When I think angel food cake, the words “light” and “airy” come to mind; when I made angel food cake, “shrunken” and “dense” were my results. I share this kitchen collapse not to deter you from making the recipe, but to share the lessons I learned. What follows is the sad yet hopeful story of the Fallen Angel Food Cake.
Last weekend, I decided to bake dessert for my boyfriend’s family since they were graciously hosting me for the holidays. Angel food cake is a classic in their household. So the choice was easy, but the pressure was high. I had never made an angel food cake before, and after skimming through various blogs and recipes, I was less than confident. I read the instructions thoroughly and measured the ingredients properly, but I didn’t bring the eggs to room temperature and I pulled the cake out too early. As I’m sure other first-timers can relate, my worst fear came true: The cake fell. I stuck it back in the oven in a desperate attempt to puff it up again, but there was no going back.
Luckily, the poor souls for whom the cake was intended have a great sense of humor and were forgiving of my failed attempt. They also happen to love 7-Minute Frosting. And if anything can save the day, it’s a homemade fluffy, marshmallow-y frosting.
Here’s what I learned after my first angel food cake attempt
I’m not a natural-born baker. Flour mishaps are all too common in my kitchen to classify me as one. Yet, despite my lack of grace, baking is what I love to do. My confectionery blunders almost always turn out tasty in the end, and I’ll admit to having a keen eye for good cookie recipes. When it comes to using measuring cups, I don’t feel limited, I feel confident.
Cooking by taste is a whole other story — it terrifies me. I overthink every step and doubts cloud my culinary judgment. How much is a dash of salt, really? How many minutes exactly does it take to roast a chicken?
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll happily admit to my savory successes. Alton’s Skirt Steak is probably one of the best things I’ve ever made and Bobby’s Mesa Grill’s Shrimp With Green-Onion Cilantro Sauce (recipe available in his cookbook) has always been a crowd-pleaser for me. But the problem is that all my second-guessing prevents me from enjoying the process.
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Home is where the heart is.
Cliché? You bet. But I say it regardless because I believe it‘s true.
I’m both a California girl and a New Yorker. But my home is not defined by the house that I grew up in or the little apartment I rent in New York City, it’s defined by the people who make me happy. My dad is one of these people. So for his birthday last weekend, I was ecstatic to journey back to the golden coast to celebrate with my family.
Although everyone loves my dad’s cooking, he was banned from the kitchen for the festivities. My mom took over as executive chef and put me on cake duty.
Birthday cake can be tricky. As a baker, you must sacrifice your own taste cravings to those of the honoree. In my limited experience, I’ve come to learn that red velvet is not everyone’s favorite (unfortunately), and boxed mixes are actually preferred by some people (I try not to take it personally). There are also rare cases in which the perfect celebratory dessert isn’t cake at all.
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