I really think there's something to that story Like Water for Chocolate, that you transfer a part of yourself into whatever you're making in the kitchen. This post is a good example of what happens when your heart is off in another room instead of in the kitchen with you. I couldn't commit myself to making this, mostly because it seemed like more trouble than it was worth. So when I finally got around to it, I was only going through the motions, somewhat grudgingly. I wasn't sure I wouldn't rather have been doing something else. (Mostly, though, it meant another task ahead trying to figure out how to use up the egg yolks.)
To minimize (literally) my concerns, I reduced the recipe to one quarter the size. Perhaps this was the reason for the poor results. Or perhaps it was because I didn't use cream of tartar. (While vinegar or lemon juice are suitable substitutes when boiling sugar, I don't think they do a damn thing for egg whites, despite all the advice forums. But I threw in some vinegar anyway.) Certainly my pan selection played a part. I looked at the volume of the whipped whites and chose a larger pan (an 8-inch springform pan with a soda can in the middle) than I had initially anticipated using. But I didn't count on losing a lot of volume when I added the flour mixture. And then the cake didn't rise AT ALL.
I think the whites should have been whipped more. The directions said shaving cream consistency -- that's what I had, at least on top. But as I folded, I found that the bottom of the bowl was looser than the top. And then, as the coup de grâce, I forgot to cool it upside-down until I noticed it visibly shrinking in the pan. So what you have here is an angel food pancake. Or very fluffy divinity. (Or a rubber biscuit, heheheh.)
|Sad little thing.|
I might have used it anyway, filling it like a layer cake, but it was sticky and not cutting nicely. It just so happened that last night I spotted a mini angel food cake on discount for only $1.19. Bargain! I know many cringe at the thought of a commercial angel food cake, but this one had no artificial ingredients! It really wasn't too bad, although sweeter than the one I made. I decided to employ it as a stand-in. From there, the recipe went off without a hitch.
Here's what I used:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar (reduced by 2 tablespoons from original)
3 large egg whites
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (instead of cream of tartar)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup frozen strawberries and raspberries, drained and mashed
1/4 envelope (generous 1/2 teaspoon) unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar (double the original recipe)
1/8 teaspoon almond extract (instead of vanilla)
I'm not reprinting the directions here because they're long, and I certainly don't suggest anyone follow my lead. Best to refer to the King Arthur Flour web site. I'll note, though, that in addition to reducing the recipe, I made a few other changes...
As far as I can tell, the vinegar had no effect -- the whites whipped up normally but weren't particularly stable. Many complained that the dessert was too sweet, so I reduced the sugar in the cake (the equivalent of 1/2 cup less than the original.) I was happy with that choice. There were also comments that there wasn't much strawberry flavor, so I threw in some raspberries to amp up the flavor a bit. However, my berries were quite tart, so I had to double the sugar of the filling. It still was only mildly sweet. Lastly, I decided to use almond instead of vanilla in the filling, since apparently almond is a traditional flavoring in angel food cake, and I thought it would be more interesting. That was also a good choice.
Recipe: Strawberry-filled Angel Food Cake via King Arthur Flour