Musings about Food & the Politics of Food.

TartQueen's Kitchen

Chocolate Meringues 2

Posted on May 31, 2013 by Sahar

Meringues are that almost etherial confection that can either come out beautifully or end in frustration for many a baker.

On top of a pie, as a base or crust, or in bite-sized form, in actuality, they’re easy and fun to make. They can make a dessert look elegant or festive. And mostly, especially for those of us with a sweet tooth, delicious.

There are three basic types of meringue:  Italian, French, and Swiss.

The Italian Meringue consists of boiling syrup poured slowly into beaten egg whites.  This produces a meringue that is more stable and can be used in a variety of desserts without a danger of it breaking down or collapsing.  Because boiling sugar is added to the whites, no further cooking is needed. (If you want to see an example of Italian Meringue, check out my blog post from May 31,2012: “Key Lime Pie”.)

French Meringue is the most commonly used meringue in home kitchens.  It consists of either granulated or powdered sugar slowly added to egg whites and beaten until stiff.

Swiss Meringue consists of the egg whites beaten over a bain-marie or a very slow simmering double boiler to warm the egg whites and sugar together.  Whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are warm.  The whites are then removed from the heat and beaten until they have a dense, marshmallow-like consistency.

The history of the meringue is a bit of a murky one.  The first known reference to meringues is found in Francois Massialot’s 1692 cookbook,  Nouvelle instruction pour les confitures, les liqueurs et les fruits (Instruction for new jams and fruit liqueurs).  The first reference to meringues in England is from 1706 in a translation of Massialot’s book.

Two earlier 17th Century English recipe books give instructions for confections that are recognizable as meringue, though called “white biskit bread” in the book of recipes started in 1604 by Lady Elinor Fettiplace of Appleton in Berkshire (now in Oxfordshire), and called “pets” in the manuscript of collected recipes written by Lady Rachel Fane of Kent.

Slowly baked meringues are still referred to as “pets” (meaning farts in French) in the Loire region of France due to their light and fluffy texture.

How lovely.

(some information from


There are several important things to remember when making a meringue:

1.  Make sure your eggs are separated properly.  The egg whites must be free of yolk.  Even a small amount of fat in egg whites will prevent them from reaching their full volume and may cause them to collapse.

2.  Make sure your egg whites are at room temperature.  This allows the proteins of the whites to relax and loosen.  The volume of the egg whites is not only contingent on no fat, but also the breakdown of hydrogen bonds in the protein.  A warmer temperature helps to create this.

3.  Make sure the utensils you use are clean, free of any fat (including any oily residue), and room temperature. Avoid using plastic bowls or utensils; they tend to hold on to oils.

4.  Do not overbeat the whites.  You’ll know you’ve done this if the whites begin to separate, look dry, and you see liquid (albumen) pooling at the bottom of the bowl.  There are supposedly methods for saving the whites, but I’ve never found one that works.  Just start over.

5.  When adding the sugar (or any dry ingredients), it has to be done slowly and gradually.  If you add all of the sugar at once, it won’t dissolve properly and the egg whites and will attract moisture.  Moisture is the ruination of a meringue.

A note about the cocoa powder: M. Herme uses exclusively the Valrhona Dutch-processed cocoa powder.  He calls for it in this recipe.  I did use the Dutch-processed cocoa (what I have at home is Hershey’s) and I like it; in fact, I prefer it. Dutch-processed cocoa is readily available, but, if you have natural cocoa powder, you should be fine.

Natural Cocoa Powder is made with all of the cocoa butter is removed from the cocoa liquor leaving a dry cake that is then ground down to a fine powder that’s  bitter and acidic.  Its natural acidity is used to help activate baking soda in recipes.  It’s only used in cooked or baked desserts.

Dutch Process Cocoa Powder is natural powder that’s been treated with a small amount of alkaline to reduce the cocoa’s natural acidity. The process makes the powder darker and gives it a more mellow flavor.


Now.  On to the recipe.


Lotsa chocolate. My most recent class at Central Market.

Lotsa chocolate. My most recent class at Central Market.


This recipe is based on a recipe from the great book Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme by Dorie Greenspan (Little, Brown; 2001).  While it is a wonderful recipe, I did make a couple of changes.

