We've finally reached dessert in a series of posts about making my wedding a couple of weeks ago. I've already written about the main dishes and the accessorizing of the fish. Even though I knew it would be a lot, I felt comfortable planning for and preparing the savory end of things. Baking, however, is more of a wild card for me. As a person who doesn't even own measuring spoons, specificities do not interest me. That approach can be a bonus in the kitchen, yielding great innovations...except when it comes to making a cake...
I ignored the pressure from friends to get the meal catered, but my fears around a burnt inedible wedding cake made me almost consider buying a cake. My husband-to-be kept casually mentioning all those great kosher bakeries in New York City. So easy to order a cake and they'll send it right over! But, I held my ground because creating this wedding from scratch was crucial for me.
That being said, I had no intention of making a towering wedding cake. I just wanted dessert. Dessert around which some tiny semblance of ritual could occur. I looked at recipes for simple cakes, quick cakes, yellow cakes, and chocolate cakes.
My trusted catering friend Katy phoned in every day from Portland, Oregon to see how I was holding up. When it came to the cake, she left no room for error and told me exactly what to do. "White cake is much more elegant than yellow. You must do an angel food cake."
If Katy says that Angel Food cake is elegant, then it must be. I had no such prior status associations with this banal baked good with a hole in the middle but I dutifully obeyed her direction.
Procrastinating all the way, I left the cake for last. It was late on my wedding eve and the plan was to make two. My on-site muse, Suzanne, suggested that I wait until I see how the first cake turned out before making a second one. Not a bad idea.
I was so excited to see anything that resembled a desert item, that I didn't mind it's obviously shrunken state. The cake occupied about half of my tube pan?! Nonetheless, I flipped it over, glazed it, and froze it for the following day. By then, it was even later and I decided, it's more important to sleep than have two cakes.
On the morning of my wedding day, channeling Katy, I dressed up the cake and made it beautiful. I made the whip cream in the morrning as well. After sitting in the fridge for 8 hours, it somehow still held its shape! That one cake managed to feed all the guests! A small piece of yummy cake next to a mountain of fresh from the farm wild strawberries and raspberries with incredibly sweet homemade whip cream can't but satisfy the crowds. Few people expect good wedding cake, so if it is, you get extra points...
Let egg whites stand until room temperature. Sift flour once before measuring. Sift flour and 3/4 cup sugar together 5 times.
Put egg whites and salt into large bowl of mixer. Beat until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue beating until whites are stiff and stand in point, about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Do not over-beat until dry. Sprinkle in, gradually, 1 cup sugar, while beating on medium speed. Beat only until sugar is blended, about 1 1/2 minutes.
Turn to low speed and add vanilla and almond extracts. Sprinkle in sifted flour mixture evenly and quickly. Beat only enough to blend, about 1 1/2 minutes, scraping bowl to blend in quickly. Pour into 1-inch tube pan.
Cut through batter with knife or spatula, going around in circular motion 3 times to release large air bubbles. Bake in preheated 375 degrees F oven for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown. Turn oven off after 30 minutes. Leave cake in oven for 5 more minutes before removing. This cake can be frozen.
Confectioners Sugar Glaze
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk
lemon juice or lemon zest