Monday, August 03, 2009

weekend baking q&a

DD, restless, has taken to leafing through The Fannie Farmer Baking Book looking for inspiration. Since we got home from our vacation she returned again and again to the Classic Angel Food Cake with White Mountain Icing "basic master recipe."

Last weekend, I finally yielded.

Q: Is it possible to bake an angel food cake in a bundt pan?
A: Yes. Don't grease the pan.

The cake rose above the top of the pan, but it did not cook over

Q: But how do you hang it?
A: If you can't find a bottle with a narrow enough neck, perch it on a juice glass.
We left the cake to cool overnight.

Q: How do you get it out?
A: With patience, gently working the cake free of the surface of the pan around the edges, and then along the bottom. It doesn't do to grease the pan to make it easier to come out, because the foamy cake needs to grip the sides of the pan to rise.
Yeah, one side did get a little squished.

Q: What do you frost it with?
A: White Mountain icing: sugar syrup brought to the soft-ball stage, beaten into whipped egg whites. Marshmallow fluff, but not as sticky or as sweet -- as delicious as it looks.

If you overheat the sugar, the icing will be rather sticky, as we discovered. No matter, it's still delightful.

Q: How many egg whites total did you say?
A: A dozen and a half. (DD did most of the separating, but making this cake was her idea.)

Q: Do you need any special equipment?
A: Yes. You really should use a tube pan with a removable bottom if you plan to do this often -- the bundt pan was more proof of concept than anything. And you need a candy thermometer to bring the sugar to the correct temperature for the icing. Other than that, the only gadget needed is an electric mixer.

Q: Well?
A: Totally worth the effort. The cake is light and moist, the icing light, smooth, and not too sweet. Miles better than store-bought angel food.

Q: Was it a good learning experience?
A: DD wanted to do it herself, but she has never made anything more complicated than cookies before. Cakes are not necessarily difficult but there are more steps, and the steps are more fussy, what with the sifted dry ingredients, the beaten egg whites, the folding, etc. I don't think she minded being the sous-chef this time, once she saw what was involved. (I don't think 10-year-olds should be drizzling 240-degree sugar syrup into beaten egg whites while simultaneously running an electric mixer, regardless of her wishes.)

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