I have an excuse for not posting in a while: finding a good recipe is hard! This is my third attempt at a cake in as many weeks and I finally have a winner to show you guys. I could have posted a couple weeks ago when I made that spongecake that turned out to be the blandest of bland, but I just couldn’t get myself to be excited about it. (It was so bland, it wasn’t even worth the calories to me and I wound up throwing most of it away. I’ve never thrown a cake away before!) So then I found a chocolate angel food cake recipe that sounded like it would be anything but bland, but I failed. Oh, I failed hard. The cake tasted ok, but I believe the word “brick” was used by my boyfriend when he saw said cake. As in “That’s supposed be an angel food cake? It looks like a brick.” So then I went online searching for why my cake turned out to be a brick instead of a cake and I found a similar angel food cake recipe that sounded better and from that I, finally, finally, made a successful cake. Not just successful in that it doesn’t look like a brick, but successful in that it’s one of the best cakes I’ve ever had in my entire life.
And I say that a person who has never really liked angel food cake before. I like cakes that are rich, I like frosting! Even though I was interested in trying this recipe, it was mainly in a “I’m trying to watch what I eat but I still want dessert” kind of way. I didn’t really expect it to rival those rich, frosting-laden cakes that I love so much. If this was a normal cake, it would be too rich. You’d eat half and then push it away because you just couldn’t eat anymore, even though it was delicious. But since this cake is so moist and light and fluffy it perfectly balances out the rich chocolate flavor. Add macerated strawberries, sweetened, but a little tart due to the added orange juice and zest and you get a bite of perfection.
I’ll tell you though, the chocolate you use is key. It’s really really really important. I know this because the first chocolate angel food cake I made, the flat one, it only had cocoa and while it tasted ok, it didn’t have the richness that this recipe has. This recipe has cocoa plus grated chocolate and the grated chocolate makes all the difference. I wound up using 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate because that’s what I had in my pantry but I highly recommend using that because I think it adds more richness than semi-sweet chocolate would.
If this is your first angel food cake, it’s not difficult, but you just have to be very gentle and make sure you are using the correct folding technique (hint: it’s completely different from stirring). What ultimately killed my first attempt was that I folded too much and too hard and lost all the air from the whipped egg whites. It’s okay if there’s still some white streaks in there (I put a tip for how I dealt with this in the directions). I found this how-to video on folding to be incredibly helpful. Also, here’s a good guide about whipping egg whites if the whole soft peaks/firm peaks thing confuses you.
This cake just makes me happy. Since it’s angel food, I don’t have to feel guilty about eating it, but it also doesn’t come with that “this isn’t as good as the real thing” feeling that you get from eating most low-fat desserts. It’s perfect.
Also, if you’re looking for something to do with your egg yolks (12 is a LOT to waste!), I highly recommend this pineapple curd. I made it as the filling for that bland spongecake and it was the only redeeming thing about it. I wound up just licking off the curd and discarding the cake. It was delicious and really simple to make and you can use it for a variety of things (or you can just stand in front your refrigerator and lick it off your fingers).
Chocolate Angel Food Cake
Dessert, Cake | Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 25 min | Cook time: 1 hour | Total time: 1 hour 25 min
- 3/4 cup cake flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 (1 oz.) squares semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, grated
- 12 egg whites
- 1 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F). If it does not have a removable bottom, line a 9 or 10 inch tube pan with parchment paper.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa and 3/4 cup of the sugar. Set aside.
- Grate the chocolate (my beloved microplane grater really came in handy for that) into a small bowl. Stir in 3 tbsp. of the flour mixture.
- Using an electric mixer set at low speed, beat egg whites until foamy. Increase mixer speed to medium, stir in cream of tartar and salt, and continue to beat until egg whites form soft peaks. (The eggs should look soft and still fold over on themselves when you remove the beater.) Gradually mix in the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. (The eggs will have a sheen, and they won’t fold over anymore). Don’t overbeat! I don’t think this should take more than 5-10 minutes with a stand mixer. (I always had problems whipping egg whites with my hand mixer, so it might take longer if you’re using one of those. Just make sure to stop and test the thickness of the whites every few minutes.)
- Gently stir in the vanilla and lemon juice.
- Very gently fold the flour mixture into the beaten egg whites, then fold in the grated chocolate, stirring just until blended. (I had problems with it not being mixed well at the bottom of the bowl, so I found it helpful to transfer about half of the mixture to the pan and then finish folding the rest.)
- Gently scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the surface of the batter and tap the pan lightly to remove any air bubbles. Bake in center of the preheated oven for 45-60 minutes, or until the surface springs back when touched.
- Cool completely and remove from pan. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and top with strawberries (below) before serving. If you have leftovers, it stores best in an airtight container to help keep it moist and fluffy.
Fruit | Servings: 5-6
Prep time: 10 min | Total time: 1 hour 10 min
- 6 cups (2 pints) strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 tsp. orange zest
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
- Refrigerate at least one hour or overnight, stirring occasionally.