An “Angel” In Many Ways

So, in my previous post I talked about a fabulous Red Velvet Cake, “Devil’s Food”, now let’s talk “Angel Food”.

Angel food cake is a Northern American favorite although the history is again a little sketchy.  A similar version of this cake was found in an early southern cook book, “1871- Mrs. Porter’s New Southern Cookery Book, and Companion for the Frugal and Economical by M.E. Porter”.  Although in this publication it was called “Snow Drift Cake” and included a substantial amount of butter, the preparation is otherwise very similar. Angel Food Cake has gone by other names though, including “Silver Cake”, “Cornstarch Cake” (that sounds appetizing doesn’t it?), “Pennsylvania Dutch Wedding Cake”, and even “Funeral Cake” (meant to be easy on the system of a mourner). Despite the naming variation the process is usually the same.

One of the defining characteristics of Angel Food Cake is the light airiness that is has and it sticky, and sweet but not too sweet flavor.  It’s all in the technique when it comes to a great Angel Food Cake, so here are “THE RULES”.

1.)  Egg Whites must first be whipped into stiff peaks, and other ingredients slowly folded in after. Beating or aggressively adding ingredients can cause the air to come out of the egg whites and deflate your cake.

2.)  No Shortening or Leavening, these add too much heaviness.

3.)  Use a soft flour ( NO whole grain) and sift it thoroughly.  A light cake flour works best.

4.)  The addition of cream of Tartar will prevent over browning.

5.)  DO NOT grease the pan! This is important, the cake needs to stick to the pan to rise properly.

6.)  Use a tube pan or bundt pan, the cake requires the extra surface area for proper rising.  It will essentially climb the sides of the pan.

7.)  Turn upside down while cooling, this prevents the light airy cake from falling and becoming a dense sticky mess.

8.)  And finally,  cut only with a serrated blade to prevent smushing (yes that is the technical term).

Follow these simple rules or you’ll end up with cake failure…

Angel food cake is an angel in a lot of ways, it was named so because of it’s light airy nature, the food of angels.  However it has a lot of great nutritional qualities too; especially for  a dessert.  A single serving of Angel Food Cake contains only 72 calories,  0.22gm of fat, 16 gm of carbohydrates, and 1.6gm of protein. A true dieters dessert dream.

It’s a culinary angel too. It’s mild flavor allows the avid home chef (of which I am one) to get creative with toppings, the cake is a sponge style cake and will absorb all the juices, sauces, gnashes, compotes, and glazes that you put on it;  adopting those flavors. Making this a very versatile cake.  You can also add fine spices to the batter for added oomph. Or even toast it! Try adding pumpkin pie spice to the batter and adding a caramel glaze, or add cocoa to the batter, and top with strawberries and chocolate gnash; YUM!  So, I’m sure you can now see why Angel Food Cake is a true angel in so many ways.

Now Let’s Bake!! Here are the ingredients for a heavenly Angel Food Cake, and remember follow the rules…

12 large egg whites, about 1 1/2 c. worth

1 1/4 c. sifted cake flour

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp. Lemon juice

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl sift together the cake flour and 3/4 c. granulated sugar set side. In a large mixing bowl beat eggs until foamy then add cream of tartar, salt, and lemon juice. Begin to whip ingredients into stiff peaks once batter begins to thicken start to add remaining sugar 1 Tbsp at a time until shiny stiff peaks form and all sugar has been incorporated.  Once peaks form add extracts and beat a few more seconds.  Next fold in the flour and sugar mixture 1/4 c. at a time with a spatula or wooden spoon don’t stir remember rule number 1. You don’t want to deflate your batter. Pour batter into an ungreased tube pan.  Tap the pan gently on the counter a couple time to break up large air bubble on the bottom of the pan. Smooth the top of the batter and bake for 40-45 minutes. Cake is done when skewer come out clean, and it springs up quickly when you touch the surface. Remove from the oven and immediately turn it upside down on a wire rack.  Allow to cool for 1 1/2 hours, once it has cooled completely use a knife to loosen all of the edges including the center tube and turn cake out onto cake plate or serving plate. Cut with a serrated knife and serve with topping of your choice.

Angel Food Cake is best served the day it is made but will keep for 2-5 days in a sealed container. Enjoy!


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The Food Of It All

My favorite category… The Kitchen!

I started out blogging about baking and cooking, my blog “Baking It Real” has been live now for more than 4 years, and has seen good success. I’ll be transferring my content from that site to this one so there will be lots of great stuff coming soon!

I’m mid-swing in a cooking challenge with my best friend Amber as well and we’ll be continue that adventure here! We’ve affectionately named it Betty’s BFF’s and we endeavor to cook our way through the entire Betty Crocker Red Book Cookbook. So Stayed tuned, there’s tons of great info coming very soon!

 

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Just Little Ole Me

This page will feature some of my own adventures, and words of wisdom.

