Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Angel Food Cake

I love Angel Food cake. I really do. It's so sweet and light and tastes so good with ice cream. And I love everything that tastes good with ice cream. Mainly because I love ice cream.
But let me tell you, Angel Food Cake is in a class of its own! It's cake alright. But cake without butter? Everyone knows that everything's better with a little butter.

I'm not going to lie. I was a little intimidated after looking over a few different angel food cake recipes. Alright, maybe a lot intimidated. No butter at all? No oil? Not even to grease the pan? I don't think I have ever NOT greased a baking sheet or pan. And that's not even talking about all the eggs. 

The recipe I settled for called for 12 eggs. That's a lot of eggs. And getting that many egg whites to form stiff peaks isn't all that easy. Especially if you don't have a fancy kitchen aid and just a handheld mixer. Dear Baking Santa, bring me a kitchen aid, will you? I've been very good this year. Love, Schnatzi.

And then the hanging/upside down cooling part? Not cool. Not cool at all. Alright, I guess I could have made it easy and just cooled the cake up-side-down on a rack. But I just really didn't want the marks from the cooling rack on my cake. So, I ended up having the cake pan sit on a beer bottle and a bottle of soy sauce. Don't judge. 

I realize that angel food cake really shouldn't be that big of a deal. It's not like I made puff pastry. Or used fondant. It did however take me two tries to get a well tasting and good-looking angel food cake. We won't talk about the first cake. It's not worth talking about. 
Just so you know, angel food cake should not look like this:

This Angel food cake is sad. It didn't rise, because I didn't beat the eggs properly. But let's not talk about my failures any longer....
Because I can do better. 
Alright, let me prove to you that I can do better.

Start out with a carton of eggs. Yea, that's right. A whole carton. 12 eggs. (Well, if you buy the 18 egg carton, you obviously don't use the whole thing.)Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and think about what you want to do with all the extra egg yolks. Or just throw them out like I did. What a waste. I know. I apologize.

So you crack all the eggs and then proceed to beat all those 12 egg whites with an electric mixer (preferably using the whisk attachment - if you (unlike me) have one). 

When the egg whites are fairly stiff, in goes the water, the vanilla extract and cream of tartar. Continue mixing until the meringue gets sort of shiny (uhhhh, shiny!) 
Slowly add half of the sugar and continue mixing. 

Combine the rest of the sugar, the salt and the flour in another bowl.

Slowly add to the meringue, folding it into the mix with a spatula or wooden spoon.  Try to avoid deflating the egg white mixture.

Spoon the batter into an ungreased bundt or tube pan and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 to 50 minutes until the top is slightly golden brown. If you aren's sure if the cake is done, you can insert a skewer into the dough. If it comes out clean, the cake can come out of the oven.
While you wait or the cake to come out of the oven you may want to prepare some strawberries to go with the cake. Simply add about two to four teaspoons of sugar to about three cups of cut up strawberries, add a little vanilla extract or vanilla bean scraping and let the fruit rest in the refrigerator for about an hour.

When the cake is done and comes out of the oven, it will need to be turned up-side-down for cooling. I freaked out a little at this part. Because I suddenly couldn't find a bottle to sit the cake pan on.  After trying out about three different bottles, which with a hot cake pan is quite a challenge, I settled for a beer bottle, Mainly because it had the best fit. Not perfect but good enough. I had to get some help from a soy sauce bottle to hold the pan up. But it all worked out.
Make sure the cake has time to cool down. I let mine sit for at least six hours before turning it over, but it should be fine after about two hours. To loosen it from the sides of the pan, knock on the outside of the pan with a knife or try loosening it up by sliding a knife in between the pan and the cake. 
To assemble, cut one or two generous pieces of cake, plate them, pour some of the strawberry mixture on top and add a dollop of whipped cream if you're feeling fancy. I did.
I think my neighbors are starting to despise me. I am feeding them too much cake. I hope they continue eating it, though. Too much cake? There is no such thing. Baking is fun, sharing baked goods is even better. Thank you, food neighbors! Thank you for enjoying my baked goods! 

Angel Food Cake 

- 12 large egg whites, at room temperature

- 1/3 cup warm water

- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

- 1 & 3/4 cups of sugar

- 1/4 teaspoon salt

- 1 cup cake flour, sifted

- 1&1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Separate egg whites from egg yolks and whisk egg whites with an electric mixer until they are fluffy and fairly stiff. about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add in the water, vanilla or almond extract and cream of tartar. Continue mixing with the electric mixer. 

Slowly add HALF of the sugar to the egg white mixture until you get shiny peaks of meringue. Stop mixing after about a minute. 

In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt and rest of the sugar. Add dry ingredients to the egg white mix in small batches by folding with a spatula or wooden spoon. 

Finally pour all of this into the ungreased tube or bundt pan and let it bake for about 45 to 50 minutes. 

Take the Angel Food cake out of the oven, turn it up-side down and set it either on a cooling rack or a bottle. 

After letting it cool for about two hours, loosen the cake, take it out of the form and cut it into slices. The cake will last, wrapped in foil or in a tupperware, for about three to four days. 

Strawberry mix

- 2 cups of bite size strawberry pieces

- 2-4 teaspoons of sugar

- vanilla extract or scraping of a vanilla bean

Mix all the above ingredients together and let them sit in a bowl in the refrigerator for about an hour. 

Scoop the strawberry mix over slices of Angel Food cake and possibly add some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. 


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