1.  M. Herme calls for Valrhona cocoa powder.  While I like Valrhona and use it occasionally, it is expensive ($13.99/lb. at Central Market).  Plus, not it’s not available to everyone. You can use any type of Dutch-process cocoa you like in this recipe.

2.  He does have a step in his original recipe saying to dust the raw meringues with powdered sugar and cocoa before putting in the oven to dry.  I did that.  I found it to be an unnecessary step.  When I took my meringues out of the oven, I had to take a soft pastry brush and brush off the excess sugar and cocoa.  So, I left it out of the recipe I’m showing you.

3.  His original recipe doesn’t include cream of tartar.  I added it because it helps to add to the stability of the whites and helps to produce a stiffer peak.


The Ingredients

The Ingredients


1 c. powdered sugar

3 tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa

4 egg whites, room temperature

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

7 tbsp. granulated sugar, separated into 2 ea. 3-1/2 tbsp.

1.  Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 250F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.  Fit a large pastry bag with a plain 1/2″ – 3/4″ tip – you want a large tip so you can pipe generous meringue kisses.  (If you don’t have a large enough tip or a pastry bag, skip the pastry bag and use a zipper-lock plastic bag.  Seal the bag and then snip off a corner so that it creates a “tip” that’s just the right size.)

2.  Sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa and set aside.

Sifting the sugar and the cocoa.

Sifting the sugar and the cocoa.

3.  In a clean, dry mixer bowl with a clean, dry whisk attachment in place, whip the egg whites on high speed until they form soft peaks.

Egg whites and cream of tartar ready for whipping.

Egg whites and cream of tartar ready for whipping.

Soft peak stage.

Soft peak stage.

Still whipping on high, gradually add the first half of the granulated sugar.and continue to beat until the whites are glossy and form stiff peaks.

Adding the sugar.

Adding the sugar.

The egg whites at stiff peak stage after adding the first half of the sugar.

The egg whites at stiff peak stage after adding the first half of the sugar.

Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and gradually beat in the remaining half of the granulated sugar.

Adding the remaining sugar.

Adding the remaining sugar.

The finished egg whites.

The finished egg whites.

4.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and, working with a large rubber spatula, gradually fold in the sifted powdered sugar and cocoa mixture.

I like to sift the dry ingredients on top of the egg whites before I begin to fold.

I like to sift the dry ingredients on top of the egg whites before I begin to fold. Makes for a more even mixture.

Folding the powdered sugar/cocoa mix into the egg whites.

Folding the powdered sugar/cocoa mix into the egg whites.

Work quickly but delicately, and don’t be discouraged when your beautifully airy meringue deflates a little; it’s inevitable.

Ready for the piping bag.

Ready for the piping bag.

5.  Working with half the batter at a time, gently spoon half the batter into the pastry bag.

A trick to more neatly fill a pastry bag: Take a large glass, either twist or bend the tip of the bag, and place the bag into and over the glass as shown.  Take the spatula and fill the pastry bag about 1/2 - 2/3 full.

A trick to more neatly fill a pastry bag: Take a large glass, either twist or bend the tip of the bag, and place the bag into and over the glass as shown. Take the spatula and fill the pastry bag about 1/2 – 2/3 full.

The filled pastry bag.

The filled pastry bag.

Pipe out rounds roughly 1-1/2″ – 2″ in diameter, finishing with a peak in the center onto the baking sheets (they should look like giant chocolate kisses).

Twist  or fold over the top of the pastry bag and gently work the batter down to the tip.  Be sure to work from the top of the bag down.  Don't squeeze in the center.

Twist or fold over the top of the pastry bag and gently work the batter down to the tip. Be sure to work from the top of the bag down. Don’t squeeze in the center.

Use your dominant hand to squeese from the top, continuing to twist or fold the bag as you go.  Your non-dominant hand is for guiding and lifting the bag only.

Use your dominant hand to squeeze from the top, continuing to twist or fold the bag as you go. Your non-dominant hand is for guiding and lifting the bag only.

Allow about 1 inch between each puff.  The larger the meringues, the fewer you’ll have. (M. Herme’s recipe says make the meringues 2-1/2″ for a yield of 20. Mine are generally smaller, so I’ve had as many as 40.)

