My mom is clearly awesome because she birthed me. But aside from this permanent genetic connection and intimately visceral event, she’s actually an awesome individual in her own right.
Meet my mom, Sue: a University of Michigan educated microbiologist; a highly intelligent, well-read, and opinionated lady. I count on her for my copy-editing, my latest on Zika, and all the up-to-date Harvard Health news. Oh, and numerous and funny gossipy phone conversations since we live so far away from each other.
It should be noted that my mom made a very conscious decision to forgo a science career and chose to be a stay at home mom and raise me and my two siblings at our home in Michigan. This was during a time (she grew up in the 60s/70s) when many many women were choosing just the opposite- to buck the then “status quo” of stay-at-home momming and pursue a career outside the home.
I know she dealt with a lot of judgement over the years for this decision, but I don’t think it is a decision she ever regretted (I hope).
And truly, I think being a mom was a “job” in which she excelled. She taught me that intelligence and authenticity in women is to be valued above all else, but that sometimes it’s completely OK to laugh raucously at poop jokes. She taught me to value myself and that hard work does indeed pay off. She also got me hooked on amazing food and introduced me to all my fancy tastes. (Yes I was the 10 year old who told everyone that I wanted creme brulee for dessert).
But most importantly, she allowed me so much opportunity to foster my creativity and truly be my most authentic (and bizarre) self. And on that note I think we should talk about the infinite patience that must have been required due to the following:
Turning our dining room into my personal sewing studio when I attempted (and failed) to sew a prom dress, destroying our basement with paint (it was my art studio after all :P), incessantly drawing on all surfaces day or night (after a while my mom just provided a stack of paper that was constantly available to me to draw on). And around Christmas-time our house turned into a strange light-show creation where my siblings and I “decorated” the basement and our bedrooms with as many garish lights as our mom would let us buy. I can’t even imagine the electric bill situation those years.
And so today I’m going to share one of the recipes that always reminds me of my mom.
It is a Mother’s Day Angel Food Cake. This came to be a classic in our household especially around birthday times. This is the cake my mom always had as a child growing up and she would crave, yet I’m pretty sure none of us were capable of creating it at that time.
Angel food is definitely a weird cake- it has no cholesterol as it is essentially made of egg whites, sugar, and flour. The classic flavoring of angel food comes from the vanilla and almond extract combination that’s used to flavor the batter.
To be completely honest with you- growing up, typically a boxed cake mix was used, but since the Gourmet Gourmand doesn’t do boxed cakes, I’m going to share a phenomenal recipe for a classic from-scratch Angel Food. (I have to say it really is better than Duncan Hines).
This recipe calls for 12 large egg whites, whipped into a meringue, and gently folded with cake flour. (Note- if you do not have cake flour you can remove 2 tablespoons of regular flour from the recipe and add 2 tablespoons of corn starch as a substitute.. it will still work well). After you bake it up to a beautiful golden brown the trick is to cool the cake, upside down, on a funnel or a wine bottle so that it doesn’t deflate.
The result: a deliciously fluffy, gloriously moist, pillow-y and puffy cake, that goes down so easily you could probably eat 1/2 the cake in one sitting.
To make this “My Mom’s way” I topped it all with pink American Buttercream. But, you could certainly adapt this recipe to any topping of your choice. So I hope that you enjoy your weekend and do something indulgent with your mom. If you think of it, give this recipe a try. I bet your mom will love it.
Mother’s Day Angel Food Cake
- 1 cup cake flour
- 3 ?4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 12 large egg whites MUST be room temperature
- 1 1 ?2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 ?4 teaspoon salt
- 3 ?4 cup sugar
- 1 1 ?2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 ?2 teaspoon almond extract
- For the Buttercream
- 1/2 lb of butter softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1-3 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Red food coloring optional
- You will need a two-piece Angel Food Cake Pan.
- Do NOT grease the pan!
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Sift the cake flour and 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of sugar into a small bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl add egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar. Mix on medium speed until it forms soft peaks.
- Add the other 3/4 cup of sugar slowly, then beat on high until stiff peaks form.
- Turn mixer down to low speed, add slowly add flour mixture and extracts until just mixed.
- Do not over-mix.
- Finally, using a silicon spatula, gently mix with a folding motion from sides and bottom of bowl to ensure everything is very combined.
- Spoon batter into an angel food cake pan.
- Tap a few times on the counter and move a knife through batter to remove air pockets.
- Bake 30-35 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly with finger.
- Invert pan onto funnel or wine bottle to cool.
- Once completely cooled- remove the cake from your pan by running a knife around the top rim of the cake and center of cake just to loosen the "crust."
- Then firmly spank the sides of your pan.
- You could use a knife but this sometime tears the sides of the cake.
- Invert onto your serve plate use a knife gently to cut around the based (now the top) of the cake.
- You should not need to cut around the center of the ring. Shake and tap a few times on the cake base to remove.
- To prepare the buttercream
- In a medium bowl add softened butter and beat on high speed until fluffy.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add vanilla and fully mix.
- If frosting is too thick, add 1-3 tablespoons of milk to achieve desired consistency.
- Add a few drops of red food coloring and mix to create the pink color.
- For the piped flowers- spoon about 1 cup of the frosting into a small bowl. Add extra red food coloring and mix until the color is to your liking.
- Spoon into a small ziplock bag and cut the corner of the bag to create a tip.
- Ice the cake all over with the light pink frosting.
- Then, using freehand, draw flowers all over the cake in an organic design.