When I made Aunt Mary’s Angel Food Cake, I had a definite inspiration, and it was all about a photo. It made me think about images and how easily they can be seared into our consciousness in a heartbeat, so intensely that it seems they can never be forgotten. Riots, shootings, protests. Senseless death. It can all be a bit much. Overwhelming. Positive images can do the same thing, and I think we need more of them. (And maybe more cake, too!)
One image that’s been seared into my mind is Teresa’s photo of her Ruby Red Strawberry Spongecake with Lemon Mascarpone Filling. I have literally been thinking about that cake with its riot of strawberries all summer! Check out Teresa’s site, Food on Fifth, to see it for yourself. Teresa is one very talented lady so I’ll bet you find her inspirational, too.
About Aunt Mary’s Angel Food Cake:
I’m not a huge fan of any sponge cake, though, but I AM a huge of my Aunt Mary’s Angel Food Cake. Truthfully, I never really “got” Angel Food until I had my Aunt’s. Home-made Angel Food is a revelation.
I think was a bit prejudiced about Angel Food, too, because as a child I’d get a store-bought Angel Food Cake with Pink Whipped Cream on my birthday while my brother always got a homemade three-layer Devil’s Food. *sigh* The injustice of it all…How about you? Do you have childhood food memories that have left you traumatized?
But this Angel Food Cake with its mess of strawberries, and a luscious mock mascarpone topping is simply another story, altogether. The cake itself is phenomenal, but paired with gorgeous ruby strawberries and that topping which is just a bit tangy and has just the right amount of heft (heavier than whipped cream, but much lighter than cream cheese frosting) to complement the cake, it’s just over the top!
Making Aunt Mary’s Angel Food Cake:
Aunt Mary’s recipe, below, is for a full-sized angel food cake. I just happened to come across a pan at a second-hand shop that makes baby angel food cakes and couldn’t resist using it this time around. I think the babies turned out well, but the pan was tricky and couldn’t be inverted once the cake was done. That made them just a bit denser than the standard angel food cake.
Angel Food can be a bit tricky but is really pretty easy if you know the rules:
- The mixing bowl, the beaters and the tube pan it will be baked in (some people reserve a pan just for Angel Food cake) must be pristinely clean; there can’t be any fat of any kind on them.
- The egg whites should be room temperature. Whip them well (but don’t overwhip), and follow the procedure exactly. Add the cream of tartar, salt, and extracts at the beginning, when the eggs are foamy, then in very small increments, beating after each addition, add the sugar. If you run a bit of the mixture between your fingertips, it is beaten enough when you don’t feel any granules of sugar. Finish by gently folding in the sifted flour/sugar in increments.
- Gently spoon into the pan and use a knife to swirl around the batter, making sure there are no air pockets. Handle the pan gently as you place it into the oven.
- How to tell if the Angel Food Cake is done? The top should look dry, be golden brown and there should be some cracking. If you gently press (don’t do it too early or you could deflate the cake) the top should spring back.
- Once the cake is out of the oven, invert the pan. A wine bottle works well for that. Test with the empty pan first, making sure the top of the bottle will fit! Some cake pans have tabs already on the side that will hold the pan off the counter, but most of them do not give enough clearance to avoid steam and condensation.
Adjusting the Flavor:
One of the things I love about this cake is that it has just the tiniest bit of almond extract along with the vanilla. It really gives it an extra sumpin’ sumpin’ without being all up in your face! It’s not enough to make the flavor identifiable, just enough to give it a little panache. Almond extract is strong, so measure carefully.
Of course, if you want you can leave out the almond, and/or maybe experiment with other extracts. I have seen recipes that use just a touch of lemon, but usually, the cake is plain and dressed up with toppings.
