Saturday, May 01, 2010

Lime Angel Food Cake...

Packing has intensified around here with the moving truck set to arrive on Friday, but there are a few items I haven't surrounded with beige paper and sealed in a box, namely our stand mixer! The mixer is being left out as long as possible since I would like to make a repeat cookie or three next week as thank you gifts, but I also had a more selfish reason - I wanted cake! More specifically, this Lime Angel Food Cake with Lime Glaze and Pistachios!

Angel food cake can seem fairly ambitious, but it doesn't have to be as long as you have a bit of confidence and vigor! A few tips also don't hurt... one of the best I can give has to do with the whites - they should be at room temperature before you start whipping them as they will beat up quicker with a bit more volume if the whites are not chilled, but they separate from the yolks easier when they are cold. If you are using eggs right from the refrigerator, separate the yolks and then leave the whites in your mixing bowl, covered, for at least a half hour to warm up.

An aside... Whenever I separate eggs to use their yolks, I don't like to just toss out the whites - I usually add them to a container that I keep in the deep freeze. They often times end up in frosting (like the seven-minute or Swiss meringue type), homemade marshmallows or some type of meringue cookie - however, when I get enough, I love to make angel food cake (or cupcakes!).

Lime zest and juice will be used with the cake, but only the zest is used inside the cake - the tiny shreds are beaten in while the whites are whirling around the bowl. As soon as you've gotten the whites to a stiff peak stage (making sure to use a bowl and beaters that are free from any oil or grease), you'll be folding in the dry ingredients in three stages. This is where a light hand works best - when you sprinkle the flour mixture into the bowl, gently fold the whites from the bottom up and stop when you see the dry ingredients have disappeared.

A tube pan with a removable bottom works best for angel food cake for one simple reason - it takes away the pain and fear of unmolding the cake as the pan won't be greased first! That's right, keep the butter, spray or shortening away as the fluffy batter needs traction to climb and rise up the pan as it bakes. The next nifty quirk about these types of cakes? You'll be cooling the cake upside down once they have finished baking! Some tube pans have three or four "feet" along the top edge so can just turn the pan over and air can still circulate through - if your pan doesn't have that, just align the tube onto a skinny-necked heat-safe bottle. Because of how delicate the cake is, the weight of it can be enough to partially collapse the crumb. Turning it upside down relieves any pressure, ensuring the cake says tall and light.

While you could eat this just as it is out of the pan, there are a couple more steps to add a definite wow factor to the cake. We took the juice from the limes we zested and heated it with a scoop of sugar to make a thick, tangy syrup. Lavishly brushed all over the cake, we then immediately took finely chopped pistachios and went to town, scattering them all over the top and sides of the cake. Since the syrup is sticky while warm, the nuts will grab a hold no problem. After the syrup cools on the cake, it creates a wicked sugar-y lime crust that I frankly couldn't get enough of.

I used a food processor to get a fairly fine chop on the nuts, but when I did that, I also added a pinch of sea salt as the nuts I used were unsalted. Besides adding a lovely green pop of color (helping with the lime theme), the textural contrast between the nuts and soft cake was divine, while the salt was welcome counter to the sweetness of the syrup. For one final touch, we stirred the rest of the fresh juice we had into a bowl of confectioners' sugar, making a bright glaze to gingerly drizzle over the top. Screaming springtime with its airy texture and vibrant use of limes, I eagerly licked every nugget and crumb found on my plate - Jeff and I both agree that this cake ranks right up near the top of our all-time favorite desserts we've made yet!


  1. I've never tried angel food cake with lime in it -- it sounds heavenly! I printed the recipe and will try it.

  2. Wow, that really looks delicioso! I wish I have a friend like you, so I get free cakes on my birthday! haha :-) Good job!

  3. Agreed with Jen--never tried lime in angel food cake. Maybe this will make me like angel food cake more :)

  4. Jen - Enjoy!

    Amy B - Hee hee!

    DC - I hope it does!