Soggy Bottoms: Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Angel Food Cake

Soggy Bottoms - a Bookish Journey through Technical Bakes with a floury spoon, a rolling pin, and eggshells on a slate backgroundSoggy Bottoms is back!

Sorry I was away for so long. One of my roommates had house guests for about a month (don’t get me started) and it was nearly impossible to use my kitchen for an extended period of time.

I really waffled on trying to pick my next bake. (Ed. note: I see what you did there.)

Did I want a bread, should I try something smaller and more delicate, or should I go for a cake? If I had to pick a baked item, I’d say I’m more of a cake person than anything else. So cake it was.

Then, I had to pick which cake to bake.

I should note that I’m one of those people who flounders when presented with too many choices. My boyfriend really wanted me to make Fraisier cakes, mainly because he loves making Frasier jokes and I utterly hate them (the jokes, not the cakes). But I’m planning to save those for last, just out of spite.

In the end, I decided on an angel food cake with lemon curd. Mainly because I know what an angel food cake is supposed to taste like. I would easily be able to tell if I royally fucked everything up or not.

Bake: Angel food cake with lemon curd

Episode: Series 4, Episode 1

Whose challenge: Mary Berry

Time limit: Two and a half hours.

Resources: I was able to find Mary Berry’s recipe for this bake online. Thank god!

Process: I want to thank everyone in the last post who recommended that I get a kitchen scale for metric measurements. It was a huge help and there was no need for me to do any math. Seriously, give me a workaround for math and I’m there. If you’re curious, I wound up purchasing this lightweight and affordable model. I spilled some egg whites on it and wasn’t too worried about having to clean it off.

Before going into this recipe, I had never made an angel food cake before. My grandmother would always buy the prepackaged ones from the grocery store bakery, plus strawberries and some Cool Whip. I had no idea how much of a pain in the ass making an angel food cake was, but in retrospect, it makes sense why they would be sold prepackaged. They’re so fussy!

Not only do you have to separate a million egg whites from the yolks, but you have to make sure you fold the flour in carefully, lest you let out all the magical air from the batter. And you have to cool it upside down, allowing gravity to naturally help the cake keep its shape while separating it from the pan.

In case you didn’t know (which I didn’t), angel food cakes are usually made in special tins that have little legs. It’s weird and looks like a version of a robot that could scuttle around on some spaceship.

Angel food cake tin with three legs on the edges to help it stand up with really cute pastel colored knives in the background

I also may have “cheated” with this bake. The time limit was two and a half hours, but I took the liberty of getting all the ingredients out and measured beforehand. I didn’t want to be running around the kitchen mid-baking process. At the end of the bake, I was under the time limit by around fifteen minutes, though I know if I had factored in my measuring, I would have easily been over.

The most nerve wracking part was the cooling process. I know you aren’t supposed to grease the cake tin or else the batter won’t climb the sides and give the cake its height. I wish the cake came out a touch higher, but honestly, I was just happy I got it out of the tin in the first place.

The rest of the elements — curd and cream — were easy enough to do. The curd was so tart and yummy. However, I had hoped the cream would have had a little bit more of a flavor, despite my adding more vanilla extract than the recipe called for.

A slice of angel food cake on a blue plate. The slice is topped with chantilly cream and a drizzle of lemon, passionfruit curd

The cake definitely tasted like angel food cake and lasted less than a week in my apartment. I essentially fed it to everyone who came by and would have probably forced it on my mail person, if need be.

Would I make this recipe again? Probably not. It’s just such a pain, but it was definitely rewarding to make my very first angel food cake.

However, I will be making that curd again.

Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage
A | BN | K | AB
 Reading materialLady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley

The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley ( A | BN | K | G | AB ) is one of my favorite historical romances and Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage is the second book in the series. I remember wanting to know more about Isabella and why she hightailed it from her husband, and what he was going to do to win her back. But for whatever reason, I never picked up the book after finishing The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie years earlier.

