Friday, June 21, 2013

Angel Food Cake Roll with Strawberries & Cream

Seriously, is there anything quite like the sumptuous combination of fresh strawberries and cream?  Whether you’re enjoying strawberry shortcake or vanilla ice cream with a strawberry compote or cheesecake with strawberry topping, it’s an incredibly delicious must-have summer indulgence. 

Angel food cake is a 19th century invention, then followed by Devil’s Food Cake in the 20th.  I’m not sure why it’s called Angel Food. Perhaps because the beautiful batter resembles the gorgeousness of soft billowy clouds?

Since summer is upon us and strawberries are in great supply, I thought it would be fun to make an angel food cake rolled up and filled with sweetened strawberries and vanilla-scented whipped cream.  The cake is a thin layer that stays moist, light and airy.  It’s filled with a simple cream and a layer of sliced fresh strawberries sweetened with a just a bit of sugar.  So there’s cake, luscious cream and tart fruit combined in every lovely bite.  Without a doubt, this is one of the quintessential American desserts of the season.

If you happen to have a stash of egg whites from making a big batch of ice cream or custard, this cake would be a perfect way to employ them.  And although I think strawberries are perfect, the cake is amenable to a variety of other fillings and flavorings that would be terrific: any sort of berry, peaches or nectarines with rum flavored cream, lemon curd and whipped cream, apricot honey compote folded into whipped cream……you get the picture.

Here’s to the long lazy days of summer filled with delicious fresh fruit!

Bench notes:
- Cake flour with its lower gluten content makes a softer cake and lessens the possibility of cracking as the cake gets rolled.
- Since the egg whites provide the leavening, they need to be at room temperature to achieve their fullest volume.  Place the egg whites in your mixer bowl and set them out for at least an hour before you begin.
- For the best loft, beat the egg whites slowly on medium speed until foamy.  Than add the cream of tartar and continue on medium high until opaque.  Next, slowly add the granulated sugar just a couple of tablespoons at a time.  Beat just until the egg whites fall in a soft, droopy peak that holds its shape – not stiff peaks but not too soft.
- I don’t bother with rolling the warm cake in a towel but go ahead and do that if you feel more comfortable with that method.  I simple lay a towel over the cake when it comes out of the oven to retain some moisture, lifting the towel at the center to tent it a bit so it doesn’t get too soggy.  I let it cool for about 25 – 30 minutes and then remove it from the pan.
- Toss the strawberries with sugar just before you’re ready to assemble the dessert.  You’re just trying to sweeten not macerate them.
- If you have a good quality kirsch, try that instead of vanilla in the whipped cream.
- Sweetened crème fraiche would make a great substitution for the whipped cream.

Angel Food Cake Roll with Strawberries & Cream
Serves 10 – 12

3/4 cup (3 oz) cake flour
3/4 cup (3 oz) powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
9 egg whites (9 oz) @ room temperature
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
zest of 1 small lemon

1 1/4 cups (10 oz) heavy cream, chilled
1 1/2 tablespoons (20 g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 lb fresh strawberries
1 – 2 tablespoons sugar, to taste

powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease an 18” x 13” baking sheet and line with parchment paper.  Grease the parchment very lightly.

Sift the cake flour, powdered sugar and salt and set aside.

Beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and beat until opaque.  Turn up the speed to medium high and gradually add sugar just a couple of tablespoons at a time.  Beat until soft peaks form that droop but hold their shape when lifted.  Add vanilla and lemon zest during the last minute of beating.

Fold in the flour mixture, one-third at a time, just until there are no streaks of flour.  Spread the batter in the prepared pan.  Bake until the cake is browned and springs back when lightly touched, 14 - 15 minutes.  Place the pan on a wire rack to cool.  Run a knife around the edges to loosen.  Tent a towel or foil over the cake so it retains some moisture. Cool for about 25 – 30 minutes.

Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla just until soft peaks form. Chill.

To assemble, dust the top of the cake with a good coating of powdered sugar.  Place a piece of parchment or a towel on top and invert the cake.  Gently peel off the parchment from the bottom of the cake.

Slice the strawberries and sprinkle with 1 – 2 tablespoons of sugar, to taste.

Spread the whipped cream over the surface of the cake to within 1/2” of all sides.  Layer the sliced strawberries evenly on top of the cream.

Starting at the long end, gently roll up the cake using the parchment to assist. Trim the edges and place seam side down on a serving plate.  Dust with more powdered sugar, if needed.  Chill until ready to serve.  


Kate said...

Lovely post.
Fresh, seasonal strewberries are so good.
Sometimes those pre-season fly-ins from CA and FL are a hit. But, there is no substitute for local produce.
This looks like the perfect trifecta of celebrating the strawberry wave we are in.
Thank you

pastry studio said...

Thank you, Kate. Absolutely agree about local produce. I hope you have some great strawberries soon.

Unknown said...

Hi PS,
your last three posts are stressing me out! I want to make them all today! Just lovely! I went shopping yesterday for the cherry crumb bars but then I had to see your post on the Angel cake with Strawberry!
I guess I will shop this morning.
Thank you for your post. I am always inspired!

pastry studio said...

Hi Antoinette and thank you for making my day with your super generous comment! I think these Cherry Crumb Bars are incredibly good. Hope you enjoy them. Then it's on to this cake!

Lu Ellen said...

Dearest Pastry Studio,

My, this strawberry dessert looks divine. Thank you!

Lu Ellen

Beth said...

So far I have failed at angel food cake. This looks more foolproof. I will definitely put it on the "to do" list. Strawberries are good, but I have some blackberries that I think might also be good. How can you go wrong, eh?

pastry studio said...

Beth, my first attempt at angel food cake didn't turn out and it's been years since I thought to try again. I think the secret is not to beat the egg whites to stiff peak. That makes them more difficult to fold with the dry ingredients, which then deflates the batter. Keep them a bit droopy and soft and it goes much better. I was surprised at how delicious the cake turned out. And, yes! Blackberries would be superb!

Carol Roe said...

Do you have advice for high altitude @ 4500 ft. ?

Barbara said...

Fabulous light summer recipe! May not always comment, but always reading, making and often posting your recipes!

pastry studio said...

As always, thank you Barbara! Hope you're having a fabulous spring/summer.

CallMeCarol, I must confess I do not know much at all about high altitude baking, so I consulted the Baker's Dozen cookbook by Flo Braker, who is an expert on cakes. Here is what she suggests for angel food cake:

1) 3% more egg whites for 2500 feet, then 1.25% more for every additional 500 feet to a maximum increase of 15% at 7500 feet.

2) Beginning at 3000 feet, add 3% more flour, then .75% for each additional 500 feet.

3) Raise oven temperature 25 degrees F.

So, for my recipe, this comes out to:

5.25% more flour = +1.6 oz = 4.6 oz
That's an increase of 0.63 Tablespoon or approximately 2 teaspoons.

8% more egg whites = .72 or about 3/4 oz egg white. If you don't have a scale, I would just go ahead and add 1 extra egg white.

I hope this helps and this cake works out for you!