Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cake - Take #2

Last week's red velvet cake needed six egg yolks.  So I saved those extra whites and put them in the freezer for this week's cake - Angel Food Cake.  I went with a recipe from Cook's Illustrated.

Cook's Illustrated Cookbook

I still needed six more egg whites for this cake, so I've saved those extra yolks and will be doing a zabaglione a little later today...mmmm....

Now, I've never made an Angel Food Cake before.  I like them ok - I guess I've just typically gravitated toward a little bit richer cakes.  So I had to buy a new pan.

So first you need to separate your eggs.  I understand (by research, not my own experience) that this is easier done when the eggs are still cold from the fridge.  So I did that.  But the whipping of the whites is easier done with room temperature whites, so I let them sit on the counter for a little bit while I got the other things ready.

I like it when recipes are listed with weights for the ingredients - I have a little scale and I use it especially with baking.

I wisked half the sugar and the cake flour and set it aside.  Then I started whipping the egg whites with the cream of tartar and the salt - started kinda medium low for a minute, then increased to medium high for another minute.  Then I gradually added the other half of the sugar with the mixer going.  They only want you to get to 'soft peaks' here and that only takes another minute or two.  With egg white whipping, there are: soft peaks, firm or stiff peaks, and then there's waaaay too far, and there isn't much time in between these, so you have to stay close and pay attention.  I think I got to a pretty good place with my egg whites.  :-)   Then I added the vanilla, almond extract, and lemon juice - this you just beat till blended.

Then I sifted the flour/sugar mixture into the whites, a little at a time, and just gently folded each addition in.  I'm always afraid of deflating things at this point, so I try to be very gentle with folding.

Then I put the batter into the pan.  Since my pan has a removable bottom, I didn't treat the pan at all.  If you have a one-piece tube pan, they suggest that you cut out a parchment to lay into the pan so you can get the thing out later.  No greasing of the pan is necessary - in fact, you don't even want it because it will not be good for the egg whites as it won't allow them to 'climb' the pan and the batter won't rise.

Then it bakes in a low oven (325) for 50-60 minutes.  About half-way through, I did carefully turn it around in the interest of even baking.

Here she is right out of the oven.  Now it needs too cool for a looong time - like two hours and upside down, which is why the pan has those 'feet' on it.  If you have a tube pan without the feet, you could turn the pan over and put the center tube over a metal funnel or a slender bottle or something.  It needs to cool upside down so that it won't deflate.  I did check my pan several times along the way as to temperature, and it really did need that long to get completely cool.

Since my pan is in two pieces I did put it on a half sheet pan with some parchment -I had no idea if I'd get any leakage.

And, voila!  No leakage!  As good as that is, I will probably not bet on it anyway in the future, as a leak like that would be a pain in the neck to clean up off the oven floor.

To get the cake out of the pan I did have to gently run a butter knife around the inner and outer tube parts and it came right out.  Then I needed to run that knife between the pan bottom and cake bottom to get that to come off.

So I placed it on the plate this way - as it was in the pan.  My Grandmother said she usually flips it so the flatter side is up.  I didn't know the protocol and I don't know if it matters.  This isn't a 'gorgeous' cake by any means - but it really did come out very, very nice.  It would be great with fruit - sort of like a strawberry shortcake thing, it was good with ice cream, it was good by itself.  My family liked it - they said it was nice and tender and not 'tough' like the kind you get at the grocery store.  I will be doing this again.

I'm not sure if this was supposed to have risen more, but this was delicious as it was.

My Great-Grandmother was a young mother during the depression.  I guess they must've had chickens or some other easy access to eggs, because my Grandmother said that her Mom made one of these cakes every day back then.  Remember, no mixer - she just used something like this whip and her strong arm.  Wow.  I'm not sure I'd even want to try this without my trusty Kitchenaid mixer.



  1. Can you post the recipe for the Angel Food Cake? The link doesn't seem take me anywhere. Looks great!

    1. Cheryl,

      Were you clicking on the title of the recipe? That isn't a link, I was just underlining and bolding the recipe title...maybe I'll rethink how I do that if it looks like a link. Sorry for the confusion!

      The recipe is on their website, if you belong (I recommend it, btw). It's also in the Cook's Illustrated Cookbook and I'm guessing it's in more than one other book or magazine of theirs. Let me know if you find it in anything you might have of theirs.

      It was sooooo good! I will be doing it again soon!