How to Serve:
Inspired by Teresa, though, I wanted to use a Mascarpone filling with my Angel Food. Mascarpone is so dreamy, creamy, and wonderful, but pricey. I came up, instead, with a Fake or Mock Mascarpone Filling. It worked beautifully and tasted divine. (Update: Here’s a real Mascarpone Filling made from my Homemade Mascarpone Cheese.).
You can always use just plain ol’ whipped cream, and if you’d like add a few drops of the almond extract to that, too. And you can’t go wrong with just about any fresh berries and/or berry sauce.
When we were kids, we’d drizzle angel food cake with chocolate sauce. That’s delish, too. Leftovers, if not going to be eaten, are great in a trifle. Angel Food is also outstanding with Lemon Curd.
How to Store Aunt Mary’s Angel Food Cake:
Store your angel food cake tightly wrapped (if there is no dairy on it) for a day or two at room temperature.
It will keep longer (even with dairy), about a week in the fridge. If stored in the freezer (without dairy) it should keep for about 4 to 6 months.
There’s no doubt cake flour is a bit pricier than plain old all-purpose, but in a recipe like this, I generally don’t use the substitute of adding a tablespoon of cornstarch and then filling the cup to the top with all-purpose. It’s because the texture needs to be so light, but in a pinch, you could use the substitute.
Make sure to have a use in mind for the leftover yolks; it would be a shame to waste them. Wondering how long they will last? Check out this post by the Egg Board (the people behind the Incredible, Edible Egg commercials.) There are tips and tricks for storage in the fridge and the freezer for whole, yolks, and whites, as well as hard-boiled eggs. Click on the tag at the bottom of the post for recipes using egg yolks.
Check out my cool method with a straw to remove the hulls on the strawberries, and if you wash the whole strawberry first, you can use those hulls for Spa Water. You wouldn’t believe how much flavor there is in the hulls and you’ll have real strawberry-flavored water if you let your water sit overnight and strain the hulls out the next day.
If you’ve never had angel food cake made freshly homemade, I urge you to give this recipe a try. You may be like me, indifferent, until that first taste of Aunt Mary’s Angel Food Cake! Sadly, we lost Aunt Mary just about a year after I posted this recipe. I’m updating it in 2021. RIP Aunt Mary. I know you went to join the angels.
Aunt Mary’s Angel Food Cake
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 to 40 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes + cool time
- Yield: 8 to 16 1x
- Category: Dessert
- 1 1/4 cups egg whites (about nine)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Place oven rack in the lowest position. Preheat oven to 350° F.
Place egg whites in a large bowl; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Sift 1/2 cup sugar and flour together twice; set aside.
Add cream of tartar, extracts, and salt to egg whites; beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, beating on high until almost stiff peaks form.
Gradually fold in flour mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time.
Gently spoon into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Cut through batter with a knife to remove air pockets. Bake 35-40 minutes or until lightly golden brown and entire top appears dry. There may be some cracking, which is a clue the cake is done. Test by very gently pressing the top of the cake; it should spring back.
Immediately invert pan; cool completely, about 1 hour.
Run a knife around side and center tube of pan. Remove cake to a serving plate. Yield: 12-16 servings.
If making in baby angel food cake pans, as shown above, this will yield about eight cakes, depending on how full they are filled and the size of the pans. Bake for about 20 minutes.
Keywords: Cake, cake flour, Desserts, egg yolks, Eggs, Family Recipe, flour, Frugal Hausfrau, mock mascarpone, Strawberries
I’ll be linking Aunt Mary’s Angel Food Cake to Throwback Thursday Link Party, hosted by Quinn of Dad What’s for Dinner, Meaghan of 4 Sons are Us, Alli of Tornadough, Carlee from Cooking with Carlee and Moi! That’s right – me!
Click over to our latest Throwback Thursday post for links to their blogs and social media, rules, and more info, or, as always, to see all the links or add your own, click on the little blue frog, below.
And, as I do almost every Friday, I’ll be linking up to Angie’s Fiesta Friday Number 128! Many of my fave bloggers hang out there every weekend!