07 February 2011

Tempted by an Angel

I've done a lot of baking in my day: cookies, cakes, muffins, pies, tarts, yeast and quick breads--but until now I had never made an Angel Food Cake. I'm not sure how I'd managed to miss out for so long. But this weekend, knowing I'd be visiting my family, it seemed like the perfect time to make and share a cake. And I am no longer an Angel Cake virgin! Click photos to enlarge...

The goods (note the lack of oil and butter):

I thought I'd take a picture of my oven to show the rack in the lower position, where it needs to be, and neither kitty could resist coming to investigate (don't worry--the oven is off).

My rather messy job of lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper (it also probably wouldn't have been a bad idea to lightly grease the sides of the pan):

I don't usually sift flour since it comes pre-sifted but the recipe specified sifting it with the sugar, so I figured no harm in doing it again:

The beginning of the egg separation process. I separated the eggs into two smaller bowls and then poured the whites one at a time into my mixing bowl. That way if I ended up breaking a yolk I would only contaminate one white rather than the entire batch. It didn't matter if I got some white in the yolks but yolk in the whites would have ruined them:

As you can see I did end up breaking a couple of yolks, but miraculously none got in the white (I caught them just in time):

Ever wonder what a dozen egg whites look like?

Getting the whites foamy:

Eventually they start fluffing up and forming firm peaks. It's kind of an amazing process--that smallish amount of liquid ended up filling the entire mixing bowl:

Wish I could dive right in:

Action shot! The SO took a photo of me folding the flour and sugar into the egg whites:

Getting the mixture into the pan turned out to be messy business. This isn't the most beautiful cake:

Baked and golden (and looking very much like a meringue):

The recipe says to turn the pan upside down and rest it on its feet or on the neck of a bottle. Well, my pan doesn't have feet (I inherited it from my mom--it's probably older than I am) and all the bottles I had on hand were too big. I figured this was a reasonable compromise:

Fully cooled and released from the pan. I think I should have put a vase of flowers in the middle ;)

I knew this cake would have a simple flavour (there's no fat in it whatsoever) so I whipped up a raspberry sauce to go with. Ultimately I probably needed more sauce but it was a fantastic combination:

Angel Food Cake

[my notes/changes in brackets]

Makes one 10-inch cake [8 servings]
  • 1 cup sifted cake flour, (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 12 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, with rack in lower third but not on bottom shelf. Prepare a 10-inch angel-food-cake pan: Using the pan as your guide, cut a circle from a piece of parchment paper; use it to line bottom of pan.

Using a sieve, sift flour and 1/2 cup sugar onto another piece of parchment.
Set sieve over a bowl, and return mixture to sieve; sift again and set aside. [I simplified this by eliminating the parchment step and just setting a sieve over a bowl and putting the flour and sugar into it before sifting them together.]

Place egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Add the cream of tartar, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt; continue beating until soft peaks form, about 2 1/2 minutes. With mixer running, add remaining cup sugar a little at a time, beating no longer than 1 minute.

Raise speed to medium-high; continue beating until firm, but not stiff, peaks form (when beater is lifted, only the tip of the peak should fall over slightly). Gently transfer egg-white mixture to a large, wide bowl. Sprinkle a third of the reserved flour mixture over the whites. Using a whisk [I used a spatula--how do you fold with a whisk?], gently combine in a folding motion, allowing batter to fall through the whisk as you fold. Sprinkle remaining flour mixture over whites in two more batches; fold until just combined. Be careful not to overmix because the egg whites will deflate.

Using a large rubber spatula, transfer batter to prepared pan. Run a knife gently through the center of the batter to remove any large air bubbles. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean and cake is springy to the touch, 45 to 50 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and invert onto its legs, making sure cake clears the surface of the counter. (If using a tube pan, invert it and hang over the neck of a bottle.) Let cool completely, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. To remove cake, reinvert pan, top side up. Run a knife around the inner and outer edges of the cake before releasing the bottom. Cake will keep up to 2 days at room temperature in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic. To serve, slice with a serrated knife.

Original Recipe here.

I also worked out nutritional information via this site. Per serving: 237 calories, 0.2 g fat, 52.7 g carbohydrates, 0.5 g fibre.

My Verdict

Despite my slight departures from the instructions the cake turned out perfectly. It's light and beautiful (and weirdly fun to make). It's also a little bland, so I was really glad I'd made the sauce! But this cake would lend itself to all sorts of variations (cocoa and spices immediately come to mind) and toppings (fruit, chocolate sauce, ice cream...) My sister even pointed out that it would make a good base for trifle. And if you're watching the fat in your diet then this is the perfect sweet treat. Will definitely be making this again.

Domicile's Raspberry Sauce

(you might want to double the recipe to be sure to have enough)

12 oz (340 g) fresh raspberries, rinsed but not dried
1/3 cup sugar (more or less, according to how tart the berries are)
splash of liqueur (I used peach schnapps but orange liqueur would also be good)
splash of water

Place half the raspberries in a saucepan over med-low heat, along with remaining ingredients. Cook, covered, until raspberries break down. Remove lid and allow to simmer gently for about 5 minutes in order to thicken sauce. Taste and adjust sugar, if needed. Turn heat off. Add remaining berries. Place lid back on pot and allow sauce to cool before serving. Store in refrigerator.

8 (small) servings. Per serving: 45 calories, 0 g fat, 11.4 g carbohydrates, 1.4 g fibre

Want to see what else I've made for my 2011 baking project?

January: Double-Chocolate Brownies

Photos by Domicile


Blue Lotus said...

Beautiful! My baking repertoire pretty much consists of banana bread and banana muffins, so props to you. And I love your dragonfly bowl!

Aspasia said...

Thanks :)

(PS--I got a set of those bowls on Spadina!)