Classic Angel Food Cake
Serves 8 to 10.
Note: Adapted from “Barefoot Contessa Family Style,” by Ina Garten.
• 2 c. superfine sugar, divided
• 1 1/3 c. cake flour (not self-rising)
• 1 1/2 c. egg whites (about 12 large eggs), at roomtemperature
• 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
• 1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
• 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
• 2 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar with flour, and sift 4 times. Reserve.
In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine egg whites and salt. Add cream of tartar by sifting it over the egg whites. Whisk on low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase to medium-high speed and whisk until eggs begin to form soft peaks, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Reduce speed to medium and gradually add remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar (sprinkling it over egg whites, 2 tablespoons at a time) and continue whisking until egg whites are thick, fluffy and glossy but not dry, about 2 to 4 minutes. Add vanilla extract and lemon zest and continue to whisk until very thick, about 30 additional seconds.
Transfer mixture to a large, shallow bowl. Evenly sift about 1/4 of the reserved sugar-flour mixture over the egg whites and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold it into the batter. Repeat with remaining sugar-flour mixture, adding and folding in fourths until all is incorporated.
Gently transfer batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom. Run a thin-bladed knife through the batter (to release any air bubbles) and, using a rubber spatula, smooth the top. Bake until cake is lightly browned and springs back from a light touch, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven, and immediately turn pan upside down on a wire rack (if pan doesn’t have legs, invert it over the neck of a wine or other long-necked bottle). Cool cake, upside down, for at least 2 hours.
When ready to serve, turn pan right side up and run a long, sharp, thin-bladed knife along the edges and the center tube. Give cake a gentle shake to loosen it from the pan, and invert to a plate or rack. Using a small metal spatula, separate the cake from the pan’s bottom and center core, then invert again so cake is right side up. Slice, using a serrated knife, and serve with fresh berries (or a fruit compote) and freshly whipped cream. The cake can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.