Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy me.

Yesterday was my birthday and I figured I should bake what my mother always baked me....the worst cake ever.  During my tween/teen years my Ma would make me an angel food cake with whipped cream and strawberries. I know, it doesn't sound so awful, but when you're a kid you just want that frosting. I always wanted a big chocolate cake with thick, creamy frosting. Nope. That was the joy of having a May birthday I guess. I realize I sound like a giant, spoiled baby, but I remember clearly telling her MANY times that I hated this cake. "Oh, you like it. You never told me that you didn't", she'd say. Yes, Ma. I did tell you, more times than I can remember. The funny thing about it was that my sister LOVED this cake, but on her birthday she would get the yummy chocolate frosting one. My sister hated the yummy chocolate frosting one. I finally just came to the conclusion that my mother's cakes depended on the season, too bad I wasn't born in January. That chocolate cake would have been mine! All mine!!

So, since I had decided that I hated this cake at an early age, I've never actually tried it. I feel pretty foolish now because it is one delicious cake.  It's so light and airy and mixed with strawberries it makes you feel like summer is finally here. It pains me to say this, but my mom was right. She actually had made me several delicious cakes that I was much too stubborn to even try,  what an idiot I was.  Frosting isn't everything, homemade whipped cream is seriously amazing and it's incredibly easy to make. It's completely worth the extra effort. It's fluffy and sweet and I can't get enough of it!

A lot of people I know make this cake from the boxed cake mix. I'm not sure what the difference is in taste, but the homemade one is pretty simple to make.  You just to be patient, I found it to be a lot like making meringue. I had never sifted flour before either, so that was pretty neat. I have one tip though, make sure you fold the flour into the egg whites, don't stir!!! If you do, the cake will fall.  Here is the recipe and I hope you get a chance to try it out!

Angel Food Cake

3/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and hear the oven to 325 degrees.  Line the bottom of the 16-cup tube pan with parchment paper but do not grease.  Whisk the flour and 3/4 cup of the sugar together in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Whip the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until foamy.  Whip in the cream of tartar and salt until the whites form very soft, billowy mounds.  Increase the speed to medium and beat in the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until the whites are shiny and form soft peaks.  Beat in the lemon juice and extracts.  Transfer to a large bowl.
3. Sift 1/4 cup of the flour mixture over the egg whites, then gently fold in using a large rubber spatula.  Repeat with the remaining flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, then rap the pan on the counter several times to settle the batter.  Wipe any drops of batter of the sides of the pan.  Bake until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back when pressed firmly, 50-60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
5.  Invert the tube pan over a standard kitchen funnel or the neck of a sturdy bottle.  Let the cake cool completely, upside down, 2 to 3 hours.
6. Run a serrated knife around the sides and center of the cake to loosen.  Gently tap the pan upside down on the counter to release the cake.  Peel off the parchment paper, then flip upright onto the serving platter.  Cup into slices, using serrated knife.

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a chilled bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until frothy and the sugar has dissolved, about 1 minute.  Increase the speed to high and continue to whip until doubled in volume and soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes.

I've officially decided that my mind has been changed, this cake is damn good. Sorry I was so unappreciative, Ma. I had so much to learn. Better late than never! I hope you get a chance to enjoy this cake!! I surely did. Happy Baking...

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