Going gluten-free seven years ago wasn't as much of a hardship as I had initially thought. I wasn't a huge fan of pasta and pizza and bread - though now I can't get enough of the gluten-free versions - and with some trial and error, I was able to adapt a lot of my favorite things using gluten-free flours.
There were a few things that I missed, however - like fried chicken. Gluten-free versions don't begin to compare. I don't purposely cheat on my celiac diet, but the one thing that always tempts me to break the rules is fried chicken from Buena Vista. If they ever came out with a gluten-free variety of Uncle Nick's chicken, I will be first in line.
And this time of year, with fresh strawberries in abundance, someone is sure to procure a store-bought angel food cake at a family gathering. That light, spongy cake, juicy berries and sweet whipped cream - that's another thing I missed.
It’s difficult to tell the difference between homemade gluten-free angel food cake and the regular, store-bought variety — both in taste and appearance.
My grandma used to make gluten-free angel food cake using a boxed mix, but she hasn't been able to find the mix in recent years, so my aunts, Kathy Sweet and Jane Hlad, and I would have to make do with just strawberries and cream.
Now, there's nothing wrong with strawberries and cream - it's quite delicious in its own right - but I missed angel food cake. So for this article, I decided to try my hand at a gluten-free angel food cake.
I sought out recipes from my new favorite source - Pinterest - and tracked down ingredients that I didn't already have on hand. Though I'm a huge fan of Bob's Red Mill gluten-free flour blend, it's a bean-based flour and a little too heavy for an angel food cake. The recipes I browsed called for a blend of white rice flour, tapioca starch and potato starch. I had tapioca and potato starch, but I didn't have rice flour. I wound up getting a box of King Arthur Flour's gluten-free blend, which was a mix of white rice flour, tapioca starch and potato starch all in one. Since the recipe I used called for 1/4 cup of each of these flours, I just used 3/4 cup of the blend and hoped the proportions were sufficient. I was a bit leery of using this new blend because rice flour has a tendency to be gritty, and grittiness is not a quality you want your angel food cake to have. I was pleased to discover that the texture of the cake was perfect and I could detect no grittiness at all.
Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake
10 large egg whites
3/4 cup + 1/2 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 potato starch
1-1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
Place egg whites in a large bowl, let stand for 30 minutes. Sift 3/4 cup sugar, corn starch, rice flour, tapioca, and potato starch in a medium bowl.
Add cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla to egg whites, beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating on high until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold in dry mixture, 1/2 cup at a time.
Gently spoon into a 10-inch non-greased tube pan. Cut through the batter with a knife to remove air pockets. Bake on lowest rack at 350 for 45-50 minutes, or until lightly browned and entire top appears dry. Immediately invert pan, and cool completely for about 1 hour.
Run a knife around the side and inner tube of the pan. Remove cake to a serving plate and top with desired toppings.
There was one tool that I believe contributed to this recipe's success - my stand mixer. It sits in my pantry for most of the time since I don't have the counterspace to keep it out, but at times like these, it's invaluable. Though I can and have whipped up egg whites using my hand mixer, this cake batter - which contains a whopping 10 egg whites - came together quickly and smoothly thanks to my stand mixer. Now I just need to find a use for 10 egg yolks.
Most of the time, I'm happy to share my gluten-free goodies with my family and coworkers. But this time, I'm keeping the cake - complete with strawberries and whipped cream - all to myself. I have seven years of angel food cake to make up for.