Sunday, July 14, 2013

Angelic Birthday Cake

This recipe comes with three parts - the sweet, summer strawberry jam, the lightly salty old fashioned frosting, and, of course, the angel food cake. Most at home bakers will shudder at the suggestion of tackling an angel food cake. I, however, was completely in ignorant bliss when I began my journey. 
This weekend was the MassDash - a relay across Massachusetts where competitors raise money for Dana-Farber cancer research. It's a fantastic journey that combines of sleep deprivation, physical maximums and little bit of insanity. It attracts the best sort of people. Like my sister and her four college friends, home on friday night to load up on carbs and salads. It also happened to be a birthday! So my sister contacted us, saying prepare your ovens and house for an invasion. She suggested a light summery cake, and the first thing that came to mind was a light fluffy angel food cake, with vanilla buttercream frosting and a sweet-tart burst of jam in the middle. 
This was truly a recipe of trial and error. My initial vision was a normal looking cake, however I was soon to find at that the whipped egg whites in angel food need the bundt pan shape to climb. I also learned that it's pretty darn important to crack your own whites. It's possible to buy pre-separated whites from a store, but when I tried that, the cake was pretty unhappy with me (as I'm sure the crowd I served it to would have been). So, while it's rumored that those whites may work, I recommend just cracking ten bad boys at home.

Angel Food Cake 
(adapted from Betty Crocker Cookbook) 

Oven Temp: 375 F
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake and Cool Time: 35 minutes and 2 hours
Ready-In: 3 1/2 hours

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cake flour
10 egg whites (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1 tbls vanilla
pinch of salt

Only 6 ingredients? Not so intimidating so far, right? You're halfway there!

Move your oven rack to the lowest position and preheat that oven to 375 F.
Mix together the powdered sugar and the cake flour. Set aside.

In a large bowl (this is the bowl everything will come together in) beat those egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. This is a great time to pull out that electric mixer and sit back while technology does the work. Slowly beat in granulated sugar - 1/4 cup at a time. On the fourth and final addition, also stir in the vanilla and add a dash of salt. Beat until stiff and glossy.

 If you pull out the beaters, the mixture should stay in that mountain formation without moving. You really want to make sure that you don't underbeat them.
Carefully fold in the flour/sugar mixture 1/4 cup at a time. Push the batter into an ungreased 10x4 inch tube pan. Gentle cut through the batter with a knife to pop and large bubbles.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the cracks on top don't look like the are moist anymore and the top springs back when gently prodded.

 Remove from oven and immediately flip over for cooling. You want the cake to start loosening it's hold on the pan, hence the flipping upside down. Let sit, upside down, for about 2 hours, until it feels pretty darn cool.

Slide a knife around the edge when ready to release. It may take a little poking and prodding to release, but it will come. Drizzle with glaze, or frost, as you see fit.
I sliced mine in half and dabbled on a layer of homemade strawberry jam (super easy to make!).

And then coated in the greatest old fashioned buttercream frosting.

As the birthday girl was turning 22 and is a fan of T-Swift, I added on some poignant lyrics and 23 candles to call it a night.

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