As you know, I hate throwing food stuff away, so the other day I got an order for gateau breton (a French version of pound cake but you only use egg yolks – see my post on baking this) and recalled that when I was flciking through Williams-Sonoma's Cakes book, I saw a recipe for an unusual cake using only egg whites, and aptly called "Angel Food Cake". And so, late into the night just after baking the gateau breton, I decided to try the angel cake out as it looked quite simple in the book. However, life isn't as simple as it always looks, because the recipe asked for 12 cold large egg whites and something called an Angel Food cake pan (what is that ?). I only had 5 egg whites and no such thing as an angel food cake pan, which incidentally loks like a tube pan. Not one to give up when it comes to anything concerning food, baking, coffee and eating, I persevered nevertheless and used my mathematical part of my brain to scale everything down and use my 20" springform pan. So this recipe has been severely modified to suit those without 12 large egg whites and an angel food cake pan/25" tube pan. So here we go,
Whip 5 cold egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar and a pinch of salt until you get soft peaks. Stop and add slowly 200g of caster sugar (confectioners/granulated sugar if in the US) and continue whipping the egg white and sugar mixture until it becomes very shiny, glistening more like, so that you now have stiff peaks. Now add one teaspoon each of vanilla extract and almond extract. After this, add slowly about 70g of plain flour until the mixture is now soft and fluffy.
Pour very gently into an ungreased springform pan. It is very important that you do not grease the pan because any contact with fat (oil, butter, etc) will make the meringue like structure collapse, which is what you do not want.
Bake the cake undisturbed for about 20 minutes on 170C. If the top is brown and looks firm, check it with a cake tester in the middle of the cake and if your cake tester comes out dry it is done. Let the cake cool for about 1 hour in the pan, preferably upside down, so that it aerates and rises. you will need to let the cake out gently using a thin knife – if you have a non-stick pan please use a plastic non-scratch spatula.
As the cake isn't overtly sweet, I recommed serving it with crushed strawberries. Per portion, use about 4 large strawberries and crush using the back of a fork with 1 teaspoon of caster sugar so that you have some strawberry juice.
Serve on top, hmmmm.
So in summary you need
5 large cold egg whites
200g caster sugar
70g plain flour (cake flour)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch of salt
20" Springform Pan
Oven on 170C (325F)
4 strawberries slightly crushed with 1 teaspoon of caster sugar
Inspired by a recipe in Wiliams-Sonoma's Cakes