Inspired by Oprah’s latest book club book, Ruby by Cynthia Bond, I baked the angel cake that demonstrates Ephram’s pure, and unconditional compassion for Ruby. Read my review of the book here.
“He made it in that pocket of time before dawn, when the aging night gathered its dark skirts and paused in the stillness. She made it with twelve new eggs, still warm and flecked with feathers. She washed them and cracked them, one at a time, holding each golden yolk in her palm as the whites slid and dripped through her open fingers. She set them aside in her flowered china bowl. In the year 1974, Celia Jennings still cooked in a wood-burning stove, she still used a whisk and muscle and patience to beat her egg whites into foaming peaks. She used pure vanilla, the same sweet liquid she had poured into Saturday night baths before her father, the Revered Jennings, arrived back in town. The butter was from her churn, the confectioners sugar from P & K. As she stirred the dawn into being, a dew drop of sweat salted the batter. The cake baked and rose with the sun. Ephram slept as the cake slid from its tin, so sweet it crusted at its crumbling edges, so light little craters of air circled its surface, so moist it was sure, as was always the case, to cling to the spaces between his sister’s long three-pronged silver fork.” -Excerpted from Ruby by Cynthia Bond
The recipe that is at the end of the book was a bit too complicated for my baking abilities so I chose a different recipe from my favourtie recipe book, Basic Baking.
Angle Food Cake
1 cup flour
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups eggs whites (about 12 eggs)
1 ½ tsp cream of tartar
1 ½ tsp vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 375oF.
- Mix the flour and ¾ cup of the sugar (this is only half the sugar). (Also note, the original recipe says sift, so go ahead and sift it if you wish).
- In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until just foamy. Add the cream of tartar and the vanilla and continue beating until they form soft peaks but are still moist and glossy.
- Very gradually, add the remaining ¾ cup of sugar, a couple of spoonfuls at a time. Beat after each addition, scraping the sides of the bowl to make sure the sugar is thoroughly incorporated.
- Continue beating until all the sugar has been added and the egg whites form a stiff peak when you lift the beater out of the bowl.
- Add the flour gradually, in four additions by sifting it over the beaten egg whites, and folding very gently into the mixture with a wide rubber scraper. Repeat until all the flour mixture has been added and the batter is smooth but not deflated.
- Pour into an ungreased tube pan )with a removable bottom).
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until it is light brown. Do not open the door to check on the cake!
- Place a wine bottle on the counter.
- Remove the cake from the over and immediately invert the pan onto the neck of the bottle. This will allow the cake to firm up and cool without collapsing under its own weight. Let it cool completely.
- When it has cooled, remove it from the bottle and turn it right side up. Carefully loosen the sides of the cake by running a knife around the edges and around the tube, then lift out the middle, loosen it from the bottom of the pan and invert onto a plate to serve.
- I used a container of cool whip for icing and fresh berries. Keep refrigerated until served.