Angel food cake is one of those things that I had previously never considered making at home. I never really had a reason other than this time of year it is so easy to pick one up at the grocery store (they are usually even right next to the strawberries). Growing up, mom always served our "strawberry shortcake" with angel food cake rather than with the traditional biscuit-like cakes. To this day, I like my strawberry shortcake better this way, and with spring on everyone's mind and all the berries in the stores lately, a recipe for homemade angel food cake is definitely right in season.
The making of this cake actually came about in a roundabout way. After coming home from the store loaded with the previously mentioned berries, my husband persuaded me to make one of his favorite spring-summer desserts. Since angel food cake is one of the ingredients and I didn't want to make a trip back to the store, I decided to give a homemade version a shot. The recipe is from the book The Best Light Recipe which is the same book that I used to make these stuffed peppers. I will post the recipe for this coveted berry dessert in the next couple days, but I thought that the angel food cake turned out good enough to give it a post of its own =)
Making angel food cake is actually surprisingly simple. It is basically whipping egg whites with some sugar and then folding in flour and flavor extracts. I used measure my flour and sugar using my kitchen scale to make sure I had exact amounts for this process. Since we do not own an angel food cake pan, I had to make adapt the baking process a little. I ended up baking my cake in my bundt pan which worked well except for the fact that I could not invert the pan to allow the cake to cool. My cake fell quite a bit while it was cooling, and I'm wondering if this was a result of not inverting my pan. Since I was planning on cutting up the cake anyway, this was not a big deal, but I am still not convinced that you NEED a special pan just for angel food cake if it's not something you would use regularly. As for the taste, it was spot on. I've heard that you've never had angel food cake until you've tried the homemade version, and this one was definitely delicious. Who knows, maybe we'll be purchasing a special pan because I know I will make this again. Enjoy!
I'm linking this to Sweet Tooth Friday!
Angel Food Cake
From The Best Light Recipe
1 cup (4 ounces) cake flour
1-1/2 cups (10.5 ounces) sugar
12 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
1-1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
Adjust an over rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Have ready an ungreased large tube pan (9-inch diameter, 16-cup capacity), preferably with a removable bottom. If the pan bottom is not removable, line it with parchment paper or waxed paper.
Whisk the flour and 3/4 cup of the sugar together in a small bowl; set aside. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on low speed until just broken up and foamy. Add the cream of tartar and salt and increase the speed to medium-high. Continue to beat, adding the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at at time, until all the sugar is added and the whites are shiny and form soft peaks. Beat in the lemon juice, vanilla extract, and almond extract until just blended.
Sift the flour mixture over the whites (they found sifting to be essential), about 1/4 cup at a time, and gently fold it in using a large rubber spatula. Gently scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Give the pan a couple raps on the counter to release any large air bubbles. Bake until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back when pressed firmly, about 55 to 60 minutes.
If the cake pan has prongs around the rim for elevating the cake, invert the pan onto them. If the pan does not have prongs, invert the pan onto the neck of a bottle or funnel. Let the cake cool completely upside-down, 2 to 3 hours.
To unmold, run a knife around the edge of the cake pan, being careful not to separate the golden crust from the cake. Loosen the cake from the center tube using a wire cake tester or skewer. Slide the cake with the removable bottom out of the pan. Run a knife between the pan and the cake to loosen, then gently flip the cake out onto a platter, bottom side facing up (the bottom is the presentation side). If the pan bottom is not removable, loosen the cake from the edges and center tube as described, then flip out onto a platter and remove the parchment paper. Cut slices by sawing gently with a large, serrated knife. This cake tastes best when it is served the same day it is made.
Yield: 12 servings