Chickens take a little break during the winter, laying very few eggs. One of the exciting things about spring is the eggs start coming again. Within a few weeks the hens are ALL laying again, and in no time, we’re up to our eyeballs in eggs.
The other thing that happens is berries! There aren’t a lot on the local vines, yet, but there are plenty at the store. The family loves jam, pie and cobbler. This year I’m adding something new.
Angel food cake! A few weeks ago Charlie asked if I had ever baked an angel food cake. Was he kidding? No! Way too hard. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks this) I actually had no idea what was involved in angel food cake, but something from my memory said I KNEW they were hard. Then Charlie tells me it was one of his favorites as a kid. Oh. That changes things. Maybe it’s something I can figure out. One direction at a time, one step at a time, I decided I’d give it my best shot.
It doesn’t exactly meet my “super-easy” criteria, but it’s nowhere near as complicated as I thought it would be. And it uses a LOT of eggs. Here’s the recipe:
- In a very large mixing bowl allow egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, sift powdered sugar and flour together 3 times; set aside.
- Add cream of tartar and vanilla to egg whites. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add granulated sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight) .
- Sift about one-fourth of the flour mixture over beaten egg whites; fold in gently. (If bowl is too full, transfer to a larger bowl.) Repeat, folding in remaining flour mixture by fourths. Pour into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Gently run knife or spatula through batter to remove any air bubbles
- Bake on the lowest rack in a 350 degree F oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Immediately invert cake (leave in pan); cool thoroughly. Loosen sides from pan to remove.
Now, for some tips:
It really does take 10-12 eggs. I use eggs fresh from the backyard, and the yolks break very easily. That’s a lot of eggs to mess up if some yolk gets past you. I separate egg whites into a small bowl, then transfer them to the big bowl one at a time. To me, separating the eggs is the most time-consuming part. The rest is easy.
The “stiff peaks” seemed open to interpretation. I know if you whip egg whites too long, you ruin the whole thing, and I didn’t want to do that. Really, I didn’t want to have to separate another dozen egg whites. I stop beating when the egg whites hold the lumps made from the mixer. Or, stick with “stiff peaks.” That works, too.
I thought sifting the flour and powdered sugar THREE times was a little overkill, but I figured there was a reason, so I did it. Angel food cake is basically meringue with flour and sugar added. When you’re mixing the flour/sugar mixture into the egg whites, you don’t want to overmix. By sifting ahead of time, the flour and powdered sugar mix in smoothly, with no bumps to worry about.
Getting the cake out of the darn pan is harder than I thought. I run a butter knife around the inner edge once, but the outer edge takes a couple of rounds. The farther down you can get the knife into the pan, the easier that cake will come out.
The cake barely rises at all, so don’t worry about the batter filling the pan all the way to the top.
Charlie likes a mix of black berries, raspberries and blue berries, so that’s what he gets. And, of course, whipped cream. Yum!