Monday, May 18, 2015

Lemon-Iced Angel Food Cake

Today's blog post is a little different than most. While I'm going to share the recipe for a light and delicious lemon cake, I also plan to let you peek behind the curtain to see how everything isn't always picture perfect in our neck of the woods! 

Last week, I shared with you the details of my Mother's Day tablescapealong with a simple craft for easy rope-accented flower vases and the recipes for the best sausage and shrimp etouffee and my out of this world hushpuppies. Today, I'm giving you the details of the Lemon-Iced Angel Food Cake that almost didn't happen!

Lemon-Iced Angel Food Cake

for the cake
1 cup sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 large egg whites
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

for the icing
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest

Be sure to prepare all ingredients before beginning the cake.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees with the rack in the lower third of the oven to allow cake room to rise. Sift flour and 1/2 cup sugar into a bowl. Whisk egg whites on medium speed until frothy and bubbly (about 1 minute). 

Add lemon zest, juice, tartar, vanilla and salt. Continue whisking on medium speed until soft peaks form (about 2 minutes or so) and then gradually add remaining cup of sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and whisk to firm - but not stiff - peaks. This will take about another 2 minutes. Remove from mixer stand. 

Sprinkle the egg white mixture with about 1/4 of the flour/sugar mixture and fold in by hand. Continue to add by fourths until flour/sugar mixture is incorporated. Be gentle, but continue to scrape sides and bottom of mixing bowl to make sure no pockets of dry ingredients remain. 

Transfer batter to an ungreased angel food cake pan. Bake until a tester comes out clean. This took my oven right at 60 minutes. Begin checking at 45 minutes. When cake is done, invert cake (still in the pan) onto a bottle and allow to cool for 1 1/2 hours. Remove to a plate to finish cooling. Store in airtight container for up to 2 days.

While cake is baking, make the icing. Prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl. then whisk lemon juice, sugar, flour and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and whisk constantly for 1 minute as it thickens. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and set it in the ice bath to cool. Stir occasionally. As it cools, whisk the chilled heavy cream on medium until medium peaks form. Do NOT over beat. This should take about 3 minutes. Fold whipped cream into the juice mixture by thirds. Refrigerate until ready to ice cake.

Now - here's where my problems began.

First - I took the cake out after 45 minutes. Two reasons - it was starting to brown a little and I thought angel food cakes are prettier without color. Well, icing takes care of that. Second, I tend to under bake my cakes and cupcakes a little. Not raw under-cooked, but if it suggests 18-21 minutes on a cupcake - I go with 18. I just like them that way. I was afraid overcooking would make the cake heavy.

Also, as I folded in my cake flour/sugar, I saw that a little didn't incorporate, but I didn't want to overdo it and deflate the egg whites. I figured the liquid in the cake would draw in the flour as it cooked. Wrong. When the cake came out, it had hard doughy knots in it where the flour was not mixed.

It also didn't rise very high or seem very light.
So, What did I do?

You betcha' I did! 
As you can see - it was NOT a success.

I ended up making another cake. I beat the egg whites longer to add more air and rise to the cake. I made sure to completely fold in all the dry ingredients. And finally, I baked it for a full hour, checking every 5 minutes from 45 minutes on. 

Luckily, I discovered all this before icing the cake. The second cake was light, refreshing and delicious. Everything an angel food cake should be! And the subtle hint of lemon made it extra special for Mother's Day.

This cake is not hard, It just takes a little bit of time and concentration! I'll definitely use the cake recipe again. I'm thinking about making my own cake cups for strawberry shortcake this summer. And the lemon icing is really like a lemon whipped cream. I think it'd be delicious dolloped on top of blueberry shortcakes!

Well - I hope you see that everything doesn't always turn out perfect around here! But I didn't flip out. I kept my head and just tried again. And it worked!

I hope you enjoyed your Mother's Day celebration as much as I did!


I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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