Dressed Up Angel Food Cake

gum paste flowers and whipping cream frosting over angel food cake To celebrate my girlfriend’s birthday and the advent of Spring, I went to the light and healthy tastes of angel food cake and dressed it up with a very simple whipped cream frosting. A few delicate gum paste flowers created some interest with punchy colors and delicate textures.

The design: It took a while to think of a design that took the cake beyond the single-layer bundt shape the cake is baked in. I wanted this to look like a birthday cake and not a dessert dish for a summer barbeque. To change the shape a bit, I stacked and layered two store-bought angel food cakes. I had to trim the sides to make the cake nice and straight.  Not wanting to fight the delicate flavors of the cake, I also didn’t want to weigh the cake down with traditional buttercream frosting or fondant. This cake is covered in a light whipping cream frosting. Wanting to add a delicate vintage touch to the cake, I made a few quick gum paste flowers by rumpling circular-shaped cut outs and bunching them around a small round ball-shaped center.

Building the cake: I was delighted to find the angel food cake rather sturdy and resistant to tipping or collapsing with all of the handling that goes with stacking and layering a cake. It held up beautifully. I was also concerned about the sturdiness of the whipping cream frosting. I attempted to thicken a few batches with gelatin and other methods I researched online, but in the end, plain old whipped cream cream sweetened with sugar did just fine. It almost solidified as it was spread on the cake. It also piped very well and showed no signs of drooping.

The core of the angel food cake was also an issue. I didn’t want a big gaping hole left in the middle! This cake is filled with plain fresh strawberries, rinsed and dried thoroughly. I was worried about the juices seeping in to the cake, but they kept to themselves nicely for a good 24 hours after the cake was assembled.  And they made for a beautiful surprise when the cake was cut and served.

Gumpaste flowers on angel food cake with whipping cream frostingHere is a close-up of the gum paste flowers. These little details made an otherwise crude and rustic cake look light and delicate. The perfect touch!

Some Recipes: Pressed for time, I resorted to store-bought angel food cake, which I now regret. The following weekend I baked one from scratch that was incomparably better in both taste and tenderness. If you’ve never tried to bake angel food cake before, it is a MUST for your to do list this year. It’s surprisingly easy. All you need is the right pan and a few tips for your recipe.

- Use an angel food cake pan with straight sides and a hollow core through the middle. It provides the batter lots of surface area to cling to and helps it to grow tall, light and fluffy as it bakes.

- Do NOT use cooking spray or butter to coat your cake pan. The batter needs to stick to the pan walls to climb tall and fluffy. You will easily be able to loosen the cake by scraping a knife along the cake pan walls when it is cooled.

- Make sure all cake batter ingredients are ROOM TEMPERATURE. I warmed my eggs too much on the first attempt, and they never formed stiff peaks that are critical in a good angel food cake batter. Let your eggs sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or longer and they will whip up beautifully!

Whipped Cream Frosting Recipe:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Unlike the angel food cake batter, this recipe works best when all of the ingredients are very COLD. Refrigerate your mixing bowl and whisk for 15-30 minutes ahead of time to give the ingredients a cold surface to mix against. When chilled, simply combine all ingredients in your mixing bowl and whip until stiff peaks form.

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