ANGEL FOOD CAKE – A tale of two Nancy’s

Angel food cake could never be the food legitimate angels eat, because in heaven you can eat steak and chocolate and very expensive cheese. Allison Robicelli

Hi there,

Following up on the above quote, I think angels eat Angel food cake after steak and expensive cheese. The beautiful cake and tasty fruit tray were the desserts that were prepared by my two friends named Nancy. They were served after a recent dinner I hosted. It was such a delicious treat to have after a dinner that included pasta.

My one friend, Nancy, used to run a successful Bed and Breakfast and has insisted that she has nothing to contribute to my blog. This angel food cake has made that statement completely untrue and now I have the picture and the recipe to prove it.

I was curious about the origins of this recipe and found out an interesting fact. Some historians think that the first angel food cakes were probably baked by African-American slaves from the South because making this cake required a strong beating arm and lots of labor to whip the air into the whites.  Angel food cakes are also a traditional African-American favorite for post-funeral feasting.

Well, thank the heavens there is no more slavery and the electric mixer has been invented for us to use in making the following recipe.

NANCY’S ANGEL FOOD CAKE

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar*
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons (133g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 large egg whites, at room temperature*
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • optional: confectioners’ sugar for dusting, whipped cream, and berries

Directions:

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and preheat oven to 325°F (163°C).
  2. In a food processor or blender, pulse the sugar until fine and powdery. Remove 1 cup and set aside to use in step 3; keep the rest inside the food processor. Add the cake flour and salt to the food processor. Pulse 5-10 times until sugar/flour/salt mixture is aerated and light.
  3. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip egg whites and cream of tartar together on medium-low until foamy, about 1 minute. Switch to medium-high and slowly add the 1 cup of sugar you set aside. Whip until soft peaks form, about 5-6 minutes. See photo and video above for a visual. Add the vanilla extract, then beat just until incorporated.
  4. In 3 additions, slowly sift the flour mixture into the egg white mixture using a fine mesh strainer, gently folding with a rubber spatula after each addition. To avoid deflating or a dense cake, don’t add the flour mixture all at once. Sift and very slowly fold in several additions. This is important! Pour and spread batter into an ungreased 9 or 10 inch tube pan. Shimmy the pan on the counter to smooth down the surface.
  5. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking. The cake will rise up very tall while baking. Remove from the oven, then cool the cake completely upside-down set on a wire rack, about 3 hours. (Upside-down so the bottom of the tube pan is right-side up, see photo and video above.) Once cooled, run a thin knife around the edges and gently tap the pan on the counter until the cake releases.
  6. If desired, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Slice the cake with a sharp serrated knife. Regular knives can easily squish the cake. Serve with whipped cream and fresh berries.
  7. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

This recipe Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated by Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Now on to my other Nancy.

My friend, Nancy, always does everything with a little extra style. She made this beautiful fruit tray but with a twist. The fruit is marinated is a special sauce that give it a mysterious and delightful spicy taste. I believe Nancy said she got the recipe from the New York Times.

An interesting fact about watermelon is that Africa is the original home of watermelon, and the fruit has likely existed since pre-historic times in the regions known today as Namibia and Bostwana. Indeed, it’s an ancient fruit with deep roots in history—according to the book, “High-Tech Micropropagation,” remnants of the fruit were found as hieroglyphs on Egyptian tombs over 4,000 years ago. 

NANCY’S WATERMELON CHAAT

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ¾ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon amchur powder (dried green mango)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (a generous pinch if you like heat)
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 orange, clementine or mandarin, juiced to make approximately 1/3 cup juice
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped jalapeño pepper
  • 3 to 4 fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced

Directions:

  1. Place cubed watermelon in a wide platter with sides or in a large baking or serving dish and spread into a single layer.
  2. In a small pan, toast whole cumin seeds on medium heat for 3 minutes, until fragrant. Remove and coarsely grind with a mortar and pestle. (You can also grind in a spice grinder, but be sure not to grind to a fine powder as the coarse grains of the spice add a wonderful texture.)
  3. Transfer cumin to a small bowl and add all remaining spices and salt. Add citrus juice, jalapeño and mint and mix well. Pour dressing over cubed watermelon and mix to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for 1 to 6 hours. Serve chilled the same day.

Although we are in the autumn season, there is still time to make these delicious and light desserts.

Talk soon, ❤️💕Bernadette

21 comments

  1. Mom made a fabulous angel food cake and always had one in the freezer for just in case. When we brought hubby’s uncle from the UK over to her place for a visit and she learned it was his birthday, she pulled one out of the freezer, decorated it and we all sang Happy Birthday. He thought she was a magician. I don’t have her recipe so I’ll try this one. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That she was. At her recent Celebration of Life, the common thread in everyone´s comments about her, was what a wonderful cook/baker she was and how there was always something good to eat at her house. I was indeed lucky to have her for a mom. xo

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t made an angel food cake in years! But, I have my mother’s special pan and I should dig it out and give it a go the next time we have a family gathering. Mom used to love making these, and I always loved watching her invert it on one of my father’s beer bottles to cool!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wonderful recipes from the Nancys, Bernadette, and I enjoyed the bit of history as well. I love angel food cake but can’t eat it any more (unless I go on a total guilty splurge), but watermelon is something I can enjoy, and the recipe sounds so unusual. What a blend of flavors. I’ll have to save that one and try it next summer. Thank you and the Nancys for the fun!

    Like

  4. How fun! Would you believe that I’ve never had a homemade angel food cake? I’m pretty sure it would change my opinion of them, and your description of Nancy’s cake sounds truly heavenly! I also like the idea of sweet and spicy on the other Nancy’s watermelon recipe. Delish!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. For my birthdays, growing up, my mom either made me an angel’d food cake, or devil’s food, depending on how I’d behaved during the year. Ha, not really. More depending on my mood. I usually opted for angel food cake, which I love and cook for me and my guy about once a month. (I notice Diana won’t eat it because it makes her feel guilty, but it’s egg whites and not butter!!) But I’ll admit, I make it with the box version. Is that really a lot different from Nancy’s recipe, which looks wonderful, but takes a lot more work. ;l-0

    Liked by 1 person

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