product.

WATER

Water is a transparent fluid which forms the world's streams, lakes, oceans and rain, and is the major constituent of the fluids of living things


LEAVENING AGENT

Leaveners, like baking soda or baking powder, produce carbon dioxide bubbles, which are trapped by the starch in the batter and expand during baking, causing the cake to rise.


BASIC UTENSILS

Wooden Spoons/Spatula/Whisk

These three utensils will help you mix, whip, fold and combine your ingredients correctly. The recipe will generally specify if these utensils are required and when an electric mixing is not necessary. You can get so many shapes, sizes and colors ranging from wood, metal, plastic and silicone for these mixing utensils and it will depend on your taste and budget as to what you choose.

Measuring Cups & Spoons

This is one of the most important pieces of equipment that you will need when baking. Precise measuring of dry and liquid ingredients is immensely important when baking. Otherwise you will get a disastrous end to your baking adventure if the ingredients are not measured correctly. You can get varied designs and types of measuring cups and spoons made from plastic or stainless steel.

Baking Tins

This would probably be the second most important item on your list of essential baking utensils. There are numerous shapes and sizes available for purchase ranging from aluminium, non stick and silicone based products. If you starting off or wanting to improve your baking tin section you will need the following basic tins:

Mixing Bowl

These are loose bowls which are not part of your electric mixer. Glass or stainless steel mixing bowls are the best for baking and are varied in size. They are helpful when making a number of different things such as baked goods that require icing, ingredients mixed separately, and sifting ingredients numerous times etc. There are varied designs, size and prices and again it will depend on your budget.

Electric Mixer

Obviously there are varied types and price ranges of electric mixers on the market. It will depend on how often you plan to bake and your budget as to what you buy. Electric mixers are very helpful in the kitchen especially when baking. They help beat egg whites quickly, whip cream and easily mix cakes, muffin and slice batters. If you an occasional baker then aim for a lower to mid range priced mixer and upgrade once you got caught the baking bug



TYPES OF CAKE

a. Chiffon cake

This happens to be a cross between an oil cake and a sponge cake. Both baking powder and vegetable oil are used here. Eggs are separated and the whites are beaten thoroughly (to soft peaks) before being folded into the batter. Cakes are richly flavored with a tender crumb. The texture is very light and more like a sponge cake. Depending upon one’s choice they can be baked in tube pans or layered with fillings and frostings.

b. Pound cake

A pound each of butter, sugar, flour and egg are used to make this simplest butter cake. The texture is dense yet tender and is heavier than the layer cakes. The trick is to use reasonably soft butter.

These lightly flavored cakes are baked in a loaf/Bundt pan and served plain or topped with little glaze or water icing. Varieties of pound cakes are: sour cream, fruit crumb and coffee cakes.

c. Sponge Cake (straight method)

Sponge cake is a cake based on flour, sugar, and eggs, and is sometimes leavened with baking powder. It has a firm, yet well aerated structure. Sponge cake made using the foam method is sometimes referred to as a whisked sponge. The cake was first invented by the Italian pastry chef Giovan Battista Carbona around the middle of the 16th century.


BAKING TIPS & REMINDER

  1. Know your oven.
  2. To prevent an under- or overdone cake, get an oven thermometer, it’s the best way to be sure your oven is calibrated correctly.
  3. Bake the cake in the middle (too close to the top or bottom can cause overbrowning). Gently close the oven
  4. Avoid Using Cold Eggs place eggs in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes
  5. Ben sure, to bring the butter to room temperature, but just as important for eggs otherwise the mixture wont emulsify properly.
  6. If you are short on time, microwave cut-up butter on low in 5-second intervals, checking in between.
  7. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, it’s time to buy one. Weight is the only accurate way to measure flour. Depending on how tightly flour is packed into a measuring cup, you can end up with double the amount intended. That’s why we give flour measurements in ounces first.
  8. It is advisable to weigh than to measure.
  9. Use the right flour for the recipe.
  10. Spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, then sweep off the excess with a knife. Don’t scoop it directly from the bag with a measuring cup. The flour will become compacted, and you’ll get more than you need for the recipe.