South-of-the-Border Angel Food Cake
Most holiday desserts are rich and very filling. If you ever long
for something on the lighter side, or if you are watching your fat
intake, this delightfully different angel food cake is for you.
It has a base flavor of Dutch process cocoa, but that is enlivened
with the good tastes of cinnamon, espresso, and cloves. You won't
notice the pepper in this recipe; it just adds to the overall flavor.
Please be sure to use Dutch process cocoa here; I have not tried
this recipe with regular nonalkalized cocoa powder, so I do not
know if it will work. I use a food processor instead of the multiple
siftings of dry ingredients usually called for, and the processing
seems to work very well.
is a wonderful way to use up leftover egg whites, and you can use
those that have been frozen and thawed. You'll need a large bowl
in which to mix the cake; my largest mixer bowl is 4-1/2 quarts,
which isn't big enough, so I use a 6 quart pot and a hand-held electric
mixer to beat the egg whites. Whatever you use, both bowl and beaters
must be spotlessly clean and grease-free, or the egg whites will
not achieve a good volume. Also, make sure the whites are at room
temperature when you beat them, as they will not reach full volume
if they are cold.
I have ever read about angel food cakes emphasizes getting the completed
batter into the oven as quickly as possible, because if beaten whites
are left standing for any length of time they will begin to deflate.
The last time I made this, however, I got distracted by a phone
call and forgot to preheat the oven. The completed batter stood
in the pan on a counter for some 10 minutes until my oven got to
what I judged was a temperature close enough to what it was supposed
to be. The resulting cake was just fine. I'm not sure if there's
a lesson in there, but at least if you forget to preheat your oven
while making this, all will probably not be lost!
foam-type cakes are so delicate, they must cool upside down, suspended
over the neck of a sturdy bottle. This looks odd, but it works very
well, though it does take courage to turn the hot, freshly-baked
cake over, onto the neck of a bottle! Once baked, this will keep
at room temperature for a few days, if stored airtight, or refrigerated
for at least a week (again, stored airtight). I have always been
assured that angel food cake doesn't freeze, but I froze a slice
of this for several days as a test, then thawed it (still in wrappings)
on my kitchen counter, and it was fine, so try it if you wish.
1-2/3 cups sifted granulated sugar, divided
3/4 cup sifted cake flour
1/2 cup sifted unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1-1/4 tsp. instant espresso powder
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
About 6 grinds freshly, finely-ground black pepper
1-3/4 cups egg whites, at room temperature
1-1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. vanilla
rack to position 1/3 up from oven bottom; preheat oven to 375 degrees
F. Assemble a 2 piece tube pan, 10 inches in diameter by 4 inches
tall; do not grease the pan!
workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, place 1 cup
sugar (reserve remainder). Process at highest speed in 2 or 3 bursts
of 10 to 15 seconds each, until sugar is very fine-textured. Remove
from processor; set aside.
workbowl to processor. Combine remaining 2/3 cup sugar, cake flour,
cocoa powder, espresso powder, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper. Process
at highest speed in 3 bursts of 10 to 15 seconds each until fine-textured
and well-mixed. Remove from processor; set aside.
an absolutely clean 6 quart pot, combine room temperature egg whites,
cream of tartar, and salt. With sturdy, hand-held electric mixer,
beat at medium speed until combined, then increase speed to high
and beat until very white and foamy. Gradually, about 1 tablespoon
at a time, add the processed cup of sugar, beating between each
addition. With last addition of sugar, add vanilla. Continue beating
until this meringue holds stiff peaks, but do not overbeat.
in about 1/2 cup of the processed sugar-cocoa-flour mixture, then
gently fold in with a large rubber spatula. Don't be too thorough
at this stage. Continue sifting in additions of the sugar-cocoa-flour
mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time, making certain to scrape the pot
edges and bottom frequently. You want to fold in these dry ingredients
gently but quickly. You'll see that this folding does deflate the
meringue slightly, but the batter should still be thick. Fold in
the last addition of dry ingredients just until everything is combined;
do not overmix.
turn batter into assembled tube pan. Gently level with spatula.
Now, using a flat knife, cut through the batter several times in
a pattern of concentric circles to get rid of any large air bubbles.
Place pan into preheated oven.
30 to 40 minutes. While cake bakes, make sure you have a clean,
empty, sturdy, long-necked bottle for cooling. Do not open the oven
door for the first 25 minutes of baking. The cake will rise above
the edge of the pan and develop very deep cracks in the top surface--OK.
When done, cake will spring back if pressed lightly with a fingertip.
Do not overbake. Remove cake from oven; place right side up on a
quickly as possible, carefully pick up the (hot) tube pan while
you insert the neck of the bottle through the tube. Gently and carefully
turn the whole assembly upside down so that the baked cake, still
in the pan, is suspended on the neck of the bottle. I place the
whole assembly on a sturdy cooling rack; the cake should be about
1 foot above your table or work surface.
undisturbed and out of drafts until cake has reached room temperature.
While it cools, the cake will shrink slightly--OK.
completely cooled, remove cake, still in pan, from bottle. With
pan right side up, use a stiff-bladed plastic spatula or knife to
gently loosen cake from sides of pan and tube. Life tube portion
of pan up from sides; the cake should release easily. Carefully
loosen cake from pan bottom; gently invert onto serving plate (you
can also invert cake gently onto a rack, then re-invert to serve
it right side up). Store airtight at room temperature for up to
3 days, or refrigerate airtight for at least a week.
serve, use a sharp, serrated knife. Very gently saw slices from
cake in order not to squash it. If desired, sift a bit of confectioners'
sugar over the slices just before serving.
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