This past week there was a cold snap and even in DC temperatures were plunging into the teens. Being from Minnesota, the weather wasn’t exactly the catastrophe the newscasters made it out to be— but I will admit I was a little chilly. Growing up in a climate where 10 degrees wasn’t cold unless there was an accompanying wind chill, I’ve had fun watching people react to the snow in a more southern climate. Since moving to DC I’ve noticed two funny things that happen when it snows. First, people use umbrellas to cover themselves when it’s snowing and second, people use brooms to sweep their sidewalks free of the snow.
But enough about the cold weather and onto my baking adventures over the weekend. Since I was tucked inside when it was snowing on Friday night, I decided to try a new recipe that was a little more time intensive. I baked my first angel food cake. I’ve always been somewhat dubious when it comes to making a dessert that has no fat, little flour, and only egg whites. But I figured I would give it a shot. It didn’t turn out perfect (it takes some work to maintain the soft peaks of the egg whites while mixing in the flour) but it tasted absolutely delicious. The added bonus of this dessert is that it’s a little healthier than your average cake and can be paired with fresh fruit for an added nutritious boost.
Angel Food Cake
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cake flour, sifted
12 egg whites (the closer to room temperature the better)
1/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon orange extract, or extract of your choice
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
In a food processor spin sugar about 2 minutes until it is superfine. Sift half of the sugar with the salt the cake flour, setting the remaining sugar aside.
In a large bowl, use a balloon whisk to thoroughly combine egg whites, water, orange extract, and cream of tartar. After 2 minutes, switch to a hand mixer. Slowly sift the reserved sugar, beating continuously at medium speed. Once you have achieved medium peaks, sift enough of the flour mixture in to dust the top of the foam. Using a spatula fold in gently. Continue until all of the flour mixture is incorporated.
Carefully spoon mixture into an ungreased tube pan. Bake for 35 minutes before checking for doneness with a wooden skewer. (When inserted halfway between the inner and outer wall, the skewer should come out dry).
Cool upside down on cooling rack for at least an hour before removing from pan.
Heather’s Helpful Hints
It’s essential that you’re careful separating your egg whites to ensure even the tiniest speck of yolk doesn’t sneak into your batter. When they’re cold, the yolks and eggs seem to hold their shape better and separate more easily. Since the recipe calls for room temperature eggs, just separate them first and let them warm in separate bowls. In addition, be sure to use the freshest eggs you can get, as they’re easier to separate.