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James Beard's Angel Food Cake

BY JAMES BEARD (COOKED BY LOUISE)

Ray's oldest daughter Louise Luthi has become hopelessly attached to James Beard. She paid homage with a heavenly Angel Food Cake, provided here with full instructions. It's light and fabulous and can be gobbled plain or adorned manner of ways, with fruits and cream to cocoa flavored whipped cream, to lemony drizzles.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups fine granulated sugar (aka bakers' sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups egg whites (c. 12 large)
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 Tablespoon water or part water and part lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Cook's Pure Bourbon Vanilla Extract or 1 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. Cook's Pure Almond Extract

You can also use Cook's Organic Pure Bourbon Vanilla Extract and Cook's Organic Almond Extract.

Directions

This cake may be made in practically any shape of pan (loaf, sheet or jelly roll), although the tube pan has become a stereotype.

  1. Make sure egg whites are allowed to warm to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Sift the flour, measure, and sift 5 or 6 times more with 1/2 cup sugar and the salt. Hold sifter high when sifting to incorporate as much air as possible.
  3. Beat the egg whites in a large, very clean bowl with an electric beater. When the egg whites are foamy, add the cream of tartar and beat in the liquid. When the bubbles are uniform, start adding the 1 cup sugar a few tablespoons at a time. Add the flavoring while adding the sugar. Beat until the egg whites will hold stiff peaks and the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Fold in the flour while sifting or spooning over the egg whites. This can be done with a rubber spatula or frilled whip using a down-the-side and up-through-the-batter motion. Turn the bowl to incorporate evenly. When the flour is thoroughly combined but not over mixed, turn the batter into a 10 inch tube pan or two bread pans. The pan must be absolutely free of grease, for the batter must cling to the sides of the pan as it rises.
  5. Bake the tube pan for approximately 50 minutes, loaf pans about 45 minutes. Test by pressing lightly in the center--if cake springs back it is done. Remove from oven and invert the pan until the cake cools; the cake must be lifted about an inch from the counter to cool properly. If pan is not equipped with little "legs" place it on the tops of three or four teacups.
  6. Frost or leave plain. Cut it with two forks to prevent its being mashed.

Louise's notes: I very thoroughly washed all the pans and bowls (several times!) and dried them with clean towels. This is very important. Be sure to use cake flour and the extra fine sugar, and sift the flour as he suggests. Separate the eggs while they are cold, and then measure them and place in the super-clean bowl to reach room temperature. This takes longer than you think it will, and so plan ahead. By following all his advice, the cake turned out. It pays to be careful. He also makes an interesting suggestion for leftover angel food cake: toast it! There was none left over, and therefore I could not experiment, but it may be you can try it, depending on the number of guests you'll be serving.

Yield: 1 cake | Prep Time: 20 Minutes | Cook Time: 45 - 50 Minutes