In the Box
“Kate rolled the paper and tied the ribbon around it and put it in the box and closed the lid.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
My family history includes a predilection for collecting. For some of us the tendency often veers into hoarding. Like a beacon I can see the disease shining on my collection of cookbooks and cake plates. And baking pans. I still have my button, ribbon and lace collections. One of my brothers who hoards without shame brought me a box stuffed with papers and a few rusted and bent enamel ware cups. I added the cups to my growing stash of enamel ware and wondered what to do with the stack of papers. Although my brother can read, he struggles. His Dyslexia has a more powerful grip than mine. It never occurred to my parents that we all had learning disabilities. We just needed more discipline and better study habits. The schools we attended didn’t notice either. I learned to work with it. My spelling and pronunciation is memorized. My brain doesn’t understand phonics. Although spellcheck is phenomenal sometimes it has no idea what word I want.
I recycled almost all of the papers. There were odd recipe booklets. One for Jello, water stained and torn. There were pages of someone’s school homework, receipts paper clipped together, lots of blank paper. I’m not sure where he got the box or why he brought it to me. I’m guessing it was an offering of friendship as we don’t spend a lot of time together. I riffled through the whole thing, becoming intrigued. Ten minutes into the sorting I found a recipe card for Daffodil Cake from McCalls Cooking School. The minute I saw the recipe card I knew I would make the cake. It was the best thing in the box.
With a description of “A Light and Lemony Cake” how could I resist? After all lemon desserts are a personal favorite. And I still have a huge box of foraged lemons. The Daffodil Cake is a combination of an angel food cake and a sponge cake. Part of the angel food batter is reserved and folded into the lemony sponge. Then the batters are placed alternately in the angel food cake pan and swirled together. Recipes from 1986 can be pretty darn wonderful. I took the whole Daffodil Cake thing very seriously by adding a coat of softly whipped cream spiked with lemon curd. After making the Daffodil Cake, there will be seven extra egg yolks. Which is the exact amount required for this voluptuous Lemon Curd recipe from the Miette Cookbook. Never underestimate the power of a lemon dessert to completely capture my undivided attention.
The Daffodil Cake is an exceptional cake for early spring. Light in texture and crumb, barely sweet and faintly whispering lemon it aptly recalls the first daffodils that peek though the remains of winter. Angel food cakes are not difficult. With just beaten egg whites for loft the technique is different from the usual cake. An Angel Food Cake pan or a tube pan is a must for a sky high cake that is light as a cloud. Just like any other recipe with beaten egg whites, the whites and yolks of the eggs can not be mingled. Separate each egg over an empty bowl. I used three bowls to separate the eggs. One for the egg I was separating, one for whites and another for the yolks. After separating each egg add the whites to the other whites and the yolk to the other yolks. This is the method I learned in pastry school for separating a large volume of eggs. Using a few extra bowls often circumvents wasted eggs. Use a scrupulously clean bowl to beat the egg whites. Any lingering residue of grease is the enemy of lofty egg whites. Respecting the egg whites leads to great rewards.
|Daffodil Cake from McCalls Cooking School, Angel Food Batter|
|1-1/4C||cake flour (sift before measuring)|
|1-3/4C||egg whites (12-14), room temperature|
|1/2t||fine grain sea salt|
|1-1/2t||cream of tarter|
|Yellow Chiffon Batter|
|1||lemon, zested with a channel zester|
- Sift together 1-1/4 cups four and 1/2 cup sugar. Resift a total of three times. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tarter on high speed until soft peaks are formed. Reduce the mixer speed to low speed and gradually pour in the remaining cup of sugar. Beat until stiff peaks are formed. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the vanilla with a whisk. Sift a fourth of the flour mixture over the top of the bowl and with a whisk use fifteen strokes to fold the flour into the egg whites. Turn the bowl a quarter of a turn after each stroke or fold. Repeat three more times to incorporate all the flour into the egg whites. Fold ten more strokes to throughly blend the flour into the egg whites. Set aside 1/3 of the batter for the yellow sponge cake.
- Heat the oven to 375°. To make the yellow sponge cake combine the egg yolks, cake flour and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat at high speed until very thick. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the lemon zest. Fold in the reserved angel food cake batter with a whisk using fifteen strokes. Turn the bowl a quarter of a turn after each stroke or fold.
- Spoon batters alternately into an ungreased 10-inch tube or Angel Food Cake pan, ending with white batter on top. To make the swirls use a knife to cut through the batter twice. Gently smooth or flatten the top of the batter making sure the batter is clinging to the sides of the baking pan.
- Bake the cake on the lower oven rack for 35-40 minutes. When done the cake will be golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed. Invert the baking pan on it’s feet or over the neck of a bottle for 2 hours to cool. Loosen the cake from the sides of the pan with a long spatula. Once the sides are loosened, push the cake bottom up to remove it from the sides of the pan. Use the spatula to loosen the cake from the bottom of the pan. Once separated from the bottom of the pan the cake will easily separate from the center tube. Dust off the crumbs and place on a cake plate to frost.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment add the whipping cream and begin beating on low speed for one minute. Gradually increase speed. While the mixer is running sprinkle in the sugar and add the vanilla. Whip on high speed until soft peaks are formed. Add one cup of the lemon curd and mix on low just to combine. Remove the bowl from the mixer and with a rubber spatula scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and fold in any remaining lemon curd. Frost the cake with the whipped cream. Garnish with lemon zest if desired. To serve the Daffodil Cake use a knife with a serrated edge to gently cut the cake with a sawing motion. Alternately use a big serving fork with long tines to gently pull or cut slices of the cake. Do not press down on the cake when cutting. Serve the Daffodil Cake with the additional lemon curd and whipped cream.
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