Sunday, April 3, 2011

Angel Food Cakes Illustrated

My Grandma is turning 81 in a few days, so we made plans to travel to San Antonio on Sunday for a celebratory brunch. A few minutes and one google search later, I had also made secret plans to surprise her with a homemade version of her very favorite angel food cake. Now I'd never made angel food cake before, but I'm an excellent reader of directions and the science of baking is usually a good fit for my need for precise, don't-you-dare-stray-from-this recipes. I printed off a recipe I found online and made plans for angel food magic on Saturday afternoon while JP was coaching his swim lessons.

Here's my step-by-step, partially illustrated guide:

Step 1: Find your resident superhero and task him with keeping the kitchen clear of bad guys so you can focus on the separating of eggs, because you just re-read the recipe, and holy crap there is a lot of egg separating required and you can't have any distractions.

Step 2: Find your sous chef and tell her about her new job - doesn't she look excited?

Step 3: Gather your ingredients. You'll need 1.5 cups of egg whites, 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1.25 cups of powdered sugar, 1 cup of flour, 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 tsp. almond flavoring, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar. You will also need a special Angel Food Cake pan, which I ran in to Target to buy on Friday night on our way back from dinner, something to sift the flour and sugar, and something with a motor to beat the egg whites (you could probably do it by hand, but you would have to be stronger than me).

Step 3.5: Tell your sous chef to stop crawling on the dogs; your hands must be clean to bake a cake.

Step 4: Separate your egg whites until they total 1.5 cups and let them sit at room temperature. Combine your flour and powdered sugar and sift it 3x. After time 1, hit your powdered sugar bag so it falls over and looks like either snow or powdered cocaine, depending on who you're asking.

Step 4.5:Take a break and clean it up before your sous chef, superhero, or dogs get high (on the sugar).

Step 5: Now that everything is clean and your vacuum is clogged with powder, continue with the sifting. Add your flavorings to the egg whites and get everything organized to start beating them while slowly adding the granulated sugar. According to the recipe, stiff peaks should form.

Step 5.5: Tell your sous chef to stop sucking on the cabinet knobs, the powder is all gone, and send your superhero upstairs to take his nap.

Step 6: Settle for semi-stiff peaks.

Step 7, not pictured: Gently fold in the flour and powdered sugar mixture and spoon into ungreased angel food pan. Put in 350-degree oven for 40-45 minutes.

Step 7.5: Note that your sous chef is falling down on the job. Fire her, give her big hugs, and tuck her in bed.

Step 7.75: While cake is baking, get email from Grandpa saying Grandma is super sick with stomach virus so visit is canceled. Send Grandma lots of love and wish you'd procrastinated a bit on baking the cake.

Step 8: Remove cake from oven and immediately flip upside down on something that will allow air to flow under neath while cooling (I used a raised cooling rack and it worked fine).

Step the Last: While both kids are sleeping and husband is still coaching, eat cake with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Praise your ability to follow directions and vow to never eat store bought angel food cake again.

The Sequel: Grandma is feeling much better today, so we're planning the birthday visit for next Saturday afternoon. Angel Food Cake part II will be happening next Saturday morning- hopefully skipping the part where I spilled all the powdered sugar, but keeping everything else the same because the cake was delicious!


  1. Very nice!!! And that picture of Claire and the dog is priceless! She will love that someday!

  2. Yummy! (And btw, from someone who makes angel food cake a lot, those egg white peaks are perfect as pictured! Good going!)

    Also, sidenote, but I love the way you labeled within the one picture. How did you do that?

  3. Honestly, I love the Betty Crocker mix. I like my angel food "tangy" so I add a bit more cream of tartar, and vanilla of course. Tastes fab and the best part is the "baked peaks" part you have to cut off to have it be level when you turn it upside down to decorate w/ fruit or whatever.

    My most favorite way to serve it-- and an actual, published food critic has raved about it-- is to mix most of a package of heath bar crunch into lowfat cool whip (tastes the best, to me), cut the cake horizontally into three parts, and cover each layer and eventually the whole cake with the cool whip. Chill at least overnight (so the brickle dissolves into chocolate and caramel) and accept the compliments! You can do this several days ahead if you have the fridge space. Yum!

  4. Ha ha ha. I absolutely love the way you write about the little stories...You are good LL!

  5. Here's a tip for separating egg whites: crack the egg open and pour the yolk out over your fingers. The whites fall through your fingers, and the yolks don't break. I used to separate eggs by pouring the yolk back and forth between the two egg shells, but this way is much easier (although a little messier).

  6. Step 7.5 is priceless! Such a beautiful, yet funny post.

  7. love all the red in your kitchen!