I am a Mom and Wife living in mid-Michigan, I’ve held a variety of jobs in my career and am currently managing the garden center owned by my husband and I. Our oldest son is 18 years old and works along side us, and our daughter is an outgoing 14 year old currently experience the joys of her freshman year of high school.

I enjoy travelling, gardening, cooking, baking, crafting, and entertaining! I’m excited to share some of me with you. More to come soon!

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Finding Inspiration Is Easy

This page will feature a variety of ideas found throughout the vast platforms available in the world of search engines and social media.

I’ll even give you a heads up on new upcoming blogs and websites that I think you’ll find easy to use and easy to find that inspiration you’ve been looking for whether it be for a decor update or total remodel, maybe some entertaining tips, and even a recipe or two!

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Red Velvet Cake

Here it is… The first post I ever created on “Baking It Real”. This is still one of my favorite recipes and I tweaked it a thousand times before I felt it was ready for it’s big debut. I hope you enjoy it again!

 

So I decided that in order to solidify my place as a note worthy blogger I would share with you; a favorite cake recipe.  Not just any kind of cake though, “Red Velvet Cake“, also known as “Devil’s Food Cake”!

I find this recipe particularly interesting because, it has a great story, it’s easy to make, and tastes really good. It’s also a fun one to impress your friends and relatives with so go ahead give it a try!

There are a number of websites out there claiming to know the history of red velvet cake but it remains a little enigmatic for me. Although, the story is funny so I’ll tell it anyway. In the early 1920’s a women tried red velvet cake for the first time as a guest at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Before leaving the hotel she decided she wanted a copy of the recipe and requested a copy from the hotel’s head chef explaining that she would like to purchase a copy of their recipe.   She received a copy of the recipe before leaving and upon checking out she also received a bill from the head chef for $200.  Furious over the fee for the recipe she quickly shared it with everyone she knew, even passing out copies on the train on the way home!  Guess she got her revenge because red velvet cake did become very popular over the next several decades, and is now a staple in bake shops and cupcakeries all over the world.

Many of the recipes for red velvet cake call for obscene amounts of red food coloring (and I mean obscene 4-5 BOTTLES in some recipes!) others call for far less, and some chefs believe the original recipe had none at all!  So where does that beautiful red color come from? … Drum roll please….

Simple chemistry. I know a little anticlimactic right?

Early forms of cocoa powder contained large amounts of anthocyanins (natural red pigments).  This naturally occurring acid reacts with the acids in the buttermilk, and vinegar to produce a bright red color! Ta Da! Red velvet Cake. Like wise these anthocyanins will react with bases like baking soda to produce a rather unappetizing greyish green color so beware the baking soda when working with cocoa.  Commonly found cocoa powders  today are known as “Dutch processed” cocoa’s, some of their anthocyanins have been stripped away and so they do not provide such a profound color change; so the modern day chef began helping it along with a little or a TON of red food coloring.

Almost all of the recipes you will find today contain the same essential ingredients,  Butter or shortening, flour, cocoa, sugar, buttermilk, and vinegar.  Most of these ingredients are common pantry items, and you should have just about  everything they need to make a great red velvet cake.  I have a hard time finding Buttermilk though, it’s not a common ingredient in most kitchens anymore so here are two ways to make your own buttermilk, or at least a suitable substitute.

Real Buttermilk:

2-3 pints Heavy Whipping Cream

Place cream into an air tight container and shake. It will form into whipped cream and eventually butter solids will form.  Remove the butter solids and voila! the remaining liquid is none other than the ever elusive buttermilk you’ve been looking for!

Image courtesy of joepastry.com

Option 2: Buttermilk  Substitute

1 Tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice

1c. whole milk

Start with your vinegar in a 1 c. measuring cup and add the whole milk allow to stand for about 5 minutes and use interchangeably as buttermilk.  Easy and less expensive.

O.K. now that we have all of our ingredients lets make some cake! This recipe calls for the following ingredients:

1/2 c. shortening

1 1/2c. granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

1.5 oz. red food coloring

1 tsp. salt

1tsp. vanilla

1 c. buttermilk or buttermilk substitute

2 1/4 c. flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. white vinegar or lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 9 inch baking pans line the bottom with parchment paper and set aside.  mix shortening and sugar together once creamy add the eggs blend well.  In a separate bowl mix the food coloring and cocoa together into a paste, and then add to the shortening mixture.  Mix salt, vanilla, and buttermilk together, add alternately with the flour starting with the flour first until all well incorporated ( yes it will have a Willie Wonka red coloration don’t worry) Mix baking soda and vinegar together in a separate bowl and then fold into the batter. The chemical reaction between the vinegar and baking soda will give your cake a little lift making it light and fluffy.  Pour evenly into the two prepared baking pans and place in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely then split the layers, stack with cream cheese frosting in between the layers and frost the outside.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

4 oz. unsalted butter softened

4 oz. Cream cheese

2 C. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix together until smooth. Refrigerate for about 30minutes before using for best results.

Enjoy!!

image courtesy of pinchmysalt.com