by Ava Morlier, Culinary Arts Writer
Happy December! Christmas is coming, and with it, the creation of many delicious pastries. Cookies-galore colorfully accent dessert trays and plates. Rich chocolates hide in tins and wrappings, and gingerbread fills many a kitchen with delectably spicy aromas. Today’s pastry, however, is unlike any other traditional Christmas pastry: angel food cake!
Light, airy, and simply flavored, angel food cake is a great alternative to the predictable and rich cookies and candy. However, it can still be decorated. It’s light color allows it to easily be changed by food dye (cool swirl effect with red and green dye, anyone?) or include colorful candies or sprinkles (crushed candy cane, gumdrops, or cut up pieces of the fabled sugar plums). No heavy icings needed; a simple glaze or drizzle elegantly flavors the outside of this cake.
Though making this cake involves great care (lots of whipping is needed), it will ensure that St. Nicholas will soon be there in your kitchen wanting a bite (the whipping incorporates air, which allows for the cake to be light and airy).
With a festive name and a versatility graced by delicate lightness (no cookies weighing your stomach down), angel food cake will soon become one of your Christmas favorites! Have a happy holiday, everyone!
Heavenly Angel Food Cake
1 ¼ cups egg whites at room temperature (about 10-12 eggs)
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup cake flour (can be substituted with 1 c.- 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour and 2 tbsp. cornstarch, sifted together)
1 ¼ tsp. cream of tartar*
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. almond extract (you can use different extracts, if desired)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
*Cream of Tartar stabilizes the egg whites, ensuring that the cake does not collapse
Preheat oven to 3500. Measure and set out egg whites. In 1 bowl, sift cake flour 2 times. Next, measure out and combine cream of tartar and salt. Combine with flour. Set aside.
Once egg whites are room temperature, put in another bowl. Whip egg whites until whites are frothy. Add extracts and mix.
Add sugar bit by bit, mixing well after each addition.
Whip until soft (going on stiff) peaks form.
Sprinkle small amounts of the flour mixture on top of the egg white mixture, folding with the spatula after each addition to incorporate. Repeat 4-5 times, eventually incorporating all of the flour (make sure not to overfold).
Fold in desired colors or sprinkles.
Pour into angel food cake pan or cupcake pan (Do NOT grease). Shake the pan slightly to ensure the batter is evenly distributed.
Place in the oven and bake until lightly browned on top, about 20 minutes.
Once cooked, take out and immediately flip the cake onto a plate (this is essential; it prevents the cake from collapsing). Let cool for 1 hr.
Garnish; cut with a serrated knife and serve.
2 large bowls, fine mesh sieve or sifter, liquid and dry measuring utensils, beaters and mixer, spatula, angel food cake pan or cupcake pan.
*With credit to Amy Finley’s Gougeres recipe on Foodnetwork.com and Chef Liddick of CTC.