Cake making by the melting method really is a piece of cake because it requires the minimum of effort. This method is specially designed to cope with the extra sweeteners needed to make soft and sticky traditional cakes such as gingerbread.
Melting-method cakes have a characteristic tacky, sticky texture throughout the cake, and it is this that has made cake like gingerbread so very popular and has given them such a high place in traditional baking. This stickiness is achieved by increasing the proportion of sweetening agents to ether ingredients in the cake.
To handle the extra volume of sweetener, a special method is used. With this method the fat is melted with the sweetener before the flour is added. Before cooking the cake mixture has a good texture and a consistency similar to a thick batter, rather than the soft topping consistency of cake mixtures made by the all-in-one or creaming methods.
Like all cakes, the amount and the choice of ingredients depend on the method you are using, the flavor and the texture you wish to achieve and/or the recipe you have chosen. Average proportions for cakes made by the melting method are one-third fat to the total amount of flour; one-third sugar to the total amount of flour; and one to two-thirds of sweetener to the total amount of flour. However, these proportions can vary considerably with individual recipes.
One extremely important factor when making cakes by this method is the exact weighing of the ingredients for the individual recipes. As long as there is a correct balance of ingredients to start with, perfect results will follow.
There are no hard and fast rules about the type of flour to use. As a basic guide, plain flour is best used, because then you can control the amount of raising agent which is important to the mixture. Self-raising flour may be used for certain recipes, but as you have no control over the raising agent you can never be sure whether it is too much or too little for the purpose of making cakes by this method. Certain brown flours can be used depending on your taste. Never use a strong plain flour (the type recommended for bread making), because this will produce a tough and heavy-textured cake. You should never substitute one flour for another in a given recipe, because this could upset the overall balance.
Bicarbonate of soda is the raising agent most often used in this method of cake making as it combines successfully with plain flour. When this chemical raising agent is heated, it gives off a carbon dioxide which produces the rise. Baking powder, another chemical raising agent, is used where self-raising flour is included. The quantities are usually small because of the amounts already in a self-raising flour. Baking powder is added, nevertheless to boost the rising. If you are using a brown flour, you must use baking powder in larger quantities than with self-raising flour. Brown flour is so much heavier than white flour and needs the extra rise that a larger quantity of baking powder will give.