Angel Food Cake with Buttercream Frosting and Sugared Flowers
How can this cake not exist in England? That's right, the English don't know what an "Angel Food Cake" is. No surprise really, since it doesn't have the word "sponge" or "pudding" in the title. I just can't help thinking of eating a stinky, dirty dish sponge when I hear someone say that word in conjunction with a dessert! Have no fear my English friends, I'm here to share my recipe with you. Made with a dozen egg whites and no yolks, this cake has roughly 140 calories per slice. Don't worry, I've fixed that by slathering this healthy delight in my very own butter cream frosting!
I'm not sure who claimed it first, but angel food cake is the choice of my mom, sister, aunt, and myself (among others!) for our birthday cakes. We make over a dozen a year, each one lighter and more delicate than the last. The key, whipping the daylights out the egg whites. When you think you're done whipping, whip more. How did they make this cake before electricity? Women with big biceps I suppose.
Nothing goes better with this beautiful cake than sugared strawberries and whipped cream, and if you want a cake worthy of a celebration, just top it with sugared flowers. You can't imagine how easy it is to sugar flowers.
Choosing your flowers is pretty essential. I did a test run with a few varieties and learned something in a hurry. Unless you are Martha Stewart, stay away from dark flowers. They end up looking like something a six year old did in art class - the only difference, when you're a grown up, no one thinks it's cute anymore. Of course, if you want to eat them, pick a variety that's edible. If you are like me and you go for looks over function, as in 5 inch heels walking through London, choose pretty flowers and tell people to eat a salad cause they're not getting their greens on top of your cake!
So, pick your flowers and grab two bowls and a paint brush (any will do, but you'll find that a fan brush with fine bristles will work best). Fill one bowl with a whipped egg white and the other with very fine white sugar (just throw granulated sugar in the food processor if you don't have any on hand). Dip your brush in the egg white, paint the top of your flower, sprinkle with sugar and repeat until the flower is covered.
Either lay your flowers flat on a wire sheet or parchment paper, or if you're like me, string the little buggers up with clothes pins (I think this keeps them looking fuller!). You're done! Once they're dry (a few hours or more), top your cakes, cupcakes, pies, etc and leave people thinking you're a mini Martha in the making!
Light and sweet, make this cake this summer and I bet you'll get a few people asking for your recipe! Enjoy!
Angel Food Cake
Tube pan or Angel Food Cake pan (10 X 4 inches)
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 dozen egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup caster sugar (fine sugar, put granulated sugar in food processor if you don't have)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and place oven rack towards the bottom of the oven. In one bowl, mix flour and powdered sugar for 30 seconds and set aside. In another bowl, use an electric mixer to beat your eggs whites and cream of tartar until foamy, about 1.5 minute. Add in your caster sugar, roughly two heaping teaspoon fulls at a time, on highest mixer speed. With your last addition of sugar, add in your vanilla, almond extract, and salt. Now beat, beat, beat until stiff, glossy peaks form (at least a minute or two more).
Once stiff peaks form, sprinkle in the flour/sugar mixture 1/4 cup at a time, and fold gently with a spatula until just incorporated. Push into your tube pan and run a butter knife through to get the air bubbles out.
Bake 28-33 minutes until top of cake cracks and it springs back when lightly touched. Pull it out of the oven and turn it upside down onto a metal funnel or bottle (so it hangs there to cool). Let it hang until it's completely cool. Don't forget to loosen the sides of the cake with a knife before inverting onto your cake plate.
Butter Cream Frosting
frosts one Angel Food Cake
1 cup butter
5-6 cups powdered sugar
1-2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3- 1/2 cup cream
Using room temperature butter, whip the butter using a fork. Add in the powdered sugar, cream, and vanilla and whip with the fork until smooth and creamy. If it's too thick, add more cream, a little at a time. If it's too buttery, add more sugar. If you like it to have more vanilla, add more! But above all else, don't eat it all before you frost your cake!