Thursday, August 7, 2014

No Sugar Mocha Spiced Angel Food Cake Not Quite Up to Par

Ever since making the two Mocha Spice Blends, I have been thinking about making an angel food cake using this nice warm spice. Also recently I have had more difficulty with high blood sugar and have been looking at different ways to cut sugar and carbs from the diet where possible. I already know from various attempts recently that going no-sugar sometimes has some serious effects on a recipe. I also know that low carb can give a strange texture to cakes, cookies or breads.

Online Research

Going online to research angel food cakes in general, it is quite remarkable how they are almost all identical. Slight variations in the amount of egg whites will make adjustments to the other ingredients, but the most common recipe is about 1 1/4 cup of egg whites, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 cup cake flour, 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar, and vanilla. To use 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar is a lot when one has high blood sugar. While 1 cup of flour is not a whole lot in comparison to other cake recipes, it still adds up in the carb department.

Low-Sugar, No Sugar?

My next search was for healthier options. One person used entirely maple syrup instead of cane sugar, but a rose by any other name - and all that. And then I came across a site from the Portland Press Herald, written by J.M. Hirsch. He wrote about creating a gluten-free, low-carb, no sugar angel food cake for his mother. Whoa! What is left in the recipe, I wondered, besides egg whites? 
No-Sugar Mocha Spice Angel Food Cake

The recipe intrigued me. I saw a couple of others, but there were few that really seemed to go healthier than just lowering the overall sugar amount from 1 3/4 cups to 1 1/3 cups; not a significant drop, when trying to lower blood sugar. Hirsch used 8 packets of stevia. I like stevia, but I am terribly new at using it in baking. I didn't specifically need a totally gluten free cake, for myself. Gluten-free flours still have carbs, so that didn't help much one way or other. His recipe used 2 cups of egg whites, the high side of egg white quantity for the recipes I reviewed. To that, he adds powdered egg white and whey protein, along with xanthan gum and guar gum for structure. If you are interested in that recipe, please go here. I decided to substitute his use of the whey protein powder and almond meal with cake flour. I kept the beginning of the recipe just as he has it. My changes revolve around the dry ingredients and flavoring.

As I was writing the above paragraphs, the cake was baking. Hirsch's recipe said to bake at 350 for 35 minutes. I noticed that the cake was smelling really good, usually a sign that a cake is near done. There were 13 minutes left on the timer, but when I inserted a tester, it was completely done. In fact, it probably had been done for a few minutes already. The top crust was actually crisp, as the tester was inserted. It is currently turned upside down, cooling. This is what I did:

No Sugar Mocha Spice Angel Food Cake

serves 8

2 cups egg whites / about 12
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon guar gum
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
8 packets stevia
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup cake flour
4 tablespoons powdered egg white
1 1/2 tablespoons Mocha Spice Blend II

Carefully separate the eggs, ensuring that no yolk gets into the whites, or they will not whip properly. Reserve the yolks for another use. Set the whites into the bowl of a stand mixer and allow them to come to near room temperature before proceeding.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 on Convection Bake). Have ready an angel food cake pan with removable tube insert. Lift out and lightly spray the bottom of the insert with cooking spray. Set the insert back into the pan and set aside. Sift together the cake flour, powdered egg white and Mocha Spice Blend into a separate bowl and set aside. To the room temp egg whites in the mixer bowl, add the cream of tartar, xanthan gum, guar gum, baking powder, stevia and vanilla. Beat the mixture on low speed for a minute. These ingredients do not like to combine, so they will not completely mix in until on high speed. Increase speed of mixer to high if using a hand mixer, and only to about 3/4 speed on a heavy duty mixer such as a Kitchen-Aid. Beat until the whites have just attained stiff peaks. 

Remove the bowl from the mixer. Sprinkle about half the dry ingredients over top of the whites and with a spatula, fold in the dry ingredients gently, until combined. Add the remaining dry mixture and fold until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

When out of oven, invert the cake, still in the pan, to cool. If your angel food cake pan does not have little feet sticking up to hold it, set the pan upside down over a funnel or the neck of a bottle. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan.

Once cooled, run a knife around the inner edges of the pan, outer edges as well as around the center tube. Lift out the insert and run the knife under the cake as well. Invert the cake onto a plate to serve.

Next Day . . . 

I had high hopes for this cake. It came out of the pan perfectly, had a good height, the texture was lovely. Just perfect, empirically. I mixed together some coconut oil and agave nectar to put on top of the cake as a sort of "icing."  I cut a couple of slices. I tasted.

Alas, the stevia in the recipe is completely undetectable. I cannot taste sweetness of any kind in the cake. I had no fresh fruit to offset the lack of sweetness. The coconut oil / agave nectar topping was the only saving grace. I can taste the Mocha Spice Blend II, with the added cocoa and coffee. It is not overwhelming. It is, however, hard to really place it in proper context, without any sweetness to offset. 

I believe that making this again - and I most certainly will - I may add about 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar to the flour, or even add in the "cup-for-cup" Stevia in the Raw that I still have in my pantry to use up. The overall outcome was more perfect than I even hoped. Lack of sweetness was the one and only factor needed to tweak.

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. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.