Until this year I had only made cakes from the box. What a difference it makes when you make something from scratch! I don’t really know how to describe other than, wow – homemade cakes taste so much better. This recipe was perfect for my Dad’s birthday cake!
Angel Food Cake, from Baking Illustrated
1 cup sifted plain cake flour
1 1/2 cups sifted granulated sugar
12 large egg whites at room temperature
1 teaspoon cream tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Have ready an ungreased large tube pan (9-inch diameter, 16-cup capacity), preferably with a removable bottom. If the pan bottom is not removable, line it with parchment paper or waxed paper.
Whisk the flour and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a small bowl. Place the remaining 3/4 cup sugar in another small bowl next to the mixer.
Beat the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer at low-speed until just broken up and beginning to froth. Add the cream of tartar and salt and beat at medium speed until the whites form very soft, billowy mounds. With the mixer still at
medium speed, beat in the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar is added and the whites are shiny and form soft peaks. ***this step is really important – make sure it is beaten long enough to begin to get stiff, and have the soft peaks. Add the vanilla, lemon juice, and almond extract and beat until just blended.
Place the flour-sugar mixture in a sifter set over waxed paper. Sift the flour-sugar mixture over the whites, about 3 tablespoons at a time, and gently fold in, using a large rubber spatula. Sift any flour- sugar mixture that falls onto the paper back into the bowl with the whites.
Gently scrape the batter into the pan, smooth the top with a spatula, and give the pan a couple of raps on the counter to release any large air bubbles. Bake until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back when pressed firmly, 50-60 minutes.
If the cake pan has prongs around the rim for elevating the cake, invert the pan onto them. If the pan does not have prongs, invert the pan onto the neck of a bottle or funnel. Let the cake cool completely, 2 to 3 hours.
We drizzled the cake with homemade buttercream icing, but you could also serve with fruit or whatever you prefer!