For a while now, I’ve wondered what the secret was to the nice spongey consistency of Angel Food Cake. As with most baking things I haven’t researched, I assumed it was some arcane technique (like making dough for croissants or puff pastry). When I actually researched it and read a couple angel food cake recipes, I was very pleased to discover that the process of making it is actually very similar to making meringue, which I recently learned how to do.
Then, I made the mistake of telling my husband that I found a chocolate angel food cake recipe, and he said to me, “You’re going to make that tonight right.” The problem was, we didn’t own a tube pan, and it was 9 o’clock in the evening. I don’t even own a traditional bundt pan. I don’t bake a lot of cakes; I bake more breads. So, I’ve never invested in a lot of the cake baking stuff.
According to Aingeal, this would not do. And so, at 9:15 pm, Aingeal went out and returned 15 minutes later with an angel food cake pan, while I was setting up my mise en place*. Sadly, I realized after Aingeal was back that I’d ignored the “cake flour” line on the recipe, but I decided that, since this was just my first attempt and we’d be the only ones eating it, that I’d substitute a smaller amount of all-purpose flour for the cake flour and pray that the protein content wasn’t too strong to make a passable angel food.
I’m happy to report that the cake came out lovely. It’s definitely a first attempt, and it isn’t winning a blue ribbon at the state fair. But it did win me a very happy husband, and I combined it with chocolate ice cream, banana, strawberries, and chocolate syrup for a very tasty sundae!
Overall, I found angel food cake easy to make, even with the substitution. The hardest part was folding the dry ingredients into the egg whites without deflating the egg whites too badly. I was trying to be extra gentle since I knew I was using AP flour, and I didn’t want to put my already handicapped cake further behind. The result was the cocoa being mixed in unevenly, but it was still chocolate-y throughout. There were just spots that had more cocoa than others. I also had a slight pouring mishap with the batter, the resulted in a nice burning smell well before the cake was done. But it was nothing that I couldn’t deal with as a seasoned, clumsy home baker. I will definitely get cake flour before the next time I make angel food cake, but this cake definitely did not suffer for having been made with AP flour.
*For you home cooks and bakers who haven’t adopted the habit of mise en place (in addition to reading your recipe carefully all the way through), I highly recommend you do. I’ve only been doing it consistently for about a year, but it’s saved me many headaches. I can’t tell you how many times I’d start cooking and discover that the pantry item that I thought we had wasn’t actually enough for the recipe, and this after I’d mixed half of the items together.