baking therapy: angel food cake with lemon cream

Another coworker’s birthday, another delicious treat to break up the workday. I decided to make an angel food cake for a couple of reasons …  because my mom found an angel food cake pan at a garage sale and brought it down to me last weekend, because I’ve never make angel food from scratch, and because I’ve already brought cheesecake, chocolate cake, yellow cake, and banana bread to work.

I must say, baking this cake was quite the adventure. I made a huge mess of my kitchen (mostly because I didn’t realize just how voluminous 12 egg whites can become – very voluminous) and later was thrilled when my cake popped right out of the mold after the two hour cooling period, despite looking totally stuck to the pan.

Angel Food Cake with Lemon Cream and Fresh Berries, adapted from Martha Stewart Living

FOR THE CAKE
1 cup sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 large egg whites
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Make the cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees, with rack in lower third of oven. Sift flour and 1/2 cup sugar into a bowl.

Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Add lemon zest and juice, cream of tartar, vanilla, and salt; continue whisking until soft peaks form, about 2 1/2 minutes. With mixer running, gradually add remaining cup sugar.

Increase speed to medium-high; continue whisking until firm, not stiff, peaks form, about 2 minutes. (At this point my mixer was overflowing with egg whites!) Sprinkle whites with 1/3 of the flour-sugar mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold to combine. Sprinkle remaining flour-sugar mixture over whites in 2 additions; gently fold to combine.

Transfer batter to an UNGREASED (very important!) 10-inch angel food cake pan with legs. Gently run a knife through the center of the batter to remove any air bubbles. Bake 45 to 50 minutes.

FOR THE LEMON CREAM
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

While the cake is baking, make the lemon cream. Prepare an ice-water bath (this really does help). Whisk lemon juice, sugar, flour, and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; whisk constantly for 1 minute, until it thickens. Transfer to a heatproof bowl set in ice-water bath to cool completely, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk cream and lemon zest with a mixer on medium speed until medium peaks form, about 3 minutes. Gently fold whipped cream into juice mixture in thirds. Refrigerate lemon cream, up to overnight.

Remove cake from oven, and invert onto its cooling legs (if your tube pan doesn’t have legs, invert it over the neck of a wine, or similarly shaped, bottle to cool); let cool, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (Yes, you let it cool upside down … the cake won’t just plop out of the pan so don’t worry like I did). Run a knife around the inner and outer edges of cake to remove. Invert onto a serving platter. (Use a knife to separate cake from bottom of pan.)

Frost with whipped cream, serve with fresh berries.

Conclusions: Delicious! Light, lemony and spongy … an angel food cake success! My coworkers all enjoyed it, especially the addition of the lemon zest.

-Emily