Thursday, January 31, 2013

Valentine's Day: raspberry swirl angel food cake

Just one more day of January and then you can turn the page to the Month of Kristin in the Year of Kristin aka February, 2013 the month I turn 50!  Right?  Exclamation points are allowed for this one.  Pretty excited about it.  Truly.  I love birthdays.  Pretty fond of presents.  Always baffled when someone says I am hard to buy for because I really have no problem doing it.  And I love giving presents with all the possibilities of what might surprise and delight the birthday person.  And if we aren't on the present buying level, I am always up for baking something.  Always.

My grandma on my dad's side lived in Cleveland about half an hour from our house and every birthday would be celebrated around her fancy dining table and every birthday she would serve angel food cake with strawberry whipped cream and extra strawberries.  She'd whip up cream and fold in those delightful boxes of sugared frozen strawberries and serve another thawed box on the side.  Genius.  We all loved every yummy pink bite.  Angel food cake fits nicely into February's heart health month too until you top it with whipped cream.  And don't go all fat free cool whip on me.  If you've been reading you know that frozen whipped non-dairy topping is against all that is right and good.  My grandparents made it all the way to 92 and 95.  Buttered bread crumbs, home made noodles, rich gravy and whipping cream apparently did no harm to them.  Have a little bit of whipped cream unless you are under doctor's orders, and this whipped creme fraiche is worth a heaping tablespoonful.

So before we get all caught up in celebrating my birthday (you have a few weeks to endure), Valentine's Day is two weeks away and this little angel food cake with a pretty raspberry swirl would be a fun treat on your table.  I know it's Valentine's Day and someone should be treating you, but baking is fun and you can maybe have your kids help and this cake takes about 20 minutes to get into the oven.  Get that Kodiak pancake mix I love (all you do is add water and it's got a very whole grain friendly ingredient list) and shape some heart shaped pancakes for breakfast.  Finish the day with a lovely dessert.  You can do it.

You do need a tube pan with a removable bottom for an angel food cake.  They are sticky by nature and I'm not sure you could get it out of a regular tube pan (usually I have to slide a knife around the pan sides and then again across the pan bottom).  You can serve this with homemade whipped cream (buy heavy cream and beat it on high and then near the end add in a confectioner's sugar just a tablespoon at a time to taste), you can whip creme fraiche (found in tubs in the dairy case at Trader Joe's, whole foods and most groceries) or you can make your own.  It seems disturbing to let it sit on your counter without refrigeration, but it really is fine.  I am a big fan of the shelf stable whipping cream from TJ's.  It's in a cute little box and you can always keep one on hand.  Brilliant.

If making your own creme fraiche*, you need to start it 24 hours before serving.

yum

Raspberry Swirl Angel Food Cake with Creme Fraiche

raspberry puree
1 1/4 C fresh raspberries (6 oz. container)
2 T sugar

cake
1 1/4 C flour
1/2 C confectioner's sugar
12 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 C granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla

topping
1 C creme fraiche (homemade or purchased)
2-3 T sugar
1 1/4 C fresh raspberries

homemade creme fraiche
1 C heavy whipping cream
1 tsp buttermilk


Make the raspberry puree:  puree the raspberries and sugar in a blender or a food processor until smooth.  Strain the puree through a fine sieve or mesh strainer over a bowl, pressing on puree with a rubber spatula.  Discard the seeds and reserve the puree for the cake.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk the flour and confectioner's sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.

Separate 12 eggs one at a time by breaking egg over a measuring cup and adding the whites to the mixing bowl one at a time so you don't accidentally get some yellow in the mixing bowl say along egg number 10 and have to start over again.  Not that that has ever happened to me :).  Beat the egg whites and salt using a stand mixer or hand mixer at medium speed for about a minute until they become frothy.  Add the cream of tartar and beat for another minute or so until soft peaks form.  With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar in a steady stream.  Add the vanilla and continue beating for 1-3 minutes until the egg white mixture is glossy and holds firm peaks.

Sift the flour mixture over the egg whites and gently fold in with a rubber spatula, being careful to keep the air in the egg whites as you incorporate the flour mixture.  Pour in the raspberry puree and fold a couple of times just to swirl.  Spoon the batter into an ungreased 10-inch angel food tube pan with a removable bottom.  Run a thin knife through the batter to remove any large air pockets.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top springs back when gently touched and a tester in the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Cool cake completely upside down on legs attached to the pan, over the neck of a bottle or on a tripod of 3 inverted ramekins (because neither of the other choices worked for me in my kitchen).  Carefully slip a slim knife along the sides of the pan to loosen the edges.  Invert the cooled cake onto a serving platter and remove the pan bottom.

Make the topping:  beat the creme fraiche* and sugar together until soft peaks form, adding a little more sugar to taste as needed.  Beat until firm peaks form.  Serve cake slices with creme fraiche and fresh berries.

*Make your own cream fraiche:  combine one cup of heavy whipping cream and 1 tsp of buttermilk in a small saucepan.   Heat over medium heat until warm (100-110 degrees).  Remove from heat and pour into a glass, ceramic or plastic bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours until slightly thickened.  I know that sounds dangerous, but it's just fine.  It will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks becoming thicker and slightly tangier as time goes by.


ingredients

pureed raspberries and sugar

straining puree


frothy whites with cream of tartar
glossy whites with sugar and vanilla
stiff glossy peaks of egg whites
folding in flour mixture
folding in puree

batter in pan in oven

all golden and baked

all cooled and released

sliced for serving

my plate





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