Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lemon Angel Food Cake

14 years ago yesterday, I received the best birthday present of my life... my son.  Sharing a birthday with my son has been a special gift that I treasure each year.   As I have never been much of a birthday "celebrator", I have come to really enjoy celebrating his birthday day, with mine becoming more of a footnote.  From the magical Buzz Lightyear parties to the skateboard extravaganza, they have all been so much more enjoyable when celebrated with him.  Now that he is 14, parties have gone by the wayside, but we still enjoy a private celebration which is never complete without birthday cake!

Drew... doing what he loves!

My son has never been a big fan of sweets, and as such we frequently have something other than the traditional birthday cake for his special day.  Cheesecake has been a favorite in years past, but yesterday's request was Angel Food Cake.  Growing up, my memories of Angel Food cake come from a box that produced a sweet, somewhat tasteless spongy cake that I was told I could have seconds of because "it's not so bad for you".  Somehow I never really wanted seconds.

Ina Garten has come to our rescue with her Lemon Angel Food Cake!  This cake is light and airy, lemony, and not too sweet with a slightly toasted (for lack of a better word) crust.   The recipe calls for whipping the egg whites to medium-firm peaks with an electric mixer, but with my birthday present of 3 new, medium sized whisks we decided to whip the eggs by hand.  It does take longer, but for some reason I prefer to do it this way... good for the arms I guess!  I am not extraordinarily patient when it comes to details, and Ina's recommendation that the flour be sifted not once, but four times is a bit much for me, so we sifted only one time.  Folding the flour in with my trusty wooden spoon works like a charm, and we folded just until incorporated being careful not to deflate our beautiful hand whipped egg whites.  As lemon is one of our favorite flavors we decided to add a touch of lemon oil for a bit of a flavor boost.

As Olivia and I returned from our afternoon errands we came home to a cake that had yet to be drizzled with the lemon glaze but was somewhat butchered and almost half gone!  Apparently Drew agrees, this heavenly Angel Food Cake IS good enough for seconds, thirds and even fourths!

PS: He says it's also good for breakfast...

Lemon Angel Food Cake
adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, pg. 164

2 cups sifted superfine sugar, divided
1 ⅓ cups sifted cake flour 
1 ½ cups egg whites, at room temperature (10-12 eggs)
¾ tsp kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons cream of tarter
¾ tsp vanilla extract 
1½ tsp grated lemon zest
⅓ tsp lemon oil

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Combine ½ cup sugar with the flour and sift together 4 times (I only sifted once!).  Set aside.

Place the room temperature egg whites, salt, and cream of tarter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until the eggs make medium-firm peaks, about 1 minute.  (Alternatively, whisk by hand to achieve the same peaks - longer than 1 minute!).  With the mixer on medium speed, add the remaining 1½ cups of sugar by sprinkling it over the beaten egg whites.  Whisk for a few minutes until thick and shiny.  Whisk in the vanilla, lemon oil and lemon zest and continue to whisk until very thick, about 1 more minute.  Sift about one fourth of the flour mixture over the egg whites and fold it into the batter with a rubber spatula.  Continue adding the flour by fourths and folding until all the flour is incorporated. 

Pour into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, smooth the top and bake for 35 - 40 minutes, until it springs back to the touch.  Remove the cake from the tove and invert the pan on a cooling rack until cool.

We love this cake plain, but it works well with a nice fruit topping or a light lemon glaze!


  1. Happy Birthday, Drew (and to you too, Kim!) Gorgeous cake!

  2. Nice recipe, Giada has a lemon angel food cake recipe too.

    Both are fine recipes. The yogurt and honey sauce probably adds more calories than Ina's recipe though.

  3. Mike, I checked out the recipe, and I'm thinking that honey/yogurt sauce looks wonderful! I will have to give that a try next time. Thanks so much for posting the link!


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