Friday, August 27, 2010

Angel Food Cake with Blueberry Sauce

Do you ever look at an angel food cake and think, man, they make them too cheap for me to ever try that at home! I do, a lot. It could be because I spend most of my waking hours surrounded by food, but they've been taunting me for a while from their perch in the bakery: Psst ... J Fierce, don't you want to break down and actually purchase a baked good? Not just the ingredients for a baked good? Over here you can get all the flavor and none of the hassle, mess or cleanup ...

I'm here to tell you, those cakes are no angels.  Far from it. Their goal is to make you full, and leave your curiosity for kitchen taste testing unsatisfied. If only they knew that comments like that only make me steel myself harder against them. You know the philosophy over here with The Sisters Fierce. Why buy something I can make at home for twice the cost and double the effort? 

In this case, though, its a little different. I'm here today to persuade you to try these on your own. It's a mini version (because mini is always better, have you caught that yet?) because I didn't want to spend all afternoon separating the whites from the yolks. I also didn't want an entire mountain of angel food in my kitchen. I certainly didn't want to insinuate I was having angels for company.

The afternoon was enticing me to bake. I had just two hours before I had an appointment. Since it seems to give me a rush to bake down to the wire (or do anything down to the wire, I can't tell you how often I'm putting on my socks and shoes at traffic lights), I started these. And I left the sauce for them on the stove while I showered. I was asking for it to burn, wasn't I? Somehow, I eked it out. I even shaved my legs while blueberries simmered.  
In the end I was pleasantly surprised by how quick, easy, and unburned it all was. I mean this objectively, not just as a person who owns thirty different designs of muffin liners and three separate sets of mixing bowls. (I have told all those privy to my housewares purchases, and now am setting it in stone for the entire internet to read, NO MORE MIXING BOWLS. Yes, prep bowls count. No, pie pans do not.  Guess who just bought a new pie pan!)

Now, if you don't already own two mini tube pans like I do, you'll have to get creative. Since the biggest issue is making sure that the cake cooks evenly, I think mini muffin tins would work fine. You have now made angel-food-cake-bites. Do I hear those cakes calling out again?

Angel Food Cake
adapted from Cooking For Two 2010 Magazine
3 large egg whites at room temperature (I used 4 medium egg whites because they were all already together)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
6  tablespoons cake flour (1.5 ounces)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


Set your oven to 325, and put the rack in the lower center position.

Whisk together 1/4 cup of the sugar with the flour and salt.  In a large bowl, whisk eggs with cream of tartar on low speed until frothy (about 1 minute). Increase speed to medium-high and whisk until "soft, billowy mounds" appear (about one more minute).  Slowly add 1/4 cup of sugar. Whip until egg whites are glossy and form soft peaks, 1-3 more minutes.

Add the vanilla in by hand, whisking until blended. Sift half of the flour-sugar mixture and fold in. Fold in the remaining portion. It will be a lot easier if you use your sifter, I promise its worth cleaning it later. Divide the batter evenly in whatever you pan you plan on using. Do not grease the pan, but if you are using a springform without a removable bottom they recommend using parchment paper.  I used two 1-cup tube pans and one mini muffin tin.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center is clean and any cracks in the cake look dry. You will also need to cool these inverted. Use whatever you need to to make sure that happens. The cake is so light it will collapse on itself like a souffle if you don't.  Using a small knife, run it along the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Tap the pan until the cake frees itself. 

Blueberry Sauce
I made it up as I went along and hoped it didn't burn when I left the kitchen for twenty minutes to take a shower.)
5 ounces frozen blueberries or whatever frozen fruit you prefer
1 cup water
4 tablespoons sugar 
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with cold water to liquefy before mixing in with blueberries


Put blueberries, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan on medium low heat. Stir a few times, then get impatient because it hasn't thickened and take a shower. While in your bathrobe with your hair wrapped in a towel, stir it some more and raise the heat to medium. Get frustrated because it is still watery. Think for a second. Get out some cornstarch. Mix it with a little bit of cold water so that it will mix evenly with what is already on the stove. Add to blueberry mixture. Stir until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Pour over cake.

When I made this, I was thinking about the cranberry sauce we make for Thanksgiving every year. All we do is put water, cranberries and sugar together on the stove until they look like a sauce, so thats what I did here. Its not too sweet; add more sugar to taste, but it seems just about right with the cake. 

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