Three months ago I had never made, or even eaten angel food cake. I’m not sure why I hadn’t come across this amazing cake – it is so delicious, and while not a doddle to make, is pretty easy once you have made it once and practised the techniques.
So the first angel food cake that I made was the first one that I ate! I love its sublime lightness, pillowy softness, and ability to be a fantastic vehicle for cream, fruit and sauces.
Angel food cake is notable because it contains no fat and no egg yolks. In fact, it’s basically egg whites, sugar and flour, with cream of tartar. It also needs to be cooked in a special angel food cake tin.
I did a heap of research online to find out how to bake this cake. There are several things you need to do for cake success:
*Acquire an angel food cake tin for a start, and learn how to use the tin.
The tin should be 25cm/10in in diameter.
*Don’t grease the tin!
*Cool the cake upside down, the tin being supported on its own legs.
*Treat your egg whites in the mixture with care. Whisk the egg whites until aerated and foamy but not dry. After adding the sugar, whisk into soft but not stiff peaks. The egg white mixture will continue to expand in the oven. Stiff peaks may deflate in the oven.
My recipe is developed from very helpful instructions from the Queen of Cakes, Mary Berry, link here and Sally’s Baking Addiction, link here. Both food writers explain the science of the angel food cake clearly with understandable instructions.
Angel food cake is best served with cream and fruit or a sauce. It would be tricky to ice the cake as it’s so delicate, so it’s usually served plain.
I served this particular cake with lots of strawberries and raspberries, and berry whipped cream – whipped cream mixed with some berry jam and then piped onto the cake in swirls.
An angelic dusting of icing sugar makes this a truly heavenly cake to eat!
125g plain flour
300g caster sugar
10 large free-range egg whites
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon salt
250mls whipping cream
1-2 tablespoons of any berry jam – strawberry, raspberry or blueberry, or a mixture
Icing sugar, to dust
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, 180 degrees C non fan forced. Make sure you have an oven shelf positioned in the lower third of the oven.
Sift the flour and salt and add to a food processor. Pulse them with 100g of the caster sugar. This will aerate the dry ingredients to help create a light cake texture.
Whisk the 10 egg whites in an electric stand mixer on a high speed for one minute until frothy. Add the lemon juice, cream of tartar and salt and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes, or until foamy peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. Increase the speed, and add the remaining 200g of caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time to form firm, but not stiff peaks. You will end up with a big volume of meringue mixture.
Sprinkle over one third of the flour/sugar mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. Repeat with the next third of the mixture and then the last third. Be very careful to fold the flour/sugar mixture gently to keep as much air in the angel food mixture as possible.
Carefully spoon the mixture into an angel food cake tin. Do not grease the tin! There is a lot of mixture to get into the tin. Once in the tin, gently run a knife through the centre of the mixture to remove any pockets of air.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. The cake should be pale brown and should have risen slightly. If the egg whites have been over beaten, or the mixture stirred too aggressively, the baked cake can sink.
Take out of the oven and turn the tin upside down onto the tin’s cooling legs on the bench top. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for at least an hour, two is ideal.
Once the cake is cool, run a knife around the outer edge of the cake tin, and also the inner edge around the centre insert, to remove it from the tin.
Turn the tin over and invert onto a plate. Remove the centre insert, and very carefully run a palette knife between the cake and the base of the tin to separate the cake from the base. Being very careful, turn the cake right side up and place on a wire rack to cool.
Once cool, very delicately turn the cake right side up and place on a serving plate.
Whip the cream until fairly stiff, but don’t overwhip or you’ll end up with butter! Put into a piping bag, and swirl your berry jam of choice into the cream. Pipe swirls or rosettes, if you’re being fancy, around the diameter of the cake.
Pile lots of strawberries and raspberries into the centre of the angel food cake.
Dust liberally with icing sugar over the whole cake.