Piping the meringues onto the baking sheet. Not perfect. But, hey, they're homemade.

Piping the meringues onto the baking sheet. Not perfect. But, hey, they’re homemade.

6.  Place the baking sheets in the oven and insert a handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep it slightly ajar (this helps cut down on moisture in the oven).  Bake the puffs for 1 hour, rotate the sheet pans, and bake for another hour.

A sheet pan ready for the oven.

A sheet pan ready for the oven.

A wooden spatula in the oven door for venting.

A wooden spatula in the oven door for venting.

7.  After the second hour, turn off the oven, take the wooden spoon out of the door to close the oven, and continue to dry the meringues for another 2 hours, or as long as overnight.  Take the meringues out of the oven and transfer, parchment and all, to racks to cool to room to room temperature.  Run a thin metal spatula under the puffs to release them from the paper.

The finished meringues.

The finished meringues.

*The meringues can be kept up to one week in an airtight container.



Key Lime Pie (with a bonus at the end!) 0

Posted on May 31, 2012 by Sahar

Key Lime Pie is the ultimate symbol of food from Florida. Specifically, the Florida Keys.  No one really knows when the first Key Lime Pies were made or who made them since there’s no documentation.  However, according to historians, the most likely candidate is a ship salvager turned millionaire named William Curry.  He had a cook known only as Aunt Sally.  She supposedly created the pie in the late 19th Century.

Other historians believe that fisherman off the Keys, off to sea for long periods of time, created the pie as a way to help preserve their supplies, especially eggs.

Sweetened condensed milk was used because, until the Overseas Highway was built in 1930, there was a lack of fresh milk, ice,  and refrigeration on the Keys.  To this day, it is the key to making the pie so creamy.

The other main ingredient is, of course, key limes.  The key lime tree is native to Malaysia and most likely arrived in the Keys in the 16th Century with the Spanish explorers.  They are about the size of a golf ball with a yellow-green skin.  Their juice is sweeter than the more common Persian limes.

As a fun little political aside, in 1965, Florida State Representative Bernie Papy, Jr. introduced legislation calling for a $100 fine to be levied against anyone advertising Key Lime Pie that isn’t made with key limes. The bill didn’t pass.

(Some historical information from


Now, to the recipe.

The Ingredients


Of course, the purist, like Rep. Papy, would say that the only true Key Lime Pie is made with fresh key lime juice. And they would be right.  However, many of us don’t have access to fresh key limes, or, if we do, the time to juice & zest about 20 – 30 to make this pie.

I use a combination of fresh lime juice and bottled key lime juice.  The most common brand of key lime juice is Nellie & Joe’s.  However, if you can find fresh key limes, and have the time to prepare them, by all means, use them.

Another question is what kind of crust to use: pastry or graham cracker? My own personal preference is pastry.  More specifically, cookie.  Which is what I do in this recipe.  And, because the crust recipe here is essentially a cookie recipe, it isn’t going to behave like a regular pie crust.

Meringue, whipped cream, or plain?  Again, it’s up to the baker.  I like meringue.  It’s also most likely the original topping since heavy cream wouldn’t have been available in the Keys before the 1930’s.  In this recipe I use an Italian Meringue.  It’s made with a hot sugar syrup as opposed to granulated sugar.  It makes an excellent, stable meringue that is almost reminiscent of a fluffy cake frosting.

One more thing.  True Key Lime Pie doesn’t have green food coloring.  The color of the pie should be a light yellow-green color.  If you see a pie that has a fluorescent green hue, walk away.  It’s most likely a pre-made mix.

Also, I prefer a more tart pie than many people.  Many of the key lime pies I’ve tasted really put the emphasis on sweet rather than lime.  I feel I’ve remedied that here.  It’s more of a sweet-tart flavor.


Shortbread Cookie Crust

2c. (9 oz.) all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. citrus zest (optional)

1/2 c. light brown sugar

1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened


Key Lime Filling

2 cans sweetened condensed milk (don’t use non-fat. Yuk.)

