Baking is my first creative love beginning with the staff of life, bread. Oh how I enjoy kneading the dough until it’s just the right consistency then there’s that yeasty build up from the moment it goes into the oven when dough and heat combine preparing the bread for consumption. Waiting until the bread has cooled enough to take that first delicious bite is nearly impossible, particularly when butter is involved. Over the years new to me cookbooks with detailed recipes, combined with a desire to understand the process of baking better and a willingness to take the time necessary to blend the ingredients well allowed me to make better baked goods. This further allowed me to understand how to exchange ingredients adding or subtracting as desired and knowing the other changes necessary for a well baked product.
Over the last several months Beth Ferrier has been working sour dough to make really beautiful looking bread. I’m salivating just thinking about the delightfully tangy taste of bread or pancakes made with a well aged and maintained sour starter. Bread made with an older starter has a sublime depth of flavor never to be repeated as the sour continues to mature and respond to the area where it lives.
Over the course of last week the overwhelming desire to bake an angel food cake took root until Sunday afternoon the need to respond to this desire met it’s natural end. I baked. This is the first time that an angel food cake ended up short and fat.Now please understand that in some ways I know better than to do several of the things I did to create this completely underwhelming flop. Please allow me to start with our recent purchase of a kitchen scale that lives next to my stand mixer. This delightful piece of equipment called out to me more than once, “hey!” it said, “here I am!” and “Yoooohoooooooo!” The kitchen scale has a sweet siren voice, but did I listen? Nooooo because I know how to bake and measuring cups are things, ya know.
Now I know that there is a difference in weight between egg sizes and weights. I know this. I know that because of the weight differences adjustments must be made in the recipe. But the adjustment really should be equivalent, a little under a little over will work. Now mind you egg whites from 12 large eggs weights 14.28 ounces; 12 jumbo weighs 17.4 ounces, so this is about 2 egg whites difference. I can either up the rest of the ingredients with a bit of math or adjust the quantity of eggs. Well uh, I added one more jumbo white. Mistake number one and this one was a doozy because I ended up with over 4 ounces of extra liquid.
Mistake number two, and this one was thoughtless dumping of all the ingredients into the bowl of the stand mixer, including one ingredient that egg whites don’t particularly care for. So that’s two and three so hang with me here. When making egg white foam it’s best to add the sugar slowly over medium speed, dumping all the sugar in at once almost defeats the purpose. Also the orange extract included orange oil, for most baked goods this isn’t an issue, however egg whites don’t really foam well, I was on my way to making a sweet, orangy mayo type emulsion rather than the airy foam I needed for angel food.
Normally when an angel food comes out of the oven you can turn the whole pan over to let it cool and set. Because of the many missteps, mistakes, errors along the way it didn’t quite work, part of the cake flopped out. While I was disappointed in the overall result of the cake I was not disappointed with the second part of the project which became a delightfully tart lemon curd. Oh this take makes me go all weak in the knees, and may have led to a couple of extra minutes in the oven for the cake. Since there were no pictures take of this short fat dense cake I’ll take pictures when I have the redo. Which might be today. Later this week I’ll tell the tale of a trip to a local quilt shop and some new product that arrived. You are going to LOVE this and need all of it.