Need to know...
I know nothing and so without seeking some clarification I'll just be blindly following recipes, whether or not there are some things I really should know about baking not included in the recipes. In one of the more descriptive gingerbread cake recipes I'm looking at it says to "Cream shortening and sugar, add eggs beat well. Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Mix molasses and water, add alternately with flour mixture, to creamed mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes." I have three questions (but the first has two parts):
Should I always premix ingredients in this manner? Like I get sifting the powered ingredients but other recipes have similar ingredients but just say to "combine" them. Are they assuming I already how to bake and all recipes should be mixed in stages like the one above or is it all hooey and I should just toss all the ingredients in a bowl and attack with my $11 wand mixer? I don't even have a sifter, maybe.
All the recipes I'm looking at (ss im too nooby to paste a live link to a URL but it's actually here at: cooks dot com followed by this at the end: /rec/search/0,1-0,gingerbread_cake,FF.html) have the same combined total measure of ingredients (practically - all use 2 cups of flour) but some specify a 9" baking pan, others a 7" pan and still others no mention of any kinda pan. Please advise.
Assuming some of you have glanced at the recipes at the above link (sorry about making you hafta type and paste in two parts), do you have a recommendation based on one or more of those listed possibly being spectacularly better than the rest or do you think I'm really just in way over my head and should only be concentrating on finding a box of Betty Crocker cake mix at the grocery store?
Thanks in advance for any and all helpful replies.