Baking for others increases my self worth. What can I say except that I love to please people and the best way I’ve found to do that is to bake for them. Baking can be a risky endeavor when you aren’t confident about your skills and most people don’t want to struggle through the learning curve needed to master baking. I owe my cooking education to Martha Stewart. I dedicated hours immersing myself in her perfect world of perfectly risen soufflés and labeled linen closets until I felt so inadequate that I had to try to replicate at least a small part of her exquisite existence. Fifteen years later I have come to realize that she has a team of hundreds of people to organize, clean and run her multitude of houses while she spends most days eating out and growing her vast empire. All joking aside, I am deeply indebted to her inspiring me to constantly challenge myself to try new techniques and recipes.
My husband loves angel food cake so I wanted to make one for him and decided to try something a little bit different. I added finely grated chocolate to the batter so that you end up with a subtle chocolate cake that is still light and fluffy. The key to a great angel food cake is to whip the whites to stiff peaks and then gently fold the flour mixture in a little bit at a time. I run my spatula around the outside of the pan and then lift my spatula from the bottom pulling the mixture to the top, keep repeating until all the flour is combined and you should be good to go! You can easily omit the chocolate and flavor it with other flavors like almond or orange and serve it with some lightly macerated fruit for a lighter dessert.
I wish I had a great story that shared how my grandmother passed down recipes that had been in our family for generations but the truth is I never met any of my grandmothers and my own mother taught me to cook things as quickly as possible and only on high heat. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of kitchen disasters to come into my own and I can say with some pride that I am indeed a good cook and I’ve earned the right to call myself that. I love being able to share my knowledge with you all here and I hope that I can offer a little bit of inspiration to explore new recipes in your own kitchen.
- for the cake:
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1½ cups egg whites at room temperature (about 1 dozen egg whites)
- 1 teaspoon cream of tarter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely grated
- for the whipped cream frosting:
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- for the chocolate glaze:
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream
- For the cake:
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor or high-speed blender spin the sugar for about 2 minutes until it is finely ground. Sift half the sugar with the cake flour and salt and reserve the rest of the sugar.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tarter and vanilla extract on low for two minutes until the mixture becomes foamy and thick. Increase the speed to medium and and beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the rest of the reserved sugar and continue to beat the mixture on medium-high until fluffy and just stiff. Switching to a spatula sprinkle about a third of the flour and sugar mixture and gently fold the mixture into the egg whites. Run the spatula around the edge of the bowl and then cut through the middle lightly turning and mixing until the mixture is combined but not deflated. Add the rest of the flour a third at a time and continue to fold the batter together until it is all incorporated. Sprinkle the grated chocolate over the top and fold that into the batter as well.
- Carefully spoon the mixture into an ungreased tube pan and bake for 40 - 45 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool the cake upside down on a cooling rack for at least an hour before frosting.
- Unmold the cake by running a sharp knife around the outside of the pan. Using an offset spatula cover the cake with the whipped cream and then drizzle with the chocolate glaze.
- For the frosting:
- Place the bowl of an electric mixer and the whisk attachment in the fridge for 30 minutes while the cake is baking. Take the chilled bowl out of the freezer and attach the whisk. Whisk the heavy cream on medium for one minute and slowly add in the sugar and vanilla extract. Increase the speed to medium-high and whisk until soft peaks form.
- For the glaze:
- Place chocolate in a bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan until simmering, then pour over chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes and then mix until all the chocolate has melted. Let cool to room temperature stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Pour glaze over cooled cake.