So like pretty much everyone else in my part of the country I am DONE!!! with this winter – craving green grass, warm breezes and bare feet.

I will admit though, that after a hectic work season followed by the rush of the holidays, being snowed in for much of the winter was often truly lovely. It’s hard for me to simply kick back so having some imposed hibernation was just what the doctor ordered.

Lots of warm, delicious comfort food was very much a part of our winter routine – chilis, stews, casseroles and briskets – perfect after a day spent watching movies, sipping hot chocolate and sitting by the fireplace.

But (yay!) most of the snow is gone now – hopefully for good – and I’m looking toward to shedding layers and lighter fare. I was in the mood to bake today and in keeping with the milder weather I turned to angel food cake.

If a dessert can be called “guilt-free”, then this is it – fat free and low in cholesterol it offers lots of flavor, a moist texture and yet still feels like “dessert”.

Making it is also a great opportunity to practice your newfound egg-white-beating skills:

Angel Food Cake
adapted from Martha Stewart Living

for baking tips and tricks – go here
on making a parchment circle – go here

1 c (3.5 oz) sifted cake flour
1 1/2 c (300 g) sugar, divided
12 large egg whites, room temperature
1 t cream of tartar
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 t vanilla
1/4 t salt

Pre-heat oven to 325 and place rack in the lower third (not the bottom).

Line an angel food cake pan or tube pan (not non-stick) with a parchment circle – do not grease the pan.

Sift the flour with 1/2 c (100 g) of sugar onto a piece of wax paper – place the sieve over a bowl, pour the sugar-flour mixture in and sift again.

Using the whisk attachment of your mixer, beat the egg whites on low/medium till the surface is completely covered with tiny bubbles – while mixer is still running add the cream of tartar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Increase speed to medium and continue beating till soft peaks form. With mixer still running slowly add the remaining 1 c (200g) sugar – beat for 1 minute more.

Increase speed to medium-high and beat till firm (not stiff) peaks form. Transfer mixture to a large, wide bowl.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the sugar-flour mixture over the egg whites – using a whisk, gently but swiftly fold in. Add remaining flour mixture in 2 more batches – do not overmix!

Transfer batter to your pan – run a knife gently through the batter in a swirling motion (this removes air bubbles) – bake 45 -55 minutes or till a tester comes out clean (cake will feel springy to the touch).

Remove pan from oven and invert onto its legs (if using a tube pan invert over the neck of a bottle). Cool completely.

Release the cake from the pan by running a thin sharp knife around the inner and outer edges. Serve immediately or wrap and keep at room temperature for up to 2-3 days.

Cake slices most evenly using a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion.

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