Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake

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I love this cake.  The Pie and I have made it a few times now and it’s always a big hit.  If you like angel food cake, this will be your new favourite incarnation of it.  The gluten-free factor raises this cake to all new levels of melt-in-your-mouth goodness.  I highly recommend it, although you do go through an entire carton of eggs every time you make it.  While you’re trying it, you should also check out the Gluten-Free Homemaker, where I got the recipe.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F and grab yourself a nice old tube pan.  The plain aluminum ones are always the best for this kind of stuff.  DO NOT GREASE IT. I’m pretty sure that greasing an angel food cake pan will start the apocalypse, but I’m too afraid to test out that theory.

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Separate 12 eggs.  Save the yolks for something awesome (like custard), and plop the whites into the bowl of an electric mixer.

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Add to that 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar and 2 teaspoons vanilla and leave that to warm up a little.  Room temperature whites will foam up more than cold ones.

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In a small bowl, sift together your flour ingredients.  I adapted mine recipe here a bit just for availability’s sake.  So, put together 1 1/3 cup icing sugar, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1/2 cup tapioca starch, and 1/4 cup rice flour.  Add to that 1 teaspoon xanthan gum and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Set that aside for the nonce.

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Start your mixer and begin to froth up your egg whites.  When you get to this level of foaminess, you can start adding in, a little bit at a time, 1 cup granulated sugar.

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Keep going until the egg foam forms stiff peaks and the stuff can support the weight of the mixer attachment.

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Gently fold in the flour mixture a bit at a time. It will not want to mix in. Be patient, and very gentle.

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Smooth your batter into your tube pan.

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Make sure to level the top as best  you can.

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Bake for 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and dry-looking.  You’ll see some cracks, too — that’s good.  Invert the pan on its legs or on the neck of a sturdy bottle and let that cool completely.

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When you’re ready, carefully wiggle the cake out of the pan with the aid of a knife.

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The best way (in my opinion) to top an angel food cake is with some vanilla-flavoured whipped cream and fresh berries, which is what you see here.

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A few berries became a lot of berries, but the more the merrier!

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Fruit Sauce

I spent 1990-1995 living on a relatively high security naval base in British Columbia.  As a shy girl with an overactive imagination, living in the relative isolation of that place was the best time of my life, despite the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War followed by a subsequent vicious and terrifying CUPE strike.  I went back to the base in February of 2002, and it just wasn’t the same.  For one thing, there were actual guards at the front gate now, with really big guns.  As an adult I was subject to quite a bit more scrutiny than I had been as a child.  But it was fantastic to visit the place where I used to have so much fun.

My front yard was twenty metres from the ocean and a rocky beach.  Helicopters would land in the field behind my house.  The admiral would let me pick roses from his garden.  Destroyers, frigates, and minesweepers would signal me in pseudo-morse code when I waved (well they would if my dad or someone I knew was on them).  Frogmen would magically appear next to me on the beach, having emerged from the ocean.  Things got exciting when nuclear submarines came to visit.  There were enormous cliffs to climb and fantastic old ruins to hide in.  And there were wild apple trees, cherry trees, and a blackberry bush the length of a football field.

It wasn’t uncommon to pass by this particular bush on any given day in the summer and find it full of not only bees and wasps but engineers, sailors, police officers, and anyone else who happened to be passing by and wanted a snack.

We ate a lot of blackberries in those summers.

My mother would stew the blackberries with a bit of water or juice, a spoonful or two of sugar, and a little dab of corn starch to thicken it.  We would eat this stuff on ice cream, cake, pie, pancakes, waffles … you name it.  It’s a multi-purpose sauce and can turn any dessert into an elegant treat in a flash.

Blackberries are obviously my favourite ingredient, but you can use any other kind of berry you want.   Living in Newfoundland I have discovered that partridge berries make a nice tart sauce.  Raspberries, blueberries, and halved strawberries work well.  Frozen berries work very well in this, as you don’t have to work on breaking them down as they cook.  I will try to quantify the amounts for you here.  If you’re cooking for a dinner party, make the full recipe below, but you can halve (or double) this recipe easily.

Take 2 cups fresh or frozen berries and bung them in a small pot.  I used blueberries this time.  Add in 1/2 cup of water or juice (I like to use cranberry juice to boost the flavour) and 1/4 cup of sugar.  You’ll need a little extra liquid if you are using fresh berries.

Heat on medium, stirring often, until all the berries are defrosted and broken up.

Suspend one tablespoon corn starch in three tablespoons water or juice and pop that in as well.

Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

Remove from the heat and drizzle over the food of your choice.  

I recommend Pound Cake.