Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Grandma Lucy's Angel Food Cake

When I was a kid, it wasn't June unless we had Grandma's angel food cake slathered in strawberries and whipped cream for my Dad's birthday.

Lucky for all of us, my grandma taught me the recipe and her tricks for making sure this dessert stays light and fluffy:

  • Never make it on a humid day (back then not everyone had air conditioning).
  • Use a serrated knife to slice the spongy goodness.

It's been awhile since I made angel food cake – June of 2012, to be exact, because my Dad was visiting on his birthday, which happens to be the same day as my husband's.

Last summer, my youngest son Sam took a liking to angel food cake after I let him buy one at the grocery. He can easily devour one "angel cake" on his own in about two days. I had great intentions of making some for him, but life got in the way.

So....a visit from my parents earlier this month, plus a successful strawberry picking outing, plus a couple of angel food cake lovers in the house meant only one thing – it was time to whip up Grandma's Angel Food Cake.

With Father's Day coming this weekend, you might consider making some for the Dads in your life.

Mangia! Mangia!

Grandma Lucy's Angel Food Cake
1 cup cake flour (I use Swans Down)
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons white sugar
12 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 to 1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Have ready a tube pan with a removable bottom (sometimes called an angel food cake pan). Do NOT grease the pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour and 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar. Set aside.

A note about the egg whites: For this recipe, separate the egg whites one at a time into a small bowl or cup before adding to the mixing bowl. You want to be sure there are no bits of yolk, as this will prevent the whites from becoming as fluffy as they need to be. Reserve the yolks for another use.

In a large bowl, combine egg whites, cream of tartar and salt. Beat with an electric mixer until the egg whites begin to form peaks. Add remaining 3/4 cup sugar and then continue to beat until stiff peaks form, like in the photo below:

Sprinkle flour mixture over egg whites. Add vanilla and almond extracts. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold flour and extracts into egg whites. Do not stir. Gently fold in from the sides and bottom of the bowl. This combines all ingredients without deflating the egg whites.

Spoon batter into angel food cake pan, distributing evenly. Slowly move a knife through the batter to remove air bubbles. Smooth out top with rubber spatula or wooden spoon.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until top of cake is lightly browned and it springs back when you gently push the cake with your finger.

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, or until the pan is cool enough to touch.

Then invert cake pan on a funnel to let the cake continue to cool. Don't worry, the cake will not fall out of the pan! Cool completely, at least 2 hours.

Remove tube pan from funnel. Run a rubber spatula around the edges of the cake pan to loosen the cake. Place a plate or cake stand on the top of the cake and invert the pan. Gently lift cake pan up. If cake does not begin to slide out on its own, tap the sides of the pan. Remove outer pan, then ease bottom of pan off what is now the top of the cake. You may need to use a rubber spatula to separate the cake from the pan.

Now you're ready to slice and serve Grandma Lucy's Angel Food Cake. To ensure that the cake retains it's height, be sure to use a serrated knife to cut the cake.

Angel food cake is delicious all by itself, but at my house, we think it tastes even better with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

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