August 20, 2012
Slice Of Heaven
In the hope of encouraging an early Spring, I'm sticking with my botanical theme today and creating light-as-air Angel Food Cakes flavoured with Jasmine.
The air outside my window is full of the scent of Daphne at the moment, and in a few weeks it will be heavy with the smell of blossoms competing with fresh cut lawn on the weekends. It will be a couple of months until my jasmine blooms, but if I close my eyes and eat one of these little cakes, I can imagine myself away from frost and freak snow showers and basking in the sunlight of Spring.
I collect weird and wonderful flavour bases, I've recently acquired this lovely Monin syrup in some great flavours like violet, jasmine and cucumber, and I found this great concentrate at an Indian Supermarket. Perfect for my baking needs
Angel Food Cake isn't one I've ever actually tried to make before, or one I've actually ever eaten before, but the name is so lovely and the idea of a fat free-gluten free-dairy free cake was just too hard to pass up, I would really be doing us all a favour by taste testing this recipe- wouldn't I? I thought so, so I will!
I did learn some lessons along the way that will make my next attempt at heavenly snacking a bit easier: don't use fancy-pantsy cake tins just because they look cute, it's the same with shoes- sometimes function over form actually is important; don't forget the flavouring ingredient until after you have mixed the cakes- it's not as easy to re mix without losing air bubbliness as you might think; don't infuse stain inducing berries on your favourite blouse just because you think it would make a pretty backdrop for your photo and you don't have anything else those colours to use.
Words of wisdom People
The recipe for today actually comes from a ratio
I got this recipe from Michael Ruhlman's aptly named cookbook- Ratio. 'The simple codes behind the craft of everyday cooking'
It breaks down a variety of recipes into their simplest form, a ratio that works every time if you just follow a few simple rules. It's so handy, and much easier to remember than a full recipe when you're in a hurry and don't have time to muck about finding a full recipe.
Angel Food Cake= 3 parts egg white: 3 parts sugar: 1 part flour (in this case, gluten free of course)
The only other ingredients needed are a dash of flavouring essence, a pinch of salt and a few drops of lemon juice to help stabilise the whites when beating. Easy Peasy
Instead of whole eggs today I used just egg whites, available at Woolies etc. in the refrigerated section. Much handier for these type of recipes that don't need the yolks
Divide the sugar in half, then mix one half into the flour and mix together
Now the tricky bit.... beat the egg whites on medium then add the salt, lemon juice and flavour essence. Once the mixture is opaque, start to drizzle in the half measure of sugar
According to Ruhlman, 'the egg white and sugar mixture should not be whipped feverishly; it should be whipped on medium to medium-high in order to prevent over mixing. If it's whipped to hard and becomes to stiff, it won't rise properly. There's a point in the mixing when it's white and fluffy but still pourable, and then a few moments later it's just stiff enough that it won't quite pour but neither is it so stiff that it holds a stiff peak'
Got all that?
Sift the rest of the sugar and the flour over the egg whites, then gently fold it in
Pour into your un-greased pan. The traditional pan is a tall straight sided tin with a central core that leaves a hole in the middle of the cake. The centre tube means the batter can raise from the middle as well as the sides and allows a larger surrounding edge for the cake to stick to as it rises.
As I didn't have a proper Angel Food cake tin, and wanted individual sized ones anyway, I used some pretty little heart shapes that were just to intricate with all the ridges on the sides. Next time I'll use my straight sided individual push-up tins with a removable base, or even cupcake pans, they should work much better
I baked these little lovelies for 20 minutes at 180*, or until a skewer comes out nice and clean when stuck in the middle of one of the cakies
After baking, the cake pan should be inverted while cooling to prevent the cake from falling in on itself, then left until completely cooled down so the sugar-protein network can completely set. The purpose built cake tins have little feet on the rims so that the cooked cake actually hangs from the base of the pan as it cools.
One of the little lovelies. Just stuck a little at the sides, but I promise you it will still taste good!
Angel Food Cakes are usually served with syrup and fruit, like berries or a coulis. I really tried to to come up with a fruit that I thought would compliment the jasmine flavour.... pear? nectarine? blackberry! I don't find blackberries as assertive as raspberries or even strawberries, but love their sweet earthiness and thought they would match up well.
So pretty and ready to fill:
I macerated some frozen blackberries in the jasmine syrup while the cakes cooled, then filled up the centre of the hearts with the fruits while letting the juices dribble down and soak into the cakes- Yummo!
Such a nice cake indeed! A real cross between a meringue and sponge cake- so light and airy, not too sweet at all.
How can you resist this? Gluten free, dairy free, fat free.... Guilt free!!!
So Dear Readers, what is your favourite type of cake, and do you have any good tips for removing blackberry stains?