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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1571

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1405
RECIPES FOR BREAD, BISCUITS, AND CAKES

especially where the family is large and the means limited. In this case lard, dripping, or good margarine may be used with advantage, and there are also several vegetable fats procurable that answer very well for these purposes; but although they are more economical in price, and some of them are richer where flavour is the first consideration, nothing better than pure butter can be used. So-called cooking butter is in too many instances nothing but margarine, but there should be no compunction in buying margarine under its right name, and paying a corresponding low figure for it. In this connection it should be said that the very cheapest that is offered should not be purchased; but for about 6d. per lb. a good sweet perfectly wholesome margarine can be procured that is eminently suitable for all purposes of cake-making, and will give results almost equal to pure butter. Of late years so many improvements have been introduced into the manufacture of margarine and other butter substitutes that almost an expert is required to tell the difference, and if a mixture of half butter and half margarine is used, there are few who could tell that it was not made with the best butter; and a good sweet margarine is to be preferred to a bad or indifferent butter.

Eggs.—After butter the eggs next claim attention. At the present time eggs are imported into this country from all parts of the world. Formerly they were imported from France only, but the supply being unequal to the demand, other countries soon began to forward their surplus eggs to the English market, and the result is that a good supply of the finest eggs for cooking purposes is always obtainable. For making cakes, eggs that are from 7 to 14 days old, provided they have been properly kept, are best, and the reason is apparent. The longer an egg is kept, up to a certain point, the less moisture it contains, for the shell of a new-laid egg is perfectly full, and if shaken no sound emanates from it; but if the egg is kept for a few days and then shaken, it will give out a rattle increasing in sound as the egg gets older. This is caused by a certain amount of the water in the albumen, or white, drying out into the shell and air, and thus the albumen is stronger and the yolk more solid for being kept; and the reason these eggs are better for cake-making is that the ingredients will only take a limited quantity of liquid, and the deficiency must be made up with milk, which is richer than the water that has evaporated from the eggs. Nor is this the only advantage. The whites will whip up better and give more body than fresh eggs, and therefore more lightness to the cakes, for the white being more solid and stronger in every way retains the air better after it is beaten in. But when eggs are used for these purposes, it is important that each egg is broken into a cup, and carefully tested by its smell, to guard against any egg that may be bad, and especially a musty one, which, were it added to the cake, would spoil the whole of the work and render it uneatable. When breaking the eggs make sure that they are useable, turn them into a basin or other suitable vessel, and cover