ANGEL CAKE WITH MERINGUE FROSTING
This cake has followed me from the Rocky Mountains, to the Texas Foothills, to New England Shores and 10,000 miles around the world to Sydney, Australia. It is the first cake I learned to make and for forty years it still graces the tables of baby showers, birthday, Mother's Day, Easter, backyard bbq, 4th of July topped with blueberries and ringed with a base of raspberries, and for no special reason celebrations. It is just that good. Versatile and simple to make, this light and airy cake is delicious with or without the frosting, drizzled with chocolate, or served with macerated strawberries and lightly sweetened whipped cream. It looks rustic right from the pan and elegant dressed with seasonal flowers.
Use a long serrated knife to slice through this cake. Without any fat, this cake holds up in the heat and makes a perfect dessert to take canoe paddling or on a picnic. The marshmallow texture of the frosting helps holds flowers in place and also creates a shell that keeps the cake moist inside allowing the cake to be made and frosted one day in advance (no need to refrigerate).
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Sift ½ cup of the sugar with the flour three times.
3. Put egg whites, water, cream of tartar, salt, vanilla, lemon zest, and almond extract in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until barely stiff enough to hold a peak. Be careful not to over mix. The batter needs to remain moist to add in dry ingredients.
4. With the electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the remaining one cup of sugar, two tablespoons at a time, working quickly.
5. Remove mixer from stand and gently fold in flour mixture.
6. With a large spatula, gently put heaps of cake mix into a 10- inch tube pan.
7. Tap sides of pan lightly to break up large air bubbles. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
8. Immediately invert the pan to cool the cake and prevent it from collapsing.
9. Cool completely and then run a butter knife gently around the edges and the center. Invert again to release the cake.
TO MAKE THE FROSTING
1. In a MEDIUM SAUCEPAN, bring 2 cups of the sugar, the water, and the syrup to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves.
2. Stop stirring but continue to cook until the temperature reaches 235 degrees F. on a candy thermometer. From time to time, use a wet pastry brush to wash down the sides of the pan to keep crystals from forming.
3. While the sugar is cooking, place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on medium speed until soft peaks forms.
4. Gradually mix in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.
5. When the syrup reaches 235 degrees F., immediately add it to the egg whites in a slow and steady stream down the side of the bowl.
6. Raise the speed on the mixer to the highest setting and mix until thick, shiny and cooled, about 7 minutes.
7. Stir in the vanilla and use immediately.
SERVES 8 TO 12
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups egg whites (about a dozen)
2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
2 drops almond extract
2 1/4 cups castor sugar
2/3 cup water
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
8 large egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract