I love, love angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream, or by itself. My mom usually asks for it for her birthday, so I get to make at least one a year.
It is decadent but low-guilt (if you don’t load it up with too much whipped cream) and one of those things that most people don’t ever attempt to make homemade. But if you have a stand mixer, it is incredibly easy.
Besides watching my Dad make dinner at night, most of my cooking and baking knowledge comes from the countless hours I spent watching The Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network in my twenties. Ina taught me how to chop up garlic, make a good cake, a good stew, a Thanksgiving turkey, as well as how to use fresh herbs, the importance of not over-baking, and yes, even a good cocktail.
Boy, what would I give to go to one of her dinner parties and have roast chicken with her and Jeffrey.
Anyway. This angel food cake is one of the first Barefoot Contessa recipes I ever tried. Even as a novice baker, it turned out perfectly that first time and every single time after that. It is basic, easy, delicious, and fat free, if you care about that. (I don’t- no surprise there!)
I love my angel food cake pan because it is one of the old school ones with the tabs on the edges so you can flip it over onto the counter when you’re done and there is some space between it and the plate. If your angel food pan doesn’t have those tabs, don’t worry, just flip the pan over onto a cooling rack so it gets some air.
Serve this cake with strawberries and whipped cream, or just slice it up and eat it plain with a cuppa tea.
2 cups superfine sugar, divided
1 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/2 cups egg whites, at room temperature (10 to 12 eggs)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine 1/2 cup of sugar with the flour and sift together 4 times. Set aside.
Place the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on high speed until the eggs make medium-firm peaks, about 1 minute. With the mixer on medium speed, add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar by sprinkling it over the beaten egg whites. Whisk for a few minutes until thick and shiny.
Whisk in the vanilla and lemon zest and continue to whisk until very thick, about 1 more minute. Sift about 1/4 of the flour mixture over the egg whites and fold it into the batter with a rubber spatula. Continue adding the flour by fourths by sifting and folding until it’s all incorporated.
Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, smooth the top, and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, until it springs back to the touch. Remove the cake from the oven and invert the pan on a cooling rack until cool.