Like calculus, there are some things that defy staying cemented in my brain. Like the difference between chiffon and angel cake. I thought they were both of the sponge-ish variety and kind of the same – only different. If you want to read up on chiffon, Google a guy named Harry Baker. Seriously, that’s his name. He was the dude who developed the chiffon way back in the dark ages and guarded his top-dog secret ingredient until he met that siren called Betty Crocker. By the 1940s, chiffon was a cake that everyone was writing about.
The big obvious difference is that angel cake has no fat in it, just a boat-load of sugar. The chiffon has oil and yolks. Think hybrid – a sponge-ish cake that looks a lot like an angel cake, but has the flavor of a yellow cake.
Chiffon and angel were the dressy cakes in our house. Mom made those for parties, gifts, and Hadassah meetings or holidays. My mother taught me all kinds of baking, but never how to do the chiffon or an angel cake. Somehow I got the idea that they were complicated enough that I didn’t dare to try to make them.
So imagine my surprise when I recently watched Ina Garten throw together a black and white angel cake in no time flat. It reminded me of my mother’s marble chiffon cake. I could do that gluten free. So I did. With spunk and hilarity.
I began early in the day separating what seemed like 18 dozen eggs. The recipe required 1.5 cups of egg white and we all know by now that Ina uses extra-large eggs for some perverse reason while the remainder of the baking world uses large eggs. I figured I needed more large eggs without considering the size of my kitchen-aid mixer.
Next I let them warm to room temperature while I carefully sifted the flour mixture 40 times. If Ina said it needed four complete sifts, then I figured with gluten free flours I would need a lot more than that because GF flour is different. What did I know?
I used oat flour, superfine brown rice flour and a touch of potato starch.
I already had superfine sugar on hand and sifted that several times as instructed. Of course it flew through the sifter with no effort because it was already superfine. I began to wonder why Ina wanted me to sift superfine sugar so many times. Which of course created a small crack in the universe of Ian-knows-best.
And the crack was firmly shattered when I whipped a cup and a half of egg whites in the kitchen aid mixture only to see the volume plume to the top in record time. Apparently warm egg whites do whip better. I had to release the latch and pop the mixer head up and down in order to reach the whites that were about to flow over the top of the bowl. But hey, it worked and only got a little messy, though I’m still digging egg white out of the mixer cracks.
In the largest bowl I own, after I carefully folded everything including the grated chocolate into the whites, I still had a huge amount of batter. I placed it all very carefully into the tube pan and smoothed the top. Or so I thought.
Here’s the lesson for today’s cake wreck. Place the batter in the pan in stages and take the time to use the spatula to make sure you haven’t created any air pockets, or tunnels. Because no one wants to remove the cake from the pan after it cools for an hour hanging upside down only to find out they missed a few spots and the cake has tunnels through it like a mountain roadway.
Cake wreck extraordinaire.
This one gets a full two thumbs up because it was the very best tasting GF angel cake we’d eaten. Ever. But it was kitchen worthy only. Which is exactly where we gathered the forks and attacked it down to the last crumb.