Friday, October 11, 2013

Angel Food Cake

I must have, at some point in my life, made angel food cake. We have an angel food cake pan, after all. I am not a person given to buying kitchen equipment because I might need it sometime in the far distant future. Usually I buy stuff after I have muddled along for a while and then decide, yes, I really do need whatever it might be. So, obviously, I made angel food cake. The index and my scrawled dates next to the recipe tells me, yes, I made Prize Angel Food Cake from the Northeast on January 20, 1995. It was not a memorable occasion.
I made this angel food cake because my son and daughter-in-law were coming to dinner. I wanted something easy. If you have an electric mixer, and who does not in these days, angel food cake is easy. You beat, mix, pour and bake. No standing over a hot stove stirring some concoction that does not want to thicken.  You do need a big bowl. Twelve egg whites beaten takes up a lot of space.
I can see why they call it angel food cake. In the bowl, the batter is pure white, as a child might imagine the robes of angels. It is also very fluffy, of course, with all those egg whites.
Readers might be puzzled by the picture. The directions for angel food cake tell the cook to stick the neck of the cake pan into a bottle, and let the cake cool upside down. This is a picture of my angel food cake cooling over the neck of a bottle. 
There is very little about the angel food cake to be intimidated by. One thing I suggest, is breaking your egg whites into a small bowl and adding them one at a time to the large bowl you plan to beat them in. That way, if your eleventh egg white gets some yolk in it, you have not contaminated an entire dozen eggs.
The recipe says not to grease the pan. This is important. The batter, as it rises, clings to the side of the pan and therefore stays up.
Wikipedia says angel food cakes are usually not served frosted, but with some kind of a sauce poured over. Bob, when informed that there was no frosting, went rummaging in indignation through the jams and jellies collection and heated up ginger marmalade to pour over the cake. That worked, and so would any other jam that you prefer.

Angel Food Cake

1 1/3 cups sugar, sifted twice
1 cup sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups egg whites, (about 12 whites)
1 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Add one-third cup of the sifted sugar to the cake flour. Add the salt and sift the mixture together three times.
3. Beat the egg whites, preferably with a wire whisk (ahem, unless you are some sort of off the grid purist, use a hand mixer.), until they are foamy and add the cream of tartar. Continue beating until whites are stiff but not dry. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Fold in the vanilla and almond extract. Sift approximately one-quarter cup of the sugar and flour mixture over the batter. Fold in with a rubber spatula. Continue adding the sugar and flour mixture, folding in after each addition.
4. Pour the batter into an ungreased nine-inch tube pan. Bake about fouty-five minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Immediately turn the pan upside down, suspending tube part over the neck of a funnel or bottle. Let cake stand in the pan until cold, about one and one half hours. Makes enough cake to serve ten.

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