Angel food cake

For the week of my mother's 90th birthday she had requested angel food cake with ice cream and fresh peaches for dessert. So it was absolutely time to make my first from-scratch angel food cake, something I've been contemplating for months!

I used my mom's classic angel food tube pan that's been in her hands for I don't know how many years - at LEAST 55 is my best guess. Maybe even 60!! She even has the small glass bottle that used to hold Welch's grape juice, a favorite drink of ours when we would take our sandwiches to eat outside in the summer time.

Even though the little metal tabs around the rim of the pan allow one to perch the cooling cake upside down, the bottle has that certain je ne sais quoi that seems to go with baking an angel food cake. Right Mom?

The tradition exists in our family of being able to choose our birthday meal, including cake of course. My sisters Joyce and Mary (and perhaps ME?) used to choose confetti angel food cake with colored frosting - pink or blue were faves. Truth be told I was more of a pound cake fan and would follow Mom's lead on the necessary ice cream and peaches accompaniment when it was time for my special day. 

Back in those days the confetti creation came out of a Betty Crocker box and was all the rage. After a bit of research I learned that BC's angel food cake mix was first introduced in 1953, followed by a "one-step" version in 1960, the one I suspect my mom made fairly regularly, at least for birthday requests.

I used a recipe from Mary Berry of "The Great British Bakeoff, Master Class" series and found it very straight forward. It's basically a stiff meringue to which some flour and additional sugar is added. It's all about beating the meringue to the right stage and being gentle with the folding in of the flour and sugar.

Now THAT's a stiff meringue

Ready for the pan

The batter goes into the UNgreased tube pan, since you want the cake to cling to the sides of the pan as it bakes.

Ready for the oven

It bakes for about 45 minutes at 335ºF conventional OR 300ºF convection (or "fan" as the Brits say on the GBBO).

Out of the oven and ready to be turned upside down

The pan was a bit tippy sitting on top of that little glass bottle, but I was able to support the pan edges with a couple of upturned drinking glasses that were just the right height.

Once cooled completely, out of the pan it came.

Sliced and served with my own homemade peach ice cream and fresh sliced peaches, it was delicous. The crumb soooooo light and airy and the cake with just the right amount of sweetness. A perfect accompaniment to creamy ice cream and one of our favorite local fruits.

Here's the recipe.

Have a standard ungreased 10" tube pan at the ready.

Heat the oven to 335ºF conventional or 300ºF convection.

Do your ingredient mise en place:

  • 10 large egg whites (remember meringues beat better when the eggs are at room temp).
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 200 g caster (superfine) sugar (remember you can whiz standard granulated sugar in a grinder briefly to make your own superfine version).
  • 125 g all purpose flour
  • 100 g caster sugar

Follow the steps:

  1. Place egg whites, zest, cream of tartar, salt, lemon juice and 200 g caster sugar in a mixer bowl and beat on high using the whisk attachment until frothy.
  2. In a separate bowl mix the flour and 100 g caster sugar together and gently fold into the meringue.
  3. Place the batter in the ungreased tube pan
  4. Bake approximately 45 minutes (remember all ovens are different - pay attention to what's going on in there) until golden brown.
  5. Cool upside down.
  6. Remove from pan, slice and enjoy!
Happy Birthday Mom!!

And a big THANKS to Mary Berry too!!