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…here, in the Juliaverse… energy was never lost, merely converted from one form to another. Here, I took butter and cream and meat and eggs and I made delicious sustenance.
Julie Powell, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen

Cake (and the obsession with cake), has been around long before Betty Crocker became a household name and Super Moist cake mixes were distributed in brown cardboard boxes.

In his article, the science of cake, Dr. Andy, Connelly, a cookery writer and researcher in glass science at the University of Sheffield, explains just how butter, cream and eggs become the pillowy dessert we all love at birthday parties, tea parties…or just forget the party. I mean…it’s cake! And it pairs perfectly with a hot cup of tea!

Cake is for life…not just birthdays!

Betty Crocker mixes are easy…mix and bake,. But I believe for a really rich, moist cake, cakes from scratch is best! There are a number of important principles at work.

The texture of cake comes from gas bubbles added in by creaming or mixing fat and sugar. Air is carried on the rough surface of sugar crystals. The smaller the crystals, the more air. As the fat coats the bubbles, it creates an airy foam. Sugar also helps the crust to colour at a lower temperature. And it keeps the cake moist and yummy for days.

Fat also coats the starch and protein of flour, which reduces gluten, to make a short crumb, not an elastic bread. Sugar also helps tenderize flour protein. Factory cake mixes are the result of scientific experimentation to get the same results. Dr. Connelly used the adjective “plastic” and “globules”. Doesn’t that make make Betty more attractive?

With enough butter, anything tastes good. – Julia Child

Eggs are beaten eggs to maintain the fat/sugar foam. As the cake bakes, the eggs forms a protective barrier around the bubbles to protect the delicate texture from collapse.

Thanks goodness for baking powder. Baking powder is a dried acid and an alkali blend which reacts with each other when water (or heat) is added. It produces carbon dioxide, which creates air bubbles. Before raising agents like baking powder came along, eggs were beaten for a long time to lighten the “biscuit”. What a work-out!

Mixer

This makes it easier too! Credit my Dad for this amazing yard sale find!

Flour builds the structure by stiffening the egg foam and forming gluten, which in turn, supports the weight of the fat and sugar. It’s important to gently fold in the flour to avoid breaking the bubbles and developing the gluten too much. No one wants to eat a cake brick.

Baking itself involves three stages: expanding, setting and browning. Gases in the bubbles expand and stretch the gluten. The leavening agents release carbon dioxide, further swelling the batter. The cake’s shape sets around 80C into the porous texture of cake. And finally, it develops a rich brown colour and slightly crisp crust. (Is your mouth watering too?)

The cake is ready when it starts to pull away from the sides and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Cool it! Ice it! Perfection! (someone else created these delicacies)!

A party without a cake is just a meeting. – Julia Child

Happy Monday!