Wednesday, May 5, 2010

recipe box Wednesday

Nestled in my floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, that is filled ENTIRELY with cookbooks, I have one that I turn to for any special occasion cake:

No matter what you think of Martha, she knows how to provide the very best recipes, in nearly every category.  And if you are prepared to spend some time, you will create something amazing.

This book covers pretty much anything that is baked, not just cakes.  From brioche and pate a choux, to pizza crust and pies, English muffins or strudel, if you do any baking at all, you should absolutely own this book.  Every single thing I have made from it is truly incredible, and the memory of the taste lingers long after the special occasion is over.

This year, Mike requested Angel Food cake for his birthday.  I grew up in a house that made angel food cake from a mix (and if we were lucky, the confetti version!).  I love angel food cake, and I even will buy it already made from the grocery store (gasp!)

But if you have ever had homemade angel food cake, you will realize what a HUGE difference in flavor there is.  I tasted my first homemade angel food cake in college, my jewelry teacher Ellen was celebrating her birthday and brought in the cake her mother had  baked for her, to share with her students. 

To digress, art classes at UND were small and very focused.  Ellen taught me how to use raw gold and silver, and real gems, to create things.  Nothing at all like beads and components that I buy at the craft store today.   She was a diminutive little woman, think Edna from "The Incredibles", or Helen Hunt.   She was delightful, and patient, and I learned so much from herDid any of YOUR college professors share their birthday cake?

Anyway, that first time I tasted homemade, I knew it was something special.  So I had to recreate that taste for Mike's birthday.  And naturally, I turned to Martha. 

Here is a link to an on-line version.
(The cotton candy cloud is not in my cookbook, although you could certainly add it if you wanted to! )

It is crucial that you follow the directions-and yes, you really do have to sift the dry ingredients four times.  It makes a difference!  You need to use cake flour, and you will have to buy some superfine sugar.  The egg white whipping is pretty intense-follow the instructions.  When you are mixing the dry ingredients in to the whipped egg whites, it is imperative that you do as little stirring, while still incorporating everything, as you possibly can.  If you do all of these things, it will turn out like Martha's.

Another important step, cooling it upside down.  I prefer to use a wine bottle, natch.  And using an ancient cake pan that I picked up at a garage sale (with a removable bottom) just enhanced the experience.

While I don't have pictures of the final product, I whipped up some real cream (with a little powdered sugar and vanilla) and served it with fresh blackberries, strawberries, and some dark chocolate curls.   Mike proclaimed it the best birthday cake ever.  (Wait a minute, I think he said that last year too...I should check my blog history....)

Suffice to say that if you are looking for a really wonderful cake, and don't mind spending some extra time doing it-this one is a winner.

Happy Baking!

1 comment:

  1. This sounds SO delicious,but I will probably still make mine from a box or at the store. Too lazy. I would rather cook than bake, although I do still make some things.


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