28 October 2010

American Cuisine : Angel Food Cake

I made this the other day for one of my classes and I promised to put up the recipe for them. You’ll have to look up any vocabulary yourself.

This is a traditional American sponge cake like the French génoise that became popular at the end of the 19th century. It’s very sweet, light and airy; a true “food of the angels.”

The cake is usually made in a special angel food cake pan that is a tall, round pan with a tube in the center. Some pans have little “feet” on the rim so that you can turn the cake over to cool. Otherwise, the pan is usually turned upside down on the neck of a bottle while the cake cools. The pan normally has a removable bottom that helps to remove the cake after it has cooled for a couple of hours.

Such a pan may be hard to find in France but other tube pans can work too. However be aware, if you use a pan that has a decorative bottom or side, the cake may have trouble coming out and stick to the sides because the sides of the pan are not buttered or oiled!!

Angel Food Cake
recipe taken and adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

The cake can be served plain, dusted with confectioners’ sugar, drizzled with a glaze, or served with fresh fruit, a coulis and whipped cream!

93g flour + 1 tablespoon of cornstarch (such as Maizena)
298 g sugar (divided in half)
12 to 14 egg whites, at room temperatures (420/425ml)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar (le bitartrate de potassium)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 163°C. Line the bottom of a large tube pan with cooking paper but do not grease. Whisk the flour and the first half of the sugar together in a medium bowl and set aside.

2. Whip the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until foamy. Whip in the cream of tartar and salt until the whites form very soft, billowy mounds. Increase the speed to medium and beat in the last half of sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until the whites are shiny and form soft peaks. Beat in the lemon juice and extracts.

3. Sift 1/4 cup of the floor mixture over the egg whites, then gently fold in (not stirring!) using a large rubber spatula. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time (about 6 more times).

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, then rap the pan on the counter several times to settle the batter. Wipe any drops of batter off the sides of the pan. Bake until the cake is golden brown, and the top springs back when pressed firmly, 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

5. Invert the tube pan over a standard kitchen funnel or the neck of a sturdy bottle (or, if your pan has “feet” that rise above the edge of the pan, simply let the cake rest upside down). Let the cake cool completely, upside down, 2 to 3 hours.

6. Run a serrated knife (bread knife) around the sides and center of the cake to loosen. Gently tap the pan upside down on the counter to release the cake. Peel off the cooking paper, then flip upright onto a serving platter. Cut into slices, using a serrated knife.

To make ahead: After the cake has cooled, it can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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