Angel Food Cake, or
Angel Cake, is a ring shaped cake with a beautiful golden brown crust and a soft and spongy, snowy white
cake has four main ingredients; egg whites, sugar, vanilla extract, and flour. It does not contain egg yolks,
butter, or oil, so it is perfect for
those watching their fat intake. It can be eaten
plain with just a dusting of powdered sugar, and I really like it with fresh fruit and softly whipped cream.
An Angel Food Cake gets its rise, not from baking powder or baking soda, but solely from the air whipped into egg
In order to get the maximum volume from the egg whites, have them at room
temperature, and make sure your
mixing bowl and whisk are clean, dry, and free of grease.
The recipe begins with beating the whites with cream of tartar which is
added to stabilize the whites and prevents over beating. Once the whites form soft peaks, the
sugar is gradually beaten in, one tablespoon at a time, so it fully dissolves into the egg whites.
I like to use superfine white sugar as it easily dissolves into the egg
whites. You can make superfine sugar by processing white granulated sugar
in your food processor until finely ground. (Angel Food Cakes do use
more sugar than other types of sponge cakes and this is to support and
stabilize the large amount of egg whites.) Once the egg whites are stiff
and glossy, cake flour, mixed with a little sugar to prevent the flour
from clumping, is gradually folded into the whites to ensure the batter
doesn't deflate. Cake flour is a low gluten flour, which gives the cake a
soft and tender crumb. You can make cake flour; take 1 cup all purpose
flour, remove 2 tablespoons, and replace with 2 tablespoons cornstarch.
Angel Food Cakes are baked in a tube pan,
with a removable bottom, which gives the cake support as well as making it easier
to remove the baked cake from the pan. The pan (do not use a non stick pan) isn't greased so the batter
will cling to the
sides of the pan as it bakes which allows the cake to reach its full volume. The
hole in the middle of the pan allows the hot air to circulate and reach the
center of the cake. Unlike most cakes that are simply placed on a wire rack to
cool, Angel Food Cakes are immediately inverted so the baked cake will maintain
its volume and to keep it from shrinking as it cools.
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