I chose this week’s sweet for two reasons. First, I had a lot of eggs I needed to use (more on that later). Second, I had been dreaming of angel food cake and wanted to try de-glutening it. Good enough reasons to mess with a classic in my book! The results were good, the flavor very reminiscent of a traditional angel food cake. The texture was a bit off, a little too moist and heavy, easily cut with a standard cake knife, not a bread knife. I’m still pleased with the result.
Growing up, this is the cake that was made for my birthday, which I share with my sister who is 13 years older than me to the day. I don’t recall either of us often having our own birthday cake, although I would guess my sister had her own cake until I came along just in time to accelerate her teenage angst. I do remember having a Barbie cake one year (not as beautiful as this one from Gourmet Baking), but usually it was this delightful Angel Food cake with the strawberry surprise in the middle!
I used one 7″ angel food cake pan plus a 6-cavity silicone mini bundt pan, however this recipe nicely fills a standard 10″ angel food pan.
Strawberry Surprise Angel Food Cake
1 1/2 cups egg whites (10 to 12 eggs), room temperature
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup rice flour blend (click here for my recipe)
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
One box Strawberry Jell-O or vegan substitute (I used this to avoid gelatin)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup fresh chopped strawberries (in season right now from Providence Farms!)
1 pint Shatto whipping cream
1/2 of reserved Jell-O or substitute
Sift powdered sugar, xanthan gum and flour together 3 times. Set aside.
Place egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla bean paste, almond extract and salt in mixing bowl. Beat on high speed (use the wire whip beater if you have a Kitchenaid). Gradually add the sugar until the sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form.
Fold in the flour and powdered sugar mixture, using a rubber spatula. This is not a stirring motion, but a true slow, folding motion.
Spoon into an ungreased angel food pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Cake will spring back slightly when touched. Invert pan immediately when removing from oven. My mom always placed the pan upside down on the neck of a Coca-Cola bottle. With the mini angel food cake pan, the little legs on the side of the pan held it up off of the counter perfectly, which is good since it would not fit on a bottle neck.
To remove cake from pan, use a knife around the sides of the pan and the center tube. Invert onto a plate, then flip back over so the baked top is still facing up. Using a bread knife, gently slice off the top of the cake, approximately 2 inches down. You will remove the top layer all in one piece, it will be replaced later.
Now, use the knife to cut down into the cake about an inch in two concentric circles. This will allow you to pull out pieces, creating sort of a tunnel. Save the pieces, you’ll use them in the filling.
Now it’s time to make the filling. Mix the boiling water with the Jell-O or vegan dessert powder. Dissolve it completely in the water and the split evenly into two bowls, one large and one just big enough to hold the liquid.
Add strawberries to the half of the liquid in the larger bowl and refrigerate until set. Once set, gently spoon in the pieces of cake you removed to create the tunnel. Spoon this filling into the tunnel of the cake and replace the top layer of cake.
For the frosting, whip 1 pint of whipping cream with an electric hand mixer. Once whipped to a nice, fluffy texture, add the reserved Jell-O/vegan dessert mix and whip a bit more. This will change the texture a bit and add a slight pink tinge plus a bit of strawberry flavor. I am not proficient at icing cakes and used a butter knife to the best of my ability to make this look good.
Click here to see what the inside should look like. I don’t have a photo of the inside of my cake, as I delivered it whole. I wanted to take a photo of the inside of my cake, but it seemed a bit rude to deliver a cake with a big slice missing. Yeah, sure, I removed the slice for a PHOTO! And once that slice was removed, there would have been no putting it back, I absolutely would have eaten it!
Since the cake was for this week’s Sweet Friend, I kept the mini bundt cakes for dessert around here. Instead of trying to hollow them out, I spooned the filling on top. They were very tasty! This was the first time I have baked something in silicone and had a good result. I own several silicone cupcake pans and toy with dropping them at the thrift store every time I notice them taking up space in the cabinet. I don’t like them and don’t get them but the mini bundt cakes worked really well and the silicone made them super easy to remove from the pan.
This week’s Sweet Friend is Lee. I haven’t known Lee for long. She is half of the farming duo where we have a CSA share, Karbaumer Farm. It’s quite the place they have and feels very welcoming, the way farms should feel. Plus we get food there that is grown in a very pure manner and tastes amazing. I’ve tried greens this year that I never would have purchased at the store, both because they were foreign to me and because most grocery stores do not offer them. I’ve pickled beets, made pesto and eaten butter and radish sandwiches until there was not a single slice of bread left in the house. My culinary skill set is expanding thanks to the produce Lee and her husband loving plant and care for. I can’t help but think I’m healthier for it, too.
I mentioned earlier that I had a surplus of eggs this week. Lee knows a lot of chicken raising and listened to my chicken woes. Before my gluten-intolerance diagnosis, I was headed down the road to veganism. But I love to bake and gluten-free baking works best with eggs in my opinion. Oh, I know it’s possible but I don’t think it tastes good with egg replacements and am not fond of the texture. I think my baking needs eggs and I want to feel good about where the eggs come from.
I have used eggs from the Karbaumers for the past few months and really enjoyed them–I even tried a duck egg. The eggs have a much better flavor and a heartier texture than any I’ve tried from the store and I feel good about the way their chickens are raised–they greet me in the driveway every week when I go to pick up my produce share and have the run of the place! One week our produce update include news about one of the roosters who had a leg injury and news on the care he was receiving. Ever tried to nurse an injured rooster? Wow.
Still on my quest to get eggs even closer to home (their farm is a 30 minute drive away), Lee helped me obtain a very local source for eggs. Now my eggs come to me still warm from the hens and live close enough to my backdoor that I can hear them cackling. Occasionally, I get to drop by their fancy digs and watch them prance around, scrounging in the grass for dinner and proudly announce the delivery of an egg at the door of their coop. They are really something and I’m grateful to Lee for helping me feel good about my choices. And if the eggs keep finding their way to my doorstep, there will be many more cakes sent her way!