Sunday, November 14, 2010

Angel Food Cake

In my family it's always been a tradition to have mom make a birthday cake. Whatever birthday cake we want she'll make it. Dad always chose German Chocolate Cake, my sister would mix it up from pies to yellow cake with chocolate icing, and I, too, would mix it up. But, one cake I've chosen as my birthday cake on more than one occasion has been Angel Food Cake. Sometimes, my mom will make a strawberry whip to go with it, and it's delicious. Angel Food Cake can be a temperamental cake to bake. I don't always get it right, but when I do boy is it good. This particular cake was good, but I thought I overbaked it by a couple minutes. It was a tad on the dry side. Trust me, you do not want a dry Angel Food cake. Give it a try, and I'm sure it won't be the last time you bake this particular cake.

This recipe was adapted from The New Best Recipe cookbook.

1 cup sifted plain cake flour
1 1/2 cup sifted sugar
12 large egg whites (1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp) at Room Temperature
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp juice from 1 lemon (optional)
1/2 tsp almond extract

First you want to move your oven rack so that it's near the bottom half of your oven. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. You will need a large tube pan, with a removable bottom.
The first thing I did was take the flour and 3/4 cup of the sugar and whisk it in a small bowl.
In case you are wondering what you do with the remaing 3/4 cup sugar just set it aside in another bowl. A word about the egg whites. I used 12 eggs, but I ended up needing an additional 3 eggs in order to get to 1 3/4 cups. Once the egg whites are properly measured (and at room temp) whisk the eggs at low speed while using a standing mixer. Be sure you mix it until just so the eggs are broken and just beginning to froth.
Turn the mixer to medium speed and add your cream of tartar and salt. Beat until the egg whites form soft, billowy mounds. Now, you are going to take the small bowl you set aside with your 3/4 cup sugar and 1 tbsp at a time add it in the mixing bowl (at medium speed). The whites should begin to look shiny and form soft peaks. Now, you will add the vanilla, almond extract, and lemon juice (optional). Beat until just blended.
Next, place the flour and sugar mixture into a sifter and sift about 3 tbsp at a time into the whites. Gently fold in the flour/sugar mixture with a rubber spatula. Continue doing this a little at a time until the flour/sugar mixture is no more.
Now, you will gently pour the batter into your prepared tube pan. Give the pan a couple taps on the counter to release any large air bubbles.

Bake until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back when pressed firmly. It will take anywhere from 45 minutes to 60 minutes.
I believe it took me around 45-50 minutes to bake. Invert the pan and let cook for a couple hours. Before releasing the cake from the pan, take a knife and run it around the edge of the pan. You should be able to release the cake from the pan. You will need to cut the slices by using a long serrated knife and by sawing gently.

(Click here for printable recipe)

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