Thursday, July 28, 2016

Angel Cake ...from Scratch

'Angel Food Cake' or Angel Cake is tender, light, airy and virtually fat free! Homemade Angel Cake is worth the work but a tube pan with removable bottom is highly recommended. To create the light, airy texture, two baking techniques are used; sifting the dry ingredients numerous times to incorporate extra air and whipping the whites to a meringue. This delicate cake pairs well with berries and is a favorite of mine for summer entertaining.
Because this cake is made with only the egg white, there are a few ways around the dilemma of 'what to do with all those egg yolks'. You can purchase 'egg whites only' in the dairy section of grocery stores and measure 1-3/4 cups instead of 12 egg whites. I have used up to 2 cups egg white, adjusting nothing else in the recipe and the cake works out fine. I freeze egg whites for use later when making recipes that require only the egg yolk. Freeze 6 egg whites in each container, so it is measured and ready to bake with. Be very careful when separating eggs that absolutely NO egg yolk or fat of any kind gets into the egg whites or they will not whip properly. To use the frozen egg whites; defrost in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature when ready to start baking and follow the recipe below.

TRADITIONAL ANGEL FOOD CAKE            Yield: 8-10 servings
You can purchase 'egg whites only' in the dairy section of grocery stores, use 1-3/4 to 2 cups for the recipe below. Do not skip any of the sifting; it incorporates extra air needed for a perfect, light Angel Cake.

12 fresh egg whites, at room temperature 
Loosen the cake ONLY when completely cool

¾ tsp. sea salt 
1½ tsp. cream of tartar 
1½ cups granulated sugar 
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 
1 cup cake flour 

Preheat oven to 375˚F. With the egg whites at room temperature add salt and beat to frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat until bubbles are small and white but shiny. Sift and measure the sugar. Fold ¾ cup sugar into beaten egg whites 1 tablespoon at a time to dissolve the sugar thoroughly. Sift flour and ¾ cup sugar four times. Fold gently into meringue ½ cup at a time. Gently fold in the vanilla and fill a 10-inch UNGREASED tube cake pan. Bake 30-35 minutes at 375˚F. Invert the pan to cool… DO NOT loosen the cake from the pan until the cake has completely cooled. 

Use a serrated knife and gentle sawing motion
Easy but certainly not fat free, is to decorate the cake with sweetened whipped cream, fresh fruit and berries. To fill; cut the cake in half, using a sharp, serrated (or bread) knife and a gentle sawing motion.  Once the cake is filled, fill the center hole with whipping cream and/or fruit and 'ice' the top and sides with the whipped cream.
To retain the Angel Cake fat free qualities, ice it with 'Seven Minute Frosting'. This easy frosting is cooked over simmering water, while beating for 7 minutes. The result is a fluffy, light icing that is sticky on the outside with a soft, marshmallow-like inside.  

SEVEN-MINUTE FROSTING        Yield: 3½ cups
This fluffy, no-fail icing must be used immediately.

2 egg whites 
1½ cups granulated sugar 
5 Tbsp. cold water 
1½ tsp. light corn syrup 
¼ tsp. cream of tartar 
½ tsp. pure vanilla or lemon extract 
3-4 drops of food coloring (optional) 

In the top of a double boiler, stir egg whites with sugar, water, corn syrup and cream of tartar until sugar dissolves. Place pan over simmering water and beat constantly with an electric mixer until mixture is stiff enough to stand in peaks when beaters are lifted, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Beat in vanilla, then food coloring drop by drop until frosting is desired color. Continue beating until icing is stiff enough to spread. Immediately spread icing over cake.
Filled, iced and decorated with fresh fruit and whipped cream
Till next time... have a safe, long weekend and Bon Appétit!

Photos by Sally Rae
Recipes from 'For the Love of Food' by Sally Rae 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Garlic Update 2016

Garlic drying - Day14
Garlic drying - Day 1
It has been several weeks since the garlic was pulled. As forecast, the rain and overcast sky appeared on what was planned as my harvest day. I was happy to get the job done a few days early during a sunny moment!

The drying racks are old window screens. They are elevated off the ground, with a fan at one end for increased air circulation. Full details of curing, cleaning and storing your garlic harvest was covered in last years garlic post.

Through our dreary, rainy, July days, these adorable knee high, 'Music Box Sunflowers' from Salt Spring Seeds were they only ray of sunshine in the yard
'Music Box Sunflowers' from Salt Spring Seeds

Till next time... Happy Gardening and Bon Appétit!

Photos by Sally Rae 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Impatiently Waiting for Summer

Since our early, high temperatures several months ago, the 'wet coast' is waiting for summer to kick in ... again! I have heard numerous people complain of garden plants put in early, now going to seed. I can only assume they are confused by our hot then cool weather. Although my pickling cucumber plants have produced a few handfuls of baby dills, the plants are only about a foot long. Several days ago I covered them with hoops and plastic and hope they perk up. Crazy... for July!!

It has been difficult to dry the garlic bed. I removed the mulch and stopped watering several weeks ago. We have had sprinkles of rain the past few days and my next available day to harvest is calling for 80% rain. In a panic, I pulled the garlic this afternoon when the sun came out. The roots held onto more soil than I wanted, it was still a bit too damp. Now that it is pulled, I just have to deal with it. 
Transporting the 2016 garlic harvest to the shed

We were at a friends place on the long weekend and toured their garlic harvest. The garlic was tied in bunches, with the roots removed, and hanging in a breezy open shed. I have always left the roots on for drying, but this year because they held so much soil, I decided to try cutting the roots from some of each variety. My 2015 garlic harvest featured photos and information for a few different options of drying. This year, most of the garden is a week or two ahead of last year. The garlic was pulled on July 9th in 2015 and on the 5th this year. I would have preferred to wait another 3-4 days, but again, with the threat of rain, decided early is probably better.

Time will tell if I made the right decision to harvest a bit early ...and to cut off the roots. At least with the rain and cool temperatures I can get a few batches of soup made for the freezer and not feel guilty about being inside. 

Till next time... Happy Gardening and Bon Appétit! 

Photo by Sally Rae