3 egg yolks

1 1/4 c. lime juice (I use a combination of fresh Persian lime & bottled key lime in this recipe. However, you can use all fresh of one or the other)

2 tbsp. lime zest


Italian Meringue

1 1/4 c. sugar

1/2 c. water

2 tbsp. light corn syrup (keeps the syrup from “sugaring up” or solidifying)

6 egg whites, room temperature

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar (if you don’t have this, it’s all right.  However, it does act as a stabilizer for the whites)


1.  Make the crust: Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl.  If you’re using the zest, toss that into the dry ingredients as well.

Weighing the flour.


Zesting the limes. The Microplane is a perfect tool for this. It takes off the outer peel while leaving behind the bitter white pith. If you don't own a Microplane, go get one.


The dry ingredients and zest mixed together.


2.  In a mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.

The butter & sugar in the bowl.


Beating together the sugar & butter.


You want a fluffy, aerated mixture. This will help with the texture of the crust.


3.  Turn the speed down to low and gradually add the flour mixture.

Adding the flour to the butter & sugar


Keep mixing until the flour is completely incorporated.


4.  Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a slightly flattened disk.  Wrap the dough tightly in the plastic wrap, place in the refrigerator, and chill for at least 3 hours.

The dough ready for the refrigerator


Note: At this point, you can simply use this dough for cookies.  Delicious.


5.  After you’ve let the dough chill, take it out of the refrigerator and let it sit for about 15 – 20 minutes to let it soften slightly.  When you roll out the dough, you want it to be firm but not rock-hard.

Dough ready for rolling.


6.  Unwrap the dough and lay it on a floured surface and lightly sprinkle the top with more flour.  Alternately, you can sandwich the dough between 2 pieces of wax paper or plastic wrap.

7.  Roll the dough out, starting from the center and working out to the edges.  Turn the dough a 1/4 turn each time you pass the pin over it.  This will help make a more even thickness as well as, especially if you’re using a floured surface, keeping the dough from sticking.  Use more flour if you need to, but try to use as little as possible.  Too much flour will make the crust tough and dry.

Note:  Again, remember, this is a cookie dough.  It is not going to behave the same way as a regular pie dough.  Because of the high butter content, this dough will get very soft, very fast as you work it.  If the dough cracks while you’re rolling, just press it back together.  If you give up on trying to roll it out (and believe me, I have a couple of times), you can simply take pieces of dough and press them into the pie plate.  Trust me, though, the results are worth a little frustration.

Getting ready to roll the dough.


8.  When you’re done rolling, take a 9-inch pie plate and measure the dough.  There should be approximately 3 – 4 inches of extra dough around the outer edges of the pie plate.

Measuring the pie dough.


9.  Now for the fun part.  Carefully flip the dough onto the pie plate and shape the dough into the plate.  Trim any dough overhanging the edges to a 1″ overhang. (if you don’t have any overhang, it’s all right.) Use whatever scraps you have to patch up any holes, tears, or spots and the edge that are a little short of dough.

Save the scraps for cookies.

Getting ready to flip the dough


A not entirely successful flip


If your dough looks like this after you've flipped it into the pie plate, don't despair. All will be well.


After a little repair work. See? I told you it all comes together.


10.  Tuck under the overhang around the edges. (If you have any.  The most important thing is that the crust is as even a thickness as possible.).  Finish the edges as you like.  Use a fork to prick a few holes in the crust and place it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Pie crust ready for the freezer. Freezing the crust will help to keep it from melting & burning in the oven when you par-bake it later.


11.  Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350F.  Grease a piece of foil or parchment paper on one side with spray.  Set aside.

12.  Take the pie crust out of the freezer, place it on a baking sheet, and press the foil or paper down into it.  Fill the foil or paper with pie weights (i.e. dried beans, lentils, or rice) and place the pie crust in the oven.

Raw crust filled with pie weights ready for the oven.


13.  Par-bake the crust for 30 minutes.  Take the crust out of the oven, carefully remove the foil or paper and the weights.  Wrap the edges in foil, if needed, and bake an additional 8 – 10 minutes.

Note:  There will be a bit of melting of the crust, especially the outer edge.  It’s inevitable given the fact this is cookie dough.  When the crust comes out of the oven, it will be very soft and fragile.  Hence, the cookie sheet.

Finished par-baked crust


14.  Take the crust from the oven and let it cool completely.  At this stage, of you like, once the crust is cool, you can carefully wrap it in plastic and place it in the refrigerator.

