The blog of a doctor, a baker, a wisdom tooth taker!
“Maybe once, we could just have a vanilla cake”.
Sigh, over the years, Hungry Hubby has been my crash test dummy for many a culinary crusade. The vast majority have made it if not into “yummy” category, at least into the “wouldn’t mind having that again” bracket. Very few things has he refused to eat and ordered himself a pizza instead (thank The Lord!) and those were definitely because it was one “weird” flavour too far for my comparatively conservative foodie hubs as opposed to being frankly uneatable in itself. Hubs grew up in a “eat to live” household. He married into a “live to feed” one where the Head Chef just can’t help giving things a go, shamelessly fiddling and making things her own, actively hunting down new ways of cooking, locating recherché ingredients to make up for a childhood of never being allowed to experiment in the kitchen. Moving on from the foodie Freudian thought, and away from the inkling that I might be distaste fully arrogant in my claim to making such applause worthy food you should know that my Hungry Hubby is the easiest going guy on the planet. I’m actually struggling to think of something he despises in life in general and apart from a playful, macho hatred of his rival football team (no prizes for guessing who they are ) and a recently voiced absolute stance anything anything rhubarb, I can’t think of owt. So in return for his eternal understanding of my need to be an intrepid gastronomic explorer, I put my pomegranate molasses down and shelved my dukka for another day and made him a vanilla cake.
Of course, I couldn’t make just a plain old vanilla sponge, as one might find in the ever present Victoria sponge cake, noooooo sirree! Instead, a quick flick through my Olive magazine (love this mag – it is exactly what I want from a foodie mag) and found the recipe which follows for vanilla bean angel food cake. Being English, angel food cake is *was* a total mystery to me – it really doesn’t exist in Ye Olde Angleterre. I only had the cake tin by virtue on Hubs ordering me one for our first wedding anniversary from Amazon! I tried once before to make such a cake and it was a disaster – it sagged like Nora Batty’s tights and was just the saddest looking cake you’ve ever seen. That was my own fault though for fiddling with a recipe so much it was condemned to fail from the get go. The one things these cakes abhor is too much moisture in the batter – adding a tin of coconut milk was my first unforgivable crime! But the pictures in Olive were so utterly lovely I knew it was time to dust off that “mother ship” weird looking tin once more!
Angel food cakes, it occurs to me, are essentially a meringue mixture with flour folded in. No fat is added. All your calories come in the carbon-hydrogen-oxygen molecular structure we all know and love as sugar. Ok, there’s a wee bit of protein in the flour and lest we forget all these beautiful egg whites. Speaking of which – may I just tout the virtues of “Two Chicks Egg Whites”. What a fantastic product! They whisk up like a dream and really aren’t expensive to buy. I can honestly say, I’ve never had a glossier, thicker, more stiffly whisked and quickly thank you very much meringue in my life. I will be buying again!
Once you have a white patent leather like billowing foam in your mixer bowl, sift over flour, fold it in then add some vanilla. As I had preserved many vanilla beans whole, unslit in a bottle of Smirnoff vodka last year, I simply snipped off one end and squeezed in the innermost of the bean. The vodka seeps in through the pod (by osmosis, if one considers the vodka molecules to be water) and forms a homemade vanilla paste, every bit as good as that heart stoppingly expensive Nielssen Massey stuff. Very satisfying, very vanillary.
Upon cooking, with an angel food cake, one must immediately invert the tin and make use of those annoying feet which prevent stacking in one’s bakeware cupboard . I can total imagine the little green men from Toy Story lining up and jiggling their way up the central nozzle into this alien craft style cake tin! Tell me I’m not alone in that one!
For those whom have seen the magazine article from which this recipe came may be thinking my cake looks a little (ok a lot) less tall than that pictured by Olive. My response to that is that it was, of course, a planned intention, nothing whatsoever to do with me not clocking the measurements of my tin before I mixed the batter up only to then find out my tin was as big as theirs. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…
Imagine a celestial meringue which is marshmallowy throughout, light as a feather but also toothsome to bite. Very sweet and astoundingly moist for the lack of added fat. One which keeps for a good five days covered with cling and popped in an air tight box. Imagine that nursery sweet vanilla scent and melt of the sugar on your lips then you too will know how this dreamy cloud of a cake must be served with thick, fridge cold double cream to cut the blood sugar catapult short in its tracks and the fresh berry rasp of sour, juicy raspberries. Lemon curd, mascarpone and blueberries would deliver a different but equally well balanced finish to the dish. I urge you to try either.
All in the name of giving Hungry Hubby’s traumatised taste buds a break from the bizarre. We’ll not mention to him that conquering a new technique gave me the same hit I usually achieve from stove top conjuring up of dishes that I frequently cannae pronounce from lands I have never seen, from cultures I know the barest of details of. Ahhhh, my work in the kitchen is done for another day… A girl has got to have some secrets
Get the tin here –> angel food pan
Get the recipe here –> Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake