In my ever-present quest to clear out “stuff,” as the late George Carlin used to say, I found one of my old collective fundraiser cookbooks that had some serious baking tips and techniques nestled in the “Cake” section of the cookbook.
Although the collective cookbook was published a mere 31 years ago, some of the ideas must have come from still farther back in time. Yet, the basic helpful wisdom of the cookbook’s contributors, long gone by now, still reaches out across the decades to anyone who cares to be the best baker possible.
You might find these baking tips and techniques as fascinating and amusing as I did.
Baking Tips & Techniques
1. Creaming butter and sugar: A little hot milk added will aid in the creaming process.
2. After using the oven, leave the door open until the oven is cool so that moisture will not condense and rust the metal.
3. To decorate a cake without a decorator, cut an envelope from one of the top corners to the middle of the bottom of the envelope. Cut a little piece off the corner.
4. An apple cut in half and placed in the cake box will keep the cake fresh several days longer.
5. When making a cake, always add 2 tablespoons of boiling water to the butter and sugar mixture. This makes a fine textured cake.
6. Do not grease the sides of cake pans. How would you like to climb a greased pole?
7. To cut a fresh cake, use a wet knife.
8. Do not discard rinds of grapefruit, oranges, or lemons. Grate the rinds first, put in a tightly-covered glass jar, and store in the refrigerator. Makes an excellent flavoring for cakes, frostings, and such.
9. When you do not want to heat your oven for a shortcake, make a short biscuit dough with a little sugar added to a thin batter and bake in a waffle iron.
10. A good, quick frosting is made by boiling a small potato, mashing it, and adding powdered sugar and vanilla.
11. To keep crisp cookies crisp, and soft cookies soft, place only one kind in a cookie jar.
12. Any cake will be greatly improved if a teaspoon of lemon juice is added to the butter and sugar. This makes a cake very light and shorter. Fresh milk makes cakes close-grained and more solid.
13. For a nice decoration on white frosting, shave colored gum-drops very thin and stick on. They will curl like little roses.
14. Baking pans: For best results use correct size pan. The time and oven temperature should be adjusted to the type of pan being used. For shortening-type cakes, bake cup cakes at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes; layer cakes at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes; and loaf cakes at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.
2008 Family Cookbook Making Hint: Ask family members for similar old baking tips and techniques and incorporate them into your own family cookbook. Use the “Recipe” tab in my cookbook software, select the field called “Choose this recipe’s type,” then select “Tips” from the drop down menu. You could create a whole section of tips about all kinds of cooking techniques that would add more family flavor to your cookbook.