Monday, November 19, 2007

Angel Food Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups Castor sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 12 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla paste (on line or find at Trader Joe's)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

  • Preheat oven to 325F.
    If you can't find Castor (super fine sugar) put regular sugar in the food processor and pulse on and off for a minute or two (no more).
    In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar and the cake flour. Put that aside for after you beat the egg whites. In another small bowl, put the rest of the sugar in another little bowl and have it handy near your mixer.
    You will  have one bowl that is JUST sugar, and one that is flour/sugar, do NOT mix them up.
    In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites on medium low until frothy, the add cream of tartar and salt.  (plastic bowls can retain some oil on their surface, which inhibits the eggs beating nicely, so if using one, clean in super hot water with lots of soap first).

    Beat until fully incorporated then begin to add the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar, 1-2 tablespoons at a time. When sugar has been added, beat egg whites on medium speed to soft peaks.  Soft peeks look like gentle waves and as you lift the beaters up from the eggs they will gently fall down. If your batter drops like ribbons, it needs a bit more time but you want to stop before you have stiff (think hair gel) peaks, so stop and check it every 15-20 seconds. Soft peaks should take 2-3 minutes.
    With the mixer still at medium speed, beat in half the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar is added and the whites are shiny and form soft peaks, another 2  to 2 and a half minutes. Add the vanilla paste, lemon juice and almond extract and beat on high for 30 seconds.

    Resift the flour/sugar mixture that you put aside and spoon it over the egg whites, about 3 tablespoons at a time, folding in gently with a large spatula.

    Gently scrape batter into an ungreased tube pan with a removable bottom, 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. (if yours does not have removable bottom, line with parchment paper, do NOT grease).

    Bake on lower-middle rack at 325 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, until cake is golden brown and top springs back when pressed firmly.

    After removing from oven, invert tube of pan over neck of bottle (or two stacked wire cookie cooling racks) so air can circulate all around it. Cool 2 to 3 hours.

    Gently run a thin knife around the sides, then around the bottom of the pan to release the cake when you are ready to serve it.
    Serve with fresh fruit or lemon curd or cube and serve with ice cream, strawberries and a drizzle of honey in a champagne class.

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