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Saturday, March 19, 2011

ANGEL FOOD CAKE - FIRST TIME EVER!

Many things came together to urge me to make my first Angel Food Cake.  Martha Stewart recently did a Martha Bakes show on Angel Food Cake, which made it look "not so hard".  Also, I'm a big fan of Stephanie Jaworski's web site JoyofBaking.com and one of her newest videos is her demonstration of making an Angel Food Cake.  Her videos are very complete and educational in my opinion.  She shows how things should look along the way.  I'm a very visual kind of person...like to see how things are supposed to look when I've never made them...and that means the steps along the way.  Lastly, but certainly, not the least important, the teen and I were talking about cake last night.  He wanted to know what this weird looking pan was that I had purchased.  I got a very inexpensive tube cake pan last week in the hopes of making an Angel Food Cake in my near future.  I explained why it needed a special pan and he said "I like those cakes...they are very light...they are good"...with a winningly hopeful look on his face.  I told him maybe I'd make one when his Dad came home this week-end.  So, here it is Friday and I've got a cake in the oven!

OK - onward with the recipe.  I looked up several different recipes...frankly they were all fairly similar.  I watched Stephanie's video 3 times for technique...and I got busy.  While I was surfing the net and watching the video, I had a dozen egg whites sitting waiting for me.  They need to be at room temperature.  Be careful...I was brave and separated them all together...i.e., I cracked the egg, let the egg white drop out and did the back and forth deal with the shell halves and dumped the yolks in a separate bowl.  I almost messed up on the 10th egg...I broke the yolk on the 3rd exchange and if I hadn't had fast hands I would have ruined all of those egg whites with a single drop of yellow yolk.  Adrenaline racing, I moved fast and dumped the yolk and shells into the sink.  Even then, my 12 egg whites totalled up to a small bit over the 1 1/2 cups required.  Whew.  Eggs have gone up in price so it would have been bad to have screwed them up.  Of course, we would have just had a big frittata if I HAD messed up...as I would have simply re-mixed the yolks into the whites and breakfast would have been good! 

Anyway, moving on...the timer just went off and I pulled the cake.  I'm excited to say it looks beautiful!!!  Now it has to cool, upside down, for 2 hours, so I have plenty of time to get this blog finished.

ANGEL FOOD CAKE
Primarily followed the recipes on
JoyofBaking.com and MarthaStewart.com

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup sifted cake flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar to combine with flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar to add to soft peak egg whites
1 1/2 cup egg whites (room temperature) - about 12 large eggs
1 teaspoon cream of tartar (helps stabilize this large volume of egg whites)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt - fine grain
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Method:

Place top rack in center of oven.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and get out a two-piece tube pan (aka angel food cake pan) and have it at the ready.  Do not oil it or prep it in any way.  Just make sure it is clean and dry.  Also ensure all of your equipment (whisk, bowls, spatula) are completely oil free and clean and dry

Set out all of your ingredients.


sugar for egg whites, vanilla, lemon, salt, cream of tartar...ready
Sift the cake flour into a bowl.  Sift 3/4 cup of sugar into the sifted cake flour.  Sift the two together, into a separate bowl.  I know it is dirtying up a couple of bowls, but they are easily rinsed and set to drain without having to do a big washing.

Cake Flour and Sugar sifted and re-sifted

Separately, sift the 3/4 cup sugar you will use in the egg whites to make meringue.  No lumps desired!
Sift the cream of tartar (I used a tea strainer and a ramekin).  Get your salt and vanilla out with the appropriate measuring implements.  Squeeze your lemon, remove the seeds if any; again I used a ramekin.

Eggs are ready if you did all that earlier as you should have - so they are at room temperature.

beginning to whisk egg whites

Start by placing the egg whites into the stand mixer bowl with whisk attachment and set it to low-medium for about 3 minutes until egg whites begin to get foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and the salt and the lemon juice.  Raise speed to medium and whip for several minutes until you are at soft peaks.  The egg whites will peak, but flop over at this point.  Begin adding, with the mixer running, the 3/4 cup sugar - one tablespoon at a time.  Allow each tablespoon of sugar to incorporate. 

