My husband, David, just recently had a birthday and in our family, the birthday cake of choice is always Angel Food Cake. Of course, these days, it has to be Gluten-Free for David. Using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour, I was able to recreate our family’s favorite cake with ease. The texture was perfect – light and fluffy, as an Angel Food Cake should be.
To go with Angel Food Cake, the overwhelming favorite topping is Strawberries that have been topped with a little bit of sugar and allowed to macerate. The word “macerate” means (especially with reference to food) to soften or become softened by soaking in a liquid. Adding sugar to the strawberries draws out their juices, making a sweet and sugary syrup that they soak in.
Now, for me and the rest of the dairy-consuming family, I always make fresh whipped cream. That is to say, I whip it — whip it good — in my stand mixer, not using the stuff in a spray can or a tub.
To make the Angel Food Cake, I started with separating my egg whites. This recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of egg whites, which could take between 9 and 11 eggs, depending on their size. I used my handy egg separator that my mother-in-law gave me, but you can use the method in which you rock the yolk back and forth between the egg shell halves, or you can use your hand to strain out the egg whites between your fingers. Make sure no yolk gets in there because even the slightest bit of fat will prevent the egg whites from whipping up the way we want.
Once I had all of the egg whites I needed, I mixed up my dry ingredients. This recipe calls for super fine sugar, so I put regular sugar in my food processor and processed it for about a minute. Using a mesh sifter, I combined my Bob’s Red Mill GF All-Purpose Flour with my “super fine” sugar, and cornstarch.
Next, I switched back to my egg whites. I poured them into the bowl of my stand mixer with some Cream of Tartar and Salt and beat them until they became frothy, at which point I added my Vanilla Extract. You could add Almond Extract at this point, too, but I don’t particularly like it, so I stick with Vanilla.
I continued beating my egg whites, slowly increasing the speed of the beater. Then I gradually added more of my “superfine” sugar, and continued beating the egg whites until soft peaks formed. Soft peaks happen when you turn your whisk upside down, the peaks are just starting to hold. They’re soft and melt back into themselves after a second. I’ll be the first one to admit that I stopped beating my eggs too soon, but as you can see, the cake still turned out great! Under-beating the eggs still allowed air to get into the eggs, which continued to expand during the baking process. Better to under-beat than over-beat! More on Whipping Peaks
At this point, I very gently folded my dry ingredients into the egg whites. I added about 1/4 cup of my dry ingredients at a time, and folded it in until it was well incorporated. Seriously though, FOLD – don’t stir – so you don’t deflate the egg whites! Folding simply requires starting at the back of the bowl, using a large rubber spatula, to cut down vertically through the two mixtures, across the bottom of the bowl and up the nearest side, turning the bowl as you go. More on Folding
At this point, my cake badder was ready to go into the pan. I use an angel food cake pan, aka chiffon cake pan or tube cake pan. (Remember, mine was a little under-beaten, yours will look a little more solid if beaten properly!) I baked it for 45 minutes on 350ºF. A toothpick should come out clean when inserted into the finished cake, and the cake should spring back to shape when you touch it with your finger.
If your cake pan has little legs at the top, you’ll turn your cake upside-down to cool, resting on the legs. My cake pan lacks the handy little legs, so I cooled it slightly on a cooling rack before removing it from the pan to cool the rest of the way.
To remove your Angel Food Cake from the pan, you’ll need to use a serrated knife, like a bread knife, and cut it free. Gently glide your knife along the sides of the pan.
The cake is done! And about an hour before serving the cake, I like to slice or chop 2 pints of fresh strawberries, and stir them up with about 2 tablespoons of sugar. The sugar draws out the strawberry juices, making a syrup.
At this point, I also like to whip up some fresh whipped cream for the dairy-eaters in the family. I take 2 cups of heavy whipping cream and beat it with my stand mixer until it becomes frothy. Then I add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and beat until the cream reaches Firm Peaks (when you turn your whisk upside down, the peaks will hold and the ridges are more distinct, but the tips fold back on themselves).
Time to eat! Oh yes!
Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake
- 3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons superfine sugar (separated 3/4 cup and 3/4 cup+2 tablespoons)
- 9-11 eggs to yield 1 1/2 cups of egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Whisk together 3/4 cup GF flour, 1/4 cup cornstarch, and 3/4 cup superfine sugar until combined, and then sift them to lighten them up. Set aside.
Separate egg whites into a measuring cup until you get 1 1/2 cup of egg whites. Pour the egg whites into a clean bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar. Beat until foamy. Stir in vanilla extract and beat until the egg whites have expanded a bit, and then gradually beat in 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons superfine sugar a bit at a time, until soft peaks form.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold dry ingredients into the egg white mixture, 1/4 cup at a time.
Gently pour badder into a tube pan and smooth the top a little.
Bake at 350ºF for about 45 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean when inserted into the finished cake, and the cake should spring back to shape when you touch it with your finger.
Top with fruit (and perhaps whipped cream if you can have dairy).
Well, even though I under-beat my cake badder, it still turned out amazingly and my husband was a happy man for his birthday!