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Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Angel Food Cake
The first step is to sift the flour and powdered sugar together and set it aside. That way it's all ready to go when you're done whipping the egg whites.
The next step is to whip the whites. This recipe takes between 10 and 12 egg whites, depending on the size of your eggs. The big question, of course, is what to do with all of those yolks...there are a few options. You can make a nice French vanilla ice cream, or a batch of pastry cream to fill some yummy cream puffs or eclairs, or - more simply - you could make some delicious pasta carbonara for dinner.
Mix together the egg whites (preferably at or close to room temperature), cream of tartar, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until you get to the soft peak stage; this the point at which the whites are starting to be able to hold their shape, but the tip on a mound of whites will flop over.
Increase the speed now to medium-high or high. Gradually add the granulated sugar while the mixer is running.
Continue to beat the whites until they form stiff peaks. At this point, the mixture will hold its shape well, and a pointed peak of the whites will stay completely upright.
Gently fold in the flour and powdered sugar mixture to the egg whites and, once completely mixed, place in an ungreased 10 inch tube pan. This part is very important because if you put it in a greased (or even greasy) pan, the whites will not be able to hold themselves to the side of the pan and you could very well end up with a very flat cake! Smooth the top out as best you can and place into a preheated 350 degree F oven.
Bake 40-45 minutes or until the top of the cake is golden and beautiful. Remove the cake from the oven and place the hot pan upside down on a cooling rack to cool. Again, this is an important step as it helps to ensure that the cake retains its full height and fluffiness. Let the cake cool completely in the pan. Once completely cool, flip the pan right side up and use a knife to loosen the edges of the cake away from the sides of the pan. Gently remove the cake.
Slicing an angel food cake is best done with a serrated blade. The great thing about this cake is that it is delicious right out of the pan or a day or two later. If not serving immediately, store tightly wrapped in an air tight container. Serve alone or with any topping you please. Some of my favorites are a chocolate sauce (as shown above) or a fruit sauce such as strawberry or blueberry.
Lastly, the other great thing about this cake is how easy it is to freeze and serve at a later date. When I had laying hens that got ahead of me, I would often make this cake to use some of the eggs and then freeze the cake for later use. I cut the cake and individually wrap each slice in plastic wrap before placing them in a bag to keep them together in the freezer. Provided they are tightly wrapped, they should last 4-6 months in the freezer without any adverse affects.
Angel Food Cake
Yield: 8-10 servings
Adapted from the New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups egg whites, at or near room temperature (about 10-12 whites)
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the powdered sugar and flour and set aside. Using a stand or hand mixer, whip together the egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla on medium speed until the whites reach the soft peak stage. Slowly add the granulated sugar with the mixer running, then increase the speed to medium-high/high. Continue whipping until the whites reach the stiff peak stage. Fold in the flour and powdered sugar mixer. Pour batter into an ungreased 10 inch tube pan. Smooth out the top and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is nicely golden. Remove the cake from the oven and place upside down on a cooling rack to cool completely. Once cool, use a knife to cut around the edges of the pan to loosen it before removing. Use a serrated knife to slice cake into slices. Serve immediately or store in an air tight container up to 2 days before serving. This cake can also be frozen for up to 4-6 months if tightly wrapped.