Tuesday, May 4, 2010
The food of angels
I did it! It took 36 eggs and a lot of frustration, but I finally baked an angel food cake -- from scratch!
Angel food is one of my favorite desserts. My mom would always bake me an angel food cake for my springtime birthday when I was growing up. She would drizzle it with powdered sugar icing and then serve it with vanilla ice cream. I always requested the "Funfetti" angel food with the colored sprinkles, because it seemed extra special.
As goofy as this sounds, it never occurred to me that you didn't need a boxed cake mix to make angel food. Then a few years back I saw a made-from-scratch recipe, and I wanted to try it for myself. But I couldn't believe all the eggs required to make an angel food. A whole carton of eggs, and only the egg whites? Now I know why people prefer the boxed version.
But I'm a bit obsessed with learning how to make things the old-fashioned way. So last year, I bought myself a nifty new angel food pan (with a removeable bottom for easy cake removal) and tried to make the angel food cake recipe I found in Martha Stewart's "Everyday Food" magazine.
Unfortunately, it was a total fail! The cake looked beautiful, but it smelled like rotten eggs. No kidding! So I looked up my problem on Google to see what I could have done wrong. It turns out that "eggy" smelling angel food is a common problem. No one had a good answer for why, except that the eggs should be as fresh as possible.
So this year, I tried to make angel food with farm fresh eggs from a neighbor who raises her own chickens. How did the cake turned out? Another fail! The egg whites were nearly impossible to separate from the yolks, and there were little black bits of something (dirt, bugs?) in the egg whites.
Plus, I failed to read the recipe correctly, and I ended up overbeating the egg whites. They fell flat! I was pretty disappointed, because I was really craving angel food!
I wanted to give up, but I'm just too stubborn. So I gave it one more try. I used the freshest grocery store eggs I could find. At first, the eggs didn't want to foam up. But after they warmed up (they weren't quite at room temperature), I had the beginnings of angel food batter.
I used the Heavenly Angel Food Cake recipe from Taste of Home, because I liked that I could use just all-purpose flour instead of cake flour.
The angel food stuck to the pan terribly, but it still looks OK. And it tastes even better. Just like the boxed variety that I love so much.
Will I make angel food cake again? Probably. But maybe only once a year when strawberries are in season. And I'll definitely top my next cake with powdered sugar icing, just like my mom did.