When I was about ten years old I went to a birthday party with my Sister and my Mother. The little girl whose party it was has long ago disappeared from my memory but I have an unforgettably vivid memory of her birthday cake. It must have been the first time that I had seen or eaten an angel cake. Pure white cake covered in pure white icing. Apart from Mr Kipling’s White Frosted Fancies, a poor substitute, which always appear in the shops in the month before Christmas, I have never eaten this angelic delight since and so set about finding a good recipe. I am determined to have a try with this recipe and cover it with white icing and desiccated coconut.
Angel cake is a white sponge cake made only with stiffly beaten egg whites and no butter. Apparently, the first recipe in a cookbook for a white sponge cake is in Lettice Bryan’s The Kentucky Housewife of 1839.
- 4½oz plain flour
- 10½oz caster sugar
- 10 large free-range egg whites
- 2 large lemon grated zest only
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- ½ tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 180 and arrange an oven shelf in the bottom third of the oven.
- Sift the flour and 3½oz of caster sugar together in a bowl and set aside.
- Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl on a high speed for one minute until frothy.
- Add lemon zest, lemon juice, cream of tartar and salt and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes, or until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl.
- Increase the speed and add the remaining 7oz of caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time to form firm, but not stiff peaks.
- Add a third of the flour mixture and fold gently to combine. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture folding gently to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.
- Do not be tempted to grease the tin as it will prevent the cake from rising properly
- Transfer the batter to a 10in angel cake pan. Gently run a knife through the centre of the batter to remove any pockets of air. Cook for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and immediately turn upside down onto the tin’s cooling legs. Leave to cool for at least one hour.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack.