I’ve long had a goal to bake the absolute whitest cake of all time. Like my whiter than white vanilla buttercream recipe, I’m on a one woman mission to create baked goods that are super pale in colour. There’s something weirdly attractive to me about stark white food… I think I’m drawn towards anything weird and out of the ordinary, and cakes without that golden baked colour fall right in that category.
I’m stepping slightly closer to white cake perfection with today’s coconut angel food cake. I’m fairly sure they call it ‘angel food’ because it’s so light and fluffy that it’s almost like eating a cloud. Which is obvs. what angels eat up there.
Angel food cakes are a bit of a weird bunch, as they contain SO MANY egg whites. There are 12 of them in this cake, although I didn’t actually separate out a dozen eggs. You can buy egg whites in a carton you guys! And it’s an absolute life saver when you want a light and fluffy cloud cake, but you don’t want to have to find a use for 12 egg yolks.
I like to think of this creation as a cake-meringue. You are going to whip up the egg whites and sugar to stiff peaks, and then add in some more cake-like ingredients (flour, cornflour, coconut extract) at the last minute. You will need a special angel food cake tin (this is the one I use: Amazon UK / Amazon US) which has a tube in the middle, a removable base, and some little feet sticking out the top. You can’t make this cake in any other cake tin, or it won’t rise or cook properly!
The coconut flavouring comes pretty much entirely from a bottle, but that’s okay. I’ve tried flavouring cakes with coconut cream or milk before, and it was an epic disaster. Find some good quality coconut extract (I use Waitrose’s own brand one) and you will have a lovely coconut flavour, without the risk of ruining the cake’s consistency… or having grease dripping out the bottom.
I wanted to cover the cake with light and fluffy coconut, to try and take the cloud metaphor a whole stage further, and this was possible due to my American baking haul back in Florida. The UK doesn’t really have coconut flakes, and our standard desiccated coconut just wouldn’t have looked quite as fluffy. You can pick some up a bag on Amazon in the UK if you want to – for a premium of course – or just cover it with my coconut whipped cream and leave it plain. It will still taste just as gorgeous.
I’m just so *heart eyes* over how light and airy and white it looks. Like a fluffy rug.
I guess I should apologise for not posting much of late. As I mentioned a few months ago, we are buying our first house! Well, contracts have been exchanged and our moving date is set for two week’s time, so this has left me with a lot of packing and planning to do, as well as sourcing some furniture and appliances for the big move. And not much in the way of time spare for my favourite hobby.
Plus, anything non-essential (stand mixer, I’m looking at you) is about to get put in a box.
I can’t promise another post this month, but hopefully once the kitchen is fully unpacked and we’re settled in to our new home, normal blogging service will be resumed.
MASSIVE KITCHEN HERE I COME!
- 100g (⅘ cup) plain or all-purpose flour
- 25g (2½ tablespoons) cornflour or cornstarch
- 300g (1½ cups) caster sugar (US granulated sugar), separated
- 12 large egg whites, at room temperature (very important!)
- 1½ teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ teaspoons coconut extract
- 350ml (1½ cups) double or heavy cream
- 35g (¼ cup) icing sugar (US powdered sugar)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ teaspoons coconut extract
- 200g (7oz) sweetened coconut flakes
- Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F (170°C fan) and make sure you have an angel food cake tin ready to use. Do not grease or line the tin, as the cake batter will need to grip onto the sides of the cake in order to rise up.
- Sift the flour, cornflour, and half of the caster sugar (150g or ¾ cup) into a medium bowl and set aside.
- Place the egg whites (making sure there are no yokes at all), cream of tartar and salt into the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand-held mixer) and whip using the balloon whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the remaining caster sugar (150g or ¾ cup) and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
- With your mixer on a low speed, add the sifted flour mixture to the egg whites two tablespoons at a time. Occasionally stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is well mixed together. Once all the flour has been added, pour in the vanilla and coconut extracts and beat on low again for 30 seconds.
- Spoon the batter into the ungreased angel food cake tin, and then swirl through with a knife to get rid of any trapped air pockets in the batter. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top of the cake feels springy to the touch. If there are any cracks on the top of the cake, feel inside and if it feels sticky then it is not quite ready. You do not want to underbake an angel food cake or you run the risk of it sinking.
- The cake needs to cool. completely inside the tin, but it is best to tip the cake upside down during the cooling process to speed things up. If your angel food cake tin had little feet sticking up on the top, you can just turn the cake upside down and rest it on the feet to cool. Alternatively, use a can of beans or something similar to balance the middle of the tin on when upside down. Once the cake is completely cool, use a knife to gently free the edges (only at the top) from the side of the tin and from the middle tube. Turn the cake upside down and give the tin a smack and it should come out. Use a knife to free the bottom of the cake tin from the cake and remove gently.
- Place the cream and icing sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand-held mixer) and whip using the balloon attachment until stiff peaks form. Add the vanilla and coconut extracts and whip through.
- Carefully spread the cream onto the outside and down the middle of the cake, trying not to get too many crumbs in the cream. I use a small offset spatula for this, but a round knife will work too. Gently press the sweetened coconut flakes onto the outside of the cake until the whole thing is covered.
- The plain angel food cake will stay fresh for 2-3 days if stored in an airtight container somewhere cool, or up to 7 days if stored in the fridge (wrap with clingfilm or foil to keep from drying out). Once the cake has been covered in cream if will need to be stored in the fridge, and should keep for 2-3 days (keep covered).