Archive for: angel food
I have to admit that a vanilla bean angel food cake is my favorite, when it comes to these towering and cloud-like cakes. Vanilla can become very expressive when it is the main flavor on such a light and airy cake. That being said, angel food cakes are mostly flavored with vanilla alone and it has become quite uncommon to see them in other flavors. This is a shame, because as good as vanilla is, mixing it up with other flavors can make for a great angel food cake and a welcome change of pace from the usual.
This Chocolate Spice Angel Food Cake is a good example, incorporating not only a chocolate flavor into the cake, but a hint of spice to give it some depth and complexity. Angel food cake is leavened entirely with beaten egg whites, and that is why the cake is so fluffy. When adding chocolate to the cake, I think that you get the best results by adding cocoa powder into the batter, because it delivers a strong chocolate flavor while keeping the cake as fluffy as possible. I also added a bit of cinnamon and some ground cloves, both of which work nicely with the chocolate and deliver some unexpected flavors when you go to serve the cake! The finished cake is soft and airy, with a light sweetness and a nice cocoa flavor. The cinnamon combined with the cocoa almost reminds me a bit of spiced hot chocolate, too.
The recipe uses cake flour, and it calls for it to be sifted before you measure it. The best way to do this is to place your measuring cup on a large sheet of parchment or wax paper, then sift the flour over the measuring cup. Keep going until the cup is full, the level it off with a knife. Leftover flour can be funneled back into the container of flour with the paper. Measure the cocoa powder out the same way, then sift the two ingredients together with the spices and part of the sugar to combine them before they are added to the cake. It may seem like an extra step (or two), but getting any lumps out of the flour and cocoa is one of the secrets to a perfect chocolate angel food cake.
Many recipes call for room temperature or softened butter because it is easier to incorporate into a cake batter or cookie dough than rock hard, cold butter is. The same is true of eggs, even though most recipes don’t specifically call for eggs to be at room temperature. Refrigeration keeps eggs fresher for a much longer period of time than storing them at room temperature, but they will blend into recipes much more easily if you take the time to take the chill off of them before using them. Eggs at room temperature will have more “relaxed” whites that take on more volume when beaten and break up more easily when whisked into a batter. Cold eggs can actually cause the butter you carefully softened to firm up and give a batter a slightly curdled appearance (although it is usually just fine to keep going with a recipe when that happens).
To bring eggs to room temperature, you can take them out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you plan to use them (around the time that you might take your butter out of the fridge) and leave them on the countertop. If the eggs sit out longer than that, it won’t hurt them in terms of how they act in the recipe, but they will have “aged” compared to eggs that have been kept only in the refrigerator.
If you forget to take your eggs out of the refrigerator, you can warm them up very quickly by placing them in a bowl full of warm water. Just 5 or 10 minutes in a bowl full of warm water – hot water may cause the egg shells to crack – will take the chill off of your eggs.
Recipes that call for egg whites alone often call for them to be at room temperature. Eggs are, however, much easier to separate when they are cold. To warm up just your egg whites or egg yolks, separate the eggs when cold and place the whites and yolks in small bowls. Place these bowls into slightly larger bowls full of warm water and allow them to sit for 5-10 minutes (or simply let them sit, covered, at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before using). Leftover egg whites or egg yolks can be stored for later use.
I have always been a big angel food cake fan. I love the high rise and soft texture of the light and fluffy cake, as well as how versatile the finished cake can be. It needs no frosting, although you can always add a simple glaze or dessert sauce, and it goes well with all kinds of fruits and ice creams. Angel food cakes are actually fat free, too, so I especially like them as light snacks or when served after a heavy meal.
My favorite angel food cake is plain vanilla, and I have been using the same Perfect Angel Food Cake recipe as my standard for some time now. As with so many other desserts, however, I like to have variations ready to go when I’m looking for something different. This is a Chocolate Angel Food Cake.
This cake is made the exact same way as a traditional angel food cake, namely with lots of beaten egg whites, but it has cocoa powder included along with the cake flour. The cocoa adds a not-too-rich chocolate flavor to the finished product and is a nice change from plain vanilla. The cake is sweet, even more moist than regular angel food cake, and keeps well for several days. You will need a tube pan for the best results, as well as a little bit of whipped cream and maybe some fresh berries – or at least a big cup of coffee – when you go to serve it!
I got my first glimpse of this cake on the cover of Sunset Magazine about three years ago. With crushed peppermints enveloping the entire cake, it was quite a sight to behold – and so festive for the holiday season! I saved the picture and have been meaning to make it ever since. With my surplus of candy canes this year, I knew it had to be on my list.
I baked an angel food cake using my Perfect Angel Food Cake recipe and set it aside to cool completely. This cake isn’t exactly frosted. It is actually covered in whipped cream. Whipped cream, made from scratch, is a great way top top off an angel food cake. It is very light, like the cake itself is, and so it doesn’t weigh it down. It is also not too sweet, and since angel food cakes are on the sweet side to begin with, this makes for a good balance. I whipped up the cream right before serving this cake and recommend that you do the same, as even with refrigeration it is not a particularly stable topping (meaning it can’t be made a day in advance). I didn’t find this to be much of a problem because the cake is very light and easy to eat in large pieces, so as long as you have a crowd you should get through it in no time at all.
The candy canes are crushed and pressed gently into the whipped cream. Sunset covered the entire cake, while I opted just to do the sides. The more red your candy canes are, the more contrast you’ll have in the finished cake.
A storebought angel food cake will work in a pinch if you don’t have time to make one from scratch. I suspect that you could also get away with using thawed whipped topping (i.e. Cool Whip) in place of the whipped cream. I would not recommend using canned whipped cream because it is not stable enough. Starting from scratch with heavy whipping cream is the way to go.
Angel food cakes are just delightful – fluffy, soft and sweet. The full size cakes are light, but sometimes you just don’t need a whole big cake. Maybe you don’t have an angel food pan, which is crucial to success in baking a full angel food cake, or maybe you don’t want to use up a dozen eggs just for the egg whites. Perhaps it’s just too much cake to have lying around the house. Whatever the reason, it’s good to know that angel food cake can be adapted into a cupcake recipe quite easily.
Angel food cupcakes are light and fluffy, just like their big brothers, but bake up in a regular muffin tin. They’re not quite as impressive to look at (small and with flat tops), but they taste great and are a yummy snack. I don’t frost angel food cupcakes because they are so soft that their taste and texture can be lost if you use too much as a topping. I opt for a simple glaze, if I’m going to top them, or leave them plain.
To dress up this batch, I mixed some chocolate to make chocolate chip angel food cupcakes. I used some bar chocolate (dark and white chocolate) and chopped it up to act as my “chips.” Chopping up the chocolate is actually one of the most important things you need to do for this recipe before mixing them into the batter. Full-size chocolate chips can be too heavy for the delicate cake and will sink down to the bottom, causing not only an uneven distribution of ingredients, but probably causing the cupcakes to stick to the pan. Chopped chocolate – and you can use any flavor you like – will remain suspended in the cake nicely.
One other thing to keep in mind is that it is better to either use a nonstick muffin tin or very lightly grease your pan. Cupcake wrappers tend to shrink around the cake when it cools, while the cake can cling to the sides of the pan as it cools to help maintain its ultra-fluffy texture.