So I got this new cookbook called Cake Keeper Cakes. It's basically exactly the kind of cookbook I've always wanted, but for some reason never had up until now. It's full to the brim with simple, no-frills, casual cakes. There's a section on bundt cakes, a section on loaf cakes, and a section on angel food cakes and chiffon cakes. All the recipes appear easy to follow, and none of them require weird, exotic ingredients.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love my fancy cookbooks, filled with complicated baking techniques and precise instructions that, should you fail to follow them to the letter, could end in a kitchen disaster and lead to dashed hopes and dreams (at least as far as eating something delicious is concerned). Those higher-level cookbooks have taught me a lot, and I continue to get an education every time I bake from them. But, you know, sometimes you just want to bake something quick and easy, with predictable results. And I'm happy to say that so far, this cookbook allows me the opportunity to do just that.
I made a chocolate birthday cake for a coworker of Andy's first from this book, and it went over really well at the office. I didn't happen to get any, since it was devoured before Andy brought the empty cake pan home, but I took that as a huge compliment! Encouraged by this huge reception, I decided to make a second cake for home. This time, I wanted to make something I knew my kids would eat. That meant angel food cake.
I think I've mentioned this on the blog before, but my oldest son hates frosting. Well, he hates most frostings. He likes his sweets on the plain, unadorned side. He's that kid that throws a fit when you take him to a birthday party and one of the activities is to decorate your own cookie/cupcake. He just wants to take the naked cupcake and eat it that way, darnit! So I've come to realize that angel food cake is a great cake for both of us. For him, it's nice and plain and spongy and he really loves the taste. For me, I get to eat a fat-free cake for dessert! Not bad. I chose a Brown Sugar Angel Food Cake, just because it sounded like a fun spin on the original. It's pretty much exactly like a standard angel food cake (whipped egg whites, a bit of cake flour, some vanilla, etc.) but with light brown sugar in place of the granulated sugar. There was a simple cinnamon glaze recipe along with the cake in the book, but of course I omitted that on my son's behalf.
I was a bit nervous about how this would turn out, but my fears were quickly calmed when I took this beautiful, pillowy tower of cake out of the oven. The last time I tried making an angel food cake, the thing looked flat and deflated and it didn't go over too well. This one, on the other hand, was a home run! It was unbelievably soft; it almost dissolved on the tongue. It had fantastic height, and it kept very well for days on my counter in an airtight cake dome. It was wonderful with the Coffee Ice Cream I made the other day, too! This cake is now in the running to become my son's birthday cake, so I'd say he loved it!
Brown Sugar Angel Food Cake
from Cake Keeper Cakes
makes 1 10-inch cake
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar, divided
1/4 tsp. salt
14 large egg whites, room temperature
1 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Have ready a 10-inch ungreased angel food tube pan with a removable bottom.
2. Combine the flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly to break up any lumps. Set aside.
2. Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl or electric mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until the whites are frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat on medium speed until the egg whites begin to turn white. With the mixer still on medium speed, pour in the remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar in a slow, steady stream and whip until the egg whites just hold soft, floppy peaks when the whisk is lifted from the mixture. Stir in the vanilla until it is just combined.
3. Place a small fine-mesh strainer over the bowl of egg whites and strain about 1/4 cup of the flour mixture into the egg white mixture. Gently fold in the flour mixture with a rubber spatula. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture in 1/4-cup increments until all of it has been folded in. Pour the batter into the tube pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
4. Bake the cake until it is golden brown and the top springs back when you touch it, about 45 minutes (Note: mine only took about 38 minutes).
5. Remove the pan from the oven. If your pan has feet, invert the pan onto a heatproof surface and allow it to cool. If your pan doesn't have feet, invert 4 heatproof drinking glasses on the counter and rest the inverted pan on top of the glasses to allow air to circulate around the cake while it cools. (Alternatively, you can do what I did, which is to place a heavy juice bottle underneath the hole in the center of the tube pan and allow the center hole piece of the pan to rest on the top of the bottle, inverted.) Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 1 hour or for up to 6 hours.