Happy day-after-Easter everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and were able to spend it with the people you love. And for those of you who worked yesterday (i.e. most of my nursing buddies), I hope your shifts were calm and easy and free from codes of any kind. I always hated working Easter because it’s a major family holiday but it doesn’t count as a holiday at most hospitals and you don’t get holiday pay for working it. Kind of a rip off. But now that I have a nursing job with normal-person hours, I finally get all my holidays off.
We spent the day with Peter’s family, as we usually do on Easter. Peter’s mother is a fantastic cook and I ate way more than I should have. Our afternoon was filled with tender, juicy ham, mashed sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli, and homemade wheat rolls. Peter’s sister Michele made an amazing cheesy potato casserole topped with Special K cereal that I couldn’t get enough of. I need to somehow convince her to give me the recipe.
For dessert, I brought some soft-baked M&M cookies, and this delicious angel food cake. When trying to decide on what kind of dessert to bring, angel food cake just seemed to make sense (get it? Easter? Angel food? I thought I was being pretty clever). Plus I just love angel food cake and I’d been looking for an excuse to make one again. It’s so soft and fluffy and sweet.
Peter’s nephew turned three this past Monday, so we treated Sunday as a joint Easter/birthday celebration. And what would make angel food cake more birthday appropriate? Sprinkles of course! And so this confetti angel food cake was born.
Angel food cake can definitely be a little intimidating if you’ve never made it before, but once you understand the reasoning behind why the steps are so particular, it all makes sense.
First of all, you use only egg whites, and a heck of a lot of them. Make sure you are using real egg whites; no egg beaters or any other egg white substitute. This is not one of those recipes you can cut corners on. Unfortunately you’re going to have a lot of egg yolks left over, but you can always save them and make pudding or cookies or hollandaise. Or you can just chuck them in the garbage like I did.
The egg whites are whipped into frothy, foamy oblivion, and for good reason. You see, angel food cake doesn’t use baking powder or baking soda for leavening. It depends on the air that you incorporate into the eggs and the steam from baking for the cake to rise. By ensuring that you’ve incorporated enough air in your egg whites, you’re guaranteed to have a light and airy cake.
Second, you want to be sure to use cake flour instead of regular all-purpose flour. Cake flour is the lightest of all flour varieties, which is very important. If you use any other kind of flour, you’re going to produce a thick and dense cake- not good. I’ve also found that it helps to aerate the flour and powdered sugar before adding it to the beaten egg whites. More air = lighter and fluffier cake. By sifting those two ingredients together, you are also ensuring that there are no lumps.
Third, angel food cake depends on a special kind of pan… an angel food cake pan (duh), otherwise known as a tube pan. Now, I’ve made angel food cake in a bundt pan before and it’s tasted just fine, but it was really difficult to get the cake out of the pan and it didn’t turn out too pretty. And if you go to all the work of making angel food cake, don’t you want it to turn out perfectly? So go out and get yourself an angel food cake pan.
If you’re smart (unlike me), you’ll buy one with a removable bottom so that getting the cake out of the pan is much easier, but buying a regular angel food cake pan works just as well. Unlike most baking recipes, you do not want to grease the pan prior to pouring in the batter. The batter uses the pan to help it rise, by creeping and crawling up the sides (It’s still ok to use a pan that’s labeled as “non-stick”).
By far the worst part of making this cake is waiting for it to cool because it always smells so good and it seems to take forever. It’s imperative that you cool the cake upside down, or it can get crushed by it’s own weight. You don’t want it to get ruined at the last minute, do you? So flip it upside down as soon as it comes out of the oven, and leave it alone until the pan is totally and completely cooled. Then you can flip it back over.
Now as far as toppings go, I happen to be a bit of an angel food cake traditionalist, so I went with a thick homemade whipped cream and strawberry sauce. I think those toppings complement the cake best, but you can always choose to frost it or eat it plain. This cake tastes just as sweet and delicious without any topping at all (as I just confirmed by eating a piece for breakfast).
Confetti Angel Food Cake
Servings: 1 cake
- 10-12 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup (1.75 oz bottle) rainbow sprinkles (use jimmies only- the long skinny strand ones like these)
For whipped topping:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 5 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
For strawberry topping:
- 1 qt fresh strawberries
- 2 tbsp sugar
- Separate egg yolk and egg white over a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Discard yolks (or save for another recipe). You will need a total of 1 1/2 cups of egg white. Make sure there is absolutely no yolk! Pour egg whites into a large bowl and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes (room temperature egg whites will froth up better than cold ones).
- Move oven rack to the lowest position. Remove any other oven racks. Preheat oven to 375.
- In a medium sized bowl, sift powdered sugar and cake flour together. Set aside.
- Add cream of tartar to egg whites and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until mixture looks foamy (this will take a while). Turn mixer to high speed and beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat in vanilla and salt. Continue beating mixture on high speed until mixture appears thick and glossy and soft peaks form when beaters are removed. Do not underbeat.
- Gently fold in powdered sugar/flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time. Once flour mixture has been completely folded in, gently fold in sprinkles.
- Transfer batter to an ungreased angel food cake (tube) pan. Gently cut through the batter with a butter knife, spreading batter against the sides of the pan and breaking apart any large air pockets.
- Bake cake for 30-35 minutes, or until top of cake appears dry and cracked and top springs back when touched lightly. Ensure cake is fully cooked through by sticking a toothpick in the middle. Toothpick should come out clean.
- Immediately invert cake on a wire rack. Allow cake to hang until pan has completely cooled, 2-3 hours.
- To loosen cake from pan once pan has cooled, turn pan right-side up and carefully run a knife or metal spatula between cake and sides of pan. Place a plate or serving dish on top of pan, and, holding plate tightly to top of pan, invert pan again. Cake will slide out onto plate, although it might take a minute.
- To prepare whipped cream, beat cream in a medium sized bowl using a hand mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Serve immediately or store chilled.
- To prepare strawberry sauce, wash strawberries, then hull and cut into bite sized pieces. Sprinkle with sugar and mash using a potato masher until strawberry pieces are small and sauce forms.
WW Smart Points: Not calculated