Betty had one dessert specialty, and that was angel food cake. She would bake one for everyone’s birthday, and it was far and away my favorite part of celebrating. On the flip side, her ancient oven often scorched the top, which means that I have a strange affection for overcooked angel food.
The cake was always cooled upside-down on a 1960s Coke bottle, which was one of the things I saved after we cleaned out her house. I still use it and think of her.
This recipe makes a wonderful cake. Scorching the top is optional.
Always separate your eggs in one bowl, and then transfer each white to the main bowl after you’re certain that your yolk remained intact. I purchase a minimum of 18 eggs before attempting this recipe; I’ve never made this cake without having to throw out at least one or two eggs because I broke a yolk.
- 1 ¾ cups sugar
- ¼ tsp table salt
- 1 cup cake flour, sifted
- 12 room temperature egg whites
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
- 1 ½ tsp cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Use your food processor to spin the sugar for about two minutes until superfine. Sift half of the sugar with the cake flour and salt.
In a large bowl, combine egg whites, water, extract and cream of tartar. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer with whisk attachment on medium speed as you slowly sift in the remaining sugar.
Once you have achieved medium peaks, put the mixer aside. Sift flour mixture to coat the egg white mixture, almost like snow. Use a spatula to gently fold in the flour. Continue sifting and folding until all flour is incorporated.
Carefully spoon the mixture into an ungreased tube pan. Bake for 35 minutes before using a wooden skewer to check for doneness; the skewer will come out dry when the cake is cooked.
Cool upside down on a rack (or Coke bottle) for at least an hour before removing from the pan.
Everyone loves angel food cake. The Tiny Kitchen Assistant prefers his to be plain, while my husband likes to make his fancy with berries and whipped cream.