What could be more appropriate than a heavenly cake for your mother the angel? (“Yeah, right,” says my teenage daughter as she rolls her eyes!)
Well, like my daughter, I may not have always thought my mother was an angel, but after I made it through those awkward years and realized the strength of unconditional love (oh Mom, thanks for not giving up on me) I could think nothing less of my mother. Angel? How about saint?
This ethereally light cake, which is my mother’s favorite, is the perfect Mom dessert. It’s essentially fat free (the cake that is, not the cream!), is even better with loads of berries, and takes just a few minutes to make—separating the eggs consumes the most time.
Two important things to remember when making angel food are 1) don’t grease the pan
2) invert the pan while allowing the cake to cool (you can place the center of the tube pan on a long-neck bottle). Turning the pan upside down during the cooling process helps maintain the cake’s delicate structure, ensuring the cake doesn’t collapse or compress.
The cake can be served plain, but I like to spread thick cream over the entire cake (I whip up about a pint and add several tablespoons of powdered sugar and a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract) and top with strawberries.
I also cut up about a quart of strawberries, gently mash up half of them, add in a few teaspoons dark brown sugar dissolved in several teaspoons lemon juice, add back in the berries that weren’t mashed, and allow them to sit for an hour or so before serving. The berry-cake-cream combo is divine.
I hope you find this recipe from my great-grandmother just heavenly.
Heavenly angel food cake
1 cup cake flour
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1-1/2 cup egg whites (about 12 large eggs), at room temperature
1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Sift together the cake flour and the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl.
3. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high for 1 minute until slightly foamy. Add the cream of tartar and salt. Continue beating on high until soft peaks form. Add the granulated sugar and beat another 30 seconds until stiff peaks form. Then using a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the flour-confectioners’ sugar mixture 1 cup at a time. Add the vanilla extract and continue to fold the batter ensuring that all the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.
4. Spoon the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan and bake for 40 minutes.
5. Remove the pan from the oven and invert it upside down onto a bottle to cool, about 1 hour. When completely cool, loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a knife and unmold. Serve with berries and whipped cream.