Black & White Angel Food Cake
The normal things kept me from blogging this week; internet was down, sites were down, house projects needed finishing, my husband and kids were in a race Saturday morning (in the rain no less) and life generally got in the way. Now, it is Sunday afternoon and I have a ton of stuff to do before we leave town on a mini stay-cation tomorrow. But you, dear readers, are on my priority list. Don’t you feel blessed? 🙂
I was reading this blog the other day and have been pondering the subject matter ever since. You should definitely read it (and all the comments, they are really fun) but the basic gist of it is that we all have something that is our ‘page turner’. A technique or ingredient that makes us-wait for it-turn the page whenever we see it in a recipe or cookbook. Some examples were puff pastry, saffron, any recipe that called for deep frying, that sorta thing. But what really surprised me was how many people said that cream of tartar scared the begeezus out of them. Seriously? Cream of Tarter? Like, the white stuff in the back of my baking cabinet that looks like baking soda or powdered sugar? It is so innocent! So unassuming! Are there more of you out there who are intimidated by this small container of powder that has the ability to make egg whites bend to your every will and desire?! Sheesh! I had no idea!
Let me put your fears to rest! Behold my new favorite recipe! Psst…it contains cream of tartar!! I had to make it several times just to be sure that it would be a good one to share with you. I know! I know! The things I do for you guys! And after much tasting and sharing of it with my friends and family-they too were very put out with taste testing- we have come to a decision: this is fantastic! It will make your skirt fly up and your hair blow back. It will knock your socks off and float your boat. It will…well you get the picture. There aren’t words for how wonderful it is. The first batch vanished several minutes after the first cut was made and while I would like to tell you that there were a dozen people here that night eating dessert, that would be misleading. Because there were really only a few of us and we at it all anyway. I turned to my husband and said, “I must make this again. Now.” And I did. And shared it with a different group of people (an even smaller gathering, if truth be known) and we at it all again. ALL OF IT. I think the chocolate ganache on top must have some sort of magical power… So here it is. I won’t keep it from you any longer. Dust off that jar of cream of tartar (check the expiration date please!) and conquer your fear. You can check out the basics of this magical ingredient here. For the present time though, just know that it will help stabilize your egg whites making this recipe a cinch to make. Please note that this recipe, like all angel food cakes, is baked in a tube pan. A tube pan looks like this:
It has a hole in the middle and the sides are straight. Ignore a non-stick version; you actually want an angel food cake to stick. They are inexpensive and available almost anywhere. Also, this recipe calls for A LOT of egg whites. Use the real thing, not the pasteurized ones from the carton. What do you do with all the egg yolks, you ask? I recommend strawberry ice cream, but that’s just me…
And if, after eating this cake,you are still in any doubt about the stellar capabilities of cream of tartar , you can always use it to make your own baking powder. Yup. No joke. If you ever find yourself out of baking powder, as I did not too long ago whilst in the middle of making pancakes, just mix 1 tsp baking soda and 2 tsp cream of tartar together. Yield: 1 T of baking powder. But I’m warning you. It makes you feel a little like a mad scientist to mix your own leavening chemicals. *insert evil laugh*
I would love to know what your ‘page turner’ is! Comment below and if I can, I will try and feature a recipe just for you! Unless, like me, you don’t even want a recipe that calls for fresh vanilla bean because you like the flavor of pure vanilla extract better. Hmmm…what is my page turner… Black & White Angel Food CakeRecipe adapted from Ina Garten
2 c sifted superfine sugar (see note below)
1 1/3 c cake flour
1 1/2 c egg whites, preferably at room temperature (10 to 12 eggs)
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c coarsely grated semisweet chocolate (This is easiest on the biggest side of your box grater. The same one I use to grate cheese.)
1/2 lb semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 c heavy cream
Mix 1/2 c of the sugar with all of the flour and sift them together 4 times. Yes, this seems excessive, but it is needed to achieve a nice smooth batter. Set this aside. Place the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until the eggs form medium-firm peaks. They should just barely hold their shape. With the mixer on medium speed, add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar by sprinkling it over the beaten egg whites. Beat on high speed for a few minutes until thick and shiny. Add the vanilla and continue to whisk until very thick, about 1 more minute. Sift 1/4 of the flour mixture over the egg whites and fold it very carefully into the batter with a rubber spatula. Keep adding the flour in 3 more additions, sifting and folding until it’s all incorporated. Fold in the grated chocolate (see above pics). Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, smooth the top, and bake it for 35 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees until it springs back to the touch. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately invert the pan on a cooling rack or flat, heat proof surface (see pic). When cool, run a thin knife around the cake to remove it from the pan.
For the chocolate ganache, melt the chocolate chips and cream together in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between each one, just until the chocolate is melted. Pour the ganache over the top of the cooled cake and cover the top completely, allowing it to drizzle down the sides.
Note: Superfine sugar is just what it says it is: sugar that is finer than regular granulated sugar. Usually it is called for in recipes when the sugar needs to melt fast without a lot of heat. The use of it here makes for a light cake with a smooth, fluffy texture. No graininess, like with some angel food cakes. But I hate to make an extra trip to the grocery store to buy it so I usually just make my own. For this recipe, add 2 1/4 sugar (this will yield the 2 c needed for this recipe when the texture is finer) to your food processor and blast away. Let it run for a few minutes and you are good to go.