McNess: Secrets of the Champion Cake Baker

Last week I brought to you my article on the McNess cookbook find at a local store. I mentioned Champion Cake Baker, Mrs. Edith Moore. Edith was no slouch in the cake baking department. Boasting over 1,000 cake baking prizes, Edith kept herself busy as well as her McNess salesperson.

If Edith was smart, she probably became a salesperson just to get the “discount” for the volume of cakes shed baked. If you are reading this and your Dutch, you’ve already given a nod to that “discount” idea.

Important Facts from Edith

Image by Roy Guisinger from Pixabay

If cake baking had an Olympics, Edith would have won a ton of gold medals. Not to mention all the advertising she did for McNess quality flavorings and baking powder. If you are a “homemade” cake baking baker, you are in for a treat. If not, then just relax and enjoy some baking nostalgia. This riveting article could be just the excuse you’re looking for to get out of some conversation or phone call.

Direct from Edith herself, via the 1937 McNess cookbook, pages 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Small print and lots to say:

  • Use Fine sugar, not coarse sugar. Coarse sugar leads to coarse cake texture. If you can’t find fine sugar, take a rolling pin and roll overtop the coarse sugar over and over till it is fine. She warns you to NOT USE pulverized sugar.
  • Sour milk is the secret! Always using the freshest milk and cream. She goes on to emphasize that you want SOUR milk, not milk that just turned sour, she means SOUR SOUR!
  • Use CAKE FLOUR and you are strongly encouraged to sift it six to eight times. Edith is very adamant about quality EVERYTHING. No skimping. If you’re going to go to the trouble of making something then do it right! “No matter the cost.” Those were her words.
  • Use a flavoring that won’t bake out of the cake. Bet you can guess what company she suggests- McNESS!
  • Choose a baking powder that doesn’t leave an “off flavor”. If you are using a “trifle” too much baking powder from another company, your dancing on the edge of cake calamity. This would never happen if you use McNess. (Can’t you just see ole Edith- eyeballs in a death stare with a look of “get it right sister”. Edith’s just shaking her head looking at you; you amateur cake baker you!)
  • Use REAL vanilla flavoring. In today’s baking, you are either using a vanilla flavoring or real vanilla extract. In her article, she interchanges vanilla flavoring with vanilla extract; I am quite sure it was she meant “extract”.
  • Make sure you use PROPER measuring tools and level them. Don’t “heap” or “round” unless the recipe calls for it.
  • Pay attention to mixing information. Beating a mixture is brining air into the batter, as much as possible. Air makes your cakes lighter. Don’t “stir” the cake batter after you have finished beating it. Stirring will let the air out.
  • “Folding” generally applies to the mixing in of stiff egg whites… it is a lifting motion. You are bringing batter from the bottom of the bowl to the top again and again till you can’t see the egg whites. You want to maintain your air cells in the batter and egg whites.

Edith shares a few secrets

I was surprised to read that Edith creams her sugar and butter by hand. YES! You read that right, by hand. She works the sugar into the butter until it is entirely dissolved. She stresses using soft butter as hard butter takes too much time to cream perfectly.

Edith isn’t going to let you forget that you must sift your cake flour five or six times. And she even sifts her baking powder. She mentions she’s won a few prize-winning cakes. Like 1000 cake winning prizes. So take it from her- SHE KNOWS!

Next is the “how to fill a cake pan” quandary. If you are using a cake pan fill it 2/3 full of batter. Making cupcakes? Fill the cups only half full. For cake pan filling, she also suggests you push the batter to the sides and corners, leaving a “well” in the center. This will help your cake bake evenly. The average heat for a cake should be 325 for the first 15 minutes and 350 for the rest of the time. This trick prevents cracking.

Well friends, tune in next week when I share some additional recipes from the McNess Cookbook with “Recipes from Around the World.” I sure appreciate your reading and subscribing. Without readers, there are no writers. Thank you!

Here is to good food, good friends, GREAT READERS, and a good life!

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