Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Homemade Angel Food Cake with Berries and Creme Anglaise

It seems to me that people fall into 2 categories of dessert preferences: fruit desserts (me), or chocolate desserts (also me). This is a perfect spring or summer time dessert for the fruit people.

Homemade Angel Food cake is cinchy to make, and a million times better in taste and texture than store-bought. It is also virtually fat-free, so what better way to serve it than drizzled in a creamy custard sauce? I will tell you there is no better way. Whipped cream is of course delicious, but it's been done. The atrocity of Cool Whip will receive only this mention.

For the Angel Food Cake you need:

 1 cup cake flour (spooned and leveled)

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

To Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place flour and salt in a sieve set over a bowl; sift into bowl, and set aside. With a mixer, beat egg whites on medium-high until foamy, about 1 minute. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. (I forgot to take a picture of the soft-peaks-just imagine the top of an ice-cream sundae. With hotfudge. And nuts. And whip cream.)
    Continue to beat, gradually adding sugar; beat until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.

     Add vanilla; beat to combine.
  2. Gently transfer egg-white mixture to a large, wide bowl. In four batches, using the sieve again, sift flour mixture over
    egg-white mixture. While turning the bowl, use a rubber spatula to fold in the mixture by cutting down the center and coming
    up the sides.
  3. Gently spoon batter into an ungreased angel food cake pan with a removable bottom; smooth top. Cut a knife or small spatula
    through batter to release air bubbles. Bake until cake is golden and springs back when lightly pressed, 35 to 40 minutes.
    Invert pan; let cool in pan, 1 hour. Run a knife around the inside of the pan and around the tube to release cake, and unmold. Use knife to release cake from bottom of pan, and remove.

    *A tip for the cake: I didn't use a tube pan with a removable bottom, and it worked fine; after you run your knife around the edges, gently lift the the cake sides with a small spatula all the way around. It might take a couple rounds, but it will come right out.

    For the Creme Anglaise:

    1. 2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
    2. 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
    3. 1/2 cup sugar
    4. 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature

    1. Set a large fine strainer over a medium bowl and set the bowl in a shallow pan of cold water.
    2. In a large saucepan, combine the half-and-half and vanilla bean and cook over moderately low heat just until small bubbles appear around the rim, about 5 minutes.
    3. In another medium bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks just until combined. Whisk in half of the hot half-and-half in a thin stream. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Immediately strain the sauce into the bowl in the cold water bath to stop the cooking. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the sauce. Serve right away or refrigerate until chilled.

    *A couple tips for the Creme Anglaise: I am not a millionaire, and therefore do not have vanilla beans. I used regular vanilla, and it works great. (If you must know, it was imitation vanilla. I sent my husband to the store the day I needed some, and he's a cheapy. I mean frugal.) Also, it's not a super thick sauce-so don't cook it past the time it can coat the back of a spoon. Otherwise, you risk cooking the eggs too much and it curdles.

    For the Berries:

    4 cups of berries, chopped or lightly mashed
    1/4-1/2 cup sugar, depending on the sweetness of your berries

    Mix and let sit 15-30 minutes to macerate.

    Serves 8 

    I will now be retiring to the bathroom to clean it, lest Josh gets home and begins to have unfavorable opinions about my blog project.

    Later this week: Mother's Day Dessert Idea #2


  1. Ummmm, PHENOMENAL!!! And adding the fruit takes away any guilt from that extremely tasty sauce! Someday I am going to hire you to be my personal chef...and we will all eat desserts like this all day long! And great pictures too...did you take them? Thank you for sharing!

  2. Is this the sauce that you used for the chocolate cake that you have made for us and for Alisa's reception? I have been craving it and would love that recipe(sauce)!

  3. This just happened to be the best part of my day yesterday. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  4. Hillary-thanks friend!I took the pictures, and sometime I will post the picture I took of what my kitchen really looked like when I took the one of the cupcakes with the green background ;)

    Karen-it is the very same sauce!!