Oct 25, 2010

The Little Angel Food Cake that Could

Oh joy! Oh rapture!

If you think these words and exclamation points are excessive, then you have never watched an angel food cake collapse before your very eyes.

That cake was my worst failure so far (I'm not eliminating the possibility that something worse could happen in one of the next cakes), and part of me wanted to try it again. Another part--the noisier part--wanted to just admit that angel food cakes were not for me, and never to go in that direction again. And somehow the try-again part won out.

For one thing, trying again gave me the chance to buy another cake pan. I've been very virtuous lately, and have not bought a single NordicWare pan or anything at all unnecessary, so it seemed about time for me to buy an unnecessary junior-sized angel food cake pan. It was really a savings in the long run, I rationalized, because if the cake failed again, I wouldn't be wasting so many egg whites.
I didn't remember how easy this cake was to make. All I remember is the "splosh" it made when it collapsed. But it really is easy. Just beat some egg whites, and then beat then some more, adding sugar. Then whisk in a little Wondra flour. I didn't use chocolate this time, so I didn't have to grate that, but I did use a vanilla bean. Really, it couldn't get much simpler, assuming you have leftover egg whites in the freezer, which you're almost bound to have. (For example, next week's Bostini has 11 egg yolks to 6 egg whites, so you've already got enough for a five-cup angel food cake). And here is my 8-egg-white batter in my new cake pan. I'm glad I didn't try to fill it to the very top.

I remembered learning after Fiasco Cake that you shouldn't take the cake out of the oven until after it's risen above the pan and THEN fallen back down. So I didn't. And that's all there was to it. It worked like a charm. No matter how I stared at it, and even dared it to collapse on me, it just stoically stayed inside the pan. Good cake.
Of course, then I realized that I now had to remove the cake from the pan. I'm so accustomed to spraying all my cake pans with Baker's Joy that I couldn't see how unmolding this cake was going to work, especially since it was only a one-piece pan. I decided that if it stuck in the pan, it was a sign from above that I should never, ever make this cake again. Oddly enough, it didn't stick. It took a little persuasion, but the cake made it on the plate more or less intact.
After encouraging everyone to be creative, I decided I'd better come up with something a little fancier than the vanilla bean variation, so I made a passion fruit coulis. I had some frozen passion fruit concentrate left over from the White Gold Passion Fruit Genoise, and found a simple coulis recipe on the Perfect Puree website.

• 3/4 cup Culinary Traditions™ Passion Fruit Concentrate thawed
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• a vanilla bean, split

1. Combine puree and sugar in a heavy medium saucepan.

2. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean and add both to the saucepan.

3. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer until mixture has reduced to 1/2 cup, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.

4. Remove bean then transfer coulis to bowl and refrigerate until cold.

5. Drizzle coulis over cake just before serving.

Obviously, this is very simple to make, as long as you have the passion fruit concentrate. And it worked out handily that I'd used a vanilla bean for the cake and so still had the bean as well as some of the seeds left. A half-cup of sugar seemed like a lot, but I followed the directions anyway, and was glad I did.  The coulis was quite tart, but was a good foil for the sweet cake and whipped cream.

Here's my verdict: Why didn't anyone ever tell me that angel food cake could be so good? The stuff you buy from the store is tough, overly sweet, but otherwise tasteless. The only reason you'd want it for dessert is if you're desperate for something sweet and you figure a cake that tastes that bad must be pretty harmless.
But this cake....this is something else. It's delicious!
I'm ashamed to admit that Jim and I finished this cake off completely by ourselves over the course of three days. The first night, it was too late to invite anyone over and we each had two pieces (they were small!). I don't remember what our excuse was the second day. By the third day the whipped cream was pretty runny, so I didn't think it was good enough to serve to guests. Then Jim had some for lunch. I had some for breakfast. And it was gone.  So is my angel-food cake phobia.

- - - - -
A note on caramel: After reading about our caramel issues with the caramelized pineapple pudding cake, Woody tried it again. He had issues too. Neither he nor Rose is sure why it worked for them previously, and doesn't now, but they're experimenting


faithy said...

Looks great!! Glad your angel cake turned out perfect! "D Guess what is my word verification for this comment..hahaha "cakingl"? LOL!

Mendy said...


Congrats! You did it. And funny post. Love your rational for buying a new pan. :)

The top picture looks grand.

Vicki said...

I LOVE that pan! It's unbelievable to me that what I thought was angel food cake all these years from the store was actually anything but. Now I understand why my mom's fancy bridge cake with Bavarian Cream frosting was our favorite. It was an honest to goodness homemade angel food cake. Bless that Rose for resurrecting Angel Food cake back where it belongs.

Vicki said...

P.S. I was afraid my cake would stick and found on google that parchment on the bottom of the ungreased pan was the remedy. Worked great.

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

What a funny read. Love that you and Jim finished off the cake all by yourselves.

Do you think your egg white rationale will work when I tell my hubby I want to buy a new instant read thermometer?


Monica said...

