Orange Angel Food Cake with Balsamic Strawberries

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Oh the orange aromas that filled the kitchen and wafted throughout the house when this was in the oven! Even my husband was piqued. He managed to tear away from his computer and walk to the kitchen to see what I was up to. Of course, followed by 'Is that for dessert?'

So almost on a daily basis do I prove the adage 'The way to a man's heart is through the stomach' true. Food is an intimate experience and yes, there are some amazing dishes I've had that may epitomize a 'better than $#*' experience. After all, we're all about delighting our senses ;)

This orange angel food cake came to be because of the abundance of whites following the decadent banana chocolate trifle we made for Mother's Day. I thought it needed aromatics and so made a triple orange twist to it. There's orange zest mixed with the flour, orange juice and a shot of Grand Marnier - optional, of course, mixed into the meringue.

It was dang good! So much better than my piping skills on the top of this cake. Why did I even bother piping it? It was almost sundown, I was close to the end of magic hour, and I needed to take pictures. I panicked! LOL! So I grabbed a ziplock bag, no tip and snip went the corner and it seems the cream went a-tripping all over the cake. I was hoping the perfectly quartered strawberries will provide some distraction ?!?

We ended up having a slice with strawberries and cream and another slice with the balsamic macerated strawberries. It was pure joy!

Psst ... if your balsamic vinegar is as young as I am, you probably don't need the sugar. And if you think you needed cake flour for this, you probably do. But if you don't ... don't fret, for I, myself, subbed it with all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Huzzah!

200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar
125 g (1-1/4 cup) all purpose flour
1 tbsp orange zest, from 1 orange
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt

360 ml (1-1/2 cup) large egg whites, from 12 eggs, at room temperature
1-1/2 tsp cream of tartar
60 ml (1/4 cup) freshly squeezed orange juice, strained
1 tsp Grand Marnier, or orange liqueur

1. Have ready a 10 inch tube pan and preheat the oven to 175C or 350F.
2. In your processor or blender, whizz the sugar until superfine.
3. Remove half of the sugar and place onto a small bowl.
4. To the processor, add the flour, zest, cornstarch and salt and process until well incorporated. This also aerates the dry ingredients.

5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites on medium low speed until foamy.
6. At this point, add the cream of tartar, orange juice, and orange liqueur, increase the speed to medium and whisk until soft peaks form.
7. Add the reserved superfine sugar in three batches and whisk until medium peak stage.
8. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and sift the dry ingredients into the meringue in four batches, gently folding it in with a wooden spoon.
9. Tip over the remaining zest that isn't siftable with the last of the dry ingredients.

10. Spoon the batter into the ungreased tube pan, making sure to fill the bottom edges of the pan.
11. Tap it on a towel-lined counter a few times, and for good measure, run a knife vertically around the pan to release the bubbles.
12. Finally level the surface with the back of a spoon before placing it in the oven to bake for 35 minutes.
13. The cake is done when a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
14. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately invert it to cool on a wire rack. It should still be sticking to the pan, hovering on top of the cooling rack.
If the centre tube isn't tall enough, or the pan doesn't have stands/feet along the edges, you may want to insert the centre tube through a small bottle to let the cake cool upside down.
15. When cool, run a thin serrated knife along the perimeter to loosen the cake from the pan.
16. Place on a stand and decorate with strawberries and cream.

Please do make the accompanying Balsamic Vinegar macerated strawberries. They are divine with this angel food cake.

340 g (2 cups) sliced strawberries
6 tbsp aceto balsamico (Modena's Balsamic Vinegar)
1 tbsp sugar

1. Combine all the ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl, submerging the strawberries in the vinegar
2. Chill in the refrigerator for half an hour prior to serving.

Place the strawberry slices on a slice of angel food cake and drizzle a bit of the balsamic vinegar on top of the cake.

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