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How to make angel food cake

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Light, airy angel food cake

I heard a friend say recent that she thought angel food cake was boring. Boring?, I asked. Really? While my friend might prefer to toss out excesss egg whites than make angel food cake, the view is far different in my house. We love angel food cake. It's light and sweet and is a lovely balance in texture and flavor with everything from chocolate sauces to fruit syrups.

Angel Food Cake

Angel food cake is a light counterpoint after holiday indulgences

Th versatility - as well as the low-fat factor (though not quite guilt-free) - of angel food cake make it a family favorite. And it is a dessert I look to often in January after the indulgences of the holiday season. In addition, it's a great way to use up egg whites after I've indulged the family in custard treats that use extra egg yolks.

Making the perfect angel food cake takes practice

Admittedly, making perfectly light angel food cake can be a little bit of a challenge. It's all about the air, after all - and I have a tendency to over-mix everything. The good news is that even if the results aren't perfectly airy, the cake is still tasty, and still very worthy of snacking.

Angel food cake is deliciously versatile

This light, lovely cake is a treat as is, or can be served in a delicious number of other sweet ways. It can be:
  • cubed and dipped in chocolate fondue
  • drizzled generously with chocolate ganache
  • served in wedges with macerated fresh fruit
  • sliced thin and served with fresh fruit sauce, such as a raspberry coulis
  • glazed with liqueur-based sauces

Two key techniques for making the perfect angel food cake

Folding is an essential technique in achieving the light, airy texture characteristic of good angel food cake. I find the ideal method of folding is, using a spatula, bringing a stroke down the very middle of the batter and turning it gently over onto the top of the remaining batter. Turn the bowl one quarter turn clockwise and repeat until your ingredients are just incorporated.

Cooling a baked angel food cake properly is another key technique. After removing the cake from the oven, invert the pan and allow the cake to cool. I remember my mother carefully balancing the tube pan with the just cooked cake on the neck of an old glass Coca-Cola bottle. While the center tube of my tube pan is tall enough that it can be balanced just on that, you might need to consider a method like my mother's. Or set the tube pan upside down on three or four cans spaced apart just so the edges of the tube pan rest on them.

Angel Food Cake

To fill a 9-inch tube pan

Ingredients:
1-1/4 cups sugar, sifted
1 cup cake flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Set aside 1 cup of the sifted sugar, and re-sift 1/4 cup of sugar with the cake flour and the salt. Set aside.

2. Whip the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, then continue to whip until the egg whites are stiff, but not dry. Fold in the extracts.

3. Whip in the cup of sifted sugar, one spoonful at a time. Fold in the flour-sugar mixture, about 1/4 cup at time. Fold gently but firmly - do not over-mix; it will deflate the egg whites.

4. Carefully pour the batter into an ungreased tube pan, gently shaking to even out the batter. Bake 45 minutes. Invert pan upon removing it from the oven, and allow to cool completely in this inverted position.

Note: You can add other flavorings to your angel food cake batter. Instead of almond, try peppermint or orange extract, for example.

Dessert recipes with angel food cake

Heavenly Frosted Angel Food Cake
Cranberry Trifle
Angel Food Pineapple Cake
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