Strawberry picking here on the farm is a daily activity. One I really enjoy. Even if it is only for a half an hour, we are out there grabbing fresh berries every morning before the heat of the day sets in. It is amazing how fast the season comes and goes. Some days I bring out all the kids, and others I sneak off to pick in peace. This morning we all headed across the street to fill up our bowls.
When we first moved out here my daughter couldn't even walk. She would sit in the red wagon and suck on a strawberry or two while I picked and my oldest ran around looking for bugs. Now the older two can pick and my youngest is busy sampling the dirt.
You could say I gave up on the red wagon. This little guy wants to be down on the ground. It is nothing that can't be washed off once we get home. Occaisionally he even gets lucky and snags a red, juicy berry!
I love that my oldest is a big help.
That is going to translate into a lot more jam and strawberry lemonade for the pantry this year, and while the berries are at their best we have had some kind of strawberry dish grace our table every day.
I have some new things to try out, and old favorites that are revisited every year. One of my all-time favorites is angel food cake. I also make more traditional shortcake biscuits for our strawberry shortcake, but I also have to throw in a light and airy angel food cake every so often.
Did you know that angel food cake takes a whole whopping 12 egg whites to make? Or that the recipe only has 7 ingredients total?
Making your own angel food cake is not only simple, but has a lovely flavor, free of the boxed chemical aftertaste of it's common baking aisle cousin. Sorry, I just won't go back.
For the best results you want fresh, room temperature eggs to separate. Mine are about as fresh as they come, courtesy of the hen house out back. But, if you don't have your own fresh egg supply, it is still worth the dozen eggs and few extra minutes to make.
This lovely cake began with a little separating and whisking...
Then it graduated up to the beaters and is finished off by folding in the dry ingredients, a scant 1 cup cake flour. The real secret to this cake is to let it cool completely upside down so it cools supported. Invert it too soon and your cake will fall. Patience brings delicious and eye-pleasing results.
Angel Food Cake
You will need:
- 1 3/4 c. sugar, ground super fine in a food processor
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 c. cake flour
- 12 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/3 c. warm water
- 1 tsp. orange or lemon extract (or a combined 1 tsp. of both)
- 1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Begin by grinding your sugar in a food processor for about 2-3 minutes. Roughly divide into two bowls. Sift half of the sugar with the salt and cake flour. There shouldn't be any lumps. Set aside.
In a large bowl add the egg whites, water, extract and cream of tartar. Whisk for about 2 minutes until the mixture is frothy. Then switch to a stand or hand mixer and slowly beat in the remaining sugar, then continue beating till you have achieved medium peaks.
Then begin sifting in the flour and folding gently till all the dry ingrediencts are well incorporated.
Transfer the batter into an un-greased angel food pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and place upside down on a drying rack to cool for at least an hour. Then carefully remove the center ring and with a spactula, separate the pan base from the cake.
Now you can top and serve. I suggest using a combination of fresh strawberry jam, strawberry syrup or fresh sliced berries.
What is your favorite way to serve fresh strawberries?