Angel food cake

Have you ever seen those little hearts cartoonists draw around somebody showing love?  If you drew an angel food cake, and my mom, there would definitely be little floating hearts.

When I started baking, I didn’t even have to give a second thought to whether or not I’d try to make an angel food cake.

Angel food cake is hard to make (from scratch).

My first batch, I thought “all these extra directions are foo-foo nonsense.” Real bakers surely didn’t pay attention to the rules.  I’d seen cooks on TV.  They just added a dash of this, dollop of that and, wa-la!  Dinner.

The difference, I found, between “dinner” and “dessert” (cooking and baking) is like the difference between painting and wallpapering.

What I pulled from the oven was not angelic looking.  Instead of making a tower of fluffy cloud, I made a basement of squishy insulation.  (That analogy goes back to my days of watching my family put insulation in the houses we were building.  The cake I made was remarkably similar in texture to insulation.  And just as tasty, too.)

Next time, I paid a lot of attention to the extra directions.


Rather than stir the meringue like cement, turning it into lovely insulation material, the meringue became a pool for the graceful swan of my spatula to dive through and lift up, dive and lift up.

Angel food cakes are a lot of work.  I have just learned how to separate yolks from eggs (please, please come to my house some time so I can show you and you can clap).  The egg whites need to be room temperature.  The directions say that and it’s very important to wait.

Then I put the egg yolks, cream of tartar, vanilla, and almond extract in my blender.  The directions say to beat the meringue until it is stiff and that’s no joke.  I pour in little bits of sugar and the directions say to do that slowly and not like a dump truck and it is no good to do it the dump truck way.

The flour and sugar mixture is sifted like gently falling snow over the meringue and that’s when the spatula does its fancy swan dive.

At last, it’s time to pour the mix from bowl to angel food cake pan.  Once the spatula has smoothed the foamy batter, I place the soon-to-be cake in the already hot oven for a half an hour of angelizing.

When the cake has angelized, I lift it out of the oven in mismatched potholders and flip it over on a funnel.  (The cake would probably taste even better if I could ever find potholders that matched.)

Then the cake has to stay upside-down until cool so it will not defluff.

The last angel food cake I made, I was in the part that stresses me out most: transferring the delicate meringue from the bowl to the cake pan.  It makes me nervous, but if I actually had anybody who liked angel food cake watching me, they could have a nervous breakdown.  I am self-described as having the coordination of an agile gazelle who thinks it’s an elephant.

As I was trying to not slop batter over every square inch of the kitchen, a thought came to my mind:

What if I stopped here?

I mean, this is my least favorite part of angel food cake making, this and getting the pan in the oven without holding it by the bottom and having the two pieces of the pan come apart.

When I was thinking this question, it was only speculative.  I would never stop here.  As unfun as it is to me to move the batter from A to B, I would never crack 9 or so large eggs, leave the egg whites out for an hour and a half, borrow cream of tartar from the neighbor, sift sugar and flour, and do the swan “dive and swoop” (that stresses me out, as I am not very swanly) . . and then stop.

But what came to my mind is, how many times do we stop, or are we tempted to stop–right in the middle of what God has for us?

I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:27, NLT)

No matter how tired I was, I wouldn’t leave a batter of angel food cake to deflate and ruin on the counter.  I would take the time to pour it into the cake pan.

But would I despair and give up that there could be any great work from God for the rest of my life?

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9, ESV)

Published in: on March 20, 2012 at 10:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

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