Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mental Summer

I'm getting sick of winter. March is having schizophrenic weather with multiple personality disorders. Hinting at summer one day, snowing the next. Gentle breezes teasing the bulbs to sprout and then pounding them with hail when they try to bloom. It doesn't help that the stores are stocked with shorts, tank tops, and bikinis. It just get me thinking longingly of summer.

Some people deal with this by buying a new bikini and making plans for the beach. Not me. I'm a firm believer that my gift to the world is never putting my body into a bikini again. Instead I make ice cream. (Hmm, now that I put those two things right next to each other, I wonder if there might be a connection. Naw!)

I've been making ice cream like crazy, blithely ignoring the tempests outside, creating my own inner, mental summer. It's a good and happy place. But along with the ice cream piling up in the freezer, I've got egg whites piling up in the fridge. What to do with egg whites? When I asked my daughter, she replied firmly, "Make an angel food cake!"

I also had on hand an abundance of Mayer lemons that I'd picked up at Costco. They're so rarely there that I can't pass them up when I see them. So, combining the two I made Mayer lemon angel food cake. Light, fluffy, moist clouds of cake, topped with a lemony sweet glaze. Perfect for a day when you're pretending you're in shorts and flip flops, rather than bundled up in a parka and a scarf....indoors.

Note: I paired this with Basil Ice cream thinking lemon, basil, and strawberries would be a perfect combination. I decided that I didn't love the Basil ice cream. It tastes just like basil, but I'm not sold that ice cream should taste like basil. Maybe a strawberry frozen yogurt would be better. Mmmm. Plus that doesn't generate extra egg whites to deal with.

Mayer Lemon Angel Food Cake
- adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten

2 cups sifted superfine sugar, divided*
1-1/3 cups sifted cake flour
1-1/2 cups egg whites, at room temperature (about 10 to 12 eggs)
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1-1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 tsp grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 Tbsp Mayer lemon juice

1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. with a rack in the center of the oven.

2- Combine 1/2 cup fo the sugar with the flour and sift together 4 times. Set aside.

3- Place the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until the eggs made medium-firm peaks, about 1 minute. Withe the mixer on medium speed, sprinkle the remaining 1-1/2 cups sugar over the beaten egg whites. Whisk for a few minutes until thick and shiny. Whisk in the vanilla and lemon zest and continue to whisk until very thick, about 1 more minute. Sift about one fourth of the flour mixture over the egg whites and fold it into the batter with a rubber spatula. Continue adding the flour by fourths by sifting and folding until it's all incorporated.

4- Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, smooth the top, and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, until it springs back to the touch. Remove the cake from the oven and invert the pan on a cooling rack until cool. Remove the cake from the pan after it has cooled and place it on a serving plate or platter.

5- Combine the confectioner's sugar and the lemon juice, whisking until it's smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake.

Serves 8 to 10. Store covered at room temperature.

* If you do not have superfine sugar, just put regular caster sugar in a food processor and pulse it until the sugar is quite fine. Then measure as much as you need.


natalia said...

Mamma mia ! Our season is so ugly too ! And I dream of a nice plate like yours !!

Elyse said...

I think we're on the same page in terms of what we do to encourage summer to come this way--bake! Your ice cream making sounds fabulous, as does this amazing angel food cake. Meyer lemons are the perfect super spring/summer flavor! By the way, I totally appreciate your reference to the spring weather as schizophrenic with multiple personality disorders. What an appropriate metaphor...so true!

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

Ahh, I know - the weather is just downright fickle and annoying!! Here's to making loads of ice cream and baked goods to ring in spring :-)

Anonymous said...

That looks like sunshine on a plate, Lynn.
Shame about the basil ice cream not being to your liking.

Anonymous said...

I have been on the "mental" summer note for a long time. Some times I'll put on one of my bathing suits in my apartment and turn the heat up. I'm dreaming of summer, and wearing flip flops, and the cute skirts and dresses I have, with out having to worry about a coat. I'm ready for popsicles and walks at the beach... mmmm....

I love angle food cake so much. I want some right now!

Johanna B said...

Two favorites - lemon and angel food cake. In combo - scrumptious.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I think we're pretty much into real summer in Dallas or very close to it. But it isn't summer here in Seattle.
Funny I've been working on an angle cake post. Love that stuff!
You're right I don't think bikini and ice cream are made for each other.

Aimée said...

I was thinking of buying a bikini, but maybe I'll make this instead--much cheaper!

Maria said...

We got snow yesterday. This cake made me cheer up though. It looks so summery and delicious!

Elle said...

Nice that we can go on vacation in our heads! The cake is spectacular...very high and light! Love Meyer lemons so this will go into my 'to make' file. Not so sure about the basil ice cream. Basil is sooo strong a flavor.

NKP said...

It is always ice cream season!
I haven't tried making angel food cake - I really want to but I am nervous! If Ina says it's ok, maybe I will be brave and try..
Lovely plating, looks wonderful.

The Blonde Duck said...

Why buy a bikini when you can eat cake? :)

grace said...

bikini or ice cream, decisions, decisions. i'm a terrible decision-maker, but even i can answer this conundrum in a heartbeat. give me ice cream! (and cake.) :)

breadchick said...

Yup, I'm all about summer right now too! If only I had some cherries to add on top...

Debbie said...

I've never made ice cream before but one of these days I will. I'm ready for warm weather too...

Peabody said...

Looks like there will be lots of mental Summer and less of actual Summer.
BTW- Thanks so much for the magazine, that was very sweet of you (no pun intended). :)