In today’s hurry-scurry world, angel food cake that is made from scratch is akin to rarefied air. Hardly anyone makes them anymore. We think that’s a shame! Once you’ve tasted the real thing and you experience how each sweet bite melts in your mouth, you won’t ever want to use a mix or purchased option again.
Egg whites, of course, are the foundation of angel cakes. Raw egg whites don’t look like much. But whip them and they magically transform into some of the most ethereal food experiences ever. With today’s powerful electric mixers, the task is hardly difficult and doesn’t eat up a lot of time. A few tips and how-to techniques will help you become the angel cake master of your neighborhood.
- Use a full-size countertop electric mixer for making angel cakes. With nearly a dozen whites per recipe, a portable mixer will not be powerful enough for all the whipping that is required.
- Separate the eggs when they are cold, being careful not to get any (not even a smidge) of yolk in the whites. The fat in egg yolks will inhibit fat-free whites from whipping. Separate one white at a time into a small dish, then transfer it to your measuring cup of other whites. If you accidentally get some yolk in the white, use an egg shell half to carefully scoop it out.
- After you’ve separated the eggs, allow the egg whites to warm up to room temperature. This will take about a half hour. Room temperature whites will whip to a greater volume than cold ones.
- Be sure all work bowls and utensils are thoroughly clean and dry.
- Use ungreased baking pans. The 10-inch tube is the traditional size. Do not have a 10-inch tube pan? No problem, you can also make smaller cakes or cupcakes in paper bakeware. We like the Welcome Home line of paper bakeware available on amazon.com.
- What to do with all those egg yolks? Freeze them for another use. Egg yolk will thicken when frozen, so you need to give yolks special treatment. Beat in either 1/8 teaspoon salt or 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar or light-colored corn syrup per 1/4 cup of egg yolks. Label the container with the number of yolks, the date, and whether you’ve added salt (for main dishes) or sweetener (for baking or desserts). Freeze.
Ginger-Honey Angel Food Cake Here’s the “real thing” stepped up a couple of notches. Honey adds moistness to the cake; fresh ginger adds a pleasing kick. Serve with fresh fruit and whipped cream.
1-1/2 cups egg whites (10 to 12 large)
1-1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 cup sifted cake flour
1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon grated fresh gingerroot
For Ginger Drizzle:
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated gingerroot
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Edible flowers for garnish (optional)
Step 1. Place egg whites in an extra-large mixing bowl. Let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes (whites will beat to better volume when at room temperature). Meanwhile, sift the first 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar and cake flour together 3 times.
Step 2. Place oven rack on the lowest position in the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add cream of tartar and vanilla to egg whites. Beat on medium speed of electric mixer until soft peaks form (tips will curl over).
Step 3: Gradually add granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (tips will stand straight).
Step 4. Pour honey in a thin stream over mixture, beating well.
Step 5. Sift a fourth of the flour mixture over beaten whites; fold in gently. Repeat adding and folding in flour mixture by fourths.
Fold in ginger.
Step 6: *Place 2 6-inch tube paper bake pans (or fourteen 3-inch deep-dish paper bake cups) on a baking sheet. Turn half the batter into each of the large paper tube pans; spread evenly. (Or, spoon 3/4 cup of the batter into each of the small paper bake cups; spread evenly.) Gently cut through batter in all the pans to remove any large air pockets.
Step 6. Place on lowest rack in oven. Bake small cups 20 minutes or till cake tests done with a cake tester; place on wire rack and cool. Bake large pan 25 to 30 minutes or till it tests done. Immediately invert large cake, placing the hole of the pan over the neck of a bottle. Cool completely.
Step 7. To make Ginger Drizzle, stir together 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, honey, 1 teaspoon ginger, and 1 teaspoon milk. Add more milk, a teaspoon at a time, until mixture reaches drizzling consistency. Drizzle mixture over cakes. Garnish with edible flowers, if desired. Makes two 6-inch cakes or fourteen 3-inch cupcakes or one 10-inch cake.
*Or, turn batter into one ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until cake tests done.