“Healthy” Lemony Angel Food Cake

in Cakes, Desserts

I have a confession.

I gained weight during the holiday season. Like, can’t-fit-in-pretty-dresses type weight gain.  This is not okay. I’m determined to be a girl who can fit into pretty dresses. Or maybe I should just wear bigger dresses? Whatever. You get what I mean, right?

So now I’m on a cliché “bad” food break. It’s gonna be hard. To ease myself into this tough transition, I figured baking a cake would be an awesome idea.

Before you flip out and call me crazy, let me explain.  This cake is “healthy.”  It has NO butter. My normal self would typically have nothing to do with a cake without butter, but tight zippers and waistbands made me give this cake a chance.

And guess what? Best idea #1 of 2011.

Let’s talk cake details, shall we?!

This cake has a whole lot of egg whites–12 to be exact–and good amount of lemon zest, which results in awesome lightness and a mouthful of zing. Me likeee.

And since we’re all a little sleepy from the holiday hecticness, I’m happy to report that this cake is easy peasy to whip up and to top it all off, it’s a one-bowl-cake (sorta) so there’s not a ton of clean-up.  Lovely.

The only sort of lame thing about Angel Food Cake (besides the cooling time), is that you need the right pan. I repeat, you MUST have an Angel Food Cake pan. I’ve heard of some people being successful with a bundt pan, but I didn’t want to risk it. I wanted cake.

But, I’m happy to report that my dad found the one pictured for $9 at Sur La Table last week! It was totally worth it.

And since this pan didn’t have legs, I cooled it by suspending it on a sort of empty bottle of wine. Snazzy, no?!

My favorite part of this cake, by far, was the icing. It’s not your typical buttercream. It’s a lemon flavored, snappy whipped cream icing. Amazing.

This is the time when I convince you (and myself) that the icing was “healthy,” but I simply can’t. There’s nothing healthy about it. It has sugar, lemon juice, a dash of flour and a whole lot of heavy whipping cream.

Sorry, dresses. I tried.

Lemony Angel Food Cake

Recipe by Martha Stewart

The Cake:

1 cup sifted cake flour (not self-rising)

1 1/2 cups sugar

12 large egg whites

2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

Lemon Cream:

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cake flour (not self-rising)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

Make the cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees, with rack in lower third of oven. Sift flour and 1/2 cup sugar into a bowl.

Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Add lemon zest and juice, cream of tartar, vanilla, and salt; continue whisking until soft peaks form, about 2 1/2 minutes. With mixer running, gradually add remaining cup sugar.

Increase speed to medium-high; continue whisking until firm, not stiff, peaks form, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle whites with 1/3 of the flour-sugar mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold to combine. Sprinkle remaining flour-sugar mixture over whites in 2 additions; gently fold to combine.

Transfer batter to a 10-inch angel food cake pan with legs. Gently run a knife through the center of the batter to remove any air bubbles. Bake until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.

Remove pan from oven, and invert onto its cooling legs (if your tube pan doesn’t have legs, invert it over the neck of a wine, or similarly shaped, bottle to cool); let cool, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Run a knife around the inner and outer edges of cake to remove. Invert onto a serving platter. (Use a knife to separate cake from bottom of pan.) Let cool on a wire rack. Unfrosted cake can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Make the lemon cream: Prepare an ice-water bath. Whisk lemon juice, sugar, flour, and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; whisk constantly for 1 minute, until it thickens. Transfer to a heatproof bowl set in ice-water bath to cool completely, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk cream and lemon zest with a mixer on medium speed until medium peaks form, about 3 minutes. Gently fold whipped cream into juice mixture in thirds. Refrigerate lemon cream, up to overnight.

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