This post brought to you by the color white, or Angel Food Cake from Scratch

Okay, honest moment. I took these pictures over a year ago, before I moved in with Alex, with good intentions of posting about this amazing, incredible angel food cake. But, I got busy. I started law school. It got crazy. I've posted about twice in the past year. But I did make this angel food cake at least two times. And it was amazing as ever. With the coming bounty of berries in June, you should consider making this cake. It's light, airy, perfect for a hot day, with berries, and maybe mashed with ice cream. This recipe comes from a book I received as a gift years ago  - the Book Club Cookbook. It has this incredible Angel Food Cake recipe in it: called Mrs. Nesbitt's Angel Food Cake with Lemon Cream. I never make, or have made, the lemon cream. But the cake, oh my. I've never made another angel food cake again after discovering this recipe. It's incredible. It's more dense than the box angel food cakes, but in a good way. It is moist, sweet but not too sweet, and flavored with almond extract instead of vanilla. I think this is what makes this cake so incredible. It's amazing that just 1/2 teaspoon of anything can do that. Enjoy this. I know I do. 

You will need a a 10 inch angel food cake pan (this is the one I have), a big bowl, two other bowls, a hand or kitchenaid mixer, a sifter, a whisk, and a spatula. The other great thing about this cake is the relatively few ingredients, all white as can be. Go to the store and get a dozen (good, free range or something) eggs, sugar (fine or regular granulated works fine, I've made it both ways), cream of tartar, salt, almond extract (get the real stuff, not anything synthetic), and cake flour (NOT all-purpose). It comes in a red box. The only brand I have ever seen is Swans Down.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Do you know how to separate eggs? Probably yes, if you're reading baking blogs. But let me share my method anyway. I use my hands, which I think is the fastest way. I crack the egg and open it into one cupped palm over the measure. I then let the white slip through my fingers while moving it back and forth between my hands. It goes really fast, and it prevents the yolk breakage you sometimes get when you use the shell halves. As an aside, I think those egg separating tools are entirely unnecessary to have in a kitchen. But whatever works for you. Give my method and whirl, see what you think.

You need a 1 and 1/4 cups egg whites. I use a 1 cup glass liquid measure and add egg whites until I get what looks like about a 1/4 cup over the 1 cup measure. Just eyeball it. It doesn't have to be absolutely perfect. For me, this is usually 10-11 large eggs. Apparently I did not photograph that, so trust me. I did photograph the shell and yolk detritus though. I know it's a waste, but I usually just throw the yolks away. I know there are things I could do with them. Sigh. Pour the whites into a large bowl.

 Next, sift your flour once, in your sifter. Measure 1 cup of cake flour from this sifted bowl and add it to another medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 tsp of salt (I use kosher, pulverized to make the grains smaller) to the flour, and combine with whisk. Set this aside for the moment.

 Go back to the egg whites in the bowl.  Get your mixer and beat the eggs on medium high speed until they are foamy.
Then add 1 and 1/2 tsp cream of tartar. Cream of tartar helps egg whites maintain their structure once they've been beaten. It's pretty cool - more about that here.

Get 1 cup of sugar ready. Turn your mixer back on and start beating the egg whites again. Slowly add the cup of sugar while continuing to beat the eggs. This is slightly easier if you have a Kitchenaid stand mixer, but I find I almost always prefer to use a hand mixer when I am mixing batters. I can feel the batter with the hand mixer, which is not possible with the stand mixer.  But it is a little trickier. Maybe get a friend to pour the sugar for you if you're not particularly well-coordinated.

Beat the whites until they peak. Basically you want to be able to stop the mixer, pull it out of the whites, and have the white create a peak. Then beat in the almond extract. You don't want the egg whites to be overly stiff. It's just something you have to get used to, if you haven't made a lot of egg white batters. The best I can tell you is to try to emulate the photos - shiny, peaking batter is what you want.

You're finished with the mixer at this point. Take the bowl of sifted flour / sugar / salt and sprinkle over the batter, about a half cup at a time (I just eyeball this, and separate into three pours), using the spatula to very gently folding in the flour to the whites after each addition. Be gentle, and work slowly. You are trying to avoid crushing the fluffy whites. Incorporate gently and don't worry if it isn't fully incorporated. After adding the last of the flour, gently fold it in and try to slowly incorporate all the dry into the whites, but with a light hand. This is where you could end up with an extremely dense cake if you overwork the batter.
You don't grease or butter angel food cakes, so no prep is necessary for the pan. Use the spatula to pour the batter into the angel food cake pan, again, trying not to crush it. Even it out, it will fill about half the pan.

Bake it about 30 minutes. Look for the top to be lightly browned, fairly soon after you start to smell it - that's when it is done. Check the photo for the color you're seeking.

 Pull it out of the oven and invert it to cool. After about an hour, use a bread knife around the outside of the cake, on the outside and the inside core, to help it turn out of the pan. Put it on a plate, and serve it with those soon to be in season strawberries, and every other delicious berry. Hooray for summer! Hooray for delicious light cake! Hooray for a new post!

 ~ T

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