YEAH!!!! no FLOP!
I thought of you this pass weekend and keep my fingers cross that you would have a success in your hands and there you go - YOU DID.


Unlike most of you, I'm not a big fan of angel food cake, and I had tons of other baking, cooking to do, so this one fell of the baking grid.

But, I want the pan, so if I ever have to do one, I can make a small one and then Tom and I will not feel guilty in polishing it off fast... because you know, uh - cake does dry out. *wink*

Ohhh now I feel better that the caramel was not a fluke! Awaiting to see what happen there.

Marie said...

I love those word verification words! I think someone should make up a new language out of them.

It's like "the more you buy, the more you save" sales. Jim always says we can't afford to save that much money.

That's just how I feel about angel food cake now! I wonder how many other good things have been ruined by mass production. But they can mass produce parchment paper all they want.

I don't think that rationale would work on him unless he was also hoping for a new instant-read thermometer. Me too--I want a Thermapen for Christmas!

Thanks for keeping your fingers crossed--I needed all the help I could get. I wasn't a big fan of angel food cake either, until I tasted this one.

jini said...

congratulations marie. another phobia shot to heck! i'll drink to that! :)

Katya said...

Made a tweed angel the other week for free choice, but I still had a ton of egg whites to use up, so I made another with lemon zest. Unfortunately, I unmolded it a bit early--I was hungry and leaving the house, so it fell a bit and didn't look photo-worthy, although we ate it all. Perhaps I'll make another tonight (I'm now coveting a mini-pan), and I'm thinking mexican chocolate and cinnamon).

Katya said...

Made a tweed angel the other week for free choice, but I still had a ton of egg whites to use up, so I made another with lemon zest. Unfortunately, I unmolded it a bit early--I was hungry and leaving the house, so it fell a bit and didn't look photo-worthy, although we ate it all. Perhaps I'll make another tonight (I'm now coveting a mini-pan), and I'm thinking mexican chocolate and cinnamon).

Alpha Baker Joan said...

Oh Marie, that is SO gorgeous - the pure white against the bright passion fruit coulis - marvelous. I know it tasted as ethereal as it appears!

Rachelino said...

Hooray Marie! I am SO GLAD you got a beautiful angel food cake this time after what happened the first time. I have been a terrible Heavenly Cake Baker, but if the group will still have me, I am posting an angel food variation later.

evil cake lady said...

congrats marie! i am high-fiving you way over here in oregon. the passion fruit coulis sounds delicous.

Marie said...

It would be terrible to lose all my phobias. Why, I might be ... normal.

I'm going to have to try the chocolate tweed again. And the lemon zest sounds good too. And the Mexican chocolate and cinnamon sounds heavenly.

Yes, Jim was complaining that it was so white it was really difficult to take pictures of.

Glad to hear from you! I usually cut the charter members a little slack, but I'm glad you'll be back.

Thank you, and it was.

Hanaâ said...

Yay Marie. You did it! Congrats. The cake looks great. At first glance, I thought there was whipped cream + a caramel swirl next to the AFC slices. Now I know it’s coulis. Sounds like a great accompaniment to the cake. Glad to hear that your new tube pan worked for you. At first I wanted to make mini AFCs or Cherubs, as Rose calls them. But then it was Sunday afternoon and I had yet to bake the cake. So I made a regular size cake instead, and added orange zest and grated bittersweet chocolate (I really enjoyed that combination when I made an Orange Chiffon Tweed Cake not too long ago for the ABC baking group).

Melinda said...

Yeah! Angel Food cake phobia be GONE!
Triumph in cake baking victory.
I love it when you get brave and have a another go.

Goody said...

Forget the cake-I want your serving plate. Everything looks elegant on depression glass.

I'm glad you found success with angel food cake at last.

Mendy said...


Caramel un-molding update from Rose!



Marie said...

I kind of like it too, because bravery is not my forte. (Of course, there are probably lots of people who wouldn't use "brave" and "angel food cake" in the same sentence).

I finally found something I can scour antique stores for--cake plates!

Thanks for the update.

Jenn said...

Marie, one thing for sure, you are getting to be an expert on food styling. That 1st picture of the sliced angel food cake with whipped cream and coulis is a beauty.

Which pan did you get btw? I don't have an angel food pan, and now I want the one like yours. It'd be a good excuse to buy it as I have enough egg whites to make 4 angel food cakes!

I was going to make angel food cupcakes, but I got food poisoning and spent Sun/Mon under the covers, :(.

Sarah the Bear said...

I love the passion fruit coulis! I thought the texture of this cake was superb but the flavor definitely needed a accompaniment and passion fruit is the perfect solution--and good looking too! Yum yum :)

Marie said...

I got a Fat Daddio's one-piece angel food cake pan. I got it at a local kitchen store, but it's available on amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Daddios-Anodized-Aluminum-8-Inch/product-reviews/B0017Z3U1I/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

I didn't try the cake without the coulis, but I think you're right--it was an excellent accompaniment.

Andrea said...

Your cake looks so good. I'm glad it turned out well for you this time. I like the smaller pan that you got. I may have to look for one when I get around to baking this.