Interesting facts about baking

After reading the date a second time I realized that this is the 18th Anniversary of the 9-11 attack on America. It is another day of infamy and one that none of us will ever forget.
As some of you may be aware, I am getting to take a wonderful vacation, with my daughter to visit her son and his family, who are stationed in Hawaii. I decided to go into my older files and see what I could find that would be a re-run of a column, that is more than ten years in the past. I hope you enjoy this as well as have fun trying the recipes, which incidentally are all made from “scratch”, rather than a box of mix.
This past week, I’ve come across several interesting items that are helpful in the kitchen. One of the things that caught my eyes this week was about greasing and flouring cake pans. A test kitchen at the Chicago Tribune conducted a trial in search of the best way to prepare a cake pan for baking. They baked single layers from identical cake mixes in different ways. It was stated that, “There was no detectable flavor or rise difference between greasing a pan with butter or shortening; in fact, no pan preparation affected flavor”.
Layers that were baked in pans with the bottom and sides greased, and then the bottom was lined with a circle of parchment or waxed paper rose best. Pans that were greased and floured, but not lined, did not rise as much. At some stores, it is probably possible to get pre-cut parchment liners for cake pans, I have never looked for them so don’t have a clue. (My mother taught me to tear off a sheet of waxed paper, place it on the counter and using the point of a pair of scissors trace around the cake pan, cut out the circle as marked and then use it in the bottom of the pan.) This has always worked well for me and if I need a paper liner, this is what I do.
My daughter and I have frequently sprayed the pan with non-stick spray and then coated the pan with sugar instead of flour, it works well; also, if you’re making chocolate cake, dust the pan with baking cocoa after spraying, this leaves no ‘whitish’ coating on the cake. (Now we all mostly use 9×13 pans and never take the whole cake out of the pan, so this is a moot point!)
Another thing I found was a chart in my files that tells you exactly how much dough to use in a given size pan and also the baking times. A box of cake mix (18.25-oz) makes 5½ cups of dough.* Also, you can mix two packages of cake mix at the same time in a large bowl, and you do not increase the beating time; this was really interesting to me as there have been numerous times over the years that I used two boxes of mix, but was unsure of how it would work with the beating time! Learn something new every day…still another point, in extremely warm weather, it is good to use cold water and cold eggs in the mix. I usually do this anyway, as when I decided to bake a cake; it is usually at the last minute.
Here are several recipes for you to try, oddly enough, they none use a cake mix.
*A box of cake mix is now only 15.25 ounces. Since I learned about measuring out a box into five equal portions, and using one portion each time I bake, I still have 18.25 ounces. When cake mix is $1 per box or less, I buy one chocolate and one yellow and measure them out, using a small scale, and then place the measured mix into small zip top bags and put them all in an air tight container. I know this sounds like a lot of extra work, but, if you have noticed cakes not turning out like they used to for you, or if your Bundt pan doesn’t seem as full as it did several years ago, this will correct the problem. I use several different recipes from the “Cake Mix Doctor” baking book and no longer have problems when I add ingredients. Another solution, just look at the side panel of your cake mix and try the recipes they suggest.
If you’re using a recipe from a cookbook that is over six or seven years old, the box of cake mix they call for is the old size!
Wacky Cake
1½ cups flour (all purpose)
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (Hershey’s® cocoa)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon vinegar
5 tablespoons cold water (not ice water)
Mix together the dry ingredients and sift into a baking pan. Make three holes in a triangle shape and in the first put 1 teaspoon vanilla. In the second 1 put 1 tablespoon vinegar. In the third one, put 5 tablespoons cooking oil. Pour the cup of water over everything and use a spoon to mix well. Bake at 350ºF about 30 to 35 minutes. Enjoy hot or cold, frost if desired or serve with whipped topping.
Hummingbird Cake
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped bananas
1 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1½ cups cooking oil
3 eggs
1 can (8-oz) crushed pineapple, undrained
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan or Bundt pan and set aside. In mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, soda, salt and cinnamon; then add remaining ingredients and stir by hand until well mixed. Bake one hour and ten minutes. This is a very moist cake and will make 12 to 15 servings.
This cake is an oldie but goodie! Everyone always enjoys it when I make it.
Fruit Cocktail Cake
(Preheat oven to 350ºF.)
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 can fruit cocktail, undrained
2 eggs (lightly beaten in a cup before using)
Stir the above ingredients together by hand until mixed well.
Sift together and stir into first mixture:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Stir until dry ingredients are incorporated with the liquid ones. Pour into 9x 13 pan; then, mix together and pour on top of mixture in pan ½ cup brown sugar and ½ cup shredded coconut. Bake for about 40 minutes or until cake tests done with toothpick inserted near center of cake.
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup evaporated milk (i.e. Pet, Carnation or desired brand)
½ cup butter or margarine
Place in saucepan and cook about 2 minutes or until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved; then add:
¾ cup coconut
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup chopped pecans
Pour over top of hot cake.