Oh sweet angel food cake, how delightful and beguiling you are. I've always thought of this cake as something to be served at a summer picnic or a shower. Not that this notion is written in stone, in fact this cake has another meaning and memory to me, it was my mothers favorite cake. As a child I always thought this was a peculiar favorite to have, favoring a denser cake piled with frosting or even pie. My mom liked things that were less fused over and unadorned, I guess you could say simple. It has been years since I've had this cake and thought it would be fun to make in memory of her and her upcoming birthday. I also liked the idea of my boys tasting it for the first time and making a connection with their grandma and something that she loved.
I have always had a huge connection with family/friends and food. Preparing a meal for loved ones is extremely gratifying. I love the tradition built around it and the memories it creates. A memory of time and place, from the first time I was in Italy and had frito misto served wrapped up in paper cones to winter picnics with my parents replete with hot tea from a thermos and yummy sandwiches. Memories that still put a smile on my face and give me something to build upon days to come.
There is this quirky ability inside me to remember people's favorite foods, be it coq au vin or a chili dog, I may not remember your name but if I show up on your doorstep with a lemon meringue pie you'll know why! There really can be so much satisfaction in making things for other people, it doesn't have to be a 6 course meal (although I think those are kinda fun too), something as simple a some homemade jam can deliver the same effect. Maybe it's also the gesture of time, I covet my free time now that I have two kiddos, when someone gives up a little of theirs to make something special it means a lot.
Ok....on to the cake! I hope you're ready to hone your egg cracking and separating skills because this bad boy calls for 14 egg whites. Don't be reluctant to make this, it's really quite fun. I wasn't sure what I wanted to top this with, seven minute frosting, a lemon icing, or just keep it simple? I went with simple and whipped up some cream and used some homemade vanilla laced Rainier cherry jam I made last summer(The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook). Total perfection, I know my mom would have loved it❤️
Classic Angel Food Cake
Makes one 10 inch cake
Adapted fromMartha Stewart's Baking Handbook
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
14 large egg whites, room temperature
1 tablespoon warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with the rack in the center. Into a medium bowl, sift together flour and 3/4 cup sugar four times; set aside.
In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites and the warm water on low speed until foamy. Add salt, cream of tartar and vanilla; beat on medium high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. While beating, gradually add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat on high speed until peaks are stiff and glossy but not dry, about 2 minutes.
Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Sift flour mixture over egg white mixture in six parts, quickly but gently folding it in with a rubber spatula after each addition.
Gently transfer batter to an ungreased 10 inch tube pan. Run a knife through the batter to release any air bubbles, and smooth with a small offset spatula. Bake until cake is golden brown and springs back when touched, 35-40 minutes.
Invert pan onto its legs (I used a wine bottle) and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Carefully run a large offset spatula around the sides of the cake to loosen, then invert onto a wire rack. Cake can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.