Feelin’ retro with this fluffy cloud of a cake. # 85: Angel Food Cake
Is this not the weirdest, coolest cake? It’s essentially a soft, fluffy meringue, baked in a special contraption and hung upside-down to cool. Just egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, lemon juice, flour and flavoring (I used vanilla and almond extract.)
This is one of those recipes that makes you really appreciate the science behind baking! Held up by air bubbles and stiffened proteins in the egg whites, it defies gravity. The cake’s height is also aided by that mysterious ingredient, cream of tartar (an acidic powder that helps the proteins keep their shape while being whipped into a frenzy.) It’s one of those ingredients where I just have to trust all the bakers before me and accept that it has a purpose.
I had never had a homemade angel food cake, so I only had memories of dry, tasteless store-bought versions. This, my friends, was anything but dry and tasteless. It was moist and delightful! I added a tart berry jam on top to cut through the sweetness.
Have any of you seen the Will Ferrell movie Stranger Than Fiction? He falls for this baker and tries to impress her by giving her a bouquet of flours. So cute right? Ok yeah, a little odd, but still so punny and adorable. Anyway, I now feel a bit like her with all my different kinds of flour in my pantry. All-purpose, whole wheat, fine pastry, cake, rye, almond, etc. I’ll soon need a whole shelf just for the flours.
Action shot! You can kind of see the bubbles forming along the edges in this picture.
Nerp. Not stiff and glossy enough.
Aha! That’s more like it.
Sifting time. Lil snow-capped mountain.
I added the flour in three chunks to keep it from weighing down the happily fluffed up egg whites. Each time I sifted some flour in, I had to take out the whisk to make room and this juicer bottom made the perfect resting place!
It’s counter-intuitive, but you do not want to spray the pan. This is a fat-less sponge and even oil to grease the pan would ruin the rising effect.
I put half of it into the tube pan and spread it around to coat most of the interior. The idea is that it’ll help the cake to rise up properly and not allow for large air bubbles in the sides of the cake. Then you carefully plop the rest of the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
Post-sauna yoga. You have to let it cool upside down for at least an hour so it doesn’t lose confidence and collapse on itself. Egg whites are so touchy.
Voila! No cracks or large gaps.
It just looked too naked so I gave it a jam coat to wear.
Recipe mostly from: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/bas-best-angel-food-cake