Until I made it for the first time a few weeks ago, I had not eaten Angel Food Cake for years. It really isn’t well known or popular in England and it never really crossed my path on our many visits back to Canada. And even though I love to bake cakes, I felt very intimidated about making this particular kind. First of all, there are all those egg whites to separate. Plus, everyone says cakes of this type can be very temperamental, and you to be careful about what pans you use to bake them in. (You need a tube or bundt pan without a non-stick feature, and it’s best to have an actual Angel Food Cake pan really.) But after over fifteen years without a bite of one of my favourite cakes, I got fed up with waiting and decided to go for it.
For the recipe, I turned to an old faithful – The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook. Written by L M Montgomery’s granddaughter Kate Macdonald, the book contains recipes for many of the dishes the wonderful orphan from PEI made famous – including ‘Anne’s Liniment Cake’. Oh, how I loved the Anne books! Sadly, the cookbook is out of print, but there are a few used copies available on Amazon. I’d snap one up if you are an Anne fan like me.
I decided to invest in a proper Wilton pan, but I did cheat just a little. I learned about Two Chicks Egg Whites at a food show not that long ago, and I decided to use them instead of separating all those eggs. Other than that, I followed the recipe almost exactly, and the results were fantastic. It may sound like all the flour sifting is a lot of trouble, but actually it’s quite therapeutic, and it makes the cake light as air.
Orange Angel Food Cake
From the Anne of Green Gables Cookbook by Kate Macdonald
1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour (I used Italian ’00’ flour)
½ cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups room temperature egg whites (about 10 or 11 eggs)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon orange extract (I used Orange Blossom Water)
1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel
1½ teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar (I used caster – or superfine – sugar)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Arrange the oven racks so that the cake will sit near the bottom of the oven.
Sift the flour onto a piece of wax or greaseproof paper. Measure out one cup and put it back into the sifter. Add the icing sugar and salt to the sifter. Sift onto another piece of wax paper. Sift again four more times, and set aside.
Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla, orange extract and orange peel to the egg whites.
Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until they are firm, but still glossy. Add the granulated sugar, two tablespoons at a time, to the egg whites. Continue beating until they cling to the sides of the bowl and are stiff, but not dry.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in the sifted flour and icing sugar bit by bit. Do not stir.
Spoon the batter into an ungreased angel food cake pan or tube pan. Cut through the batter to release any large air bubbles, and gently smooth the top. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.
The cake is done if the top springs back when touched lightly. If your finger leaves a dent, shut the oven door and leave the cake for another 5 minutes. When the cake is done, use oven mitts to remove it from the oven. Turn it upside-down on a cooling rack and allow to cool for about an hour.
Turn the cake right side up in the pan, and run the blade of a metal spatula around the sides and centre of the cake to loosen it. Turn the cake upside down on a cake rack and gently lift off the pan.
When the cake is totally cool, glaze with
1¼ cups icing sugar
½ cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla (I used Orange Blossom Water instead)
grated peel of one orange
Mix the icing sugar and the orange juice in a small bowl. Add the flavouring and orange rind and mix in until you have a smooth glaze.
Spoon the glaze on top of the angel cake. Spread it out to the edges with a metal spatula and let it dribble down the sides.
When you cut Angel Food Cake do not use a knife. Insert two forks back to back and gently tear the cake apart or use an Angel Food Cake cutter. They look similar to this.
This is my vintage Schneider cake breaker, circa 1930, which belonged to my Mom and my Grandma before her.
I will definitely make Angel Food Cake again. It’s not nearly as complicated as nearly everyone says, and the results are definitely worth the effort.
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Shared with Friday Food at Momtrends, Sweet Tooth Friday, Friday Favorites, Bake with Bizzy, Cookbook Sundays at Couscous & Consciousness, A Little Birdie Told Me, Mouthwatering Monday, Raising Homemakers, Inspire Me Monday, Taste This Thursday, Tasty Tuesday Parade of Foods