Do you ever get nostalgic over a particular food, or flavour? By this I mean, you remember when you first sampled a new flavour, dish, or bake and any subsequent enjoyment takes you back to the exact time and place you first enjoyed it. [Read more…]
Baking Hot Cross Buns every Easter Week has become a bit of a tradition in our house. For the past 6 years I have baked these buns with reasonable success. Initially, I used my trusted bread machine to provide the family with yeasted goods, to great effect, I might add.
However, with my increased baking confidence, for the past two years I have baked without the aid of a machine and used Paul Hollywood’s Hot Cross Bun recipe. It is very straightforward and this year I have decided to adapt it to incorporate one of our family’s favourite spices – Cardamom.
So I invested in a Angel Food Cake pan.
I am so pleased I did. I think this is going to be my new favourite cake. So what is so special about Angel Cake (or Angel Food Cake, if you are Stateside)? It is a light airy, sponge cake requiring egg whites to be whipped to a meringue-like stiffness. The relative small quantity of flour and lack of fat gives the Angel Cake a very light texture, taste and tight crumb.
The Angel Cake is baked in a tall, tube pan with a hole in the middle, similar to a bundt tin. The tin I purchased has three, short legs. Once baked, the pan is inverted onto the legs to allow it to cool.
This is my third attempt at Angel Cake. The first, mentioned in a previous post, was an attempt to use up a large quantity of surplus egg whites when I needed yolks for ice cream. Sadly it failed on the following counts; I added pureed fruit in attempt to create a beautiful ‘swirl’ when cutting my cake; I failed to add baking powder (to compensate for my fruit addition); I did not invert the pan when I took the cake from the oven, only to see it visibly sink before my eyes and finally, although it is possible to use a bundt tin, as no greasing of the pan is required, the sunken mess sadly stuck to the sides of the pan.
Not to be defeated, I wanted to give the Angel Cake another go so I went ahead and bought the pan to see if I could get it right.
I used Martha Stewart’s Classic Angel Food Cake recipe and I was not disappointed. I followed the instructions to the dot and I was rewarded with a beautiful, golden, vanilla Angel Cake. This one I served up with blackberry cream and glaze. Totally, light, flavoursome and actually, stunning.
For this post I have opted for a chocolate and cardamom version. Cardamom, after lavender, is one of my all time favourite spices. It has a wonderful aroma and a warm, spicy flavour. It has a natural affinity to chocolate, hence my pairing here. To be honest, I have only really used cardamom pods with caramelised oranges so am keen to experiment further.
I have been infusing some cardamom pods in sugar for a couple of months now so I have used some of this fragrant sugar in this cake. Ground cardamom is hard to find in the shops so I used pods, shelling them and grinding the seeds with a pestle and mortar. This way they are incredibly fresh and fragrant. I have drizzled the cake with a chocolate ganache.
This cake is fairly straightforward to make. My key tips for a successful bake would be to use an angel cake pan if at all possible, invert it as soon as it comes out of the oven and allow to cool thoroughly before removing from the tin. Finally, to use a serrated knife for cutting so as not to deflate the cake too much when slicing.
I think that this cake has the potential to be a show stopper. Its large volume and light texture are very impressive. The potential for variation is huge and I think a vanilla version served with fruit and cream would make a lovely celebration cake. I plan to experiment further with this type of cake. I know I won’t be disappointed. It is delicious…
- 150g plain flour
- 160g cardamom infused sugar
- 160g caster sugar (if not using infused sugar, use 320g of caster sugar)
- 30g cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom (or, approximately 10 pods, shelled, flax removed and ground)
- 12 egg whites, room temperature
- 1 tbsp. warm water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 300ml double cream
- 200g good quality dark chocolate
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or Gas Mark 4.
- Sift together the flour, the infused sugar (or 160g of caster sugar), cocoa powder, baking powder and ground cardamom. Sift a further three times until all ingredients are 'light' and well combined.
- In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, whisk the egg whites with the warm water until foamy. Add the salt and cream of tartar and mix further until soft peaks form. Add the further 160g of caster sugar, a little at a time whilst the mixer is on high speed. Continue to whisk until meringue-like peaks form.
- Transfer the egg white mixture to a large bowl. Sift the flour mixture over the meringue mixture in small quantities (so as not to deflate the mixture) and fold in after each addition.
- Once combined, transfer the mixture to an UNGREASED 10 inch tube pan. Bake the cake on the middle shelf of the oven for approximately 30-35 minutes, depending on your oven.
- Remove the cake from the oven and immediately invert the pan, onto its legs, or a wire rack. Allow the cake and pan to cool. Turn the cake pan back on itself and with a sharp knife, run it around the edge of the pan and carefully around the narrow 'hole' part of the pan. Release the cake from the pan and again with a sharp knife, release the bottom of the pan. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.
- The cake can be stored in a airtight container.
- Pour the cream into a small saucepan over a moderate heat. Just before the cream comes to the boil, remove from the heat and add the chocolate, chunk by chunk, stirring with a whisk. Continue to whisk until you have a thick, rich, chocolate sauce. Allow to cool slightly before pouring/drizzling onto the cooled cake.
Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart’s ‘Baking Handbook’