In May of 2015 I successfully completed my MPA. Commencement ran about 3 hours, and my mind wandered as I sat beneath my mortarboard, robe, and nerd bling. I thought of all the pages I had written for others over the years. Theses in Philosophy and English Literature, scores of term papers, piles of short papers, and finally a Capstone for Public Administration. Sitting there, I decided I wanted to write something for me. I decided I wanted to write a book. I had never tried that before, so why not?
I fell in love with the land in this corner of the world, and have come to know several of the growers and makers who care for it and us. I decided, my book will be about the land and the growers and makers of this land. A book about our terrior, and the people who cultivate it. What could be the best form to reach the broadest audience? A cookbook. Sitting there, under the litany of names, the layout of the book revealed itself, and the whole plan developed.
I decided to take my cooking seriously* and I started this site. I have been learning how to write for myself, and how to pay attention to what I do when I cook. That might sound odd, but I do most of my cooking without recipes. I read recipes, but usually just let the colors and scents direct me as I try to create balance between elements and textures. Baking is the exception.
I am a Tart person, but there are 2 cakes that I do love to make. Pound Cake and Angel Food Cake. Both are perfectly delicious on their own, but can also stand under glazes, sauces, and frosting.
Cake flour is not something I always have in the house, nor have I been able to find a reliable source for an organic cake flour, so I usually use King Arthurs organic all-purpose flour . The following Angel Food cake is a modified version of the Angel Food Cake recipe from the 13th Edition of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook . Years ago, my mother told me that you can substitute 1 c of Cake Flour with 1 c-2 tbls All-Purpose Flour, but that you must sift the AP Flour before adding to batter. I have used that formula for decades, and so far, it has always worked.
The eggs used in the cakes pictured came from Kreeky Tree Farm . You should visit their site and order some of their goodies!
Angel Food Cake
2 c Egg Whites
Dash Real Salt
1 1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
1 tsp Almond Extract
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/4 c Blonde Sugar**
1 c minus 2 tbls (3.5 oz) All-Purpose Flour
Useful Items: Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer, Kitchen Scale, 10 in Tube Pan, Sifter or Fine Mesh Strainer
Oven at 325F
Beat Egg Whites until foamy. Add Salt and Cream of Tartar and beat until soft peaks form.
Add the Almond and Vanilla Extracts. Gradually add Sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.
Sift the Flour over the Egg Whites and gently fold in.
Bake in an ungreased 10 inch Tube Pan for 50-60 minutes, until a chop stick comes out clean.
Invert pan and let cool for at least 1 hour, until completely cool, and then remove from pan.
**Note on Ingredients: I know Blonde Sugar as an evaporated cane sugar. It is a richer and more subtle sweetener than refined white sugar. The term often refers to a form of evaporated cane juice, but I have also seen it refer to palm sugar.
*I strongly recommend Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking by Michael Ruhlman if you are an untrained cook and want to level up. It changed the way I comprehend recipes and look at cooking.
Here are 2 of our favorite ways to dress an Angel Food Cake: Citrus Snow Cake and Wild Blueberry-Lemon Curd Angel Food Cake
Citrus Snow Cake
While cake is cooling, prepare a simple lemon glaze. Warm about 4 oz (1/2 c) of lemon, then gradually add the warm lemon juice to some confectioners sugar. I use just enough to thicken the juice so it will not drench the cake when poured on, but sit on top for a little. When cake is cool, brush or pour the glaze on the top. I brush it on with a pastry brush, making sure to put a little on the outside of the cake.
Frost with Orange Seven-Minute Frosting and sprinkle zest on top, for prettypretty. The Seven-Minute Frosting is directly from the 13th Edition of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook.
Orange Seven-Minute Frosting
1 1/2 c sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp fine salt
2 egg whites
1/4 c orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
Combine sugar, cream of tartar, salt, egg whites, and lemon in bowl over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water. Using a hand mixer, beat steadily until the frosting stands in peaks, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat, continuing to beat until thick enough to spread. Fold in Zest before spreading on cake.
Wild Blueberry-Lemon Curd Angel Food Cake
Lemon curd should be prepared at least a day before filling the cake. If you do not already have a favorite recipe, you can find 3 different recipes for Lemon Curd on my site here .
While cake is cooling, make a simple Berry Compote. I used frozen Organic Wild Blueberries from Echo Hill . I use about 1/4 c (just under 2 oz) Blonde Sugar to each cup of frozen berries, about a teaspoon of lemon juice, and a little zest. You only need a cup and a half of berries to top the cake.
To fill: Cut cake in half, so you have a top half and a bottom half. Run a very sharp knife about an inch in from edge of cake and about 1/4-inch deep. In between the 2 lines you just cut, use finger tips to gently pull up and pry out a thin layer of cake, creating a narrow channel within the center of the cake. Fill the channel, and spread filling along the top of the bottom half.
Place top half of cake back on, and spoon cooled Berry Compote on top of cake. I like to pour some juice along the outside edge, so that it drips down along the wall of the cake. I also spoon a little juice into the center, so that it pools out onto the plate as you cut slices.
I think this version is best if you let it sit overnight. The structure of the cake changes, and the flavors of the curd and the berries seep into the body of the cake. It is quite good.
Please let me know how everything turns out if you use one of my recipes!