Thursday, April 28, 2011

Orange Angel Food Cake with Caramel Sauce and Tropical-Fruit Compote

Angel food cake, which got its name because of its airy lightness, was once considered "food for the angels".   If you have only had the boxed or bakery Styrofoam replica, you may be left scratching your head and wondering what makes this cake suitable for angels.   This recipe will provide you with the answer.  Light, moist, and subtly flavored with orange and vanilla, you will feel as though you have ascended into heaven with each bite, and that is before the caramel or the tropical-fruit compote has been added.

In order to make angel food cake, there are several baking fundamentals that are essential to know.  Unlike other cakes, angel food cake is made with the omission of fat, and actually the presence of any fat (i.e., butter, oil, and/or egg yolk) will cause problems; therefore it is important that your bowls and utensils are clean and that you carefully separate the yolks from the whites.

Additionally, angel food cake gets it light and airy texture from beating egg whites.  Use eggs that are at room temperature to aid beating your eggs to a larger volume.  The addition of cream of tartar will also help you achieve the best results.  Cream of tarter, which is a common ingredient used in baking that helps stabilize and give volume to beaten eggs, is found in the spices and seasoning aisle in your local grocery store.  The cost of the bottle is well worth its price since there is no substitute for it and because it does not have a shelf life.

Angel food cake requires beating egg whites into peaks.  There are several reliable indicators that you can look for to tell what stage your egg whites are at while beating.  They begin by turning foamy.  When you continue to beat them, their color begins to turn opaque and their appearance turns thick and shiny.  A streak or ribbon will appear in the eggs whites as the beater(s) or whisk moves, which is the beginning of what is called soft peaks.   To ensure you have formed soft peaks, lift your beater out of the bowl and the peak remaining should droop or bend over.  This is a soft peak and the point where you will stop and add some sugar.  If you continue to beat on a high speed, the volume of your egg whites will increase more and the mixture will become even thicker, eventually to the point when the beater is lifted, the peak will stand straight up--this is a stiff peak.  At any point if you are unsure of what stage your egg whites are at, simply stop mixing and check by lifting your beater.  For this recipe, you want to be careful not to overbeat and get to the stiff peak stage.

There are two final things to keep in mind.  First, after you are done beating, your egg whites have been inflated with air.  The goal is to keep them that way--which means don't rush adding in the remaining ingredients.  Instead, take your time and gently fold in small quantities of sifted flour, one-forth of the flour mixture at a time.  In doing so the flour will stay suspended in the egg whites instead of deflating them. Second, when you remove the cake from the oven, cool it in the pan upside down.  It will collapse onto itself if not inverted and all of your previous effort will be for not.

I think that's it.  You're all set and armed with enough knowledge to produce food for the angels. 

By the way, this angel food cake is also delicious topped with strawberries and whipping cream instead of the caramel sauce and fruit compote.  One of my kids preferred this angle food cake as is, with no toppings or sauce, and asked for a piece in his lunch every day for a week.  I was hard pressed to watch yet another piece of cake slip away from me.   Oh the sacrifices of being a least Mother's Day is around the corner.  I can't think of a better occasion for making this cake again.

Orange Angel Food Cake with Caramel Sauce and Tropical-Fruit Compote
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1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of salt

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups egg whites (about 9 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup superfine sugar
1 tablespoon orange peel, finely grated
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 oranges
3 ripe passion fruits
1 kiwi, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup mango, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup pineapple, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1-2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
Pinch of salt

1.  To prepare the sauce:  Combine sugar and 1/3 cup water in heavy medium saucepan.  Stir oven medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.  Increase heat to medium-high; boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, about 5-6 minutes and until thermometer reaches 350 degrees F.  Remove from heat.

2.  Carefully add cream in small quantities (mixture with bubble vigorously--do not add too much at one time or mixture will bubble out of pan), stirring constantly until all cream is added and incorporated.  Add butter, cardamom, and pinch of salt.  Stir until butter melts.  Transfer to serving containter and cool completely.  Store covered in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

3.  To make the cake:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and adjust oven rack to middle position.  Sift powdered sugar, flour, and salt 3 times onto wax paper.  Place in medium bowl and set aside.

4.  Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until foamy.  Add ream of tartar; beat until whites are opaque and soft peaks form.  Gradually add superfine sugar, beating until whites are thick and shiny and fluffy peaks form (peaks should droop over gently; do not overbeat).  Add orange peel and vanilla; beat just until blended. 

5.  Sift 1/4 of flour mixture over whites.  Using large rubber spatula, gently fold flour mixture into whites.  Repeat with remaining flour mixture in 3 more additions.  Transfer batter to ungreased 10-inch-diameter angel food cake pan with removable bottom and 4-inch high sides;  smooth top.

6.  Bake cake until golden and springy to touch, about 50-60 minutes.  Immediately invert pa onto work surface if pan has feet, or invert center tube of pan onto neck of bottle or funnel.  Cool completely.

7.  Gently tap bottom edge of pan on work surface while rotating pan until cake loosens.  Alternately, slide sharp knife around perimeter of pan.  Transfer to platter.  Cover with cake dome and let stand for up to 8 hours at room temperature.

8.  To make the fruit compote:  Cut all peel and white pith from oranges.  Using small sharp knife and working over bowl to catch juices, cut between membranes to release orange segments into bowl. Squeeze remaining juice from membranes into bowl.  If orange segments are large, cut each in half or thirds.

9.  Cut passion fruits in half and scoop out pulp.  Add to bowl with orange segments. Add remaining fruit, sugar, mint, and pinch of salt.  Toss gently to combine.  Cover and chill for up to 2 hours before serving.

10.  To serve:  Slice cake with a serrated knife (a straight-edged knife with compress this cake instead of slicing it); transfer to plates. Spoon compote alongside and top cake with caramel.

Recipe from

This recipe is linked to Foodie Friday, Friday Favorites, and  Fat Camp Friday,


Jane said...

THis looks wonderful!!! and it's something I can eat...

Mamahollioni said...

Jane--I'm not sure of your dietary restrictions, but I'm glad you can have this. It IS wonderful!!

Lilianna Grace said...