Cake – A Slice Of Heaven

Cake – A Slice Of Heaven

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WHAT IS CAKE?

Cake is a sweet baked food that is made from a dough or batter usually containing flour and sugar and often shortening, eggs, and a raising agent (such as baking powder).

The ancient Greeks called cake plakous, meaning “flat”. It was baked using flour mixed with eggs, milk, nuts, and honey. They also had a cake called “satura”, which was a flat heavy cake.

During the Roman period, the name for cake became “placenta”.

The word cake appeared in the English language in the Middle Ages – when they were made of dried fruit, nuts, ginger and suet – and is thought to have derived from the old Norse word ” kaka”.

Classification

Cakes are classified into 3 major categories according to whether they contain fat or not:

  • Shortened Cake: Contain fat as an essential ingredient and leavened chiefly with baking powder. e.g., white, yellow, chocolate cakes, and pound cake.
  • Unshortened Cake: Do not contain fat as a basic ingredient and are leavened by air or steam. e.g., angel food cake.
  • Chiffon Cake: Have characteristics of both shortened and unshortened cakes but they contain fat in the form of oil. e.g., chocolate chiffon, lemon chiffon.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE INGREDIENTS

Cakes have a higher proportion of sugar, milk, and fat to flour than do bread, and the flour used is usually cake flour. Both flour and eggs contain proteins that contribute strength and structure to cakes. Fat and sugar have the opposite effect, softening the cake’s structure by providing moisture and tenderness.

Too much flour and too many eggs may make the cake tough and/or dry, whereas too much fat and sugar may weaken the cake to the point that it does not set.

Ultimately, the goal is to create cakes that have the strength to hold together but are still tender and moist.

Flour

Cake flour establishes a crumb structure in cakes. The flour’s starch gelatinizes, and its proteins from gluten provide a structural network. The structural strengthening effect of cake fl our and egg is balanced by the tenderizing effect of the sugar
and fat ingredients.

Sugar

Sugar’s multiple functions in cake preparation include:

  1. sweetening,
  2. increasing volume,
  3. browning the crust, and
  4. increasing shelf life.

The higher volume seen in cakes made with sugar is due to sugar’s ability to delay gelatinization. With sugar, the cake has more time to rise during baking before the starch gelatinizes and sets the cake’s structure.

Earlier, higher proportions of sugar would interfere too much with the gelatinization of starch and the hydration of proteins, causing the cake to collapse. Now, high-sugar (high-ratio) cake mixes with a sugar-to-flour ratio ranging from 1.25:1 to 1.40:1 are common as a result of improvements in cake flour and shortenings. The extra sugar results in cakes with greater moisture content, which also improves their shelf lives.

Fats

Fats such as butter and shortening also contribute to tenderness, volume, moistness, and flavor. These attributes are best achieved by fats other than vegetable oil, which does not entrap air during creaming.

The purpose of creaming is to beat tiny air bubbles into the fat, so vegetable oils are generally not used (except for tea breads like carrot cake and commercial cake mixes) because they completely engulf and eliminate air bubbles, resulting in a decreased volume and harsh crumb.

The key is not to add too much oil; otherwise, the cake becomes too heavy and compact.

Eggs

Eggs are added to help strengthen the structure, as well as to increase leavening, act as emulsifiers, and add color and flavor.

Milk

Milk is usually the main liquid in cake preparation.

It hydrates the dry ingredients, dissolves the sugar and salt, provides steam for leavening, and allows baking soda or powder to react and produce carbon dioxide gas.

Leavening Agent

Cakes are leavened with gas produced by either baking soda, baking powder, air, and/or steam.

The amount of chemical leavening agent used is dependent on how much flour is used. For every cup of flour, high-ratio cakes use 1 teaspoon of baking powder or 1⁄4 teaspoon of baking soda.

Additional Ingredients

Salt is an important ingredient because it is a flavor enhancer. Also, flavoring agents such as vanilla, chocolate, spices, fruits, and nuts are commonly incorporated into the basic flour mixture.

NOTE:

Commercial cake mixes often contain surfactants in their shortenings. These compounds improve texture and flavor and aid in the emulsification of ingredients and the incorporation of air into the batter, which improves volume. Examples of surfactants include monoglycerides, diglycerides, polysorbate 60, sorbitol–fatty acid esters, glycerol–lactic acid esters, and propylene glycol–fatty acid esters.

Batter viscosity and stability can be improved by adding hydrophilic colloids such as gums and carboxymethylcellulose.

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HOW IT’S MADE?

A simple cake recipe includes:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened and divided into 2-tablespoon pieces; plus more for coating pans
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for coating pans
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup 2 percent milk
  • 2 large eggs
Steps
  1. Gather the ingredients. Let all the ingredients come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Add butter and flour in two 9-inch cake pans.
  3. Combine sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until the dry ingredients are combined.
  4. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the butter one chunk at a time, and blend until the mixture forms a grainy consistency, between 30 seconds and 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and paddle with a rubber spatula.
  5. Add vanilla extract and, with the mixer on low, slowly pour in the milk. Stop and scrape, and mix for another minute.
  6. Add the first egg, and mix on medium-low until incorporated; add the second egg and do the same. Mix until fluffy, about 30 seconds, then scrape down the bowl.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and give each one a couple of solid taps on the countertop to release any air bubbles. Transfer pans to the oven.
  8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a crumb or two attached. The tops will be golden brown, the edges will pull away from the sides of the pan, and the cakes will spring back when you touch them.
  9. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges by running a knife along the sides of the pan; turn the cakes out onto the racks and cool for at least 1 hour before frosting.
  10. Frost and enjoy.
Nutritional Value
Amounts Per Selected Serving                      %DV
Calories             110 (461 kJ)                              5%
Carbohydrate   92.4 (387 kJ)
Fat                      9.2 (38.5 kJ)
Protein               8.2 (34.3 kJ)
Folate                17.9mcg                                      4%
Vitamin B12     0.1mcg                                        2%
Choline              20.9mg
HEALTH IMPACTS
  • Put you on weight
  • Raise your blood cholesterol levels
  • Cause digestion related problems
  • Eating cake provides you with energy
  • Cakes will make you happier
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THE BOTTOM LINE

As cake contains lots of sugar, if you’re eating cake daily in excessive amounts, then there is a possibility of meeting up with different health-related diseases. One should take a good healthy diet while consuming a piece of heaven so that your body gets stabilized with good nutrients. Exercise daily as there’s a chance of obesity while eating an excessive amount of cake.

So, it’s all up to the individual how they are consuming this sweet dessert, whether adequate or excessive amounts.

Atlas, Cake is happiness in a tangible and edible form. Enjoy your piece of heaven!


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