Lavender Angel Food Cake
I’m sorry for the hiatus I’ve taken on this blog. I’ve wanted to make updates – I really have – but life gets busy. This summer has been a whirlwind, particularly the past month. Last month, we packed up all of our belongings and moved out of the house we’ve rented for the past three years. We got rid of some stuff and convinced our friends to help move everything else into storage. In a few weeks, we’ll complete our move by hauling it all to St. Louis, where my husband will start a postdoc, and I’ll continue looking for jobs if I don’t have anything lined up by then.
In the meantime, one of our friends who has been out of town all summer graciously allowed me, my husband, and our dog to stay in her house. So, we’re comfortable and in a homey space – much better than a generic hotel or sublet. This also means that I have everything that I need to cook at my disposal. Thank you so much, Erin!
Now that we’ve had two weeks to recover from moving out of our house, I can start to blog again. I have a lot to tell you about, although not a lot of pictures. I’ll start by telling you about the last thing I made in my house – Lavender Angel Food Cake.
I spent some amount of time prior to the move trying to use up all the things in my fridge and freezer. (The pantry was a lost cause.) A Ziploc bag full of egg whites was among the items I refused to transport. Any time I made a recipe that needed egg yolks, I would save the whites by dumping them into this baggie and freezing them. I’d write on the outside how many egg whites were there, but honestly, if you ever really need to use a quantity of egg whites, you’re better off measuring them.
The Lavender Angel Food Cake took 1 cup of egg whites – approximately 6 eggs, it says. That’s probably accurate. I think I had at least 10 or 12 in my bag, and I definitely had enough that I would have been able to make a second angel food cake.
I would have made any old angel food cake, but when my husband and I went to Detroit to visit my in-laws earlier in July, we went to a farmer’s market and I came across the only thing that could have possibly enticed me to buy another ingredient to have in the kitchen. That ingredient was lavender. I looked for lavender last year to include in a different recipe, and couldn’t find it anywhere where I live. I wasn’t about to special order it and pay for shipping or anything. In Detroit, for $2, I ended up with enough lavender to last me quite a while.
I’ve only made an angel food cake one other time, and it turned out pretty well. I could have just added lavender to that recipe, but I didn’t. I found a recipe that called specifically for lavender. The Lavender Angel Food Cake recipe seemed straightforward enough. I mixed together powdered sugar, cake flour (which has less gluten than regular flour and yields baked goods with a finer texture), and crushed lavender buds. In my stand mixer, I whipped egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla extract. It didn’t take long for soft peaks to form. I added granulated sugar and mixed it for longer, until stiff peaks formed. Honestly, it’s possible I overwhipped it, but if I did, it wasn’t by much.
Next, I sifted some of the lavender mixture over the egg whites and folded it in gently, trying not to deflate the egg whites. I repeated this several times, until everything was incorporated. I put the batter into my square angel food cake pan, and baked the cake for about 40 minutes. I left it to cool overnight, and cut it out of the cake pan the following afternoon.
This cake was good. I deflated the egg whites some as I incorporated the flour-sugar-lavender mixture, but that really only affected the height. I think that the taste and texture were still up to par for angel food cakes. Lavender tastes exactly like it smells. If you haven’t smelled it before, I don’t think I can really describe it to you, aside from telling you that it’s very herbal. Lavender was a nice way to spice up an otherwise straightforward dessert. It’s not my favorite flavor, but it’s nice for a change of pace.
Although the cake was good, I honestly don’t think I’d make this recipe again. I’m disappointed that I deflated the egg whites before I baked the cake, and I’m not sure if it’s my technique or a flaw with this recipe. I think I want to go back to the first angel food cake recipe I made last year and focus on consistently getting good results on it.