It seems few people bake layer cakes anymore. Once the standard, they have fallen from favor because sheet cakes or 9 by 13 inch pan cakes are easier to frost and cut. But a layer cake can be very elegant and should still have a spot in the hearts of American bakers.
I found a copy of General Foods Corporation’s cookbook, “All About Home Baking,” published in 1933. The former owner of this book was especially fond of baking cakes as she left her handwritten notes for me to follow, plus she recommended several recipes, all cakes. This cookbook also teaches the home baker the art of biscuits, muffins, cookies and pastries. But, in honor of the unknown woman who enjoyed this book before me, the following layer cake recipes are presented.
Sour Cream Devil’s Food Cake
2 cups sifted Swans Down cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter or other shortening
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 egg, unbeaten
3 squares Baker’s unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup thick sour cream
3/4 cup milk
Sift flour once, measure, add soda and salt and sift together three times. Cream butter thoroughly, add sugar gradually and cream together well. Add egg and beat very thoroughly, then add chocolate and vanilla and blend. Add about one-quarter of the dry ingredients and beat well. Then add sour cream and beat thoroughly. Add remaining flour, alternately with the milk, in small amounts, beating after each addition, until smooth. Bake in two greased 9 inch layer pans in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until done. Spread with chocolate butter frosting (recipe follows) between the layers and on top of cake.
Chocolate Butter Frosting
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 squares Baker’s unsweetened chocolate, melted
3 tablespoons (about) milk
Dash of salt
Cream the butter, add part of sugar gradually, blending after each addition. Add vanilla, salt and chocolate; mix well. Add remaining sugar alternately with milk, until of the right spreading consistency. Beat after each addition until smooth. Makes enough frosting to cover middle, top and sides of two 9 inch layers.
2 3/4 cups sifted Swans Down cake flour
2 3/4 teaspoons Calumet baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup real butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
8 egg yolks
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt and sift together three times. Cream butter thoroughly, add sugar gradually and cream together until light and fluffy. Beat egg yolks very thoroughly with rotary egg beater until light colored and thick enough to fall from the beater in a heavy continuous stream.
Add to the creamed mixture and beat until very smooth, almost waxy in appearance. Add flour, alternately, with milk, a small amount at a time, beating very thoroughly after each addition. When all the flour is added, beat thoroughly again. Add lemon extract. Bake in three greased 9 inch layer pans in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until done. Spread your favorite orange butter cream frosting on sides and top of cake.
Note: This cake requires especially thorough beating.
It can be tricky to stack, frost and cut a two or three layer cake. If the layers are not even, use a thin serrated knife to even the tops. A few toothpicks can be used to keep layers together too. Making a layer cake can be worth the time and effort if those you serve it to have never enjoyed such a treat. Knock their socks off at the next potluck you attend, but you might need to borrow a flour sifter.
And...that’s all she wrote.