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Homemade Angel Food Cake


Description

Source: The New York Times Cookbook, Craig Claiborne

Notes: I use the recipe from the Craig Claiborne New York Times Cookbook, but I reference the angel food cake recipe from The New York Times Dessert Cookbook (which happens to be credited to Claiborne and differs only in the quantity of sugar), because Florence Fabricant offers some wonderful guidance:

    It is absolutely essential that great care be taken in beating the egg whites so they remain creamy and do not weep or break from overbeating preventing the cake from rising so magnificently. It’s best to underbeat them slightly. And they will beat best if they are not ice cold. The pan is not greased so the batter easily “climbs” up the sides as it bakes, increasing the loftiness of the cake. Tracing a square in the top of the unbaked batter with a knife also encourages rising. And keeping the cake upside down until it cools is essential to prevent it from falling.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sifted cake flour*
  • 1 1/2 cups superfine granulated sugar (I did not use superfine)
  • 1 1/4 cups egg whites (10 to 12), at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

*I used Lily White because I had it, but I imagine all-purpose will work just fine, too.


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
  2. Sift the flour four times with a 1/2 cup of the sugar. (Do take the time to do this. I think it makes a difference. I don’t have a sifter — I just use a fine-mesh sieve.)
  3. Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and salt and beat until soft moist peaks form when the beater is withdrawn.
  4. Add the remaining sugar, about two tablespoons at a time, beating it in after each addition. Add vanilla and almond extract.
  5. Sift about one-quarter cup of the flour-sugar mixture at a time over the meringue and cut and fold it in just until no flour shows. (This part is kind of tricky. You’ll feel you are deflating the egg whites at every fold, but try to be delicate and fold no more than necessary.)
  6. Turn into ungreased nine- or ten-inch tube pan and bake about 45 minutes to an hour, until the cake is lightly browned and springy. Invert pan onto a rack and let cake cool in pan completely, about an hour and a half. Run a knife or metal spatula around the sides of pan to release the cake.

To assemble cake:

Halve cooled angel food cake. Spread a layer of whipped cream frosting (see below) on top of one half. Top with remaining half. Plop a generous amount of frosting on top of the cake and with an offset spatula (if you have one) spread it down and all around the cake covering all sides. Using a peeler, shave a bar of chocolate over top of the cake.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes