20 January 2009

Frosted Angel Food Cake

Does anyone eat this stuff anymore? I can't recall a time that I saw it on a restaurant menu, and honestly I've not ever had the craving for one. Mostly it's the packaged angel food cakes in disposable tube pans I see for sale at Safeway, and even there, it's in places like Sun City West (an old folk's community in Arizona where my grandfather lives) where I see them. Angel Food is my grandfather's favorite cake, and he requests it most years for his birthday. He tells me that his mother used to make it with a dozen egg whites, and then a pound cake with the leftover egg yolks. While angel food cake recipes still call for a dozen egg whites, I've not found a pound cake that calls for so many yolks; we are getting very creative trying to find uses for them.

This year I charged myself with the task, as I came to celebrate my grandfather's birthday with him. It's not a difficult cake, but you must know what you're doing. Beating the egg-white/meringue to the right consistency just takes patience and a careful eye. I would have used this recipe verbatim had I not forgotten the extracts, which I made up for in the frosting.

Did I not mention the frosting? This is Grandpa's other unconventional request. (Ha--and you thought you were getting away with a low-fat cake batter!) Frosted angel food cake is something I have never encountered except at the households of my own family, and perhaps it's just my own conditioning, but I think it's kind of good.

Frosted Angel Food Cake
(Adapted slightly from The Best Recipe and then adapted from “Baking Bites”)

  • 1 1/2-cups egg whites (10-12 large), room temperature (separate the eggs while they’re cold; it’s much easier)
  • 1 1/2-cups superfine sugar (also called “Baker’s Sugar”), divided
  • 1-cup sifted cake flour (measure it after you sift it)
  • 1-tsp cream of tartar

  • 1/4-tsp salt
  • Almond cream cheese frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4-cup sugar and the cake flour. Set aside.

Using a handheld or countertop mixer with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until frothy. Add the add cream of tartar and salt, and then beat until fully incorporated. Begin to add the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar in small additions. When sugar has been added, beat egg whites to soft peaks. The soft peaks will look like rolling prairie hills; not stiff jagged mountains. If the batter falls off the beaters in ribbons, it isn’t at the soft peak stage yet. Feel free to turn up the speed on the mixer; it may take a little while, five to seven minutes.

Sift the flour/sugar mixture over the egg whites in small additions and, in gentle strokes, fold it in. The idea behind folding is that you preserve all the air bubbles that were just whipped into the batter.

Carefully pour batter into an ungreased nine-inch tube pan with a removable bottom. Smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until your finger leaves no indentation when lightly pressed.

Remove from oven and invert the pan over a bottle. (I thought this was strange, but it actually works really well if you can find a bottle with a neck narrow enough for your tube pan. If not, rest the inverted pan over a cooling rack.) Allow to cool completely.

Gently run a thin knife around the sides, then around the bottom, of the pan to release the cake when you are ready to frost it.

This is a difficult cake to frost because the crumb is so light; if your strokes are to broad or if you’re too jabby, you’ll take part of the cake off. The best way, I think, is to start with big dollops of frosting and then just smoosh them down on the cake by making small circles with your spatula, and do this until all the smooshed spots connect. Then lightly touch it up with a pastry knife or your spatula so that the frosting is uniformly spread.

Almond Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2-pound butter, softened
  • 8-ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 1/2-cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2-teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2-teaspoons pure almond extract
  • (This would also probably be good with citrus zest and a bit of citrus extract instead of the almond.)

Beat butter and cream cheese together until combined. Add the powdered sugar in three or four portions, beating just until combined after each addition. Add the extracts, and beat for one to two minutes, until light and fluffy.


  1. yeah this looks mad impressive
    bobby will only eat white cakes so maybe i should give this a shot.

    or um have my mom make it for him.



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