This fluffy angel food cake from The Seasonal Baker (Clarkson Potter, 2012) by John Barricelli is a special treat for any occasion. A tart citrus glaze brings out its delicate flavor and the orange, green, and yellow ribbons of zest make a beautiful, confetti-like topping. A lemon zester, a small tool with sharp round holes in the head that strips off long, thin ribbons of zest, is useful for making the glaze. Be sure to zest the citrus before cutting and juicing it.
Citrus Angel Food Cake
Recipe from The Seasonal Baker by John Barricelli
Makes one 10-inch tube cake
12 large egg whites (1½ to 1¾ cups), at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon orange extract
1 cup cake flour, sifted
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup lemon juice, or as needed (from 2 lemons)
Zest of 1 orange, in long strands
Zest of 1 lemon, in long strands
Zest of 1 lime, in long strands
1. Set the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. To make the cake: Bring about 1 inch of water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler. Combine the eggs whites, ¾ cup of the sugar, the lemon juice, cream of tartar, salt, and orange extract in the bowl of a standing mixer. Whisk over the simmering water until the whites are hot to the touch and the sugar dissolves, 3 to 5 minutes. Return the bowl to the mixer stand and beat with the whisk attachment until the meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form. Be careful not to overbeat the whites; they should be stiff, but not dry. With a large rubber spatula, fold in the flour and the remaining ¾ cup sugar.
3. Scrape the batter into an unbuttered 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom, preferably nonstick. Tap the filled pan a couple of times on the countertop to remove air bubbles. Bake on a baking sheet until the cake springs back when touched and is lightly browned, 35 to 40 minutes. Do not rotate while baking.
4. Invert the pan on its legs and let cool for 1 hour. Set the pan back on the bottom and use your fingers to gently pull the cake away from the sides of the pan to release it. Invert the pan on a wire rack and remove the rim. Gently pull the cake away from the bottom and from around the center tube, and carefully remove the tube. Let the cake cool entirely on the rack.
5. To make the glaze: Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the lemon juice until smooth. Whisk in the orange, lemon, and lime zests. (The icing should be fairly thin. If it’s too thick, add a little more lemon juice.)
6 Place a baking sheet under the cooling rack. Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake, allowing the excess to drip onto the baking sheet. Let the glaze dry completely, about 30 minutes. Cut the cake into wedges with a serrated knife or angel food cake cutter, and serve.
Tips for Making Angel Food Cakes:
**Preparing the pan: Never butter the pan; the pan must be dry so that the batter will cling and rise. It’s best to use a nonstick pan.
**Beating the whites: When you heat the egg whites, be sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the simmering water; if it does, the whites will cook and the texture will be grainy when you beat it. You’ll need at least a 4-quart bowl on your standing mixer to handle the volume of whites. Beat the whites until stiff but not dry; overbeaten whites will not produce the fluffy cake that you want. A little lemon juice helps to lighten the egg whites, and it keeps them nice and white when baked.
**Unmolding the cake: So as not to tear the delicate cake, use your fingers rather than a knife to loosen the cooled cake from the pan.