Wednesday, April 13, 2011

High-altitude angel cake (p. 748), Fresh strawberry sauce (Strawberry coulis) (p. 853), and Custard sauce (Creme anglaise) (p. 846)

As much as I complain about living in the hell that is high-altitude, I have this terrible suspicion that I'm going to end up moving without completing all of the high-altitude recipes, which would be terrible. Frankly, I'm not sure what you would do in regards to the high-altitude recipes if you were trying to cook-through TJOC and lived around sea level. Would you go to a friend's house in the mountains and make 14 cakes? Would you adjust them so they weren't high altitude (which seems bizarre)?

With this in mind (and the fact I've only made 5/14 of the high-altitude section so far) I decided to make High-altitude angel cake (p. 748). I'd never tried my hand at angel cake and it has a reputation for being challenging, so I was nervous.

I measured out 1.5 cups of egg whites. It took about a dozen eggs:

That's a lot of egg white! I added the egg whites, a bit of salt, and some cream of tarter together and beat it until slightly droopy peaks formed. It went from this:

To this:

That's one of my favorite parts of baking. I love seeing huge changes like egg whites changing color. I added in sugar and then folded in vanilla extract, almond extract, and water:

In another bowl I sifted together sifted cake flour and sifted confectioners sugar (that is two sifts, each) and returned it to the sifter:

I sifted the dry ingredients one quarter at a time in to the egg white mixture and folded:

It took quite a bit of folding. Eventually, I (messily) poured the batter in to my cake pan and ran a knife around the middle to burst any bubbles:

Popped it in the oven:

When the cake was finished, I inverted it on top of a funnel until it was completely cooled:

Delicious! The almond extract really helped the flavor of the angel cake "pop". The cake was moist and light, not as tall as I would have liked (although taller than I would expect in Colorado). It was also pretty easy.

I thought that angel food cake is really a great canvas for sweet sauces, so I decided I would make two. The first sauce was Fresh strawberry sauce (Strawberry coulis) (p. 853). Super, super easy.

I took a pint of strawberries, some sugar, and a little lemon juice and popped them in the blender:

And got this:

Finished! I didn't even have to strain it. It was really good, reminiscent of a strawberry Julius at Orange Julius. And certainly easy (much easier than the raspberry coulis, which took forever to strain).

I thought that Custard sauce (Creme anglaise) (p. 846) would be a good use of some of the leftover egg yolks.

I lightly beat egg yolks:

I whisked in sugar and salt. I heated two cups of milk until bubbles started to form around the edges and then slowly whisked the hot milk in to my eggs (always mix hot in to cold, not cold in to hot--you will get scrambled eggs):

And the whole mixture went back on the stovetop. I needed it to heat to 175 degrees. Just like heating anything in Colorado, this step took FOREVER. Honestly, it should have taken about five minutes but instead took around an hour.

(Ignore the messy stovetop! It was a big day of cooking) I was so thankful when it was finally done (well, done after stirring in a little vanilla).

This custard sauce was so delicious that I could (and did) just eat it with a spoon. It was creamy and rich and absolute perfection. I can't wait to make it again at sea level when it should only take a few minutes. Plus it's a great use of egg yolks.

My angel food cake with both sauces:

Delicious! The two sauces together were particularly good.

Do any of you make awesome angel food cakes?

Random facts:
  • If you go to too high of a temperature with creme anglaise, just 5-10 degrees over, the custard will collapse and you will get grainy curds (On Food and Cooking, p. 93), giving you low quality scrambled eggs (Wikipedia). So make sure you are using a candy thermometer.
  • Creme anglaise is French for "English cream" (Wikipedia). For some reason, I think it's hilarious that English uses the French version of an English phrase.

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