What could be nicer than filling the house with the smell of a freshly baked, homemade cake? With vanilla, with orange, with chocolate, whatever you choose, the sure thing is that if you put love in its preparation, it will turn out delicious… But also some professional secrets could be handy!
In our new homemade article we approach the pound cake, we learn professional secrets so that our cakes always turn out perfect, we find other types of cakes and their differences, and we make our own homemade vanilla cakes with a recipe for pound cake.
The ancestor of the cake may date back to antiquity, but the pound cake in the form that we know it is a much more recent creation. But what is a pound cake? Pound is a unit of weight measurement of the British system, which corresponds to 453,592 grams. The pound cake was named this way because it contained one pound of each ingredient: flour, eggs, butter and sugar.
We read the history of the pound cake which begins somewhere in the early 18th century in Great Britain. In the book The Cake Bible (1988) we read that the pound cake is the first of the butter cakes. In America it is considered the “mother” of all other butter cakes.
Based on its ingredients, its size was large enough for many families to enjoy, as it weighed four pounds, or about two kilograms. Today, recipes have been adapted to smaller quantities, but maintaining a 1: 1: 1: 1 ratio.
One pound sugar, one pound butter, one pound flour, one pound or ten eggs, rose water one gill, spices to your taste; watch it well, it will bake in a slow oven in 15 minutes.American Cookery, Amelia Simmons (source)
Initially, the cake gained its volume only due to the beating of the ingredients. At the beginning of the 20th century leavening agents such as baking soda and baking powder were used for the first time to reduce the density of the cake. Over time, flavorings were added to the recipe, such as vanilla or almond extract or even raisins and cranberries.
Pound cake is found in many countries around the world. In France it is called quatre-quarts. In the Caribbean they add rum and mashed banana. In Venezuela and Colombia it is called ponque and contains wine. In Mexico they call it panque and follow the classic recipe.
Since we were planning to make our own pound cake, we did a little research and found some professional secrets to make our cakes perfect.
Some professional secrets
- We read that it is good to take the eggs and butter out of the fridge half an hour before using them.
- Do not beat the mixture too much, just enough to incorporate the ingredients. Whisking the cake helps it rise, as this traps air in the mixture. If you beat for too long, the air in the mixture decreases.
- Be careful when using the leavening agent. If you use too much it will make the cake rise and then fall.
- As for baking, pound cakes are usually baked at low temperature for a longer time. Many recipes suggest placing the cake at the bottom of the oven.
So, having learned a few things about the classic pound cake, we wanted to look for other types of cakes and learn a few things about their differences.
Yellow butter cake
They are usually made by creaming the butter with the sugar and adding the solid and liquid ingredients. There are also simpler recipes where the ingredients are simply mixed all together. You will find the yellow butter cake with frosting, usually chocolate.
Red velvet cake
It is made with butter or oil and gets its color from the reaction between buttermilk, vinegar -the secret ingredient- and cocoa. More modern recipes also use red food coloring for extra intensity.
A cake made with oil, baking powder and baking soda, and grated carrot. It is usually flavored with spices and coated with cream cheese frosting.
A cake that gets its volume by beating the eggs, without leavening agents. It goes very well with syrup and you will find it with various fillings and coatings in various flavor combinations.
Sponge cake is called this way in France and Italy. Without leavening agents, the cake acquires its volume and light texture from the beating of its ingredients. Apart from the light texture, the genoise cake also has a stable structure, which makes it suitable for layered desserts.
The chiffon cake is something between a sponge cake and an oil cake. It is made by beating egg whites and contains baking powder, in order to obtain a light and airy texture. The addition of oil gives it a rich taste.
Angel food cake
A light, airy cake made with egg whites, without the addition of leavening and fat. It contains enough sugar which gives it a chewy texture.
There are many other types of cakes but we will stop here, since we also have our own cakes to make! We will use a recipe from a classic book by Rose Levy Beranbaum, The Cake Bible (1988). In the recipe, the creator started from the classic ratio of 1: 1: 1: 1 but made a few small interventions. She added a small amount of milk to make the cake more moist and firm. Also, she slightly increased the amount of butter for flavor, but also for the cake to “melt in the mouth”. Finally, she added a small amount of baking powder, so that the cake comes out softer and less chewy than the classic pound cake. We tried the recipe and got very happy, since our cakes were really so soft that they literally melted in our mouths!
Vanilla mini cakes (pound cake)
Ingredients for vanilla mini cakes
|Eggs||3 (150 gr)|
|Cake flour||150 gr|
|Baking powder||half a tsp|
|Vanilla extract||1 tsp|
*All your ingredients must be at room temperature
** Instead of milk we used orange juice for extra flavor in our cakes
How to make vanilla mini cakes
In a bowl, lightly mix the eggs with the milk and the vanilla extract. In a large bowl put the solids, the sifted flour, the baking powder, the sugar and the salt. Beat with the mixer on low for 30 seconds to mix your solids.
Add the butter and half the egg mixture. Beat lightly on low and for a minute at high speed to fluff. Scrape the mixture from the sides with a spatula and add the remaining egg mixture in two portions, beating for 20 seconds each time.
Fill your molds and bake in a preheated oven at 175°C for 20 minutes. Check with a toothpick that they have been cooked well (it must come out clean). Your mini cakes are ready!
Of course to this recipe you can add whatever you want, cocoa, chocolate chips, raisins or spices and create your own unique cakes!
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