I hadn't originally planned to share my birthday cake with you all. But, then I thought why not? As you may or may not know one of my resolutions this year is to cook my way through a (quite long and basic) cookbook. I'm wanting to learn more technical terms and proper techniques. Plus I tend to glaze over the basics, as I'm at a stage in my cooking life when I love embellishing and adapting. But sometimes it's a relief to cook something simple and follow someone else's instructions. So far this month I've been making stocks, which become soups, and lots of cakes and frostings. Tomorrow is my birthday! Tonight is my family dinner. My parents make each of us a homemade version of our favorite food for our birthday. So tonight I'll be eating a lot of pizza! And I asked my mom if I could make my cake, since I have a lot of practicing to do this year anyway. I've been working with meringues, learning the difference between French, Swiss and Italian meringues. A (french) meringue base is the beginning of making angel food cake.I've always thought of angel food cake as a spring treat. So perhaps it's a little odd to be making it in the middle of winter. But, I actually think angel food cake could be the perfect January cake, as it's fat free and many people are trying to eat healthier this month after the holidays. Even though this is a fairly healthy cake (if that's not a total oxymoron), it still feels very decadent and special. Perfect for a birthday. :)Angel Food Cake with Fresh Cream and Berries, recipe from Martha Stewart's Cooking School.
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 egg whites (at room temperature is best)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
First sift together the cake flour and 3/4 cup sugar (reserve the remaining 3/4 cup sugar). I like to sift ingredients either over a large bowl or parchment paper on the counter. Sift the ingredients together four times. I know. But, this helps the cake get it's light and airy texture. I went back and forth between a large bowl and parchment paper and this made it quite easy.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer (or a stand mixer) beat the egg whites until they look foamy. Add in the salt, cream of tartar and vanilla. Continue to beat until soft peaks begin to form (3-4 minutes on medium/low speed). While the mixer running slowly add in the reserved 3/4 cup sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form, mixture will look very glossy.
Fold the sifted flour mixture into the meringue. Do this in 4-5 small batches, using a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the meringue. Now you're ready to pour (more like plop) the batter into your angel food pan. Use a knife to cut into the batter in a large circle. This helps to release any big air bubbles. This is also what creates that circular ridge though out the cake (you can see it in the photo above).
Bake at 325°F for 32-40 minutes. Remove from oven allow to cool for a few minutes. Run a knife along the outer edge of the pan, helping to release the cake from the edges. Invert the cake and pan onto a cooling rack. Gently pull the pan off, leaving the cone center. Then gently pull the cone center out as well. You can serve this warm or allow to fully cool then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.Fresh whipped cream (this is essential for angel food cake if you ask me!)
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespooon powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
With and electric mixer beat the cream on medium high. As the mixer runs, add in the sugar and vanilla. Keep beating just until soft peaks form.Serve this cake with fresh cream and berries. A little chocolate sauce would be good too. I left the tops of my strawberries on simply because I thought it looked pretty. And hey, it's my birthday. But you can chop up the fruit ahead or slice the cake before adding any toppings. It's all good. :) xo. Emma
Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman