Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Angel food takes flight

Plenty of egg whites will help give your cake wings

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First of all, a belated thank you to Bea Rands, Luba Finney and Linda Snider for their recipes for rhubarb relish, which Recipe Swap covered last week.

Last month, I sent out a request for angel food cake recipes. I got a terrific response, and I'm starting this week with a recipe from Christie Macdonald, who relies on the chocolate angel food cake from The Cake Bible by baking maven Rosy Levy Beranbaum. (You can find many recipes, and a lot of sound advice, at Beranbaum's website, www.realbakingwithrose.com.) As Christie writes, Beranbaum is known for her obsessive accuracy and detailed directions. (Along with volume measurements, Beranbaum supplies weight measurements, which offer the most accuracy in baking.) And confession time for me: I've never actually made an angel food cake, so the comprehensive recipe was really helpful. It uses a whopping amount of egg whites -- 16! -- but the results go far beyond the store-bought variety of angel food cake.

As well, Christie sent in a recipe for a raspberry sauce, also from Beranbaum, which makes a perfect complement. Thanks to everyone who wrote in with recipes. I'll give a complete list next week when I continue with a vanilla angel food cake.

Also this week, Renee Lavitt recalls a jam her mother used to make with rhubarb, oranges and their rind and walnuts. She'd love to find a recipe. 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 recipeswap@freepress.mb.ca, fax it to 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.

 

Rose Levy Beranbaum's Chocolate Angel Food Cake

75 ml (1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp or 28 g) unsweetened cocoa, lightly spooned into cup
60 ml (1/4 cup) boiling water
10 ml (2 tsp) pure vanilla extract
425 ml (1 3/4 cups or 350 g) granulated sugar, divided
250 ml (1 cup or 100 g) sifted cake and pastry flour
1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt
16 large egg whites (2 liquid cups or 480 g)
10 ml (2 tsp) cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F). In a medium bowl, combine cocoa and boiling water and whisk until smooth. Whisk in vanilla. In another medium bowl, combine 175 ml (3/4 cup) sugar, the sifted flour, salt and whisk to blend.

In large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy, add the cream of tartar, and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 250 ml (1 cup) sugar, beating until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly. Remove 250 ml (1 cup) of egg whites and place onto the cocoa mixture.

Dust the flour mixture over the remaining egg white mixture, 60 ml (1/4 cup) at a time, and fold in quickly but gently. It is not necessary to incorporate every speck until the last addition. (Beranbaum suggests using a large balloon wire whisk or a slotted skimmer, but Christie uses a rubber spatula, and so did I.)

Whisk together the cocoa mixture with the added egg white and then fold into the batter until uniform. Pour into an ungreased 25 cm (10 in) tube pan with a removable bottom (the batter should come within 2 cm or 3/4 in of the top), run a small metal spatula or knife through the batter to prevent air pockets, and bake for 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed. (The centre will rise above the pan while baking and sink slightly when done. The surface will have deep cracks like a souffle.)

Invert the pan, placing the tube opening over the neck of a glass soda or wine bottle to suspend it well above the counter. Cool completely, then turn upright, cut around the cake with a thin, sharp knife and remove the sides of the pan. Use the knife to loosen the cake from the bottom of the pan. Invert the cake onto a plate and then invert again so it is topside-up on a cake plate or serving platter. If not serving immediately, wrap in plastic wrap. Will keep at room temperature for three days. Do not freeze.

 

Tester's notes: I was pretty chuffed about how well my first angel food cake turned out, with a subtle chocolate taste and a light and tender texture. A few notes to make a detailed recipe even more detailed: "1 cup sifted flour" means the flour is sifted first and then measured, not the other way around. 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 temp 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. (Twice this saved me from losing the whole batch.) The wine bottle thing looks strange but really does help keep the cake high and light. (Some pans have little feet on the side for this purpose.) 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. When serving, you can cut the cake with a fancy-dancy angel food cake cutter, if you happen to have one on hand, or use a long serrated knife.

One last note: You will have 16 egg yolks left over -- I actually had 18 because I botched the separation of two eggs -- so you can plan to make custard or ice cream or lemon curd or some yolk-rich dish at the same time. Or you can store yolks in the freezer if you add 7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) sugar per 60 ml (1/4 cup) yolks (if you plan to use for desserts), or 0.6 ml (1/8 tsp) salt per 60 ml (1/4 cup) yolks (if you plan to use for savoury dishes) to keep them from becoming gelatinous.

 

Rose Levy Beranbaum's Raspberry Sauce

680 g (or 2 x 12 oz bags) frozen raspberries with no sugar added
10 ml (2 tsp) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
about (2/3 cup or 132 g) granulated sugar (or to taste)

In a fine strainer suspended over deep bowl, thaw the raspberries completely. (This will take several hours.) Press the berries to force out the juice. There should be about 250 ml (1 cup). In small saucepan, boil the juice until reduced to 60 ml (1/4 cup).

Purée the raspberries and sieve them with a food mill fitted with the fine disc. Or use a fine strainer to remove all seeds. You should have 250 ml (1 cup) liquid puree. Stir in the reserved raspberry juice and lemon juice. There should be 400 ml (1 2/3 cup). If you have less, add less sugar. The correct amount of sugar is half the volume of purée. Stir until sugar dissolves.

 

Tester's notes: Oh, gorgeous. I didn't get quite 250 ml (1 cup) of juice with the first press of the berries, but I got more liquid purée, so it seemed to balance out. Christie skips the step of cooking and reducing the juice to syrup, and I skipped it as well, and still got a sauce with a good consistency -- not too thick and not too thin -- and an intense and concentrated flavour. I puréed my berries using a stick blender, which yielded a nice liquefied mixture, but it still took a lot of stirring and pressing, pressing and waiting, to push the mix through the fine-mesh strainer, leaving only some pulpy seeds behind. It was worth it, though. Christie uses a lot less sugar for her sauce, as she particularly likes the tart taste as a contrast to the sweetness of the angel food cake.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 6, 2014 C5

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