She says: Over the years, my grandmother made countless angel food cakes –and I was fortunate enough to be her helper. Occasionally, we would get to eat one, but most of the time these would be donated to our local fireman’s fair where they would be raffled off.
Now, I’ve rarely met a cake I haven’t liked. Still, this one is among my absolute favorites. It’s … ethereal.
He says: Philosophers used to wonder how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. What they SHOULD have been wondering is, “How do we make angel food cake so good that it will make you dance?” On second thought, it’s better that they didn’t … otherwise they might have used up all the angel food cake ingredients centuries ago. And besides, have you ever seen a philosopher dance? (Spoiler alert: It ain’t pretty.)
I often serve my angel food plain to fully savor the caramelized sugars in the crust. My grandmother, on the other hand, always drizzled a quick glaze over the cake after it cooled. The recipe below includes her traditional glaze as well as a lemon glaze.
The egg whites should be at room temperature to encourage better volume.
Use cake flour. Cake flour forms less gluten, which will prevent a gummy texture that may been seen when using AP flour.
- 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) sifted confectioners sugar
- 1 cup (100 grams) sifted cake flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 11 egg whites (1 1/2 cups), room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- Set oven rack in lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together sifted confectioners sugar, flour, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, beat whites in mixer until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until the egg whites form soft peaks. Add granulated sugar gradually, beating on medium-high speed until thickened and stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Mix in vanilla (beans or extract).
- Sprinkle one fourth of the dry ingredients over whites and fold in with a rubber spatula gently but thoroughly. Fold in remaining dry ingredients, in three more equal increments.
- Carefully batter evenly into ungreased angel food pan and bake until top is light golden and cake is beginning to pull away from the pan, 40 to 45 minutes.
- Remove cake from oven, turn upside down to cool, ensuring that the top of the cake doesn't touch the surface of the counter or cooling rack. Alternately, the pan can be placed upside down over the neck of a bottle. Don't worry; it won't fall out. Let cake cool completely for about 2 hours.
- Remove cake from pan by inserting a knife between the pan and outside of cake. Turn upside down onto cake plate and tap out the bottom of the pan. If needed, insert a knife between the bottom of the pan and the cake to release.
- Drizzle a glaze over top of the cake or serve plain. Berries also make a great accompaniment.
- Mix together 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar and 3-4 tablespoons milk or water.
- Mix together 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest and 3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice.