In the Heartland we have been having a strange season. Chill and intermittent rain (with a week well into the 90s) has made fruit quality, shall we say, mixed, at least at the moment. But indeed we have berries and cherries, and we shall not be dissuaded from enjoying our fruit in every possible fashion.
At Pinecone Meadow Farm that means cake as a foil for fresh berries or berry sauces like my strawberry bourbon sauce or spiced blueberry sauce. Or my brandied cherry sauce, but I’ll have to wait six weeks for that as the first cherries steep.
While my rosemary olive oil cake is always a popular choice, I found myself with a LOT of egg whites after a marathon ice cream making session (more on that in another post), so angel food cake it is. This light, airy cake is at its best when you use cake flour and superfine sugar, although I’ve also made it with the mainstream versions, and no one has complained. To make sure you have the proper amount of flour, sift it first, then measure. Compressed flour will result it too much in proportion to the egg whites, and your cake will be dense and tough.
Vanilla angel food cake
Serves 10 to 12
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
1 cup sifted flour, preferably cake flour
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups egg whites, from about 12 eggs
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift the flour and 1/3 cup sugar and salt three times to ensure the combination is light and well aerated. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until foamy. Add vanilla, cream of tartar and water, then turn mixer to high and beat until whites are almost stiff. Turn mixer down to medium again, add sugar in four batches, just ¼ cup at a time. Once sugar is incorporated, return to high and beat until stiff. This is what stiff peaks look like. Do not overbeat!
Turn off the mixer. Sift flour mixture over egg whites ¼ cup at a time, and gently fold in using your largest rubber spatula. Spoon batter into ungreased tube pan with removable bottom, and smooth the top. Bake until golden, about 40 to 45 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back when lightly tapped, and a skewer comes out clean.
Remove from oven and invert pan. Leave upside down until completely cool. To remove from the pan, run a sharp knife along the pan edges. To serve, cut with a serrated knife using a sawing motion.
Photograph and recipe by Janine MacLachlan, RusticKitchen.com. All rights reserved.