Angel Food Cake

For as much of a chocoholic as I am today, angel food cake was one of my all-time favorite desserts when I was growing up. As far as I can remember, no one in my family made them from scratch, but they were a Sunday staple at my grandma’s house during the summer. I always enjoyed a big slice of angel food cake, lots of sliced fresh strawberries and a big dollop of Cool Whip to cap off my Sunday dinner. Angel food cake is one of those store-bought favorites that I have been wanting to conquer from scratch. Truth be told, it’s not very difficult at all, and is so, so delicious.

The hardest part of the entire process for me was being patient while the egg whites were beating up into soft peaks. I felt like it took forever! But patience definitely paid off. (I was also a little heavy-handed when it came to slicing it as you can see from the photo above – I smooshed it a bit. Use a very light tough with a sawing back and forth motion using a serrated knife.)

This is such a lovely cake – light and spongy, with just a hint of almond flavor, just like the angel food cakes that I remember from when I was a kid. And of course I had to eat it with fresh strawberries and whipped cream! If you haven’t tackled angel food cake from scratch yet, I highly recommend it. Not too difficult, and very rewarding.

One year ago: Monster Cookies
Two years ago: No-Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Cookies
Three years ago: Wedding Shower Cake

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Angel Food Cake

Ingredients:

1 cup sifted plain cake flour

1½ cups sifted granulated sugar

12 egg whites, at room temperature

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

¼ teaspoon salt

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1½ teaspoons lemon juice

½ teaspoon almond extract


Directions:

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Have ready an ungreased large tube pan (9-inch, 16-cup capacity). If the pan bottom is not removable, line it with parchment paper.


2. Whisk the flour and ¾ cup of the sugar in a small bowl. Place the remaining ¾ cup sugar in another small bowl next to the mixer.


3. Beat the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer at low speed until just broken up and beginning to froth. Add the cream of tartar and salt and beat at medium speed until the whites form very soft, billowy mounds. With the mixer still at medium speed, beat in the remaining ¾ cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar is added and the whites are shiny and form soft peaks. Add the vanilla, lemon juice and almond extract and beat until just blended.


4. Sift the flour-sugar mixture over the whites, about 3 tablespoons at a time, and gently fold in, using a large rubber spatula.


5. Gently scrape the batter into the pan, smooth the top with the spatula, and give the pan a couple of raps on the counter to release any air bubbles.


6. Bake until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back when pressed firmly, 50 to 60 minutes.


7. 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, 2 to 3 hours.


8. To unmold, run a knife around the edges of the pan, being careful not to separate the golden crust from the cake. Slide the cake out of the pan and cut the same way around the removable bottom to release, or peel off the parchment paper, if using. Place the cake, bottom-side up, on a platter. Cut slices by sawing gently with a large, serrated knife. Serve the cake the day it is made.


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(Recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated)


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