There is a particular brand of flotsam and jetsam leftover during the creation of angel food cake. Were I in my own kitchen, these sunny gorgeous egg yolks would be immediately put to use as the base for ice cream or lemon curd or some other such thing. When I made an angel food cake the day before I headed down here to sunny, freezing cold Florida I made chocolate ice cream which is sitting forlornly in my freezer awaiting my return. It had better still be in edible condition when I get there. I have been dreaming about it since I left. But this time, no such luck. I am in a kitchen with no ice cream maker and no need for lemon curd, and since I gave up pasta for Lent (blerg) I tried all day yesterday to come up with something else I could use them for to no avail. But they were pretty, so at least I got a good picture.
I have had angel food cake on the brain of late, since I received my grandmother’s old pan and a very cool angel food cake cutter for Christmas, and when I brought the leftovers from the first attempt with me on the flight to Florida, and found out angel food cake just happens to be my cousin and lovely hostess’ favorite dessert, I figured I would take another stab at it while I was down here. (No soy sauce, but this kitchen does come equipped with an angel food cake pan, so there you go.) I was especially excited to get some more pictures, since my pics from the first attempt weren’t all that.
Since Molly was over for the first go round, I did a chocolate glaze, because for Molly, without chocolate there is not much point in dessert. She is very wise.
When I went hunting for recipes for the cake I went first to The Martha Stewart Baking Handbook, and Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours, as you would. Martha had a recipe for angel food cake, Dorie did not. Martha’s recipe was assuredly delicious, but seemed to have a lot of steps, and if I recall, an ingredient or two that I didn’t have in the house, so I went a-hunting elsewhere, and ended up finding Alton Brown’s recipe on the interwebs. It looked straight forward, and contained only ingredients that I already had. My criteria are exacting and specific.
I separated the eggs and let them sit for awhile so they would not be so cold, because Alton told me to, and I believe him. Though I have to say, both Martha and Alton said I needed to have the eggs at room temperature or close to it but The Joy of Cooking said they absolutely needed to be cold. When I get home to my cooking library, I will have to see what Harold McGee says about the matter. Until then, I am going to suggest that it might not matter what temperature they are. Feel free to await a more definitive ruling.
This recipe is really very easy. The most intensive part is the excessive sifting. First you sift the cake flour by itself. Then you run the sugar through the food processor to make it superfine, then you sift half of it with the cake flour again.
Then you start beating the egg whites with some water and cream of tartar, and sift the rest of the sugar into that. And then you sift the dry ingredients into the egg white mixture. Lots of sifting.
The thrice sifted dry ingredients get folded into the beaten egg whites, baked for 35 minutes, and voila, angel food cake.
I did run into a little issue in my adopted kitchen. One of the keys to angel food cake is having it cool upside down, I assume that is so it doesn’t settle and stays light and airy. The pan in this kitchen has a couple of features working against that goal, the center hole is not wide enough to fit over the neck of a bottle, which is a very convenient “standard” way of cooling it. It is also non-stick, which doesn’t help the cake stick to the pan enough to keep it in there when it is upside-down, and lastly, it was kind of heavy, and the cake wasn’t really able to hold the removable bottom in the pan. This makes it sound like it would be a total abject failure. It wasn’t. It was a little squished, but hardly a failure. Especially since I generally think angel food cakes are a little blah, but this recipe is a bit denser, and I think with the minor squishing it gained a little unfortunate texture on the top as well as some added denseness, which I happened to adore.
This was GOOOOOOOD. I covered it with an orange glaze. Orange juice and confectioner’s sugar, until the sugar dissolves. This was a very thin glaze, it was clear and didn’t harden, which was not initially what I had in mind, but I think was actually the way to go, because it sunk in and was absorbed by the cake a little bit, and it was awesome. I really preferred the orange glazed version. The chocolate was good, the orange was out of this world.
Angel food cake, I underestimated you. Welcome to my repertoire.
Angel Food Cake with Orange Glaze
Adapted from Alton Brown on foodtv.com
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup cake flour, sifted
12 egg whites (the closer to room temperature the better)
1/3 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a food processor spin sugar about 2 minutes until it is superfine. Sift half of the sugar with the salt the cake flour, setting the remaining sugar aside.
Combine egg whites, water, orange zest, and cream of tartar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Mix on low (or “stir”) speed until combined. After 2 minutes, increase the speed to medium. Slowly sift in the reserved sugar, beating continuously at medium speed. Once you have achieved medium peaks, sift enough of the flour mixture in to dust the top of the foam. Using a spatula fold in gently. Continue until all of the flour mixture is incorporated.
Carefully spoon mixture into an ungreased tube pan. Bake for 35 minutes before checking for doneness with a wooden skewer. (When inserted halfway between the inner and outer wall, the skewer should come out dry).
Cool upside down on cooling rack for at least an hour before removing from pan.
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
zest of one orange
juice of two oranges
Mix the sugar, zest and juice together in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Spoon the glaze over the cake until it is covered to your liking. Enjoy!