Friday, February 18, 2011

Angelic Birthday Cake

As I mentioned before, yesterday was my Mom's birthday.  Tomorrow the members of our immediate family (Mom, Dad, my sister Sue, Barry, and I) are going to her favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch and then we're going back to Sue's house for coffee and birthday cake.  I'm making the cake - at Mom's request, a white angel food.  Instead of frosting it, I'm pureeing unsweetened frozen strawberries and whipping just a little cream with vanilla extract and a touch of sugar for the topping.

Angel food cake is a little out of style, but it's very low in fat.  This is the recipe that Mom always used; I'm not sure where she originally got it.  All the sifting in the first step helps keep the cake light.

Angel Food Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Measure and sift together three times or process in a food processor, then set aside:
1 cup sifted cake flour
7/8 cup sugar

Meringue base:
Measure into a large bowl:
1 1/2 cups egg whites (room temperature)
1 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Beat the meringue ingredients together with mixer at middle speed.  Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time.  Beat 10 seconds after each addition.  When all the sugar has been added, turn the mixer to the highest speed and beat until the mixture is firm and holds stiff straight peaks.

Sift the reserved flour and sugar mixture about 3 tablespoons at a time over the entire surface of the meringue.  Fold gently together.  Repeat, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl, until the flour and sugar mixture has been entirely incorporated into the meringue.

Pour into a tube pan (don't grease it), being careful not to stir the batter.  Once in the pan, cut through the batter 5 or 6 times with a knife to break any air bubbles.  Bake 30-35 minutes or until done on a lower oven rack. (Test for doneness by inserting a wooden skewer halfway between the inner and outer walls of the pan; the cake is done when the skewer comes out clean.)  Cool upside down on a cooling rack for at least an hour before removing from the pan.  Cut with a serrated knife to avoid mashing the cake.

"Birthdays are good for you.  Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest."  ~Larry Lorenzoni

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