Angel Food Cake

You can find mixes for this in the store, but they cannot compare to scratch, and hot, dry weather is the perfect time to make it.

Preheat oven to 350. Separate a dozen eggs while cold, using caution to ensure no yolks make it into the whites. Bring whites to room temperature and stir in a tablespoon of water. Sift a cup of cake flour with a half cup sugar until it’s very light. (Yes, you can use plain flour.) You want to sift several times; some recipes say as many as five.

Beat the egg whites in a large, very clean, dry bowl. Start on a low speed. When the eggs are foamy, sprinkle in a teaspoon of cream of tartar. This acid helps stabilize the egg whites when they are whipped. Since most of the volume and structure of the cake comes from these egg whites, you’re not going to want to take the risk of substituting this ingredient. As the texture of the bubbles begins to even out, add a teaspoon or two of pure vanilla extract, and incorporate another cup of sugar bit by bit, about a tablespoon at a time.

Keep beating at a medium speed until the sugar is dissolved and the whites form stiff peaks. Then carefully FOLD in the flour while sifting it over the egg whites. Use a spatula, and turn the bowl; the key is not to deflate the bubbles. Make sure the flour is evenly combined throughout the whites, but don’t over-mix.

Gently pour the batter into a 10-in. ungreased tube pan; the cake has to cling to the sides as it rises, forming a bit of a crust. Bake for at least 30 minutes, until the top is crusty and springy.

Remove from oven and cool over a rack. You’ll find specially-made tube pans with legs for this cake. When cool remove by running a thin knife around the sides of the pan. You can buy a comb to slice this cake, otherwise use a serrated knife dipped in warm water.

Daffodil Cake

Of course daffodil cake doesn’t have daffodils in it any more than a hummingbird cake has hummingbirds or Girl Scout cookies have Girl Scouts. It just so happens that daffodils–unlike hummingbirds or Girl Scouts–are poisonous.

Daffodil cake is a combination sponge and angel food recipe, both made with a meringue, but the yellow parts of a daffodil cake contain egg yolks—as does a sponge cake—and the white parts do not—as does an angel food. Chiffon cakes, which appeared on tables at about the same time, are a meringue cake with oil.

You will not find an honest mix for any meringue cake in the grocery store; you’re going to have to make it from scratch, and it’s best to make on a clear, cool day because we all know that you can’t make a good meringue when it’s raining, don’t we?

12 large egg whites
1 cup sifted cake flour or sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar (total)
2 teaspoons vanilla
11/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon lemon or orange extract
Finely grated lemon peel

Preheat oven to 350. Bring egg whites to room temperature for 30 minutes. Sift together flour and 3/4 cup sugar 3 times and set aside. Add vanilla, cream of tartar and salt to egg whites.

Beat with electric mixer on medium to high speed, gradually adding 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, until stiff peaks form. Sift one-fourth of the flour mixture over egg white mixture and fold in gently. Repeat with remaining flour mixture, using one-fourth of flour mixture with each fold.

Transfer half of batter to another bowl. Beat egg yolks on high speed until thick and lemon-colored. Add lemon extract, mix and gently fold yolk mixture into half of egg whites.

Alternately spoon yellow batter and white batter into a very lightly oiled 10-inch tube pan. You can work the batter with the handle of a wooden spoon to refine the marbling, but don’t let it touch the sides.

Bake on a lower rack for 40 to 45 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Immediately invert onto a plate and refrigerate. Top with lemon zest and powdered sugar before serving.