24 May 2012
Angel food cake has a certain mystique - many people are under the impression that it's really finicky and difficult to make. But it really isn't. You can make one without any special equipment or special ingredients.
Gone are the days when I whipped egg whites (or cream) by hand with a whisk. And I don't have a fancy-schmancy heavy-duty stand mixer (looking at Breville 5-Quart Stand Mixer, Cuisinart 5.5-Quart Stand Mixer and KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart Stand Mixer), but a quite ordinary electric mixer works just fine for this. And I never have cake flour and, supposedly, angel food cake is the one cake for which cake flour is an absolute must. Well, it's not.
I develop all my recipes using organic unbleached all-purpose flour. No bread flour. No cake flour. I already have a vast assortment of gluten-free flours and starches (Bob's Red Mill) for my gluten-free baking, so I'm not about to give over any shelf space to bread flour and cake flour when I can get fabulous results with all-purpose.
Separate the eggs while they are cold. Allow the whites to stand at room temperature for an hour before whipping. Cover the yolks tightly and put them in the refrigerator until you're done with the cake. What to make with 7 egg yolks? Both custard sauce and lemon curd go beautifully with angel food cake. This time, as you can see from the photo, I went with the custard sauce (and by custard sauce I do not mean Bird's).
Angel Food Loaf Cake
(Makes one 9x4x4-inch loaf)
1/2 packed cup (2.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
7 large egg whites (about 1 cup), room temperature
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1 Place oven rack in lowest position (I didn't bother--no problem), and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 9x4x4-inch loaf pan (no need for the lid). Cut a 4x18-inch piece of foil to cover bottom and ends of pan. There will be about a half inch overhang on each end for easy removal. Do not grease. (Or cut a piece of parchment slightly smaller than the bottom of the pan.)
2 Using two small bowls, sift together flour and powdered sugar three or four times. I do it three times, but then I only let the egg whites stand at room temperature for half an hour.
3 In large bowl with mixer on low, beat together the egg whites, cream of tartar, salt and vanilla until egg whites have thickened and increased in volume (mixture looks like a bowl of suds!) and are nearly at soft peaks stage.
4 Gradually beat in sugar, in about 4 parts, until egg whites are stiff enough to hold up in soft peaks but are still glossy and moist.
5 Sift about 1/3 of flour mixture over egg whites and fold in lightly, with a rubber spatula, just until incorporated. Repeat two times.
6 Spoon batter into prepared ungreased 9x4x4-inch (or 9x5x3-inch) loaf pan, filling to about an inch or less from the top. Gently tap the pan on the counter a few times and make a few knife cuts through the batter to break up any large air bubbles.
7 Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until well browned. Invert pan on wire rack; let stand upside down as it cools, about an hour. Remove cake from pan.