I love eggs. The incredible, edible egg really is an apt description. How many other foods work equally well in savory dishes and sweet ones?
If you're a fan of cooking competition shows like Top Chef and The Next Food Network Star, you've probably heard someone complain about having to bake something. Every season, some pro complains because baking requires exacting measurements and doesn't leave as much room for creativity as cooking. I'm not sure that's always true, but it is true about Angel Food Cake. Recipes for this classic don't vary much.
Around here, now that the cheesecake, cookies, and New Year's Bombe are gone, we're getting hungry for something sweet, so I decided to bake an Angel Food Cake. The ingredients are simple, you probably have them in your kitchen right now, and it's actually not all that hard to make. You do have to have a special pan, though.
You'll find that some recipes are positively scary, requiring superfine
sugar and cake flour. I didn't use either. Instead, I mixed the dry ingredients and sifted them together a few times.
Angel Food Cake contains no fat! Yup, it's true. Ideal for all those diets everyone started after the holidays. If you're serving it to a dieting crowd, serve it with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt. Remember it does contain sugar -- it's not calorie-free! If dieting isn't a concern, serve it with whipping cream and fresh fruit. Or serve it with a sauce. I made a no-brainer blueberry reduction that's good enough for company.
Angel Food Cake
1 cup flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
10 - 12 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Sift into another bowl. Sift back into the original bowl. Repeat and set aside.
Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar. Hint #1 Don't overbeat. The egg whites should hold a curling peak, not a stiff peak.
Divide the egg whites. Sift some of the flour mixture on one half, sprinkle on the vanilla, and fold until blended. Repeat until all of the flour mixture has been folded in. Add the rest of the egg whites and fold in. Hint #2 If you add the flour gradually to the egg whites, they'll be more likely to stay fluffy.
Spoon/pour into an Angel Food Cake pan. Do not grease! Bake 45 minutes.
Remove from oven and turn upside down immediately. Some pans come with little feet, if yours does, you can let it rest on the feet. There are those who think that it's better if the cake is in the air. The conventional method is to hang the middle part from a bottle. The neck holds the cake pan and the bottle is sturdy enough (hopefully) not to topple. My pan has a tiny middle part that doesn't fit over a bottle. I turned four wineglasses upside down and let the edges of the cake pan rest on them. Hint #3 Let cool thoroughly upside down, even overnight. Loosen the edges to remove and turn over a serving plate. Hint #4 Slice with a serrated knife.
No-Brainer Blueberry Sauce
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
1/2 cup Cognac
1/4 cup orange liqueur
1/4 cup sugar
This is a really a no-brainer reduction. Combine all the ingredients in a small pot, stir, and bring to a boil. Turn down to just a bit more than a simmer (uncovered) and let cook until it reduces by half, about 45 minutes.