The Boy was up before me this morning. As I staggered out into the living room clutching my head (’tis migraine season at the farm), he asked, “are we up late today?”
I chuckled (as best I could, considering), “nope, why do you ask? The sun is different today, right?”
“Yeah! That’s it!”
Yes, my dear boy, spring is on its merry way, and not a moment too soon. It hasn’t been much of a winter in terms of bad weather, really, but it’s been ANNOYING! I don’t think there’s any other way to put it… And like most everyone else, I’m tired of it and ready for a change.
But since the calendar pages won’t flip any faster because of my mood, we’ll move on to cake
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If you happen to be making a dish, typically a dessert, with lots of egg yolks, what do you do with the whites that are left?
Sometimes I add them to The Boy’s scrambled eggs for breakfast. I’m shocked to say this aloud, but my little 55-pounder is starting to eat 3 eggs and 2 pieces of wheat toast at a shot, and sometimes asks for more!
More often than not, though, the leftover egg whites go in the freezer in small containers until I gather enough to make meringues or angel food cake. If I’m really on the ball, I will label each container with the number of egg whites just so I have a general idea. Labeling is a very good habit to get into, and one that you’ll learn quickly after you’ve blended up a ranchero sauce smoothie.
I have had much success making angel food cake from the recipe in The Joy of Cooking. One of the greatest things about this sort of cake? You can spruce it up with different flavors! Mint extract and chopped dark chocolate are always a welcome addition. For the record, angel food cake is fat free — until you add embellishments like whipped cream, caramel sauce or hot fudge — but a spoonful of sliced strawberries, peaches or blueberries would be as colorful and tasty as they are nutritious.
This particular version was inspired by a bag of freeze-dried strawberries. I always thought these kinds of things were only available in overpriced camping stores, but lo and behold, there they were on an end cap in Target! For a few dollars, I figured I’d try my luck with them. Do I like to eat them as is, right out of the bag? No. But mixed into this cake? Very nice… both spring-like and Valentine-y. ♥
Sweetheart Strawberry-Vanilla Angel Food Cake
1 1/2 cups sugar (I use vanilla sugar)
1/2 cup freeze dried strawberries (a few more won’t hurt)
1 cup sifted cake flour
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 cup COLD egg whites (from about 12 large eggs)
1 T water
2 t lemon juice
1 t cream of tartar
1 t vanilla (Not using vanilla sugar? Increase vanilla to 2 t)
1 1/2 – 2 t strawberry extract (in the spice aisle)
a bit of red food coloring (optional)
Preheat oven to 350° and have ready an ungreased angel food/tube pan.
Combine sugar and strawberries in bowl of food processor and process for a minute or so until berries are mostly pulverized. You will have a few bits that won’t break down completely – that’s the nature of the beast – but you’ll fold them into the batter with the flour.
Sift the sugar onto parchment or waxed paper. Set 3/4 cup sugar aside, then sift remaining sugar with flour and salt. Sift the mixture again. Then, sift it yet again. I know, crazy, but necessary. You could sift from one bowl to another or do as I do and use two pieces of parchment.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (not essential, but so much easier than by hand), combine egg whites, water, lemon juice, cream of tartar, vanilla and strawberry extracts. Beat on low speed 1 minute then increase mixer speed to medium and beat about 2-3 minutes more until soft peaks form. Gradually, over 2-3 minutes, beat in reserved 3/4 cup sugar about one tablespoon at a time.
Remove bowl from mixer and sift about 1/5 of the flour mixture over the egg whites. Gently fold flour into egg whites using a spatula. Continue sifting and folding carefully until all the flour is incorporated. Be sure to add in the reserved bits of dried strawberry. If you are using the optional food coloring, remove about 2 cups of the batter to a smaller bowl and stir in color.
Spoon or pour about half of the batter into the tube pan, spoon the red batter over evenly, then spread remaining batter over top. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and skewer inserted halfway between side and center of pan comes out clean. Remove pan from oven and cool completely upside down in pan. Most pans have little feet for such purpose. Run a small, thin knife around edge and center tube to loosen, and remove from pan. Cut with a serrated knife to serve.
Adapted slightly from The Joy of Cooking.