It felt a little like Top Chef around here last week, where the challenge was to create a unique and interesting angel food cake--the kind of cake that you'd pick as one of your three foods to have on a desert (dessert?) island. We had lots of great entries.
Some people reached back to their mothers' cakes for inspiration:
For example, Raymond made a cake "in a strawberry cloud"--like his mother used to make. No offense to your mother, Raymond, but I'll bet she never made a cake that looked this grand.
Vicki also took a page out of her mother's cookbook and filled her cake with lemon filling from "Heaven Only Knows Where, i.e., Mom's Recipe Box." She frosted it with whipped cream, and declared it to be "exquisite--the best angel food cake ever."
Mendy's was plain, but still good--at least it was good after he let it cool. A word to the wise from Mendy: angel food cake straight from the oven is not angelic. Mendy also shared a bit of Hebrew lore about manna, the food of angels.
Chocolate, not surprisingly, played a part in a number of the cakes.
Hanaa made the Chocolate Tweed again, with the inspired addition of orange rind to the shaved chocolate. Hanaa, if you like the combination of orange and chocolate, be sure to make the Bostini next week!
Maria thought her 9-egg-white cake was a little plain--but she fixed that in a hurry. She filled it with raspberry sauce, topped it with chocolate ganache that she just happened to have in her refrigerator and frosted the whole thing with chocolate whipped cream sprinkled with silver dragees. No longer plain.
Lynnette made a chocolate angel food cake straight from Rose's playbook. She found the cake to be "moist, tender, and simply delicious" as is, but thought that for its second night, she'd sit it "next to a scoop of ice cream."
Nancy made very adorable mini angel food cake cherubs. Although she admired their looks, even their cuteness didn't quite persuade her or her tasters that angel food cake was as good as chocolate.
Some people took more unexpected routes.
Jennifer did a very creative take--a coffee angel food cake (to be eaten for breakfast, with coffee, of course). She dissolved instant espresso--next time she thought she'd use a little more--in boiling water and got a beautiful caramel-colored cake.
Kristinadid another variation that had never occurred to me: the spice angel food cake. A mixture of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg jazzed up her version.
Speaking of jazzing up a cake, Julie did just that in her exotic lime and coconut cake, dreamed up as the perfect finale to a Thai dinner. The cake looks very pretty, filled and frosted with lime custard, and topped with toasted coconut. Julie did her cake in an eight-cup pan.
Sarah discovered that she didn't have a tube pan, so naturally she had to pay a visit to Sur La Table, where she got the required pan and the not-required (but great to have!) balloon whisk. She put both to immediate good use in her vanilla-bean angel food cake.
Most weeks, the Featured Baker is somebody who made a particularly beautiful or imaginative version of the week's cake. But sometimes you have to honor someone who may not have turned out a beauty, but who kept trying ... and trying ... and trying. Joan prepared for his first angel food cake bake "as if it was surgery." When the cake was beautifully done, it came out of the oven and "a huge surge took place and the cake turned on its side and slid out halfway into the colander receptacle." Undaunted, (or not daunted very much), Joan sent her agreeable husband out for more eggs. Cake #2: Joan investigated possible problems on the Forum and tried again. "Boom. It plops on its side." Cake #3: Husband, now fully invested in the success of this cake, buys more eggs. This one looks promising: "It was so perfectly gorgeous in medium brown, luscious and tender looking; domed to about 3 inches, and then flattened out as it was supposed to do. It tested well.... Oh, I have accomplished a miracle. I ran for the camera, only to hear my husband shouting: 'It's falling!'"
Joan, I promise you, one of your next cakes will work!
If you haven't already done so, be sure to go to Rose's web site and find out the answer to the mystery of the caramel!
Next week is the Bostini--the dessert we've all been waiting for! I'm going to be out of town next weekend, so I made it early, and I can tell you that it's worth waiting for. Delicious orange cupcakes, incredibly rich and flavorful creme patisserie, all topped with chocolate glaze (don't let people know that the glaze is made with a half-pound of butter!). The Bostini is not for the cowardly.
Have a great Halloween weekend!