After watching an episode of Giada at Home on The Food Network this weekend, I decided Angel Food Cake (AFC) would be an awesome cake to start the New Year off with. For those of you who are not familiar with it, AFC is not too sweet, very moist and ethereally light. It calls for little flour and no butter, so it’s perfect if adopting a healthier lifestyle is on the top of your New Year’s resolutions list.
- Using an angel food cake pan with “feet” is best. Bundt pans, especially the ones with pretty designs, make releasing the cake from the pan more difficult.
- Do not grease the baking pan. Clinging to the sides of the pan is what helps this cake rise.
- Use a toothpick, wood skewer or a piece of raw spaghetti to test the cake for doneness by placing the toothpick into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. In addition, the top of the cake should also be brown.
- Cool the cake inside the baking pan and invert it to keep it from falling on itself. The pan’s “feet” will help air circulate through the bottom of the cake.
- Let the cake completely cool before releasing it from the pan.
- Never use a plain knife to cut the AFC, since it will compress the grain of the cake as it is super light and spongy. A serrated knife with a gentle sawing motion is the best tool and technique for cutting. A serrated knife is the knife is your set with “teeth” along with blade instead of a straight edge.
Most AFCs are served with a sugary glaze on top, which I am not a fan of. Instead I made a strawberry sauce by mixing a cup and a half of sliced strawberries (mine were frozen), half a cup of water, half a cup of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla. I let the mixture simmer until it reduced by about a third, removed it from the heat and strained it through a fine sieve. Although the original sauce for this recipe is made out of lemon, honey and yogurt, I found strawberry is a nice compliment to the hint of lemon in Giada’s cake. It also gave it a nice burst of color.
Angel Food Cake
Recipe courtesy: Giada De Laurentiis, 2008
12 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus extra for garnish
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
1 cup cake flour (sifted)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar. Using an electric hand mixer, beat on medium speed until frothy. Add the vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat on high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 to 4 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks (should look like clouds), about 2 minutes longer. Sprinkle the flour over the egg white mixture. Using a spatula, carefully fold in the flour until incorporated. Spoon the batter into an ungreased 10-inch nonstick angel food cake pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and a skewer inserted halfway between the inner and outer wall of the pan comes out clean. Invert the pan on a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.