15.  While the crust is cooling, you an make the filling.  In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks to break them up.  Add the condensed milk, lime juice, and zest.  Whisk until you have an even, well combined mixture.  The filling will thicken upon standing.  Set aside or cover and refrigerate.

Egg yolks & lime zest.


After adding the lime juice


After adding the sweetened condensed milk. Yummy stuff.


16.  Once the crust has cooled completely, wrap the edges in foil (to prevent any further browning)

Wrapped edges.


Carefully pour in the filling.

Ready for the oven.


Place the filled pie on the baking sheet (if you haven’t done so already) and put the pie back into a preheated 350F oven for 35 – 45 minutes. If your oven has a hot spot, and most ovens do, rotate the baking sheet about halfway through the initial baking time.

The center should be a bit wobbly when you take it from the oven.  It will firm up as the pie cools.


Note:  This is a very important thing to remember.  When you are making ANY type of cream pie, you must pay attention to the baking time & doneness of the filling.  I didn’t the first time around when I was making the pie for this post.

I had workmen in my house that day and became distracted.  So, here is what happened:

What you don't want to see. An overcooked cream pie.


The overcooked proteins have basically squeezed out all the liquid causing the filling to separate.


So, what you’ll end up with, if you aren’t paying attention, is essentially sweet-tart scrambled eggs.  And I’m fairly certain none of you will be going for that.  The pie will still taste good, but the texture will be, well, funky.

Eat the pie yourself or dress it up and give it to someone you don’t like very much.

Here is what you want to see:

A smooth, creamy pie


Let the pie cool completely.  (I usually cover it once it’s cooled and place it in the refrigerator overnight.)


17.  Make the meringue: Separate the eggs using the 3-bowl method (see my blog post “Mom’s Favorite” on how to do this).  Place the egg whites & cream of tartar in a mixer bowl and set aside.

Egg whites & cream of tartar ready to go.

Make the sugar syrup:  In a medium saucepan, mix together the sugar, corn syrup, and water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil.

Sugar syrup getting ready to boil


18.  Once the syrup reached 240F on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage):

Syrup at 240F


begin whisking the egg whites on high speed until they are frothy:

Frothy egg whites.


19.  Once the sugar syrup reaches between 245F & 250F (firm ball stage), remove the saucepan from the heat.

Syrup at 250F. You don't want it to get any hotter than this or the whites will too stiff to work with later.


Turn the mixer down to medium speed.  CAREFULLY AND SLOWLY pour the hot syrup into the whites, avoiding the whip.

Carefully pouring the sugar syrup into the whites.


(A hot syrup burn is really, really painful.  There’s a reason pastry chefs call this stuff napalm.  Do not give this to the kids to do, be sober, and pay attention.)

Once you have poured in all the sugar syrup, turn the mixer speed up to medium-high and continue whisking the whites until they are firm and shiny.  The bowl should be just warm to the touch when they’re done.

Whisking the egg whites after all the syrup has been added


The finished egg whites. These could be used as a cake frosting at this point.


20.  Turn your oven on to broil (you may want to take a rack out) or have a torch ready to go. I usually set my oven on “Broil” setting and turn the temperature to 450F.

21.  Pile the meringue on top of the pie.  Spread it all the way to the edge of the crust and smooth or spike it out as you like (there will be A LOT of meringue).

An almost comical amount of meringue.


Ready for the oven.


Place the pie in the lower part of the oven and let the meringue brown.  Watch it carefully, though.  It can burn quickly.  About 60 – 90 seconds is all it will take.

If you have a torch, brown the meringue with that if you like.  You can direct the heat more directly and make the browning more even.

PIe! Yummy!


A cross section. It was really, really good.


Store any uneaten pie, covered, in the refrigerator.  It’ll keep for about 3 – 4 days.




P.S.  Remember what I said about saving the scraps for cookies?

1.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Have your oven preheated to 350F.

2.  Roll out the leftover dough into a 1/8 – 1/4″ thickness, depending on how crunchy or soft you like your shortbread cookies.

3.  Cut the cookies out into your desired shape.

Cutting out cookies


4.  Place the cut cookies onto the baking sheet about 1″ apart.  If you like, sprinkle them with a little turbinado (raw) sugar before baking:

Ready for the oven


5.  Bake the cookies for 8 – 10 minutes.  Depending on the thickness and how brown you like them.  Turn the baking sheet about halfway through the initial cooking time.

