I knew angel food cake was a favorite between the two celebrants of a shared birthday party I was attending so choosing a cake was a no brainer. To top it off, I got to cross off another item from my culinary to do list. Some people frost entire angel food cakes, I think that's crazy. In my opinion, frosting doesn't belong on angel food cake at all, but since I was in the middle of Wilton cake decorating classes, I needed an excuse to practice making roses.
Angel food cake was a lot easier than I expected. All the fluffy egg white batter was a little intimidating because I didn't want it to deflate, but I didn't have any problems. Angel food cake is great when you want a nice light dessert that incorporates the summer berries.
EGG NOTES: I already had a good start on saving whites after making ice cream, so I only had to separate a few more eggs. Separating eggs is a lot easier when the eggs are cold, but when you start making the angel food cake, make sure the whites are at room temperature.
Since this recipe takes 12 egg whites, that's a lot of leftover yolks. If you can't use them all right away (by adding extra yolks in your scrambled eggs or making ice cream, pasta or hollandaise), then you can freeze them. Check out these tips from eHow. I found out the hard way that if you freeze yolks without the salt or sugar, they do get gelatinous and difficult to manage. Once you mix the salt or sugar into the bowl of yolks, I recommend measuring 1 Tbsp of yolk mixture and putting it into an ice cube tray (it'll be easier to grab the amount you need without defrosting the whole mixture). Once the cubes are frozen, pop them out of the ice tray, and store them in a freezer bag noting that they contain salt or sugar so you use the correct yolks (salt for savory recipes, sugar for sweet recipes).
Angel Food Cake
From Baking Illustrated
Sift both the cake flour and the granulated sugar before measuring to eliminate any lumps and ensure the lightest possible texture.
1 cup (3 oz) sifted plain cake flour
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) sifted sugar
12 large egg whites (1 3/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp), at room temperature
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp almond extract
Fresh berries or thawed frozen berries
Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 325. Have ready an ungreased large tube pan (9-inch diameter and 16-cup capacity), preferably with a removable bottom. If pan bottom is not removable, you must line it with parchment or waxed paper, but DO NOT GREASE or the batter won't be able to climb the sides of the pan and you will have a very flat angel food cake.
Whisk together the flour and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a small bowl. Place the remaining sugar in another small bowl near the mixer.
Beat the egg whites with a mixer at low speed until just broken up and beginning to froth. Add cream of tartar and salt and beat at medium speed until whites form very soft, billowy mounds, 2 to 3 minutes.
With the mixer still at medium speed, beat in the remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar is added and the whites are shiny and form soft peaks, another 2 to 3 minutes.
Add vanilla extract, lemon juice and almond extract and beat for about 30 seconds at highest speed.
Resift the flour/sugar mixture and spoon it over the egg whites, about 3 tablespoons at a time, folding in gently with a large spatula.
Gently scrape batter into pan, smooth top with spatula, and give the pan a couple of gentle raps on the counter to release any large air bubbles in the batter.
Bake until cake is golden brown and top springs back when pressed firmly, 50 to 60 minutes.
If cake pan has feet, invert pan onto them. If not, invert the pan onto the neck of a bottle or funnel (or two stacked wire cookie cooling racks) so air can circulate all around it. Allow cake to cool completely for 2 to 3 hours.
To unmold, run a thin serrated knife around the edges, being careful to dislodge as little of the crust as possible. Slide the cake out of pan and use the same technique on the bottom, or peel off parchment or waxed paper if using. Place cake, bottom side up, on a platter. Cut slices by sawing gently with a serrated knife. Serve with berries and whipped cream.