Here is a tried and trusted recipe I have been using for years that I absolutely love. The past few years I’ve used this Angel Food Cake recipe to make cupcakes flavored different ways and just recently I decided it was finally time to invest in a good angel food cake pan and make a full cake. I’m really not a fan of the incredibly dry angel food cakes from the grocery store and this recipe is easily a thousand times better. Believe it or not it’s an angel food cake that is not dry! Before I’d have to have my grocery store bought angel food cakes drowning in some kind of sauce, this one doesn’t even need anything – although a sweet, rich, vanilla bean whipped cream never hurt anyone either :). I kept going into the kitchen the two days this lasted slicing off sliver after sliver, and any time anyone else would catch me they had to have one too. This cake really is totally irresistible, which isn’t really a typical way to describe an angel food cake – but this one is totally worthy of your recipe book.
I recommend using a heavy, dark coated angel food cake pan for this recipe as it will give the cake the nice golden brown crust and will retain heat and help the cake cook evenly. I bought and used this pan here for this recipe (which was also the top rated tube pan by Cook’s Illustrated). If you’re on the market to buy I thought this one worked perfectly, the only thing is that I wished it cleaned itself. I’m so glad I finally got one so I can make this cake all the time!
Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake
Yield: About 12 servings
- 1 3/4 cups (360g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup (126g) cake flour, sifted
- 12 large egg whites (430g), at room temperature*
- 1/3 cup (80ml) warm water
- Seeds of 1 - 2 vanilla beans
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- Sweetened whipped cream and sliced or macerated strawberries , for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse sugar until super fine, about 2 minutes. In a mixing bowl, sift together half of the sugar, the cake flour and the salt.
In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together egg whites, water, vanilla beans, vanilla extract and cream of tartar until well combined, about 2 minutes (the vanilla beans may not separate but that's fine, once sugar is added they should separate). Switch to a hand mixer and whip mixture on medium speed while slowly adding remaining sugar to mixture, until medium peaks form**. Sift just enough of the flour mixture in to evenly dust the top of the egg white mixture and using a spatula gently fold flour layer into egg white mixture and continue this process until all of the flour mixture has been incorporated (be sure to work gently with batter so it doesn't deflate and add small amounts of flour mixture at a time).
Gently spoon the batter evenly into an ungreased angel food cake pan (do NOT grease the pan, the cake won't rise properly if you do. If you are looking for a good angel food cake pan I have this one here). After 35 minutes begin to check for doneness by inserting a wooden chopstick or skewer halfway down through the cake, it should come out clean (mine took 40 minutes. If you find the top is browning too much you can place one of the oven racks above the cake (without letting it touch the top, and lay a sheet of foil over the rack just above the cake, not directly on the cake or it will stick). Remove cake from oven and cool upside down on a wire rack (do not leave it upright, it will start to deflate like mine did a little while I was taking pictures. If the pan has feet no need to use the wire rack). Cool at least 1 hour before removing from pan (I ran a sharp knife around the edge to loosen). Cut into slices and serve with whipped cream and strawberries (or fruit sauce, chocolate sauce or topping of choice).
*Whites and yolks will separate better with fresher eggs. I separated the whites from the yolks while still cold (because warmer eggs are harder to separate) then let them rest in a bowl, covered to come to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Work with one egg at a time separating and dropping into a small bowl first to make sure that egg didn't get any bit of yolk in it - then dump it into the main bowl. This just helps ensure you won't ruin it from one drop of yolk. If one of the yolks does break on one of them then reserve it for a different use. Be sure to use clean bowls and mixing equipment as an oily bowl could ruin the batter. Also don't use the whites in the carton for this recipe. And if you live in a climate with high humidity you may want to cut back on the water a 1 - 2 tablespoons just to ensure you'll be able to whip up the whites properly.
**If you aren't sure quite what "medium peaks" refers to this picture will you give an idea. You want peaks that stand but droop. Be patient with them they do take quite some time to whip up.
Recipe source: adapted from Alton Brown via Food Network
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