When I was a kid, it was a familiar sight to arrive home from school to see the kitchen table holding court to the Angel Cake pan hanging upside down on a glass soda bottle cooling its heels. Mom’s Marble Angel Cake was like the house-dress of desserts in my world. Those cakes were as regular as the milk delivery and as familiar as my mom wearing a house-dress when she baked.
I’m sure mom would be proud that I at least got the thing to hang upside down without it falling out. Sort of. As I gently popped the cake pan from the bottle and flipped it over in one smooth motion it slipped and I dropped it about 3 inches onto the granite counter. I’d bet that in her time my mom had her share of fallen angels (don’t read too much into that).
She was the one who taught me that tasty cake-wrecks are just like another opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade. Just fill the newly dented cake with berries, whipped cream and eat it proudly, using the best silver and china.
Do not be afraid of making an Angel Cake – as long as the egg whites are whipped up to a nice glossy peak and you fold everything gently – it’ll all work out just fine. And if it doesn’t? No worries. Just call it sponge cake, roll it up with some whipped cream and tell everyone you meant for it look that way. Or break it into pieces and make trifle. Or cut and serve topping with a thick chocolate sauce and berries with whipped cream. On your best china.
My mother never committed a recipe to paper. And since she was long gone before I could get around to asking her for recipes I’ve had to recreate stuff from memory and sometimes just from the look and smell. I often need a little assistance and this cake was partly inspired by the brilliant food geek, Alton Brown and the butter maven of the Hampton’s, Ina Garten. I seem to almost never leave home without a little assistance from those guys.
And to bake this cake, no house-dress is required. But you might want to finish that wine so you can recruit the bottle into a dandy handy cake cooling holder. And be prepared. Have some berries and whipped cream in the refrigerator and get out the best china and silver. You never know when it’ll come in handy.
|Black and White Angel Cake, Gluten Free||
- 142 grams GF Flour (62 g tapioca flour/starch, 40 g superfine brown rice flour, 40 g superfine white rice flour) (about 1 cup)
- 368 grams superfine white sugar (don’t use regular sugar, see notes) (almost two cups)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- 360 grams egg whites, room temperature (about 1.5 cups) (around 9-11 large eggs)
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
- 1 teaspoon orange extract or oil (pure)
- Preheat oven to 350. Get out your angel food pan (the one with the tube in the center and a removable bottom). Do NOT grease it. Set aside.
- Weigh flours in one bowl. Weigh sugar in another. Place half the sugar into the flour and add salt. Whisk to combine. Remove 150 grams of that mixture into another bowl and add the cocoa and espresso powder. Whisk to combine. You should have 3 containers at this point. One has half the sugar. One is a flour/sugar mix and the other is some of the flour/sugar mix combined with cocoa and espresso powder. Set those aside.
- In the very clean bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla and orange extracts on medium low until combined. Turn mixer to medium high and whip whites until very soft peaks form. Turn mixer to medium and very slowly pour in the remaining sugar. Do it slowly but don’t dawdle or the whites will be finished before the sugar is in there. You want to stop when you have stiff peaks but the whites look smooth and silky. Don’t over beat them or they will get kind of dry and separate.
- Take about ⅓ to just under ½ of the white egg goop and place in another bowl (yep – you are going to use all the bowls in the kitchen). Using a mesh strainer, pour the chocolate flour mixture on top of the smaller egg white goop. Sifting is important. Once it is all in, using a clean silicone spatula, fold the flour mixture in until no dry stuff remains. The whites will deflate a little bit, but don’t worry about that. Just be gentle and get it all in.
- Do the exact same thing with the remaining flour/sugar mixture into the remaining egg white goop but use a clean silicone spatula. Don’t mingle the chocolate and the vanilla yet.
- Drop about half the vanilla mixture into the Angel Food Pan. Spread gently to create an even layer. Do the same with the chocolate mixture. Top with the remaining vanilla mixture and smooth with the spatula. You can leave it as a black and white cake or you can marble the mixture at this point. Take a clean knife and drag it through the pan a little tiny bit to marble the chocolate and vanilla together. Less is more in this case. I like to just leave it as a simple black and white cake because frankly, my marbling skills are lacking. But if you are confident, go for it.
- Bake about 40-45 minutes or just until a toothpick comes out without crumbs. The top will be puffy and look golden. Cool upside down on a rack or on a glass bottle inserted into the tube (think retro-mom in house-dress). Leave the cake for at least an hour upside down.
- And just in case you might be feeling chicken, don’t use the bottle, just put the cake upside down on the cooling rack with tons of air circulation – if it happens to fall out of the pan, it won’t crash. Me? I’m a bottle girl.
- Even if the cake is perfect and you get it out, dropping it just a few inches onto the counter top may result in a slight imperfection called um, a dent. If the top is not perfectly flat, then press it with the back of a spoon to even out the dent/channel around the circumference of the cake and fill with berries – it’ll look all dressed up. Serve with a little shaved chocolate, berries and whipped cream or drizzled chocolate sauce.