I got a new job! And it’s a full-time job. That means more regular hours, paid vacation, and full weekends. And it seems like it’s going to be right up my alley in terms of interests and experience. It does mean though, that I have to leave my two part-time jobs. My last day for one job was on Wednesday and my last day for the other is today.
I love today’s job. I’ve been there for over a year and a half, and I started as an intern. I’ve had such fun, I’ve gotten great learning opportunities, and I’ve made wonderful friends. So I decided to do something nice for my coworkers on my last day and make Abraham Lincoln’s favorite cake. I don’t know how the historical record proves this was his favorite cake, but the gift shop says it was his favorite so I’m rolling with it. They sell this recipe on a really cute kitchen towel. I was eager to try it, but also a bit daunted. There are a lot of steps, a lot of egg whites, and I needed an angel food pan. I did some searching and I found some angel food pans for $25-30. I love kitchen gadgets, but I didn’t want to spend $20+ on something I wouldn’t use that much. I reached out to friends and no one had an angel food pan. I looked on Craig’s List and Freecycle, And then I thought about eBay, and there are some great prices but nothing would arrive before my last day. Yesterday I went to Giant to look for a disposable pan, and I found a real one for $9.20. Awesome deal, so I bought it.
I know I’m talking a lot about angel food pans, but I was a little intimidated. It’s two pieces because angel food is apparently really light and sticky and so having the bottom pop out makes it easier to remove the cake. I found this great Martha Stewart video about how to use an angel food pan. I thought it was helpful because before watching I didn’t know you’re supposed to let the pan cool while it’s inverted. Crazy, right? Anyway, I don’t even know if this cake is even technically angel food cake. It didn’t rise as much as Martha’s cake and it came out really easily without inverting it. Seriously, it was the cleanest cake removal I’ve ever done. I was so impressed by how clean the lines of the cake are, and you can see a picture in a little bit.
Ryan and I really liked the cake, and I hope my coworkers will too when I bring it to them in a few hours. The cake was moist, with a little crunch from the almonds. And also, the frosting is delicious! It hardens a bit as it sits, but when it’s freshly made and still warm, it is just like marshmallow fluff. It was so good. I kept “accidentally” getting it on spoons and my hands and then I just had to eat it to clean everything up. What a hardship.
Again, I thought this cake was really good but what would take it up a notch would be to drizzle on some strawberry or raspberry sauce. I think it would really brighten the flavor. The original gift-shop-towel recipe does call for optional fruits but I didn’t use them because I really didn’t know where I’d find candied pineapple and crystallized cherries. Anyway, here’s to you Abraham Lincoln and to my coworkers. This is my adaptation of Lincoln’s cake. Thank you for a wonderful year and a half.
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
3 cups flour
1 tsbp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 cup almonds finely chopped (you can buy this or just throw a bunch of whole almonds into a food processor)
6 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg whites
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. Grease and flour the angel food pan. First I greased it all up with butter. Then I poured few tsps of flour into the pan. I shook it all around to coat the pan. I also used a silicon basting brush to get the flour into ever nook and cranny. Once it’s well floured, knock out excess flour into the sink or trash can.
3. Cream together the butter and sugar.
4. Sift flour and baking powder 3 times.
5. Add 1/3 of the flour to the butter mixture. Mix. Add 1/3 of the milk to the mixture. Mix. Repeat until all the flour and milk have been added.
6. Add the almonds.
7. Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold them gently into the batter.
8. Add extract and mix.
9. Pour into the pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. The top should be golden brown and if you insert a toothpick it should come out clean.
10. Let it cool in the pan for 30 minutes.
11. Remove from pan and let it cool until you are ready to put on the frosting.
1. Beat egg whites until very stiff.
2. Combine sugar and water in a pot and bring it to a boil.
3. Boil until it spins a thread 5″ long. That means when you put a spoon in it, and then take it out, there’s a fine thin thread between the spoon and pan. This happens at about 240-245°.
4. Remove from heat, and add 1 tbsp of egg whites. Mix.
5. Slowly pour the sugar-water mixture into the rest of the egg whites.
6. Beat until icing forms peaks.
7. Fold in extract.
8. Ice your cake!
Expert bakers probably have a more efficient use of materials. But for me, the home cook, I felt like I used a ton of dishes! I was going for ease of cooking, rather than ease of clean up. I used two bowls for the flour so I could sift back and forth three times. I used my KitchenAid Stand Mixer for the majority of the cake batter, but I also used a handheld electric mixer and bowl to beat all the egg whites. And, I needed a pot for the frosting. And of course, there’s all the measuring cups and spoons too. This cake takes a lot of work! But, just imagine how difficult it would have been for Mary Todd 150 years ago!