Light and airy angel food cake is perfect with summer fruits

Fresh fruit is the garden gift I crave all summer long. I vary the method of serving, from folding in ice cream to filling with a pie or cobbler’s crust. However, for the past two weeks, I’ve been going lighter and serving it over toasted slices of homemade angel food cake. It’s as refreshing as the fruit.

As James Beard once said, “Angel food cake is kind of like a soufflé but with a little more flour.” I couldn’t agree more! And it’s the perfect vehicle for enhancing juicy fruit or even just whipped cream.

Angel food cake dates back to the 1870s and is a sponge type cake baked in a tube pan. It contains no fat or egg yolks, only the whites. And because of that, it has a light and airy texture. It takes its name from the beauty and fear of angels.

As simple as the recipe may seem, there are tricks that can make it a guaranteed hit. The yeast in this delicious cake comes from the air that is beaten into the egg whites. Start with eggs at room temperature.

As skilled as you think you are at cracking eggs to separate the whites from the yolk, do it in a small bowl. You don’t even want to have a speck of yellow in the whites. When an egg is separated, pour the whites into the bowl and repeat.

Angel Cake

Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites as soon as they start to foam while beating. This ingredient is essential for texture consistency and to reduce shrinkage. As soon as the whites are shiny and hold their shape firmly, they are done. Use the largest whisk you have to incorporate the flour into the egg whites. Finally, do not overcook. Then, invert the pan onto a bottle to support it for complete cooling, which takes about two hours.

Tammy Algood is the author of five cookbooks and can be seen on “Volunteer Gardener” on PBS stations in Tennessee. Follow her on www.hauteflavor.com.

you asked for it

Donna Jackson of Shreveport would like to know why her favorite chiffon cake instructions say to grease only the bottom of the tube pan.

Donna,

This is done for proper cooling of the cake after baking. It cools in the pan and allows it to do so defines the light texture structure. If the pan has been fully greased, the cake may slip out of the pan before it has completely cooled.

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