I had never more than pondered the existence of angel food cake prior to joining Weight Watchers 18 months ago. Generally, I would think delicious desserts primarily comprising sugar and flour wouldn't be compatible with dieting, but this heavenly dessert works. A taste for it has stuck with me long after I lost the weight (yay!), and it's one of the very few desserts that I prefer without frosting. I know... I can feel your incredulousnes... but it's true. I actually prefer the sticky, honeyed crumb of a fresh angel food cake unsullied by accompaniments.
My preferred recipe comes from good ol' Betty. Crocker, that is. I picked up a 1950 edition of "Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book" at a yard sale in 2004, and it has been one of the most useful tools I've accumulated since becoming mistress of my own kitchen. It ranks right up there with the KitchenAid and the garlic press. True, it discusses the benefits of eating balanced meals from all seven food groups (well, 3 of those are now collectively "fruits and vegetables"), but any cookbook willing to absolutely insist that you simultaneously consider the factors of appropriateness, appearance, satisfaction, nutrition and cost when planning and preparing meals knows a thing or two about joyful and gracious cooking. But I digress....
Betty Crocker's Angel DeLuxe Food Cake
"Light as air... fluffy as a cloud"
1 cup cake flour (can substitute 1 cup sifted all purpose)
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 cups egg whites
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Measure and thoroughly sift together the flour and confectioner's sugar. In a large mixer bowl, combine egg whites, cream of tartar, salt, vanilla and almond extract. Beat in mixer with whisk attachment until foamy. Gradually add granulated sugar while continuing to mix. Continue to beat on high until mixture holds stiff peaks.
Gradually sift floud/sugar mixture over the egg white mixture, folding in gently with a spatula just until incorporated.
Bake 35-45 minutes, until top is golden brown and no imprint remains when cake is touched with a finger. When cake is done, rest pan upside down (I use a beer bottle stuck in the center tube) until completely cool.
Remove from pan and just try not to begin tearing off soft golden pieces before serving time. I dare you!