I never liked angel food cake as a kid. Why go for a bitter, dry cake served with fruit, when I could have a dense, buttery cake with a creamy frosting?
But in the wisdom of my years (and the experience that taught me that all too often, grocery store bakes are subpar), I decided to give it a go myself. I was somewhat inspired by my recent attempts at chiffon cake, which follow something of the same technique, but use whole eggs rather than just whites.
Also, I’m better at baking now. Angel food cake is something of a technical challenge, requiring much whipping and folding of egg whites. The key is to fold very, very gently so you don’t deflate your cake. Because the egg whites are so voluminous, there is actually very little flour used in the recipe. Maybe some of the bitter flavor I experienced as a child was from the lemon used to flavor the cake and stabilize the whites?
The result is a fluffy but moist cake that is light enough to serve with all kinds of toppings. Whipped cream and fruit would be traditional American, but since I was so pleased with my cake-cess, I decided to celebrate and French-toast the slices. This was not a bad decision, and while I don’t insist that you imitate me, I highly recommend it. Not for the sake of my ego, but for the sake of your well-being and life experience.
Because I just want to take care of you,
Angel Food Cake
Adapted from David Lebovitz
1 cup (130 grams) cake flour (not self-rising)
1 cup (200 grams), plus 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups egg whites (from about 12 large eggs), at room temperature
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Have a 9-inch (23 cm) tube pan or Bundt pan ready. (Do not use a non-stick tube pan or grease the pan.)
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, begin to whip the egg whites on medium speed. When they become foamy, add the lemon juice.
Increase the speed to high and continue to whip the egg whites until they just begin to hold their shape in soft peaks. Gradually whip the remaining 1 cup of sugar into the whites, a tablespoons at a time. Do not overwhip; the egg whites should not be overly dry or stiff, but soft and cloud-like. Beat in the vanilla.
With a rubber spatula, fold the flour and sugar mixture into the whites gradually, a small amount at a time.
Spoon the batter in the tube pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately invert the tube pan over a cooling rack. If the pan doesn’t have “feet”, set it over the neck of a heavy bottle or overturned metal funnel, using the center hole of the pan to hold the cake until cool.
If desired, french toast your slices as you would bread and serve with sauce and whipped cream.