This recipe came from Good Eats, my default source for recipes. I recommend watching the episode "Let them eat foam" to get all of Alton's tips.
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cake flour, sifted
- 12 egg whites (the closer to room temperature the better)
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon orange extract, or extract of your choice (I used vanilla)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
In a food processor spin sugar about 2 minutes until it is superfine. Sift half of the sugar with the salt the cake flour, setting the remaining sugar aside.
In a large bowl, use a balloon whisk to thoroughly combine egg whites, water, orange extract, and cream of tartar. After 2 minutes, switch to a hand mixer. Slowly sift the reserved sugar, beating continuously at medium speed. Once you have achieved medium peaks, sift enough of the flour mixture in to dust the top of the foam. Using a spatula fold in gently. Continue until all of the flour mixture is incorporated.
Carefully spoon mixture into an ungreased tube pan. A tube pan is important because the angel food cake is really just foam. It can't hold itself up, so it needs the tube in the middle as a "crutch." As it bakes, the bubbles expand and cook, and the batter climbs up the tube and the sides of the pan. If you grease the pan, then it will be more difficult for the foam to climb up. Bake for 35 minutes before checking for doneness with a wooden skewer. (When inserted halfway between the inner and outer wall, the skewer should come out dry).
Cool upside down on cooling rack for at least an hour before removing from pan. Hopefully the tube pan's inner "tube" is slightly taller than the rest of the pan, so when you turn it upside down it can rest on the tube with the rest of the cake slightly elevated off the counter. This step is important because fresh out of the oven, the cake still can't hold itself up while it cools. If you don't turn the pan upside down, your cake might fall.
That's it! Top with fruit and fresh whipped cream.