Okay so this is really a continuation of #2 but layers are so integral to our imaginings of what a cake should be I felt it deserved its place as an invention in its own right. The Little House Cookbook explains:
You could make enough batter for all your small milk pans, bake all the batches at once and stack up the results in a single, glorious confection. Thus was the American layer cake born. With the introduction of fine cake flour at the end of the century, its triumph over the pie as dessert favorite was assured.
I could go add on a number of other inventions such as affordable fine milled flour and refined white sugar which led to ever lighter more delicate creations but these three are my favorite. Without the invention of cast iron cook stoves, baking powder and layers cakes would still be something us common people would rarely taste.
As a child I dreamed about layer cakes, usually with some element of chocolate. For example chocolate cake with raspberry jam filling, German chocolate cake sandwiched with chocolate butter cream and iced with its nutty coating, white cake with fresh berries and fluffy butter cream icing. Flat rectangular cakes just dodn’t have the possibilities inherent to layer cakes.
As an adult the perfect homemade layer cake remained a dream until I discovered the…
Victorian Baking Tip of the Week
When making a layer cake do not cut your well risen beautiful cake into layers, it will only lead to heartache and lopsided-asymmetrical disappointment . Instead decide how many layers of cake you want and divide the batter between that many pans.
I recognize the average household today will be short on the requisite number of milk pans but do not let that deter you. Inexpensive round cake pans can be purchased from many stores for a few dollars. The small outlay of cash is well worth it when you can wow your friends with a beautiful cake of uniform layers.
If you insist on trying to cut your beautiful cake into layers here are the tips from my Betty Crocker Cookbook circ 2000. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
So the next time you are ogling that fantastic layered creation on the cover of Women’s Day or are weighing up your options at the bakery stop and think of the Victorian house wives who used the inventions of their day to revolutionize cakes.