Monday, February 1, 2010

Wonder Woman or Angel Food Cake

I felt like Wonder Women this morning as I scurried around the kitchen working. My imaginary cape was flying behind me as I spun in a whirlwind of activity. I had until ten at the latest to accomplished a myriad of things, for we had to travel to our financial advisers for a consult. So much to do and so little time.

That's why I put the pedal to the metal so to speak and grabbed three jugs of milk and poured them into a large pot on the stove to heat while I dumped the last bit of cream from the refrigerator into the blender to make butter. Then I set up the milk separator and began dividing the yolks from egg whites of fourteen eggs in order to make an angel food cake. I've got to cull my flock as we've more eggs than we need and we are spending way too much money on chicken feed. Waste not want not though, so I'm making angel food cake today and cheese souffle tomorrow. Did you know you can freeze souffle before it's baked. We'll talk more about that later.

A couple of the yolks went into a saucepan with milk and sugar to make a custard for ice cream and the rest I scrambled with a healthy dose of garlic to give to the chickens. Did you know that garlic is a great natural wormer? We'll talk about that later too. I found a great University site that did studies on different natural wormers but once again I'm getting off track.

It was a music to my ears as the machines hummed one separating milk, the other whipping egg whites while I paddled the butter. By the end of two hours I had the dishes done, a little container of butter, an angel food cake cooling, the custard for cheesecake ice cream cooling in the refrigerator, some cream to make Alfredo sauce, and a batch of artisan bread in a bowl rising. Whew! and boy was I glad I was done.

It seems the older I get the more multi-tasking makes my brain hurt and I was relieved to exchange my Wonder Woman cape for my smelly livestock chore shoes. What felt even better was the long hot shower I took after feeding the stock.

But I must give you something more than this tale. So what I was wondering was if many of you make angel food cake? I'm not referring to the chemical rich store kind but one from scratch. I have a friend that said she tried several times to make a home-made one but it didn't work. She was using store eggs. I'd guess eggs would have to be really fresh to give good height to the cake. I don't know maybe some of you could tell me because I've been making angel food cake for quite a while but it is always with eggs no more than a few days old.

My husband isn't terribly fond of angel food cake but the strawberry cheesecake ice cream I'm making to go with it is sure to make him smile. But before I share the recipe, I must first tell you that I don't exactly follow my old cookbook. Not that that surprises many of you. In fairness though, I did follow the recipe to the T once. It lied to me and my cake fell flat. I've done it my own way ever since and my cakes turn out lovely.

This is my version:

I first separate the yolks from the egg whites. Tip: Do this one egg at a time into a cup and then place the egg white into your mixing bowl. The reason you do one egg at a time is because one of those twelve to fourteen eggs will probably not separate cleanly and you'll have part of the egg yolk in with the egg white. You don't want that to happen in a bowl that already had eleven eggs whites.

No, it wasn't a typo, I use twelve eggs if they are from two year old hens because they lay larger eggs and I use fourteen if the hens are a year old or a bit less. Then again you could just measure the amount of egg whites and separate until you have 1 1/2 cups but then what fun would that be?

Next, I mix the egg whites with 1 1/2 teaspoons of cream of tarter. Tip: This keeps the eggs whites firm and not subject to weeping. So don't try and skip the cream of tarter.
I've always been going to look up what cream of tarter is. Sounds Scottish don't you think?
I beat these two ingredients until the egg whites formed those cool peaks. Then added 1 cup of granulated white sugar a little at a time. I pour it in a slow steady stream as my Kitchen Aid mixer whirls. Let it whip until the egg whites take on a glossy sheen.

Then I add 1 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract. Well, not really actually it's more like a pinch of salt and a couple capfuls of vanilla and one capful of the almond extract only my new bottle is a little bit puny so it was a capful and a half. But you might want to start out more properly and actually use measuring spoons. I turned on the mixer and blended this.

Then in a separate small bowl I mixed 1 cup of cake flour and 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar. Afterwards, I folded this in to the egg whites a little at a time.
The recipe recommends a 1/4 of a cup at a time but the rebel in me adds about 1/3 of a cup or so but who's measuring?
Definitely, not me. To fold simply means with the flour/powdered sugar mixture sprinkled on top you dip your spatula in to the bottom of the bowl and moving it forward, up on top, away from you, then down into the batter. This is a circling motion. This gently incorporates the dry mixture into the egg whites.
Then I put the batter in to my mom's old old angel food cake pan and bake at 375 Fahrenheit. I've been going to bake this in bread loaf pans sometime. I thought I could then use it like pound cake. A slice of angel food with berries and whip cream on top. It would freeze much nicer that way. Don't know if the whole in the center of the pan is necessary or not. Does anyone reading this know? Bake until done. Not good enough ? Well, bake until the cake looks like this one and springs back when you press lightly on the top.
This is suppose to take about 30 to 35 minutes. I don't know, I've never timed it.
My cook book's directions say invert the cake still in the pan onto a glass pop bottle. But don't do it. You can't. Yes, I know all the pop bottles now are made of plastic and will melt. But that's not why you shouldn't do it. Even if you are old like me and have a glass pop bottle. Your cake will fall out of the pan and go plop in a disheveled heap. Leave it upright in the pan until cool.
Don't worry, your angel food cake will deflate a little (up to about an inch) but if you don't tell, no one will know.
Some frost their angel food cake but I prefer mine plain with either berries and whip cream or served with ice cream. Let me know how you like yours.

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