January 29, 2008

My First Angel Food Cake


I finally made my first angel food cake. For those who are not too familiar with what's an angel food cake, it is basically an airy sponge cake, rather similar to a chiffon cake in texture; it is usually baked in a tube pan and it relies on beaten egg whites for leavening; but does not contain any oil, butter or egg yolks..so it's literally fat free! Though it usually has a higher sugar content.

Even though I had wanted to make this in the past, the number of egg whites is way too tremendous and I don't want to end up with leftover ingredients in the fridge. I had 6 egg whites left from the previous almond cookies baking, which I used for egg washing. After some contemplation between almond crisps or an angel cake, finally decided on the latter.

The recipe I used was from Williams Sonoma - Essential of Baking. I scaled down the recipe to half since the original requires 10 egg whites for a 23-cm pan while I used a 16-cm.


I wasn't expecting high hopes since this is my first try and I'm not sure whether I would get the 'soft peaks' in the beating of egg whites correctly. Unlike chiffon cake which usually asked for stiff peaks, this requires the egg whites to be beaten until soft peaks where the tips droop down slightly when the beater is lifted up.

I "played smart" by placing the pan towards the right side of the oven as the left side always gets browned faster. I don't know if that was the reason, cos' halfway through baking, the right side of the cake shrunk!! Well, well, I was disappointed of course, that it had already shrink inside the oven. The funny thing is the other was fine..no shrinking at all. To my relieve, when I overturned it for cooling, the cake did not drop out of the pan. Upon unmoulding, the cake actually looked good, if not for the fact that one side was shrinking badly...(see the picture below) LOL!

Chiffon/angel cakes are such a pain...and interestingly challenging. To think I can get one side 'well done' and the other side deformed. You can get different results if not handled properly. I guess since they are so delicate, understanding your oven in order to suit the baking needs is also important. Of course, not forgetting to polish up my skills as well. ;)


I shall post the original recipe here, but you may scale it to half if you had half the number of eggs.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup sugar (315 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (125 g ) cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
10 large egg whites, cold
Juice of one lemon, strained
2 tbsp lukewarm water
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (i omitted this)
Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Method:
  1. Sift 1/2 cup (125 g) plus 2 tbsp of the sugar, flour and salt onto a sheet of parchment paper. Sift a second time.
  2. Combine egg whites, lemon juice and lukewarm water in a large bowl. Place the bowl in a sink of warm water.
  3. Stir the whites until they no longer feel chilly, but still cold. Stir in cream of tartar.
  4. Beat egg whites on medium high speed until soft peaks form, and have tripled in volume.
  5. Slowly pour in remaining sugar and extracts and beat until the mixture firms up slightly. (When the beaters are lifted, the whites should fall over gently.
  6. Sift 1/3 of the dry ingredients over the whipped whites.
  7. Fold in gently; continue sifting the remaining flour by 1/3, folding in the flour until fully incorporated. Do not overfold.
  8. Scrape the batter into a tube pan, smooth the surface.
  9. Bake the cake until the top us golden and toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. (i used 30 minutes for my 16-cm pan).
  10. Once done, remove from the oven and invert immediately.
  11. Let it cool for about 45 minutes before moulding.

Note: This method seems to be slightly different from the ones I usually see. The lemon juice is added into the egg whites, then beaten instead of adding at the last instance. You may want to reduce the sugar as it's very sweet. The flour is sifted 3 times to aerate the dry ingredients, helping ti ensure a light-textured cake.

The cake turned out soft, and a little sticky, probably due to the sugar. It is extremely white in colour..no wonder it's called "Angel Food Cake", besides the fact that it's fat-free. ! It is light and non greasy...I had it with a little blueberry pie filling. The tarty lemon taste pairs well with the blueberry pie fillings. Yummy! :)

By the way, pardon for the pictures which seemed rather bright. I baked and took the picture at night so I thought of using the 'vivid colour' setting to make it less dull.



Had been baking Chinese New Year cookie intensively. Stay tuned to my post! ;)

7 comments:

Happy Mrs Kwok said...

Wow, Angel cake! Aimei, I love angel cakes, but I never dare to challenge to bake because like what you mentioned, it can be hard!

I am so impressed with you ;) Must learn from you now to take up challenges :D I'm also busying with CNY bakes but currently on Pineapple tarts. Sigh, but my tarts not nice :*(

Gambatte oh Aimei!

Aimei said...

Thanks Mrs Kwok! :)

How are you now?? Hope you are recovering...then I can read more updates from you ;)

Jia you on your bakes too!

Diana G.B. said...

Hey, came across your webby and find your cakes are very nicely baked!! Can I link you from my blog?

Diana
sweetnessdivine.blogspot.com

ovenhaven said...

I absolutely love angel food cakes, although I've never quite had the courage to try my hands at one. There is something about the softness and the pure whiteness of the cake that just sends you to heaven! And yes, I agree that the number of egg whites can be very daunting, especially if you don't have leftovers to begin with.

Aimei said...

Hi Diana,

Sure, its my pleasure. You have very interesting blog! Very sweet, and those about your weddings :)

Hi Ovenhaven,

Yeah I agree..the so pure whiteness is I guess where the name comes from! Intially I thought it's only bcos its a much less sinful cake, hence its name angel food cake. :P

Diana G.B. said...

Thanks aimei!

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