Egg White Mesa

Happy National Angel Food Cake Day!!!!

When I started this project just over a month ago, I never anticipated how much time I would spend reflecting on my life and childhood. Food and I have had a long and sometimes complicated relationship – a love-hate thing really – so much of my life and memories revolve around the kitchen table of my childhood home. 

Angel Food Cake is another item that is near and dear to my heart. My mom made this cake pretty regularly, spending an afternoon expertly whipping and folding ingredients together. When it came out of the pan, Tim and I were gifted with the magic of:

The crispy cake bits that got stuck to the side.

If you’ve never had this experience, you are truly missing out on a gift from the cake gods. I’m not sure why these bits get stuck to the pan, but they are amazing. Mind blowing. 

Never throw these away. Trust me.

Going into today, I was so excited to finally, FINALLY, give my kids the gift of the crispy cake bits. It was going to be a life changing experience for them. I was NOT going to fuck this up. 

To increase my odds of success, I asked my mom for her famous Angel Food Cake recipe:


Then realized there might be a problem…

I don’t own a flour sifter. It seemed pretty important to this recipe…. 

I consulted my mom, the cake baking expert, for advice:


……..

Now, I’m definitely not an expert…. but I don’t think a fork is the same thing as a sifter…

I didn’t really know what else to try though, so I went at it with a fork and hoped for the best.


Next came some egg white wizardry. I can recall my mom quickly and efficiently separating egg whites from the yolks. She poured that yolk back and forth between the shell halves like it was nothing. I watched her do this a hundred times – how hard could it be?


Turns out, really fucking hard.


I tried to scoop the yolk out with the shell but wound up puncturing it and oozing yolk everywhere. I got *most* of it out of the whites… probably no big deal, right?

The next snafu came when I realized I didn’t have almond extract. What I thought was a bottle of almond was actually a second bottle of vanilla extract… Why do I have two bottles of vanilla extract?! Who needs that much vanilla?!

So I skipped that… and hoped for the best…

Now for the “mixing”. 


The recipe called for “beating” the egg white situation until it was foaming. Nailed that one. Those egg whites were foamy as fuck!


In hindsight, they may have just been a little bubbly and I got too excited to move on to the next step.

I think at this point I was supposed to add another 1/2 cup sugar…. so I did… then started second guessing that decision… did the recipe mean “add more sugar now” or “add the original 1/2 cup sugar that you definitely didn’t already add because you’re not an idiot”?!?! 

Since I couldn’t undo the sugar adding, I decided to just go with it and move on to the next step:

Stupid stiff peaks.

Why does all baking involve these damn stiff peaks?!?! 

My sister-in-law recently shared a YouTube video with me that shows someone whipping stiff peaks by hand. It was a fairly strong looking dude, which is 100% the opposite of me, but it was still proof that it can be done!

With a slightly inflated mixing ego, I gave stiff peaks another try.


Those are not stiff peaks. After 10 minutes of vigorous thrashing I thought my arms were going to fall off and I gave up. It was some sort of frothy mesa or plateau… so I thought “that’s a form of mountainy rock, right?” and went with it.

Originally I was going to use a bundt cake pan for this because I remember my mom’s pan having a hole in the middle… but I couldn’t find it.

The only other thing I remember about my mom’s pan is that it had tall sides. This led to using a loaf pan with the rationalization that it too had tall sides so obviously it would be exactly the same! 

I was sooooo close to crispy cake bits!!!


I folded together the dry ingredients and the frothy shit, poured it into the pan and thought “that’s probably going to poof up when it bakes.”


Angel Food Cake is not bread. It does not rise when baked.

My mom had a little more advice to share on how to get those awesome crispy cake bits, which I followed fairly literally. She also had some words of comfort which I DESPARATELY needed at this point!




I let it cool, dreamt of those delicious little bits, and attempted to finish a jug of wine/pack for our upcoming vacation while I waited.


A little while later I flipped over the pan and started scraping at the sides of the pan with a butter knife. Maybe I scraped a little too thoroughly because there wasn’t a single crispy bit left on the pan!!!! I felt cheated!!! All that foaming and haphazard mixing and nothing!!!


Just a sad, sad flat “cake”. 

It’s more like an Angel Food bar situation if we’re being honest.

How did it taste? 

Sugary. A little too sugary.

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