6.  When the cookies are done, let them cool slightly on the baking sheet then transfer to a rack.  The cookie yield depends on how much leftover dough you have and how thick you make the cookies.

All done!




















Mom’s Favorite 0

Posted on April 30, 2012 by Sahar

Angel Food Cake has always reminded me of my Mom.  Why?  Because it’s her favorite.  Because it’s something that makes her happy. Because it’s something seemingly delicate yet strong.

Her mother made it for her birthday every year with chocolate sauce.  If I happen to be with  Mom on her birthday, I always make Angel Food Cake.

I also like it because it’s delicious.  It tastes a little like toasted marshmallows to me.


Some food historians believe that the Angel Food Cakes were likely baked by African-American slaves in the early to mid 19th Century, since making this cake required a strong beating arm and lots of labor to whip the air into the whites.  Angel Food Cakes are also a traditional African-American favorite at post-funeral meals.

In “Mrs. Porter’s New Southern Cookery Book, and Companion for Frugal and Economical“, published in 1871, has a recipe for “Snow-Drift Cake”. A similar recipe appears in 1881 in a book by Abby Fisher, the first Black American woman and a former slave from Mobile, Alabama, who recorded her recipes in a cookbook called “What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, Soups, Pickles, Preserves, Etc.”. Her book has a cake recipe named “Silver Cake”.

The Original Boston Cooking School Cook Book” by Mrs.D.A. Lincoln published in 1884 had a recipe for “Angel Cake” mentioning the name for the first time. In Fannie Merritt Farmer’s 1896 updated version of the “Boston Cooking School Cook Book“, she uses the same recipe and calls the cake “Angel Food Cake.”

(some historical information from Wikipedia)


There is the school of thought that Angel Food Cake was so named because of it’s lighter color and texture.  It is suitable for the Angels to eat.  On the other hand, it’s slightly more decadent counterpart, Devil’s Food Cake, is darker, richer, and is considered more sinful. Exactly what the Devil would eat.

It reminds me of Muhammad Ali’s statement, ” Angel food cake is the white cake, but the devils food cake is chocolate. When are we going to wake up as a people and end the lie that white is better than black?”

I just had to add that.  It’s always stuck with me.


Once again, now to the recipe:

Now, to be honest, an Angel Food Cake isn’t for the cake-making novice.  There are so many things that could, can, and will go wrong if you don’t have the confidence and expertise when you bake.

Hell, things could still go wrong even if you do have plenty of baking experience.  I can tell you that with all sincerity.


Angel Food Cake Ingredients


1/2 c. 10x, or Confectioners, sugar

1 c. Pastry Flour (I admittedly use bleached in this recipe.  Just this recipe)

10 ea. Egg Whites (be sure they’re room temperature)

1/2 tsp. Cream of Tartar

2 tsp. Vanilla or Almond Extract (be sure to get pure extract, not imitation flavoring)

1 c. Granulated Sugar


1.  Preheat the oven to 350F.

2.  Sift together the 10x sugar and the pastry flour.  Set aside.

The sifted 10x sugar & pastry flour


When you measure out the pastry flour and 10x sugar, be sure to use the scoop & sweep method of measuring (see “Baking the Perfect Biscuit”, 12/18/11).  Otherwise, your cake runs the risk of having too much dry ingredient weight and you’ll deflate the whites and end up with a heavy cake that won’t rise.

2.  In a large mixer bowl, pour in the egg whites.

The 3-Bowl method of separating eggs.


There is a kind of art to separating eggs.  When you want egg whites, that’s all you want, egg whites.  Any additional fat (i.e. yolks) in the whites will keep them from potentially reaching full volume. Hence the 3-bowl method for separating egg whites.

You break the egg into one bowl.  If the yolk isn’t broken, you carefully lift it out of the bowl  and place it in the second bowl.  Then you pour the white into the third bowl.  If the yolk breaks, you pour the whole egg in with the yolks.  If there is any yolk left in the first bowl, wash it out or get a clean bowl.

By using this method, you’ll always have pure egg whites ready for your cake.

Cover the yolks and use them for something else.  Like a very rich omelet or lemon curd.


