Monday, September 5, 2011

Raspberry-Swirl Angel Cake with Creme Fraiche


I woke up this morning to the temperature outside being 54 degrees and I couldn't have been happier. Fall has finally arrived and it just happens to be my favorite season in Minnesota. I can wear layers! I can bake without turning my house into a hot box! I wear pants! Ok, Summer isn't all that bad, but it probably ranks as my third favorite season, as spring is my second.  Even though my allergies kick in during the fall, it's still fantastic. The leaves change into beautiful colors, mums are out in full force, and it's dark and rainy. Fall in Minnesota reminds me of Portland's winter, which is just as incredible. A few years ago, with the help of a friend, I discovered fleece jackets. That might be yet another reason I love fall, because it gives me an excuse to wear my 'heavenly fleece'. I will never give up my quest in becoming a yuppie. I'm almost there, I can feel it. Just like I can feel fall, finally.

I'm saying goodbye to Summer on Labor Day, it seemed an appropriate time. In Minnesota, school usually starts the day after Labor Day which is also the last day after the state fair. Some sort of Minnesota tradition I guess because growing up in North Dakota, we would have started school a couple of weeks ago. School/football starting is usually a good indication that Summer is no longer wanted around. So, to say goodbye to Summer I decided to bake an angel food cake.  A fancy angel cake at that. It has a pretty pink-red raspberry swirl throughout and smells like candy coming out of the oven. I think the reason I enjoy making angel food cakes so much now is because it still amazes me how those egg whites turn into that giant white pillow. This was also my first time making and eating creme friache. It takes more work to pronounce it correctly then it does to actually make it.  It's just cream and sugar and a hint of buttermilk. Don't be scared of it.  This cake is actually quite simple, please don't let the long list of instructions fool you. Happy baking. I hope you had a wonderful Summer, I know I did.

Raspberry-Swirl Angel Cake with Creme Friache

Raspberry Puree
1 1/4 cups fresh raspberries
(one 6-ounce package)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
12 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup creme friache, homemade (see note)
or purchased
2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups fresh raspberries
(one 6-ounce package)

To make the raspberry puree: Puree the raspberries and granulated sugar in a blender or a food processor until smooth. Strain the puree through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing on the fruit with a rubber spatula. Discard the seeds and reserve the raspberry puree (about 1/2 cup).

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk the flour and powdered sugar together in medium bowl and set aside.

Beat the egg whites and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed for 30-60 seconds or until the whites become slightly foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat for 30-60 seconds or until soft peaks form.  With the mixer running, slowly add the granulated sugar in a steady stream. Add the vanilla and continue beating for 1 minute or until the egg whites are glossy and hold a firm peak.

Sift the flour mixture over the egg whites and gently fold in with a rubber spatula, being careful to keep the air in the egg whites as you fold in the flour.  Pour in the raspberry puree and fold a couple of times just to swirl.  Spoon the batter into an ungreased 10-inch angel food tube pan.  Run a thin knife through the batter to remove any large air pockets.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top springs back when gently touched and a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out dry.  Cool the cake completely upside down on the legs attached to the pan, or if it has none, suspend it over the neck of a bottle.  Carefully slide a thin metal cake spatula or knife around the sides of the pan and tube to loosen the cake, pressing against the pan to avoid cutting the cake.  Invert the cake onto a serving platter and remove pan.

To make the topping: Beat the creme fraiche and granulated sugar together until soft peaks form, adding additional sugar if necessary, depending on the tartness of the creme fraiche.  Beat until firm peaks form.

Swirl the topping of the top of the cake, and sprinkle the raspberries over the top, or spoon a dollop of the topping over each slice as it is served.

*Note: To make creme fraiche, combine 1 cup of heavy (whipping) cream and 1 teaspoon of buttermilk in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until warm (100 to 110 degrees).  Remove from the heat and pour into a nonreactive bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours or until slightly thickened. (Creme fraiche can be kept refrigerated for up to 2 weeks; it will continue to thicken and become slightly more sour as it sits.)

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