What do you do with all those frozen egg whites after making a few batches of creme brulee? Luckily, one of my favorite cakes is the light and fluffy angel food cake. Basically, it's a foam made of egg whites with sugar and flour suspended in it. A tube pan is essential for making this dessert while an electric mixer could be considered optional if you have strong arms and plenty of time. In the past, making an angel food cake was considered difficult because of the time it takes to whisk the egg whites into a workable foam, but with a standing mixer, this recipe is easy to follow and makes for a beautiful and delicious strawberry filled upgrade to the standard angel food cake recipe.
As always, start by assembling the ingredients: 1-1/2 cups cake flour and 1/3 cup granulated sugar (to be sifted together), 1-1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, 1-1/2 tsp. cream of tartar, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1-1/2 cup egg whites (about 12 large egg whites). It is important that the egg whites are free of any yolk. The smallest amount of fat (such as from the yolk) may cause the white to not foam up and become a soupy mess. If the egg whites have been previously frozen, thaw them in the refrigerator in a bowl covered in plastic wrap. Then remove them from the fridge and let them warm up to room temperature (about one hour). Room temperature egg whites will produce a foam with larger volume than cold egg whites. [IMG]
Preheat you oven to 375°F. Sift together the flour and 1/3 cup sugar. I like using a squeeze handle sifter because it sifts the flour into a neat pile and works quickly and efficiently because of its three mesh screens and blades. Sift the flour and sugar at least twice to evenly distribute the sugar within the flour. [IMG]
Whisk egg whites until they begin to froth. (Whisking in a copper bowl is supposed to produce the most volume, but my Kitchenaid doesn't have a copper bowl and I have no plans to hand whisk my egg whites.) [IMG]
When the whites start frothing, add the cream of tartar and the salt. [IMG]
Continue to whisk until the egg whites reach soft peaks. At this point, whisk in the sugar about two tablespoons at a time. Continue to whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks. (When a foam has reach soft peaks, a whisk dipped into the foam and lifted out, will produce pointed mountains or peaks that droop at the tip. A foam is considered to form stiff peaks when the mountains formed by the lifting whisk do not droop.) [IMG]
Next, sift a thin layer of the flour mixture over the top of the egg white foam. [IMG]
Use a spatula to fold the flour into the egg whites, about seven or eight strokes. Don't stir the flour in or over mix or you may collapse some of the egg white foam. The idea is to gently suspend the flour in the foam. Sift more flour onto the foam and continue to fold, repeating until all the flour has been folded in. [IMG]
Pour the batter into a tube pan and level with a spatula. A tube pan (or tube cake pan) is a special pan that has a center tube that is taller than the sides. This enables the pan to be inverted while cooling. Some pans have a removable bottom which makes cake removal easier. It is also important to keep the tube pan free of any fat. I have a tube pan dedicated to baking angel food cakes to ensure it is free of fat. Bake at 375°F for 35 minutes. [IMG]
While the cake is baking, make the strawberry glaze. Assemble 8 oz. frozen strawberries, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1 Tbs. lemon juice and 1 Tbs. cornstarch. [IMG]
Combine the sugar, water, lemon juice and strawberries in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar into the liquid while bringing it up to a boil. [IMG]
Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about ten minutes. When the strawberries get soft enough, break them in half with a spoon to help release more flavor from the strawberries. [IMG]
Remove from then heat and strain the liquid from the strawberries. Press on the solids to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Set aside the strawberries and return the liquid to the pan. [IMG]
Bring the liquid back up to a simmer. Whisk 3 tablespoons of water into the cornstarch and then pour it into the simmering liquid. [IMG]
Increase heat and whisk until the glaze comes to boil. Continue to whisk while the glaze boils and thickens, about 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool. Once the glaze has cooled down, place it in the refrigerator to chill. [IMG]
After the cake is done baking, remove it from the oven and immediately invert the pan. Elevating the pan helps allow air to circulate and cool the cake. The can be easily accomplished by setting the pan over a longneck bottle of beer or wine. The neck of the bottle goes into the hole in the center tube and the glass bottle has enough mass to keep the pan from tipping. It is necessary to invert the pan when making angel food cake because the hot cake is in a very delicate state. While cooling, the weight of the cake is enough to collapse it partially. Upside-down, the weight of the cake will help keep the cake tall. [IMG]
Once the cake has fully cooled (a few hours), run a thin knife around the outside of the cake to separate it from the pan. Also, separate the cake from the center tube. If you have a separating pan, you can remove the outer ring from the base and simply run a knife along the base to free the cake. If you are using a single piece tube pan, pressing into the center a little with the knife while loosening it might help free it from the base. [IMG]
Remove the cake from the pan and place it on a clean surface. [IMG]
Using a long serrated knife, cut the cake through the middle (parallel to the counter). [IMG]
Remove the top layer and dig a shallow furrow in the middle of the bottom layer. I use a teaspoon from my flatware set for this task. [IMG]
Place the reserved strawberry solids into the furrow. [IMG]
Using a spoon or icing spatula, coat the outside of the cake with a layer of strawberry glaze. [IMG]
Shortly before serving, prepare 1-1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 Tbs. granulated sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Using a cold bowl and whisk, whip until the cream reaches stiff peaks. I actually like my whipped cream frosting on angel food cake to be a little over whipped. Continue to whip the cream for a few more seconds and the cream should begin to clump up. I find this "not quite whipped cream, not quite butter" frosting is easier to apply and holds up for longer periods of time without weeping. [IMG]
Apply whipped cream with an icing spatula on top of the strawberry glaze. I like to cut the angel food cake with a serrated knife (using light pressure while sawing) before applying the whipped cream. This makes it really easy to serve and each individual slice looks beautiful. [IMG]
Joined: 10 May 2005 Posts: 1577 Location: Austin, TX (USA)
Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 5:34 pm Post subject:
re: Baking one half at a time
I haven't tried it, but I doubt baking half the angel food cake and then placing strawberries ontop and pouring the other half will work. Unlike butter or pound cakes, an angel food cake is quite delicate while warm and can't even sustain its own weight while cooling (which is why we must cool them upside down). Baking the egg white foam and then placing strawberries on top without fully cooling will collapse the foam. Pouring the remaining batter ontop will probably have the same result.
Just found your site and love it. I also love angel food cake and your recipe has motivated me to make one this week with my new silicone tube pan. Have you tried any of the new silicone stuff? I've aquired a silicone tube pan and a tart pan, but haven't tried out either of them.
Joined: 10 May 2005 Posts: 1577 Location: Austin, TX (USA)
Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 5:41 pm Post subject:
Don't worry about the cake falling out of the tube pan. I've never had it happen, nor have I heard about it happening. (Instead, I have some difficulty removing the cake from the pan when it is cooled...)
It's safest to wait until the cake is completely cooled or the weight of the strawberries may collapse the delicate structure.
i don't know if it would work or not, but i'm about to try angel cake muffins - cause its all i have in the line of baking utensils (individual tin muffin cases).
and i'm kinda liking the idea of lots of little angel cakes with strawberry/icing glaze....
just an idea