I have a small list of food things I want to make. It could be a recipe on a blog post I like, or a request my family makes, or something that just looks good on TV. Unless it is for a holiday or other occasion, there is little priority to it–just whatever strikes my fancy when I feel like making something new. Angel food cake has been on my list for a while, added initially by my wife.
I decided to use Alton Brown’s recipe. The episode which highlighted that taught me a lot, most importantly how to fold, which I use all the time. It also clued me in to the sort of pan I needed–more on that in a bit. I bought it on a binge at Bed, Bath and Beyond with a 20% coupon that was about to expire. This past weekend, having cleared the house of hamentaschen, French silk pie, macaroons, and other goodies from spring holidays, I decided it was time to try it out. It proved to be a bit of a saga.
Angel food cake takes a lot of eggs, or, more specifically, egg whites. I’m less-than-awesome at separating eggs. To get the dozen egg whites, I went through fourteen eggs. I mixed them to medium peeks, folded in the flour, and put it into the pan.
What makes a “tube pan” for angel food cake special is that the tube comes up higher than the edge of the pan, allowing the cake to cool upside-down. As pointed out in the episode of “Good Eats,” until the cake complete cools and sets, it can’t support its own weight. After I was sure it was cooked, I pulled it out and set it on the waiting cooling rack. I then started to flip it.
The whole pan had fallen to the floor. It wasn’t sudden–I had a second where I thought I could catch it, and save the day with minimal damage. Then there was the moment where I could see it tumbling, but realized there was no salvaging it. All I could do was scoop it up with a cutting board.
My wife came down, and we tasted the output. The texture was off–probably because it hadn’t gotten to cool inverted–but the flavor was good. My daughter, in bed but still awake, came to investigate the commotion, and got a taste. I thought this was fair, as otherwise, she would have been denied a sample.
The next day was to be a rainy day–no bike ride for me. My wife brought home a new dozen eggs. Twelve egg whites (out of fourteen attempts) were produced. Medium peeks achieved. Flour folded into the eggs. The batter reminded me more like ice cream base prior to churning than a cake. Into the oven went my second attempt.
It came out looking good. I paused for a photo, and to ensure I had a good grip. The first time I used two hot pads; this time, a dishtowel. I think the latter ensured I was able to grab more of the pan.
We let it cool inverted for two hours while the storm passed through. It was 11:30 PM when I gently used a knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Another feature of the pan is that the base and center of the pan separate from the sides, further easing depanning. It looked perfect.
Just as I started to cut a slice to taste, the power went out! Fortunately, I had taken my pictures, and had everything set to put it away when we were done without having to stumble in the dark. I brought my wife the piece, and the texture was perfect–much nicer than the fallen cake. My wife cut a sliver, and, in the light of a flashlight, I saw a blissful look appear on her face.