The summer heat had me devoid of energy and creativity for new baking ideas. I knew I wanted cake this weekend but rich butter cakes and cloying chocolate ones sounded anything but appealing. A light, syrup drenched sponge was more fitting and after flipping through my Women’s Weekly 100 Classic Cakes, I was captivated by the beautifully illustrated angel food cake topped with a mixture of fresh berries – a perfect summer cake.
When I bought my tube pan last summer, angel food cake was not something I thought of experimenting with. A classic American treat – built out of egg whites, sugar and a tiny bit of flour – the secret of this cake’s fluffiness lies in the fact that it has to be cooled upside down. Yes, upside down, and like many of you, I was quite sceptical as to whether this would actually work.
To work the meringue into stiff and glossy peaks require considerable effort. I was particularly concerned when it came to folding in the flour mixture, making sure not deflate the air bubbles I had so carefully whipped in. And as per the recipe, I did not grease my tube pan to prevent the cake from falling out prematurely. While this did keep the cake sticking to the walls of the pan all the way, it also made it a wee bit difficult to unmould in the end.
As I managed to pry it away from the pan, I was delighted to find a tall, spongy cake – not unlike the one featured in my cookbook. It would definitely make a spectacular centrepiece if dressed with fresh berries and cream or a thin drizzle of warm chocolate or caramel sauce but I kept it simple with a dusting of icing sugar. Think I’ll do a marbled version next.
ANGEL FOOD CAKE
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup cornflour
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
12 egg whites
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 180 oC. Sift flours, 1/4 cup sugar and salt together six times.
- Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer until foamy. Beat in cream of tartar.
- Gradually add remaining sugar to egg mixture, beating until completely dissolved.
- Add extract, beat until firm peaks form. Transfer egg mixture to a larger bowl.
- Use a whisk to gently fold in flour mixture. Spread in an ungreased 25cm tube pan.
- It is essential to use the correct pan for this recipe. The tube helps even baking of the centre.
- Bake for about 30 minutes. Place a piece of parchment larger than the pan on worktop.
- Turn the pan upside down over the piece of parchment. The pan should rest on its feet.
- Do not move the pan until the cake is cold. The cake will drop down when it is cold.
- If necessary, use a metal spatula to release the cold cake from the dome and base.
- Decorate with fresh berries if you like. Best served on the day it is made. Makes 10 servings.
For all my real life angels out there!