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Chocolate cake


JUNE 2002
RECIPES



"A Touch of Chocolate" Angel Food Cake

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Strawberry Jewel Tart

Dutch Baby



Sweet Spot

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"A Touch of Chocolate" Angel Food Cake

Tips: This is a very light, high cake with the good flavors of ginger and a bit of chocolate; the optional glaze kicks up the chocolate level slightly, but the cake is still light enough for hotter weather. Angel food cakes are a bit more temperamental than some, but they aren't difficult if you're careful. You'll see that a lot of egg whites are needed here, but it's fine to use whites that have been frozen and thawed, so you can save them up when you make other recipes (you can also buy egg whites in a jar in some markets). If not using frozen, thawed whites, separate your eggs when they are refrigerator-cold (it's easier), then allow the whites to stand, covered, until they are at room temperature. Be sure to use an absolutely clean, grease-free mixing bowl, beater(s), and baking pan. When adding ingredients to the beaten whites, fold them in gently, with a light touch. Don't open the oven door for the first twenty-five minutes of baking time, as it can cause the cake to deflate. As soon as the cake is done, remove it to a cooling rack, then turn it upside down onto the neck of a sturdy, empty bottle or large funnel; the cake must rest like this, undisturbed, until completely cooled.

You'll need a 10 by 4 inch, two-piece tube pan for baking; do not grease or line the pan. You'll also need a large mixing bowl or pot in which to beat the egg whites. My largest mixing bowl is 4-1/2 quarts, but that's not big enough, so I use a 6 quart pot and a sturdy, hand-held electric mixer. Finally, if you don't want to use the optional glaze, you can simply sift a small amount of confectioners' sugar over the top of the cake just before serving.

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sifted cake flour
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1-3/4 cups egg whites (from 12 to 14 "large" eggs), at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely grated

Optional Glaze:

  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • Few grains salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. heavy cream

Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Assemble a two-piece, 10 by 4 inch tube pan, but do not grease or line it. Set near work surface, along with a clean flat knife.

Place 1 cup sugar (reserve remainder) in workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Process in three or four high-speed bursts of about 10 seconds each, until sugar grains are very fine. Remove sugar to small bowl; set aside. Combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar, flour, ginger, and salt in workbowl (no need to wash or rinse it first); process as for sugar, until well-combined and very finely ground. Remove to a separate bowl; set aside.

Place room-temperature egg whites in 5 or 6 quart clean mixing bowl or pot. If using a stand mixer, attach a whisk beater. Start beating at low speed; gradually increase speed to medium. When whites are foamy, sift in cream of tartar. Gradually increase mixer speed to high; beat whites until traces of beater marks show in them. Reduce speed to low, then sprinkle on about 2 Tbsp. of the processed granulated sugar. Beat in at low speed, then increase mixer speed to high and beat mixture for about 10 seconds. Repeat procedure, reducing mixer speed to low while sprinkling in each addition of sugar and incorporating it, then increasing speed to high for about 10 seconds afterward. When you have only a couple of additions to go, add the vanilla with one of them. Use all of the sugar. You want to beat this meringue to just before stiff peak stage for the best cake volume; do not overbeat it. Remove bowl from stand mixer, if used. From now on, do not dawdle getting the cake into the oven.

Sprinkle about one-sixth of the flour-ginger mixture on top of the meringue. Using a large spatula, gently and partially fold in dry ingredients; don't be too thorough. Continue to add remaining flour-ginger mixture in about 5 additions, folding each in partially and making your spatula strokes count. Fold in the last addition only until blended. Sprinkle on the finely grated chocolate and fold in just until evenly distributed. Batter should be light and thick.

Turn into tube pan. Spread top level with spatula. Take the flat knife and insert it through the batter, all the way to the pan bottom, starting at one of the sides. Work in a tight spiral and cut through the batter with the knife until you get to the center tube (this step is important, as it helps to eliminate large air bubbles). Place cake into preheated oven.

Bake cake 31 to 35 minutes. Do not open oven door for at least the first twenty-five minutes. During baking, the cake should rise above the edge of the pan (especially near the tube); the top will not brown much, but it will develop deep cracks—OK. Cake is done when toothpick inserted in highest part emerges with only a moist crumb or two clinging to it. Do not overbake. While cake bakes, set a sturdy, empty bottle or large funnel onto a sturdy cooling rack or a flat surface. When the cake cools on this, the top should be at least a foot off the flat surface. Make sure the cooling area for the cake has no drafts or strong air currents.

When cake is done, remove to cooling rack. CAREFULLY turn hot cake upside down onto neck of bottle or funnel and allow to hang undisturbed until completely cool (I've baked dozens of angel food cakes, and every time I do this the suspense still gets to me. But I've never had one fall out of the pan yet!). When cake is cold, turn right side up. Using a flat knife (preferably a plastic one so you don't scratch your pan) loosen cake from sides of pan (do not use an up-and-down motion here). When loosened, pull the center tube up gently so the cake is clear of the pan sides. Using a small, flexible spatula or flat knife, loosen cake from pan bottom and tube. Turn cake out carefully onto serving plate; note that you won't be able to move the cake after it's turned out, so position it carefully.

For optional glaze: combine finely chopped chocolate and salt in small heatproof bowl. In small saucepan over low heat, heat cream to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; pour about half of hot cream over chocolate. Allow to stand for a minute or two, then stir or whisk gently until smooth. Gradually stir in remaining hot cream.

Cool glaze to room temperature, stirring occasionally (if glaze is still warm when used, too much of it will drip down the cake sides). Pour slowly over cake top, then spread evenly; you'll have some uneven drips down the sides of the cake, but they simply look pretty.

To serve, it is important to use a very sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to cut the cake, as you don't want to squash it. Store airtight at cool room temperature for up to three days, preferably in a cake safe (the glaze for this cake doesn't set up firmly, and plastic wrap might stick to it a bit). I have read that freezing toughens angel food cake, but I've frozen it successfully, so I freeze any leftovers for longer storage.

Yield: 12 to 16 servings

© Stephanie Zonis provides the above information to anyone, but retains copyright on all text. This means that you may not: distribute the text to others without the express written permission of Stephanie Zonis; “mirror” or include this information on your own server or documents without my permission; modify or re-use the text on this system. You MAY: print copies of the information for your own personal use; store the files on your own computer for your personal use only; reference hypertext documents on this server from your own documents.

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