Continuing with our angel food cake theme, we have a classic vanilla version this week. Thanks to Therese Dumensil, Megan Prince and Lori Meads of East Selkirk. Thanks also to Janet Martin, who sent in the version below, an award-winning angel food cake recipe from an old sorority cookbook.
Thanks as well to Christie Macdonald, who offers a recipe from the divine Rose Levy Beranbaum for crème anglaise. Christie likes to pair this rich pouring custard with angel food cake. It tastes beautiful and also helps use up some of those extra egg yolks.
This week, Kim Froom is looking for a sauce for pork chops that contains sweet pickle juice, ketchup, onion and (she thinks) brown sugar and mustard. And Leslie Hancock is hoping someone has a recipe for pecan chicken with mustard sauce, once served at Haley's Restaurant, a Cajun eatery near Confusion Corner.
If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, fax it to 204-697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.
Award-Winning Angel Food Cake
250 ml (1 cup) cake and pastry flour
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) sifted icing sugar
12 egg whites (375 ml or 1 1/2 cups), at room temperature
7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) cream of tartar
2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) vanilla
2 ml (1/2 tsp) almond extract
250 ml (1 cup) granulated sugar
Set out, but do not grease, a 25-cm (10-inch) tube pan that is 10 cm (4 inches) deep. Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F). Measure and sift together three times the flour and icing sugar. Measure the egg whites, cream of tartar, salt, vanilla and almond extract into large bowl. Beat with electric whip or wire-whip until foamy. While beating, gradually add, 30 ml (2 tbsp) at a time, granulated sugar. Continue beating until meringue holds stiff peaks. Gradually sift the flour-icing sugar mixture over the meringue, folding in gently until it disappears. Push batter into ungreased tube pan. Gently cut through batter with a knife to remove air pockets. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until no imprint remains when finger lightly touches top of cake. Let hang, with pan inverted onto a glass soda or wine bottle, until cold. Cut around cake with sharp knife to remove from pan.
Tester's notes: This is a great angel food cake -- moist and tender and with a lovely vanilla flavour. It does involve a lot of sifting -- though some recipes call for an exhausting six sifts, so I guess I got off lightly! -- but this necessary step incorporates air into the dry ingredients and makes for a light, lofty cake.
For angel food cake novices, here are a few tips repeated from last week's chocolate version: Whipping the egg whites will be easiest with a stand mixer with whisk attachment and metal bowl. If using a hand mixer, try to use a metal or glass bowl; plastic can retain grease that will inhibit the whipping of the egg whites. Eggs are easiest to separate when cold, but whip up better after sitting at room temperature for about an hour. I separated each egg white first into a small bowl and made sure there were absolutely no traces of yolk, which inhibits whipping, before adding to the large bowl. Cooling the cake upside-down on a wine bottle does look strange but this method uses gravity to help keep the cake high and light. (If you cool the cake in an upright position, it will compress.) Angel food cakes are baked in ungreased pans so the batter can "climb" up the side and bake up light, so you'll have to cut carefully around the cake with a sharp, thin knife to release it; it will leave a layer of moist crumbs in the pan, which is normal.
30 ml (2 tbsp) granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks (60 ml or 1/4 cup)
250 ml (1 cup) whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla
30-45 ml (2-3 tbsp) liqueur or eau-de-vie (optional)
Have a fine strainer ready near the stove, suspended over a small mixing bowl. In a small, heavy, non-corrodible saucepan, stir together the sugar, salt and egg yolks until well blended, using a wooden spoon. In another small saucepan (or heatproof glass measure if using a microwave on high power), heat the milk and vanilla bean to the boiling point. (If using vanilla extract, do not add now. Add later to cooled sauce.) Stir a few tablespoonfuls of milk mixture into the yolk mixture; then gradually add the rest of milk and vanilla mixture, stirring constantly. Heat the mixture, stirring constantly, to just before the boiling point (76-82 C or 170-180 F). Don't heat over 82 C (180 F) or mixture will curdle. Steam will begin to appear and the mixture will be slightly thicker than heavy cream. (It will leave a well-defined track when a finger is run across the back of a spoon.) Immediately remove from heat and pour into the strainer, scraping up thickened cream that settles on the bottom of the pan. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the sauce. Stir until seeds separate. For maximum flavour, return the pod to the sauce until serving time. Cool in an ice-water bath or in the fridge (with plastic wrap on the surface). Stir in optional liqueur.
Tester's notes: This is a classic pouring custard, rich and creamy but not too heavy, with a heavenly vanilla flavour. I added a little Cointreau, which worked well with the cake and some added raspberries.
An accurate candy thermometer really does help here, as the mixture goes from not-quite-there to whoops-really-done very quickly.