My favorite kind of cake was angel food cake. I always wanted that for my birthday cake. My Mom did not have an electric mixer…in fact, I don’t know when electric mixers came into use, but I don’t think it was when I was small. Mom did have strong wrists and arms developed from milking cows two times a day. She used a wire whisk to mix the egg whites for an angel food cake. We had plenty of eggs as we had chickens who never seemed to take a vacation. Often an angel food cake was one way to use up surplus egg whites. I don’t know what Mom did with the egg yolks, but you can bet she didn’t waste them. For those of you who have never made an angel food cake, the egg whites have to be whipped until they form peaks. After they are foamy, you start adding sugar to them a tablespoon at a time and then keep whisking until they stand in stiff peaks. That takes a lot of whisking. You can’t really rest during this time as the air has to be incorporated into the mixture constantly. I the peaks aren’t stiff enough, the whole cake will fall when it is baked.
After the egg whites have reached the desired stage, then the flour and sugar mixture are folded into the egg white mixture. It simply takes a lot of work to make an angel food cake without an electric mixer. The batter is then poured into an ungreased tube pan and the big bubbles are either forced to the top by hitting the cake on the counter or cutting through the mixture with a knife. After the cake is baked, it has to be cooled upside down over a bottle or something. If it isn’t baked long enough, it will fall out of the pan. I know that from experience. Mom usually put a plate under the bottle but I don’t think she ever had a failure.
One year for my birthday, she made me what she called a “Sunshine Angel Food Cake”. It was an angel food cake with a vanilla, whipped cream filling. It was delicious. She only made it once so it must have been even more difficult to do.
I had a Great-Aunt who used to make me a chocolate angel food cake for my birthday. That combined two of my most favorite things. I don’t know how she made it chocolate and she didn’t share recipes. It was a once a year treat for me.
Mom was an excellent cook and she did experiment with recipes sometimes, but mostly it was comfort food. That was what Dad liked and that was what she cooked. She used a lot of fresh ingredients and also had a big garden and of course, milk and cream and eggs and butter from our cows.
But this post is called Angel Food Cake and my Angel Mom made delicious ones…and she did it the hard way.