Maple Cinnamon Angel Food Cake
In my husband’s eyes, there are only two kinds of cake.
Without even asking I know his responses to “what do you want to celebrate our anniversary?” and “what’s your birthday dessert wish?” For the first: flourless dark chocolate. For the second: angel food. Always.
It’s easy to understand how the name angel food cake originated. This feather-light sponge relies not on traditional leaveners like baking soda or baking powder to provide lift, but on air whipped into the egg whites + steam from the batter. An AFC expands and climbs up the sides of the pan in the oven, rising ever toward the heavens: food for angels.
There’s not much wiggle room in a heavy-on-the-details recipe like this, buuuut you know by now I can’t help myself. Swapped 1/4-cup each of the cake flour and granulated sugar for almond flour and maple syrup, respectively, and went with almond extract instead of vanilla to amplify the flavor. Thanks to my grandfather I will always have an affinity for the combination of maple and cinnamon — be it savory or sweet — so I added a spoon of that as well.
What’s in it for me?
One egg white is cholesterol-free, virtually fat-free, and contains more than 3 grams of protein (a slightly smaller amount is found in the yolk). The protein found in eggs is considered one of the highest-quality sources because of the body’s ability to utilize it so readily and quickly, and because it contains all nine of the essential amino acids.
A source of monounsaturated and some omega-3 fats, as well as antioxidant vitamin E, calcium and magnesium, almond flour promotes heart, immune and brain health. Naturally low in carbohydrates, it’s a plant-based source of iron and a small amount of protein.
Maple syrup is a natural sweetener that contains manganese, zinc and provides a small amount of anti-inflammatory polyphenols. Beyond flavor and spice, cinnamon may help promote skin health with natural antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
Knowing full well that my substitutions could literally make this cake fall flat, I kept my fingers crossed (and the oven light on) the entire time it baked. Thankfully luck favored the foolhardy — perfectly lofty with a gorgeous golden brown color; a moist, yet airy and light texture; cinnamon-y, maple-y, almond-y delicious. It’s honestly one of the best attempts to date, and because of my husband, there are many to compare it to!
Tell me… When I say cake, what’s the first kind you think of?
- 1 cup sifted cake flour, not self-rising flour (see HGN Notes on how to make your own)
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1 cup superfine sugar, or granulated sugar finely ground in a spice grinder or food processor
- 1 heaping tsp cinnamon
- 12 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp pure almond extract
- 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 325° F, with a rack placed in the lower third. Set aside a 10-inch angel food cake pan with a removable bottom and legs. Do NOT grease or line the pan with paper -- you want it to climb up the sides. (Alternatively, a 10-inch tube pan will also work.)
- Onto a piece of wax or parchment paper, or into a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, almond flour, 3/4 cup of the sugar and the cinnamon with a fine mesh sieve or sifter. Repeat 4 times to fully incorporate. Set aside.
- Beat the room temperature egg whites with a stand mixer (or whisk or hand mixer) on low speed until foamy. Add the salt, cream of tartar and almond extract, and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. With mixer running, gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar 1 Tbsp at a time, beating no longer than 1 minute after each addition. Raise speed to medium-high; continue beating until glossy and firm, but not stiff, peaks form (when whisk is lifted, only the tip of the peak should fall over slightly).
- Sift the flour-sugar mixture over the egg white mixture in 6 parts, gently folding in each addition with a rubber scraper. Pour the maple syrup in at the edge of the bowl; gently fold in. Be careful not to overmix, or the egg whites will deflate.
- Scrape the batter into the angel food cake or tube pan. Drag a butter knife gently through the center of the batter to remove any large air bubbles, and lightly smooth out the top with your rubber scraper or an offset spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, and the top is golden and springs back when pressed with a finger, 30 to 45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and invert the pan onto its legs. (If using a tube pan, invert and hang it over the neck of a tall sturdy bottle.) Let cool completely upside-down, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- When cool, reinvert the pan so the top of the cake is facing up. Carefully run a small metal spatula or long paring knife around the inner and outer edges to loosen before releasing the bottom. Unmold onto a wire rack.
- Carefully transfer the cake to a serving platter. Slice using a cake comb/fork, or a serrated knife with a gentle sawing motion. Cake will keep up to 2 days at room temperature in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic, or up to 1 week refrigerated and covered tightly.
Instructions for homemade almond flour can be found in my Leftover Nut Pulp + Homemade Flour post here: http://buff.ly/1p5lvzX.
Save your egg yolks for homemade mayonnaise, citrus curd, or (our favorite use): custard-style ice cream. If you can't get to them right away -- 12 is a LOT of yolks -- refrigerate in an airtight container with a piece of plastic wrap pressed onto the surface up to 3 days. To freeze, beat the yolks together with either 1/8 tsp salt or 1 1/2 tsp sugar (for future use in savory or sweet applications, respectively) and freeze in an airtight container for up to 4 months. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Approximately 1 Tbsp yolk mixture = 1 large fresh yolk.
+ Swap vanilla extract for the almond, or try other extracts like lemon, orange, peppermint, etc.
+ Use any other baking spice in place of the cinnamon, adjusting amount to your tastes. Perhaps flowery cardamom, licorice-like anise, or spicy ginger?
+ Fold in 1 to 2 Tbsp freshly grated citrus zest instead of or in addition to the spice of your choice.
+ Make it speckled with 1/4 to 1/2 cup coarsely grated dark or bittersweet chocolate folded into the batter after the flour. Go all-out chocolate by adding 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder to the sifted flour and sugar mixture as well!
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School
+ + + +
p.s. I love hearing from you! Check back if you ask a question, because I’ll answer it here.
And if you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing. Thanks!