My father-in-law has a sophisticated palette, not just in terms of food, but in life. He is an excellent cook and loves to bust out the most complicated of his beloved John Ash recipes for family dinners. He knows his wine and when I say ‘knows’ it, I mean he knows it inside and out… regions, years, complexity, acidity and, of course, taste. He is a true collector of music with an entire room dedicated to the cds he has found over the years; often scouring the record shops in London. He studies ancient Rome with a dedication that would shame most undergrads working toward degrees. He discovers the European cities of old with an educated and authentic delight. He relishes a good NFL game. He travels to hear his favorite musicians play live. And apparently, in addition to all these fine treasures in life, the man also loves his smarties.
He let me in on this little tidbit a few weeks ago when I made a sort of strawberry charlotte base out of angel food cake. The little charlottes inspired him to tell me how he loves angel food and that every year for his birthday, he asked his mom to whip up an angel food cake with smarties on top for him. When he turned 25 she told him it was about time to pick something else, may be something a bit more grown up.
So, this year, for his birthday party, I have made him an angel food cake… with smarties on top. I have tried to amp it up a little so that it will still be as good as he remembered so I have not made this from a box but rather from scratch, and found a fluffy white chocolate frosting to hold those colorful little chocolate bites in place.
Happy Birthday, Ian.
(the key here, I think, is the sift sift sifting and the whipping of the egg whites – think light thoughts to keep it airy and angelic)
1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar (divided)
12 large egg whites at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat to 375F placing the rack in the centre of the over.
Sift the flour with 3/4 cup of sugar. Repeat this process three times.
Fit a standing mixer with the whisk attachment and beat whites, cream of tartar and salt until frothy. Add vanilla. With the mixer on medium gradually add the remaining sugar and continue to whip until glossy and stiff peaks form… think shaving cream.
Sift enough of the flour mixture over the eggs to lightly cover the top then fold together. Repeat this sift-fold process until totally combined.
Gently spoon batter into an angel food cake pan (one with a removable bottom makes life easier). Use a knife, in a circular motion, to cut through the batter twice to remove any large air pockets. Smooth any peaks on top.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the centre comes out clean. Invert the pan over a bottle and allow to completely cool for about two hours. If you cool it right side up, the weight of the cake could cause it to fall. Once cool use a butter knife to remove it from the pan. Invert onto a serving platter.
2 1/2 cups whipping cream (divided)
1/8 cup butter
6 oz. chopped good quality white chocolate (I used Bakers)
1 tsp vanilla
Smarties (or raspberries or blackberries or whatever you like… the cake is good enough on its own to actually skip the frosting and just serve with berries)
Place 1/2 cup of cream and butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the chocolate and stir until combined. Whisk in vanilla.
In a bowl whip the remaining 2 cups of cream until stiff peaks form. In three batches, fold in the lukewarm chocolate mixture.
Place in the fridge for approximately three hours, folding occasionally. Chill until medium peaks form. Spread over tops and sides of cake.
Sprinkle with smarties.