An angel food cake, that is. Yes, I’m being dramatic but what is a blog about trial and error for if we cannot hype up our trials to get some sympathy and also share some laughable moments too?
This installment is the fourth as I have chronicled my way through the six recipes I picked nearly two months ago from the light (January/February) issue of Everyday Food (EDF). It’s seductively called the Mocha Chip Angel Food Cake and it literally called my name as it combined two of my favorite things: coffee and chocolate.
As I mentioned before, baking is intimidating to me and the fact that this recipe called for cake flour and egg whites at room temperature made me squeamish. My fate was sealed, however, when I called my 85 year old grandmother and happened to mention my plans to attempt an angel food cake from scratch. ‘What?!’ she said ‘Why don’t you just use a box mix?’ Just feel free to insert the theme song from Jaws here….
Because we all know that my word count can run a little high, I thought that pictures would more succinctly share the details of my plight and wrestle with this “angel”.
Egg "Whites": The problems started when I did a lousy job separating the egg whites.
Frothy Egg Whites: I let the eggs get to room temperature while I made/cleaned up dinner. Thinking an hour and a half was more than enough, I proceeded with the recipe.
Things Stop Working: I added the cream of tartar and sugar and beat the mixture for four minutes. My arms got tired and the mixture did not stiffen, did not get glossy, and had no peaks. Hmph.
Calling Home: I called my ICE (to be used for both real life and HBH emergencies). Within five seconds of my mom starting to explain the scenario to my dad (who happens to be a great baker), I could hear him ask 'Did she let the eggs come to room temp?' Crap.
Forced Humility: When I asked my mom what do, she asked 'Do you have more eggs?' Fortunately, this adventure happened the same week of M's baby shower so I had a whole case of eggs at the ready in the fridge. Sigh.
A Higher Standard: Short on patience, time, and confidence, I somehow managed to come up with a great idea and throw my improved egg whites into the warming drawer of our oven. Let me tell you, after living in a kitchen supplied with a gas range that has a warming drawer, my standard of living has been greatly elevated. What will I do when I stop renting here?
Hey Good Lookin': Now we're talking. Although my eggs never got stiff (it might have had to do with the Cream of Tartar which had the old McCormick Label), I was too tired to try for a third time so I kept on truckin' Admittedly, there was a time where I prayed to Jesus that the recipe would not be a bust.
Oh So Gentle: Cake flour (so fancy!) is gently folded in and then heaven (x2). By that, I mean mini chocolate chips and a delicious mix of instant espresso, pure vanilla extract and a little water. I was really worried that the chips would sink since I couldn't get the batter stiff enough, however...
It's Still Good Lookin': The mini chips held their own. There was something about getting the batter into the pan which got me excited and made me feel at ease.
It's a Cake: There has never been a time where I've baked and literally pushed my nose against the glass to check the cake's progress. At the end of the day (despite old cream of tartar too!), science did it's job! (Did you cheer out loud too?)! The rest was easy...
Cooling Off: Did you know angel food cakes have to cool and then hang upside down? Odd but fun!
Serving it Up: Since I was bringing the cake to community group, I re-panned it and wrapped it in three layers of plastic wrap. All I had to do at CG was unwrap and plate the cake. I then used the microwave to make the easy breezy ganache.
A Slice of Heaven: I think this picture says it all. 1) I'm definitely not a pastry artist and 2) my life needs better lighting.
While there were (miraculously) no tears involved in the making of this angel food cake, there was definitely the potential for them! Overall, I think the lessons learned here were 1) room temperature eggs mean eggs that are at room temperature and 2) baking just requires fresh ingredients. I’m really happy that, at the end of the day, the cake turned out and I can now say I’ve made an angel food cake from scratch and not a box. Has this converted me to a 100% scratch baker? Only my stash of eggs will tell…
Total calories: Cake | 182 calories – W/ 2 T. Ganache | 293 calories
Cost: If you don’t count the redo, the total cost was $4.99 to buy eggs, cake flour (see fun fact below), and a bag of mini chocolate chips. The BIG disclaimer here though is that I have instant espresso on hand and didn’t include baking essentials (sugar, vanilla, cream of tartar). If you were going to cost out the amount of instant espresso used, however, you’d probably add <$1 to the total cost.
Recipe: Not online yet but keep your eyes peeled. The March issue is in subscribers’ hands so EDF will be chronicling some recipes from this issue to the online database soon! In the meanwhile, flip then sigh at p. 106.
Fun fact: Grocery stores with bulk sections rock! I went to Central Market and bought nearly 2 cups of cake flour (the recipe calls for half of that) for 50 cents. I love buying in bulk because I’m short on storage and hate having to puzzle my pantry together.