12 large egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsps cream of tartar (La Grande Epicerie)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups/250g sugar
1 cup/114g cake flour (a soft low protein flour)
If you’re using cups take the time to spoon the flour gently into the measuring cups and level with the horizontal motion of the back of a butter knife, thus swiping off any excess.
Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325F/165C/Gas 3.
Put the egg whites into a large bowl and beat until foamy. Add the salt and cream of tartar and whip to the soft peak stage. There has to be enough body and definition to them that they can stand tall before they droop. If you over beat or under beat the cake will not work.
Add the extract and gradually beat in the sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, and whip until stiff peaks form.
Sift the cake flour onto the batter and gently fold it in until no streaks or visible flour remain.
Transfer to an ungreased angel food cake pan* and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. The top should be dark brown and the cracks dry to the touch, not sticky. Test it by sticking it with a toothpick, it should come out clean.
Invert the pan immediately and allow to cool upside down or on it’s side so that the muffin top does not sink while cooling. A true angel food cake pan has legs so that it can cool hanging upside down.
*Choosing a cake pan: This high-rising cake requires a deep and narrow pan. If you use a ‘moule à cake français’ be careful to only fill it one third full of batter, not half full – it will overflow! The cake needs to cool completely before it is removed from it’s mold, so borrow a couple ‘moule à cake’ from your friends and neighbors, or refrigerate the unused batter while it awaits it’s turn. Use the batter quickly. No oil or butter should be used on the pans.
*To make cupcakes drop paper liners in your cupcake pan and fill the liners 3/4 full. Makes 32 cupcakes. Only scoop out what you can fit in your oven at a time. Refrigerate the bowl of batter while the first batch is in the oven. Bake 12 minutes (9 min. in a convection oven).
For the Amaretto Meringue Buttercream:
5 large, fresh egg whites (150 g)
1-1/4 cups (250 g) sugar
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks, 340 g) butter, cut into cubes and room temperature
1 Tbsp homemade vanilla
1 Tbsp Amaretto
pinch of salt
Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160°F (70°C), or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes or so). *Don’t begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm.
Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if it curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth).
*If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add vanilla, amaretto and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
Keep whipping even if it looks ‘curdled’ that’s all part of the process, just keep whipping, just keep whipping. And suddenly it will pull-together and become this new amazing thing that is fluffy and silky smooth.
I feel like these cupcakes look like a mess. Good thing I spent some time practicing before my little Cupcake’s birthday.