3.  The next thing you want are for your egg whites to be at room temperature.  This allows for the proteins in the whites to relax and allow the strands to be broken so they will incorporate more air as you whip them.

Add the whip attachment to your mixer (or break out your hand mixer).  Add the cream of tartar to the whites (this helps with the stabilization of the whites as you whip them).  Begin beating the whites at medium-high speed until they form soft peaks. Add the extract.

Just starting to whip the egg whites.


Frothy stage.


Almost to soft peak stage. Notice how the whites are becoming shinier and the bubbles are getting smaller.


Egg whites at soft peak stage. When you pull the whisk or beaters out of the whites, there will be a distinct peak, but it will bend a bit. And the egg whites are still soft.


4.  Continue whisking the whites until they form stiff peaks.

Egg whites beaten to stiff peaks. The whites will have a bit of a shine and the peaks will stand straight when you pull the whisk or beaters out. The whites will also feel almost heavy.


When you get to still peak stage, you want to be sure not to over beat the whites.  If you do that, the whites will begin to separate.  The whites will dry and the liquid will seep out.  There is no saving it.  You have to start over if this happens.


5.  Lower the speed of the mixer to low and slowly pour in the granulated sugar.  You don’t want to put all the sugar in at once because you want to give the whites a chance to dissolve the sugar and mix in more evenly.

Incorporating the sugar.


Raise the speed again to medium-high and continue beating the whites until they become stiff and shiny.  Again, take care not to over beat.

The beaten, sweetened egg whites. Just lovely.


6.  Carefully turn the whites out into a large, shallow bowl.

The egg whites in the bowl. You have to be careful when transferring because you don't want to deflate the whites.


Sift the reserved flour and 10x sugar mixture in 1/3rd’s over the whites and fold the dry ingredients into the whites.

Folding is a method of mixing that is much more gentle (if done properly) that will keep the deflation of the whites to a minimum.  Because the millions of air bubbles in the whites are what make the cake rise (hot air rises), you want to deflate them as little as possible.



Folding: Step 1


To fold the dry ingredients into the whites, Step 1:  Take a rubber spatula and put it into the center of the whites.

Folding: Step 2


Step 2: Slide the spatula underneath the whites and begin to bring it up the side.


Folding: Step 3


Step 3: Bring the spatula up over the tops of the whites and fold the whites back down into the center.  Turn the bowl a 1/4 turn and repeat until you have all of the dry ingredients incorporated.  Try not to over mix. Be as gentle as possible.



After the dry ingredient have been folded into the whites.


7.  Carefully move the batter into an ungreased Angel Food Cake Pan:

2 pieces of an Angel Food Cake pan: The Bowl and Chimney/Base.


The pan together. The chimney is to help with more even baking of the cake. This cake pan belonged to my Great Aunt Arlene.


There are two main reasons you don’t want to grease the pan: a) because you don’t want any fat to impede the rising of the whites; and b) the whites will use the dry pan to hold on to and even use it to climb up the sides of the pan during baking.


The cake ready for the oven


8.  Bake the cake for 35 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched on top.

Cake fresh from the oven. The top will have a slightly crispy texture.


9.  As soon as possible after the cake is taken from the oven, invert the cake pan onto a narrow-necked bottle (a wine bottle is perfect).  This will help keep the deflation of the cake to a minimum (by keeping it it from collapsing under it’s own weight).  There will be some deflation as the cake cools no matter what because as the air in the cake cools, the lighter hot air dissipates and the heavier cool air takes its place.


Cooling the cake over a rather nice merlot.


Leave the cake in this position until it is completely cooled.


10.  When the cake is completely cooled, run a knife around the outer edge of the cake to help release it from the bowl of the pan.  Pull, carefully, on the chimney and pull the cake out.



At this point, you can do one of two things to finish releasing the cake: a) Run a knife around the chimney and around the base to release the cake; or, do what I do, and, b) simply run a knife around the center and cut pieces off as needed.  Then I store the uncut cake in the pan and cover it.

Wish Mom was here right now.


Sorry about the lighting. My bulbs seem to be a little yellow.  I swear the cake is white.

This cake, by the way, is excellent with chocolate sauce and strawberries.  Mmm…











↑ Top