Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Angel Cake

Angel (Food) Cake has always been a birthday cake favorite in our family. I think it was my first birthday cake though judging by the photos I was more into the whipped cream than the cake.  And then there was angel food cake for Dad's Birthday that I beat him to (see Eightieth Birthday Toast below). When Alexandra and Christopher were small, their birthday cakes were usually angel food frosted with whipped cream and garnished with fresh strawberries.A less caloric, and still favorite dessert is angel cake topped with fresh or frozen and thawed sliced or mashed strawberries . This cake also forms the basis of Heath Bar Cake.

For a 10 inch tube pan

Ingredients and quantities are from the from Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker's Joy of Cooking (1964).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift, and then measure:

1 cup [about 4.5 ounces, before sifting] cake flour [do not use all-purpose flour]

Add and resift 6 times:  [I sift one time]

½ c granulated sugar or confectioner’s sugar


1 ½ c egg whites, freshly separated
2 ½ T cold water
1 ½ t cream of tartar
1 t vanilla
1 t almond extract
½ t salt

Using an electric mixer, beat slowly at first then work up to high speed, gradually adding

1 c sifted sugar

Beat until stiff but not dry; mixture should hold peaks made with spatula. Stop while the mixture is still glossy. By hand gently fold in the flour mixture, about 2 T at a time. Bake batter in a 10 inch ungreased tube pan for about 45 minutes. When cake is done, remove from the oven and invert pan over a funnel or full beer bottle. Let the cake hang for about 1 ½ hours or until it is thoroughly set. Release from pan by sliding a knife around the edges of the pan, around the tube, and around the bottom, once the tube piece has been removed from the side piece.

For traditional Kern Birthday Cake: Put toothpick in top half of cake and another toothpick in the bottom half directly below the top toothpick. Cut cake in half, remove the top half and put a layer of

whipped cream (unsweetened) and
sliced strawberries

on bottom half. Return the top half, matching the toothpicks. Remove the toothpicks and frost with

whipped cream (unsweetened)

Garnish with

fresh strawberries.

EIGHTIETH BIRTHDAY TOAST (to Ja by Pris in Carbondale, February 26, 2002)

The first Birthday Party for Dad that I can remember must have occurred when I was about four.  Dad was coaching the Dartmouth ski team then and Mom and Dad would be away at a meet the weekend of his birthday.  Before they left, I “helped” Mom make an angel cake --- Dad’s all time favorite --- to celebrate his birthday when they returned on Sunday night.

In fact, I like angel cake almost as well as Dad, and I had seen Mom carefully put the cake on a top shelf in the kitchen,  I figured no one would really notice if I broke off a small piece or two to tide me over ‘til their return.  So I found a stool, pushed it over to the counter and helped myself.  Well, one bite led to another (I think the sitter discovered she liked angel cake too) and by the time they returned on Sunday night Mom found a piece of angel cake not much bigger than a grapefruit and a very remorseful daughter.

What I remember most about that evening though is sitting on Dad’s lap in the big blue chair in the living room, Mom on one knee, me on the other and Dad’s arms around us both, Dad wiping away my lingering tear then happily sharing bits of the remaining cake.

While this is hardly as intimate a celebration , it is indeed another special evening that I’m glad I can share with Dad who is as awesome now as he was then.  And tonight Dad, in honor of your eightieth I’ve restrained myself so you actually have a cake (make that even two cakes*)  to cut.

*A large carrot cake made by the caterers and an angel cake - which Ja saved for later - made by Pris.


Christopher was born two days after Christmas (which prompted three year old Alex to comment, "My silly brother missed Christmas"). Growing up he had one "friends party" indoors on his actual birthday but decided he much preferred to celebrate his actual birthday with family in December and his "Half Birthday" at Valley Pond with friends in June .  Hence 2 cakes; the June (1990) cake made with fresh Verrill Farm strawberries, the December one with frozen ones:


Alexandra and Christopher with cake they made for Pris's 1994 Birthday:

November 2014: Mom's 90th Birthday was on October 30th and I volunteered to make the cake. I had been planning to make a Linzertorte when Mom requested an Angel Cake with Lemon Glaze. Hmm...I had not made an angel cake in quite a long while, maybe for my Dad's Eightieth Birthday, and I was a bit apprehensive about it rising properly.  I checked to see that the cream of tarter was fresh and that I had the right kind of sugar. Then I checked my recipe.  Cake flour?  I'd forgotten about that. I think I had always used all purpose flour, but when I'd vetted my recipe for this blog I found most angel food cake recipes call for "cake flour". Mark Bittman in How to Cook Everything goes so far as to add: "(do not use all purpose flour)"*  Hence my note, long forgotten, to use CAKE flour!  I called the local grocery and asked if they carried cake flour, they responded they carried two brands.  When I got to the store I could not find a bag of cake flour, but finally looked closer to the cake mixes and found that cake flour actually comes in a box and is "27 times finer than all purpose flour".   Harold McGee, writing in On Food and Cooking explains cake flour as follows: "...cake flour a soft, low-protein flour that is very finely milled and strongly bleached with chlorine dioxide or chlorine gas. The chlorine treatment turns out to cause the starch granules to absorb water and swell more readily in high-sugar batters, and produce a stronger starch gel."**  Hence, cake flour would produce a lighter. moister cake than would all purpose flour.  My cake rose beautifully and was ready for the lemon glaze.

Lemon Glaze
I tried to replicate my Mom's lemon glaze as best I could.

Whisk together until smooth

1 cup confectioners sugar
3 T lemon juice

Then add in

1 T lemon zest.

Spread this glaze carefully over the top of the cake so as not to mix any crumbs from the top of the cake into the glaze, and drizzle down the sides of the cake (add a bit more water if necessary to make the glaze "drip" down the sides of the cake).  Garnish with additional lemon zest.

*    Page 725 (1998, first edition)

** Page 555

Reviewed 5/11/17

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