Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Angel Food Cake with Fresh Strawberries -- #recipe by @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: You’ve all heard me say it before: I am People of the Pie, not Clan of the Cake. It goes back to childhood, when my beloved father said if I wanted to make a great cake, learn from Aunt Peggy. But if I wanted to make a great pie, learn from my mother. Aunt Peggy lived a long ways away. So, pie it was!

In our house, cake was for birthdays. Pie was for 

For her last birthday, three years ago yesterday, my mother asked for an Angel Food Cake with strawberries and whipped cream. I knew it wouldn’t last the three-hour drive from our house to the retirement community where she lived, so I called the Safeway in her town and told a woman in the bakery what I wanted. “Oh, sure, hon. We can do that for you.”

And they did.

When Mr. Right and I walked in, they had a bag ready for us with a cake, a can of whipped cream, and strawberry glaze, and sent me to the produce department for the berries. Kitchen staff provided a knife and serving plate, and even let me slice up the berries in their prep room.

This cake comes from David Lebovitz, an American baker living and writing in Paris. His blog, newsletter, and cookbooks are all excellent. It’s classic and perfect and Mom would have loved it. Cake flour is finer than all-purpose flour, and lower in gluten, which makes it rise nicely. Cream of tartar stabilizes the egg whites. Lebovitz uses the yolks in ice cream. We added a couple to our Sunday omelet, saved a few for a Hollandaise experiment, and froze the rest. That’s an experiment, too, but Google tells Mr. Right it works, and would Google ever lie? We’ll let you know.

A note on the pan: My mother’s tube pan disappeared ages ago so I bought a new one. Don’t use a nonstick Bundt-style pan. Angel Food cakes are typically cooled upside down; some pans have “feet” that allow them to hover above the cooling rack; mine has a tube that’s higher than the sides of the pan, which balances on the tube to cool. Lacking both of those, invert the pan on a heavy bottle or a metal funnel. 

Yesterday would have been my mother’s 95th birthday. 

Whatever the occasion, make it sweeter with a little cake. Or pie. :)

Angel Food Cake with Fresh Strawberries

adapted from David Lebovitz

For the cake: 

1 cup cake flour, not self-rising
1 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups egg whites (from about 12 large eggs), at room temperature
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the berry topping:
3 cups strawberries (or other fruit), sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (optional)
whipped cream (optional)

Heat the oven to 350ºF.

In a small bowl, whisk sift together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the egg whites on medium speed. When they become foamy, after about two minutes, add the cream of tartar and lemon juice.

Increase speed to high and continue to whip the egg whites until they just begin to hold their shape in soft, droopy peaks. Gradually whip the remaining 1 cup of sugar into the whites, 1/4 cup at a time. Do not overwhip; the egg whites should not be overly dry or stiff, but soft and cloud-like. (About 3-5 minutes total.) At the last moment, add the vanilla and mix.

Use a flexible spatula to fold the flour and sugar mixture into the whites gradually, a small amount at a time.

Pour the batter into a 9- or 10-inch tube pan smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately invert the tube pan over a cooling rack until cool, about an hour. (See note above about pans.) Slide a knife around the edges of the pan and tube, and tap the pan on the sides and bottom to release the cake. If it doesn’t come out right away, invert the pan again and let it cool a little longer.

Meanwhile, slice the strawberries and toss with the sugar and optional Grand Marnier. Let sit at least an hour, on the counter or in the refrigerator, so the sugar and berry juices can mingle.

To serve, slice and plate. Top with a spoonful of berries and juice, and optional whipped cream.

Serves 8.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

From the cover of THE SOLACE OF BAY LEAVES, Spice Shop Mystery #5, out now in e-book and audio, in paperback October 20, 2020 (Seventh St. Books and Tantor Audio) : 

Pepper Reece never expected to find solace in bay leaves. 

But when her life fell apart at forty and she bought the venerable-but-rundown Spice Shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, her days took a tasty turn. Now she’s savoring the prospect of a flavorful fall and a busy holiday cooking season, until danger bubbles to the surface ... 

Between managing her shop, worrying about her staff, and navigating a delicious new relationship, Pepper’s firing on all burners. But when her childhood friend Maddie is shot and gravely wounded, the incident is quickly tied to an unsolved murder that left another close friend a widow. 

Convinced that the secret to both crimes lies in the history of a once-beloved building, Pepper uses her local-girl contacts and her talent for asking questions to unearth startling links between the past and present—links that suggest her childhood friend may not have been the Golden Girl she appeared to be. Pepper is forced to face her own regrets and unsavory emotions, if she wants to save Maddie’s life—and her own. 

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories.  Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. That grocery store went above and beyond. How nice for you and your Mom and what a sweet memory.
    Wow! That's a lot of egg whites (and left-over yolks)!

    1. It was -- and it is! I hadn't made an Angel Food cake since high school and my eyes widened, but it was worth every one!

    2. Do you have a proper old fashioned angel food cake cutter? They look like a giant's hair pick.

  2. I love the sweet story of your mom’s birthday. Angel food cake with strawberries is one of my favorites! I’ve never tried to make one...I’m not really much of a baker.