A funny thing happens when you start a business: you get an idea, start to work on that idea, and then as time goes on, you suddenly find yourself amidst a million other tasks that have no relation to that original idea. I would constantly hear this from bakery owners and entrepreneurs when I would do informational interviews. I would ask them what they loved and hated about starting their own business and they would always say that they loved the freedom of having something that was their own, but that as things progressed, they spent less and less time in the kitchen (or doing whatever it is they originally set out to do).
I’ve definitely started to experience this in the last few weeks, and I admit I’m getting a little scatterbrained. Just this week I’ve started to experiment with different fondants, work on different rose techniques, send test shipments of sugar flowers out to friends, research website templates, business plans and licenses, graphic design ideas, font ideas, letterpress ideas, the list go on…
Now I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining. I honestly think it’s cool to have all these things swimming in my head and forcing me to learn. I remember sitting in my cubicle at my old job and I could hear one of the assistants whispering to another, “you know, this job is so boring, I think I’ve actually lost skills since I starting working here.” Tell me you can’t relate to that! The days spent sifting through the never-ending scroll of Pinterest, posting to Facebook about how hung-over you are, shopping the new sale on Anthropologie.com , or just catching up on the Jezebel gossip. Yea, we’ve all been there.
So this week, I got back into the kitchen to make something simple and fun. I decided on a nice little angel food cake to serve with fresh whipped cream and strawberries. For those of us who, ahm, haven’t been sticking to our diets (not naming any names) this is the dessert for you. Light, fluffy, and sweet, this cake won’t leave you feeling like you just added five pounds to your bum. And if you want to be even better, you can leave out the whipped cream- no judgement.
Orange Blossom Angel Food Cake (modified from David Lebovitz)
12 large egg whites (approx. 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup cake flour
1 cup, plus 1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (here)
1/2 tsp. orange blossom water (here)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Separate egg whites and set aside to come to room temperate.* Sift together cake flour, 1/2 cup of sugar and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Whip egg whites in an electric mixer on medium until they start to foam. Add cream of tartar and lemon juice and increase speed to high. Whip egg whites until they can hold a soft peak and gradually add the rest of the sugar (1 cup) and vanilla bean paste and orange blossom water until fully incorporated. Remove bowl from mixture and fold in the flour mixture in thirds. Spoon batter into a 9 inch tube pan and smooth the top before putting in the oven for 45 minutes. The cake will be golden brown on top and should be immediately placed upside-down on a cooling rack. Once cool, slice and serve with strawberries and fresh whipped cream.
* Do not use packaged egg whites from a carton as most of them are pasteurized and cannot be used for whipping.
I originally wanted to added fiori di Sicilia to this cake, which is a floral, citrusy vanilla flavor that makes a beautiful addition to many desserts. However, when I couldn’t find it in the supermarket, I found that the combination of orange blossom water and vanilla achieved the same result. Orange blossom water adds the light, slightly floral, citrus scent and the vanilla bean paste rounds out the flavor.
My family all agreed that the cake was so simple and flavorful that it could stand on it’s own, but I can’t resist adding sliced strawberries and fresh whipped cream. Which do you prefer?