Summer is still in full swing here in Prague and, with seasonal blueberries and raspberries filling the forests and markets, I can’t think of a better way than to pair berries with a fluffy angel food cake this week!
Angel food cake is a type of fleecy sponge cake and is every dieter’s dream – the guiltless picnic and midday treat, the tea and cake combo or, if you are like me, to be savored at the sullen office desk in solitude. Hmm. Yet nevertheless, the cake is delicious and it reminds me so much of home; sitting late afternoon on the house’s back porch in a rocker and my mother.
Angel food cake is a simple batter of egg whites, sugar, and flour. In addition to creating a tasty summer treat, this recipe will help you learn how to gain the confidence to command whipping egg whites into fluffy white peaks.
Oh, egg whites. Most new cooks I know seize up when a recipe calls for beating egg whites into 3 times their size. Holding their breath, shoulders rigidly raised, and second guessing if any touch of egg yolk came into contact with their whites, they reluctantly give in and whisk away with bated breath. I’ve been there and maybe you have, too. No one likes a cake, French soufflé, or a culinary concoction that doesn’t rise (or to pour money down the drain with that tainted batter!) See my tip page. Don’t let egg whites give you one ounce of hesitation and you can do it. “Impossible is not French,” Napoleaon once cried. Ok, you get the point.
Going back to reminding me of home, I phoned my mother the other day to ask about her recipe and how I could recreate it here in Prague. “How many eggs do you use?” I asked. “What eggs? All you do is add water!” she dead-panned. Without judgement of this somewhat astronaut food recipe especially after years of chomping away at the stuff, I muttered out something along the lines of “making it from scratch”. She actually took a silent moment to ponder why anyone would want to take the time to make one from scratch, eyes even sort of looking up trying to pull for an answer from up above her head. She couldn’t.
However, we happily concluded that my father would be the ultimate taste-tester (completely objective, right? Right.) and decider of my mother’s proposed angel food cake contest. But I am up for the challenge! Care to join me? Grab a whisk and some eggs and let’s go to the kitchen together.
Delight friends and family in the park on these warm summer days with your celestial and silky creation.
Adam's Angel Food Cake
A light, airy dessert - ideal for spring and summer!
12 egg whites (if large) 13 egg whites (if medium-sized eggs) -- Need some help with egg whites? Visit my tip page!
1 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 or 1 1/2 teaspoon of extract. (Your choice of extract or combination of extracts -- I like 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 almond)
Powdered sugar and berries (optional)
In a large bowl, combine sifted flour and 3/4 cup sugar + 2 tbs sugar
In a large bowl, beat egg whites until they form peaks
Add 3/4 cup sugar to the whites, mix carefully, without deflating your egg whites
Spoon 1/4 of your egg white mixture into the flour mixture and mix
Fold the remaining egg white mixture carefully in and combine
Add extract and mix
Pour into your pan and run a knife through the batter to remove any air pockets. Give your pan a few slaps, for good measure, on the side to ensure you have no pockets of air.
Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and has begun to pull away from the pan's sides. Also, it should be spring back when touched with your finger. If you find that your cake is browning too fast or approaching a burn, cover with aluminum foil for a few minutes.
Remove from the oven to cool for 1 hour, at minimum.
To serve, flip the cake onto a serving plate, unmold, and garnish with a shake of powered sugar and fresh berries.