Volume growing and almost at soft peak stage
I raised the speed after all that was in and I stopped and scraped it down with the whisk attachment.  Continue beating until firm peaks form and sugar can no longer be felt when you rub a bit of the mixture between you thumb and index finger.  Keep mixing until you don't feel graininess.  This can take several minutes.  Then, add your vanilla.  Whisk until incorporated.  Your egg whites should be glossy and hold a very nice peak.

beautiful peak in bowl - nice and glossy

Now that's a perfect peak!


Remove bowl from stand and sift AGAIN, 1/4 of the flour/sugar mixture on top of the meringue.  Carefully fold into meringue (don't beat, be gentle...fold).  Sift the next 1/4 of flour/sugar, fold...the next 1/4, fold...and the final bits...be sure to sift...be sure to gently fold.  Try not to deflate your egg whites although I found I did deflate a bit...but very little.  This is proven out by my very nicely risen cake!

Flour/sugar combo sifted in 1/4 batches to be folded in

Batter complete and ready to put in pan
Gently scoop the batter into the tube pan...it will not leak, if it does, you've done something wrong.
Spread the batter evenly making sure all sides touch and then run a sharp knife twice around the center of the cake batter to ensure no big bubble holes are in the batter.  Re-smooth and place in oven on top rack you have placed in center of oven.  Make sure you pre-heated the oven!

In oven - ready to roll!

 Bake 40-45 minutes (took mine 40 minutes) and a cake tester in the center of the "round" should come out clean.  There will be cracks on the top of your cake.  They all do.


Cracked top - no problem - it is supposed to be this way.
Look how high it rose!


When done, remove from oven and, if your pan has legs on it, place it upside down to cool.  If your pan does not have legs, put the "cone" on top of an upside down flat bottomed glass (balancing act) or, an empty wine bottle works great too.  You must cool the cake upside down or it will sink in on itself.  It won't fall out of the pan...in fact, you basically have to cut it out of the pan.  Cool at least 2 hours.

My pan has the little feet for it to rest on upside down
and allow air flow for cooling and prevention of sinking into itself

Once cake is completely cool, take a very sharp, long, thin knife (or thin metal spatula) and run it along the side of the cake, cutting it away from the side - go around twice to be sure.  Also, do this around the cone portion.  If the stars are aligned and all is well in your world, you should be able to push up on the bottom of the cake pan and it will lift right out. 

Sides cut free - pan removed - no problem
Next, you need to slide a knife between the bottom of the cake and the pan and cut it loose.  Slow, careful, sharp implement will make it easy (we all hope - I used a steak knife for the bottom and kept the tip at the cone). 

From the top - cut around the cone and this is the bottom side up.
Good removal - easier than I thought!
If you are confused, watch Stephanie Jaworski's video...she demonstrates getting it out of the pan very nicely.

You can't use a non-stick pan for this...the meringue needs to "climb" up the side of the pan.  Non-stick means it just sits in the pan and doesn't rise up.

Plate it either upside down or right side up...whatever you like.  I like it upside down because that's what I'm used to.  I put the cake plate upside down on the cone and gently turned it over.  Plop, perfectly centered landing on the cake plate! <she dances a little jig>

The teen asked for some whipped cream with his cake...I'll be macerating some nice strawberries with sugar and a splash of Lemoncello for serving after our Shrimp Alfredo for Saturday night dinner.  Since I'll probably post this Saturday morning, I'll have to add service photos later if I remember to take them!

This was not as hard as I thought it would be.  If the smell is anything to go by (and the taste of the crumbs that I scraped up and sampled)...this is going to be a truly heavenly cake!  Really yummy :-)

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!StumbleUpon

1 comment:

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