Angel Food Cupcakes

Angel food cake is one of those appropriately named desserts. Cake of the heavens, as it's described, angel food cake is fluffy and airy like the clouds. I'd never tried making it, mainly because I figured a cake like that might be a real challenge to face.

In celebration, of Boss's day, I was asked to either pick up a cake or bake one. My obsession with the kitchen is obvious, so I went with the latter option (you probably figured that out without me saying so, huh?). But what new idea could I have? Sure. I'd brought in vanilla cupcakes the week prior. But that's so standard.

My boss is pretty big on those frozen fruit bars. As much as I want to love them, the inner sugar fiend in me will choose the chocolate-doused Magnum bar every time when the two are side by side. Yes, I try and make healthier choices, but the enjoyment level of gnawing on frozen fruit is lower just knowing what could have been.

Still, though, this wasn't about me, as piteous as that sounds. Fruit was in order.

I let this concept simmer for a day, and while literally walking from one office to the other at work, the idea bubble rose to the top as the pot finally hit boiling: Angel food cupcakes topped with whipped cream and berries. Done.

Of course, I can't go and patent this concept or anything, as in my search for whipped cream icing, I actually found I wasn't the first person with this idea. That's ok. I still thought of it, even if I was a day (or decade) late.

To get the lighter texture, the ingredients needed to be fine. Granulated sugar is fairly coarse, like sea salt, so I used the food processor to grind it down to a smoother, more powdery consistency.


I prepared the egg whites next, beating them with some warm water and cream of tartar until they were light and fluffy. I then mixed in half of the sugar I had just put in the food processor and continued beating them until peaks formed.


In a separate bowl, I combined the cake flour, salt, and remaining sugar. When mixing the flour into the egg whites, I sprinkled it on in small portions, then folded it in to avoid slaughtering my nice, fluffy whites.


The batter was very light and fluffy. I actually wound up with double the amount the original recipe mentioned, which may mean that I beat the egg whites longer and therefore increased the volume.


I decided to do a little bit of experimenting and on half the batch and added some raspberries and blueberries to bake in the center. I was planning on topping them with fruit, and this was just to see how the cake held up. Would they sink down or stay put?


Since buttercream is my regular choice (though Browned Butter Cream Cheese Icing is a gem), I found a really great recipe for a whipped cream frosting to try. Most were just plain ol' whipped cream on top of a cake, but that could fall flat overnight (if you think I wake up at 4am to bake, you are out of your mind - always the evening before!). This one was a mix of cream cheese icing and whipped cream, which brought the cream cheese firmness and flavor into the mix. Jackpot.

I would like to point out that I don't play around when it comes to dairy and food poisoning. I saw some comments on a few blogs about leaving cream cheese icing at room temperature. Based on everything I've found, I strongly advise against that. Bacteria grows fast and spending 12-20 hours hunched over the toilet is not a gift I'm interested in giving anyone. Just refrigerate them, or wait to ice the cakes until you serve.

Anyway, I was thrilled to try this recipe out and got the bright idea of adding some orange oil in to really set off the flavor with those berries. Newsflash: citrus makes milk curdle. This is handy when you're wanting to make buttermilk. Not so much when you are frosting cute little cakeys. At first, the frosting was fine, but slightly runny. So I kept on mixing until all of a sudden I had a puddle of useless dessert soup. Pity, too, because it tasted great.

And so, I went with buttercream. Still a tasty topping, but a slight adjustment. All's fair in love and baking.

After topping them off with some of those blueberries, raspberries, and some strawberries, they were complete.


Pretty little dudes, aren't they? I love some nice bright colors. The cake turned out as expected, with that light, fluffy texture. I was a little nervous that I had dome something incorrectly, given the extra batter, but there was no negative effect of having more batter. Hell, I'll call winding up with double the batter a big positive.

The fruit in the middle experiment went just fine, with the fruit staying planted in the center of the cupcake just fine. It just added some extra fruitiness to the cake.

The cakes were a hit, and my boss was happy to see something different in the office to celebrate with. I tend to bring in all kinds of different stuff, but most of the time it's loaded with chocolate or something zany like bananas foster. I would love to try the whipped cream icing version again because, yum.

A little lesson to learn from me is to wait until just before serving to add the berries on top. I found that that lovely juicy fruit leaked juice while sitting overnight, making a tasty but messier cupcake. I'm an evening baker and like to have everything ready to go, but sometimes it's just better to wait to finalize the details until serving time!

Angel Food Cupcakes Recipe

Ingredients:

For the angel food cupcakes:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 egg whites
3 tablespoons warm water
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the frosting:
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, or more to taste
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

For the angel food cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Use a food processor to grind up the white sugar until you have a powdery consistency. Whisk together about half the sugar with the salt and cake flour. Beat together egg whites, water, vanilla and cream of tartar until peaks begin to form. Gradually add the remaining white sugar, beating until medium peaks form. Sprinkle on the flour mixture and fold in incrementally. Scoop the batter into the cupcake pan and bake 15-18 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned.

For the frosting:
Beat butter until light and fluffy. Gradually mix in powdered sugar, then add vanilla and milk. Mix until combined. Frost cupcakes.

Makes 24.

adapted from angel food cupcakes

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