Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Heavenly... Homemade Lemon Angel Food Cake

Angel food cake is a wonderfully light dessert that is perfect for the summer.  Angel food cake is a classic "bottom" for strawberry shortcake.  It is a healthier option than homemade biscuits or shortcake because it has no fat and is much lower in calories.  The air incorporated into the egg whites from beating adds to the fluffy texture of the angel food cake.  Did you know that the cream of tartar adds acidity to the batter which helps with the texture, color, and tender crumb?  (Thank you Jean Inman review)

I usually just buy one at the bakery and use it for shortcake, but wanted to try something different and experiment by making one from scratch.  Plus, it is for the Fourth of July... also known as my mom's birthday, and I wanted this dessert to be extra special.  It is not difficult to make, you just need the right ingredients, baking equipment, and a little patience!  The lemon makes the dessert extra summery and will hit the spot after a nice dinner out or big BBQ.

Lemon Angel Food Cake with Lemon Sauce and Blueberries
Serves 8-10

You will need: An electric beater, large bowl, angel food cake pan (a removable bottom makes this easier)

Ingredients:
12 egg whites, at room temperature*
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest (from 1-2 lemons)**
1 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar
1 cup of cake flour (Soft as Silk)

Toppings:
Lemon Glaze
5 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cups of confectioners sugar
A few drops of yellow food coloring

or Lemon Curd (which is what I used)
Homemade whipped cream (recipe to follow)
Fresh blueberries

"Lighter" Homemade Whipped Cream
Serves 10-12

Ingredients:
1 cup of Whipping cream
8 packets of Splenda
1 Tbsp of vanilla

Directions:
Place all ingredients in a large bowl.  Using an electric beater, beat on high for 5-10 minutes or until soft peaks occur.  (The top should fall to one side).  Don't beat it too long or else you will have sweet butter! 

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  The oven rack should be in the center of the oven.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar. Using an electric hand mixer, beat on medium speed until frothy. Add the vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat on high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 to 4 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks, about 2 minutes longer. Sprinkle the flour over the egg white mixture. Using a spatula, carefully fold in the flour until incorporated. Spoon the batter into an ungreased 10-inch nonstick angel food cake pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and a skewer inserted halfway between the inner and outer wall of the pan comes out clean. Invert the pan on a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
Decorate with lemon curd and blueberries.  Top with homemade whipped cream.  

*You can separate the eggs on your own by cracking the egg and sliding the yolk from one half of the shell to the other, or you can use egg whites from a carton (1.5 cups)

** Use a small grater or citrus zester to scape the skins off of the outside of the lemon.

Nutrition facts: (1 slice of angel food cake with 1 Tbsp lemon curd, fresh blueberries, and whipped cream) 160 calories, 29 g carbohydrates, 2 g fat, 2 g protein, 212 mg

I must admit that my first angel food cake was not perfect. There was a bit of misshaped sections and it seemed bigger in the oven and much smaller when it cooled. After looking back, I realize where I went wrong.  Right after it came out of the oven I got impatient and took a knife around the outside of the cake, which made the center fall and become slightly misshaped.  So, let it cool completely (about an hour) before touching it! That being said, it was fun to make and had a wonderful flavor, plus it was made from the heart... and that always makes it taste better!

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