We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Angel Food Cake (Gluten-Free)

by Michelle

   For all my years of baking, I do not recall making an Angel Food Cake, even though I have been carting around the appropriate tube pan from house to house as I moved back and forth between California and Arizona. Then last week, my niece's birthday arrived, and I asked the inevitable question, "What cake would you like for your birthday?" Knowing that Avalon is quite the fan of chocolate, I was surprised when after a minute of contemplation she requested an Angel Food Cake. Finally, the appropriate impetus to use the pan that I have packed and unpacked time and again and never used... until last week.
   This cake has so little flour and so many egg whites that it is very easy to make gluten-free, and no one will be the wiser. The gluten-free version exactly replicates the taste of the traditional recipe. I will definitely bake this (dare I say it) heavenly (couldn't resist), light as air cake again. Perhaps next time, hopefully not in the too distant future, we'll discover how the cake tastes made with chocolate. Prepare to be tempted once again.

Angel Food Cake (Gluten-Free)

   Egg whites are easier to separate from yolks when the eggs are cold. Conversely, room temperature whites whip up fluffier and higher than cold whites. 
   This recipe is adapted from three sources, (although Angel Food Cake does not vary much from source to source): the recipe book included with my KitchenAid Stand Mixer, King Arthur Flour website, and  The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (Workman Publishing ©1989).

3/4 cup (120g) Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour, such as King Arthur, or make your own GF Flour
1/4 cup  (35g) cornstarch
3/4 cup (163g) superfine sugar
1-1/2 cups egg whites (I used 9 extra-large eggs)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1-1/2 tsps cream of tartar
2 tsps vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract, optional
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsps superfine sugar (184g)

Special Equipment:
  • A stand mixer, although not absolutely necessary, it is a great tool to use for whipping the egg whites. A hand mixer works as well, and when it comes right down to it, a balloon whisk and a lot of arm action will do the job, too. You will need to use a hammered copper bowl, or a stainless steel bowl, that is sloped to beat the egg whites, or in the words of The Silver Palate ladies, "The bottom of the bowl should be narrower than the top so that all the egg whites are in motion at the same time."
  • A Food processor is handy for making superfine sugar and sifting the dry ingredients.
  • An Angel Food Cake Pan or 10-inch tube pan.

1. I use three bowls to separate my eggs. A small bowl to catch one egg white at a time, a bowl to hold the yolks, and a 2-cup glass Pyrex liquid measuring cup to hold all the egg whites. Using one bowl to act as a catch for each egg white ensures that if I accidentally break an egg yolk, I don't taint all the egg whites. Any tiny bit of yolk will inhibit the eggs from whipping properly, so I am extra careful when separating the eggs. Let the eggs rest at room temperature until you are ready to continue with the recipe. Discard the yolks, or refrigerate for use in other recipes.
2. Place the oven rack in its lowest position and preheat oven to 350°F.

I prefer to weigh ingredients for ease and accuracy. 
3. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pour in 2 cups of sugar and process for 90 seconds or so, until finely ground. Preferably you will weigh the sugar and return 163 grams to the food processor. Add to the sugar the gluten-free flour and the cornstarch. Pulse 5 to 7 times to mix and sift. Keep in the food processor until ready to use.
4. Measure 184g of sugar and set aside. Any extra sugar can be returned to your stash of granulated sugar in the pantry.
5. Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Gradually turn the speed to medium high and whip for about about a minute until the egg whites are frothy.
6. Add cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract (and almond extract, if using) to the eggs. Turn the speed to medium-high and whip the egg whites for about 2 to 2-1/2 minutes, or until whites begin to build volume.

The egg whites are done! Still soft, not dry so they can expand while baking.
7. Lower the speed to medium-low and gradually add the reserved 184g of sugar. You want to avoid beating the egg whites until they are stiff. It is better to whip the egg whites until the peaks are still soft. This will allow for the egg whites to further expand in the heat of the oven.
8. Remove bowl from mixer. With a spatula, gently fold in the sifted flour/sugar mixture, about 1/4 at a time.

9. Pour batter into an ungreased angel food pan or 10-inch tube pan. With a knife, gently cut through batter to remove large air bubbles.
10. Bake the cake until is is golden brown and cracks are dry, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately invert onto a soda bottle, an empty wine bottle or a funnel. My pan has metal feet so a bottle is not required, which is a good thing because the cake released as it was cooling, but it did not have far to fall. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

Hot from the oven. I wish you could smell the divine aroma.
11. If necessary, remove the cake from the pan by running a thin table knife around th edges of the pan, and invert the cake on to a decorative plate.
12. Cut the cake with a serrated knife or cake comb. Serve with lemon or lime curd, a fruit syrup, such as raspberry, whipped cream and fresh fruit.

Angel Food Cake, free from embellishment, is a tasty afternoon snacking cake.         

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