Monday, March 17, 2014

Gluten Free Angel Food Cake for St. Paddy's

I have been saving up egg whites, having used the yolks for one thing or another, for the past couple of weeks. Often, I make little meringue cookies, which are wonderful, but I had so many whites I thought maybe an angel food cake would be a nice change. 
Gluten Free Angel Food Cake with Pistachio Green Tea Swirl
Gluten Free Angel Food Cake with Pistachio Green Tea Swirl

Steps 1 & 2: Beat yolks till thick - add water & sugar
Recipes for angel food cakes are very similar. I guess there are only so many possible things to do with the ingredients. Sugar varies little, whites are almost a resounding 12 whites or 1 1/2 cups. Flour might be all-purpose or cake flour or a combo. But one thing I had never done is make a gluten free angel food cake. I didn't know if it was possible or not. I am not gluten intolerant, so it isn't something I check into unless I want to see if something works. I read a few recipes for a GF angel food, and again, the ingredients were all remarkably similar. One thing I saw was the King Arthur Flour site, which had a little variation: to use 5 yolks and make a bit of a different color to swirl into the angel food batter. Since today is St. Patrick's Day, I thought to try something in the green line. I  had some ground pistachios in a jar, and I have a new packet of Matcha Green Tea. I proceeded much as the KAF recipe stated, though I used less sugar, in all, and added some pistachio flavoring to the green part of the batter. 
Steps 3 & 4: folding in the tea & pistachios

Starting with the yolks first, beating them till thick, I then added hot water and the sugar to the mixer and beat till thick and relatively fluffy. When folding in the nuts and green tea powder, I added 3 drops of pistachio flavoring. I wanted a flavor, but not so overwhelming.

Steps 5 & 6: Beat whites, add sugar
Once that was done, I set that aside and washed the whisk attachment thoroughly, then started with the egg whites, beating with cream of tartar and salt till fluffy. The sugar was added bit by bit and then the vanilla. The dry mixture (1/4 cup each of white rice flour, cornstarch, potato starch and tapioca starch) was folded in gently. I added half the egg white mixture to the yolk mixture to make a nice batter. The one and only thing I would do differently is sort of checkerboard the two mixtures in the pan. This would allow for a better swirl throughout. As it was, I layered white in the bottom, then a layer of the green, then the white. I swirled through with a spatula, but the main bulk of the green mixture was in the middle. It is lovely, but not as swirled as I would have preferred.

I do not believe anyone would know this cake was gluten free. It tastes like angel food, is light like angel food, and delicate like angel food. What more can one ask? I am more than pleased with the result. If you do not have GF flours on hand, use cake flour. The result should be extremely similar.

Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake with Pistachio Green Tea Swirl

Makes one 10-inch tube/angel food pan

Steps 7 & 8: Folding white into yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 1/2 cups egg whites, room temperature (about 12)
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 egg yolks
3 tablespoons boiling water
3 - 4 drops pistachio flavoring or almond extract

2 tablespoons Matcha Green Tea powder
1/3 cup finely ground pistachios 

Steps 9 & 10: Batter in pan, then baked
First, place all the sugar into a food processor and whirl until the sugar is very fine, about 5 minutes. Divide the sugar into three separate parts: 1/4 cup for the yolks, 3/4 cup to combine with the flours, and 1/2 cup to mix with the egg whites. Set these three portions aside.

Sift together the cornstarch, white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch and the 3/4 cup of the fine sugar. Repeat the sifting at least 5 times to thoroughly combine and lighten the mixture. Set aside.

Sift together the ground pistachios and the green tea powder and set aside.

Gluten Free Angel Food Cake with Pistachio Green Tea Swirl
Gluten Free Angel Food Cake with Pistachio Green Tea Swirl
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 if Convection). Place the 5 yolks into a mixer bowl and whip until they become thick and light lemon colored. Add in the 1/4 cup of sugar gradually, beating until incorporated, then drizzle in the boiling water and the flavoring of choice; beat until the volume of the yolks increases (Steps 1 & 2). Remove bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the reserved pistachio and green tea mixture (Steps 3 & 4). Set this aside.

In a clean mixer bowl, with a scrupulously cleaned whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt until light and frothy. Begin adding the 1/2 cup of reserved sugar, about 1 - 2 tablespoons at a time, allowing the beating to combine well before adding more. When the sugar is incorporated, add the vanilla (Steps 5 & 6).  Remove bowl from mixer and begin sifting the flour mixture, in 4 separate additions, to the egg whites, very gently folding in to avoid deflating the whites. Once the mixture is totally incorporated, scoop about half the whites into the yolk mixture and fold that together (Steps 7 & 8).

Using an ungreased 10-inch angel food pan with removable bottom, begin adding spoons full of batter to the pan, alternating between the green mixture and the white mixture. Gently rap the pan on a countertop to remove any large air bubbles. Using a spatula or long knife, swirl the implement through the batter to gently mix the two colors (Step 9). Bake the cake for about 40 to 45 minutes, trying not to open the oven door at all before at least 35 minutes have gone by. Once cake tests done, remove from oven and invert pan for at least 1 hour, until barely warm. If your pan does not have the little tabs to keep it high enough so the cake is not being smashed, set the center ring over the neck of a bottle to cool.

Once cooled, run a knife around the outer edge of the pan, and around the center tube. Lift the center of the pan out of the sides and run the knife under the bottom of the cake. Invert the cake onto a cake plate and dust with confectioners' sugar (Step 10). To cut the cake use a serrated knife with a very gently back and forth sawing motion, with no downward pressure.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.