While baking, I’ve been trying to listen to more audiobooks so that I can still move about the kitchen or clean up while reading, so I was really happy to find Lady Isabella on Audible’s Romance Package. Though it’d been years since I’d read Lord Ian, there wasn’t an issue in jumping back into the plot without feeling lost.

As someone new to audiobooks, I’m still trying to find my groove on what works for me. Which genres, which narrators, etc. In this case, I wasn’t a fan of the narrator. There was something about her voice that couldn’t command my concentration and I kept having to go back thirty seconds at a time to fully grasp what she’d said. The premise was total catnip and I do recommend reading Lord Ian before this one, just to get a better sense of the backstory. Personally, though, I’d prefer to read this one in paper.

If you enjoyed this bake or just love The Great British Bake Off, you can keep track of my technical bakes in the Soggy Bottoms introductory post.

Was pre-measuring my ingredients before the countdown started a huge no-no? Thoughts on the angel food cake process?

And be sure to let me know which recipe you think I should tackle next!

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Ren Benton says:

    I was far more concerned about the pips in your curd than your ingredient pre-prep. Now that I’ve looked at the recipe, I’m concerned about Mary Berry defiling lemon curd with passionfruit seeds and not sweetening whipped cream.

    We can’t eat enough angel food cake to make the whole 12-cup tube pan worthwhile, but when I have too many extra egg whites, I cut the recipe and bake it in muffin tins, which are narrow enough to not require the center support. (Just put parchment rounds in the wells first so you don’t have to pry the bottoms out and destroy your mini cakes.)

  2. 2
    Virginia E says:

    Give yourself all the head start you can get. Something not mentioned is that you should crack and separate your eggs in a clear cup one at a time. Make sure there are no bits of shell or yolk before you add them to your accumulated whites.If you break a yolk, set that egg aside for a breakfast scramble and continue with a clean clear cup until you have your required amount of egg whites.Personally, I’m not a fan of using the egg shells to separate eggs. Most of us don’t get enough practice to be good at it. I use either a sugar spoon or a soup spoon (broad shallow bowled spoon) to fish the intact yolk out of the whites. It works like a charm.

  3. 3
    Francesca says:

    If you are serious about baking, I would suggest getting an oven thermometer. Home oven temperatures can be wildly wonky and a lot of cake baking depends on the initial burst of heat to make the cake rise. They are not very expensive and can save a lot of frustration. I have two ovens – one that always runs cooler and one that seems to want to scorch everything with heat of a thousand suns.

  4. 4
    Lostshadows says:

    @Virginia E: I’ve never tried it, but I’ve seen using a slotted spoon suggested for separating eggs. Supposedly, the whites will run through the openings, while the yolk stays on the spoon.

  5. 5
    LauraL says:

    @ Amanda – Your cake looks perfect!

    I’ve made a few Angel Food cakes over the years, but my “robot” pan gets used much more for pound cake, especially Egg Nog Poundcake at the holidays.

    I have a little Tupperware giveaway, probably 50 years old, I use to separate eggs. My Mom sold Tupperware back in the day and put an egg separator in my hope chest and it has followed me from home to home. The tool goes over a glass and has a cup to catch the yolk.

  6. 6
    Elizabeth says:

    Or, you can use your (clean, washed) fingers to catch the yolk.

  7. 7
    Laurel says:

    I see you mention Audible’s romance subscription here – rumblings on Twitter are that authors just got their first pay statements regarding it and are very unhappy – the pay scale for them is very low. Not sure why they would sign their books up for this without knowing the pay scale in advance, but I saw one author statement that their audiobook earnings went from a couple hundred dollars a month to a little over two dollars. Not sure that is sustainable.

  8. 8
    Trix says:

    I know my mother would approve of the premeasuring, since she’s screamed “MISE EN PLACE!” at me every time she’s seen me bake. Why would Mary Berry put passion fruit seeds in lemon curd? (BTW, Rose Levy Beranbaum calls passion fruit curd “the king of curds,” and I make it whenever someone gives me any fruit [or if I can find concentrate]. What’s confusing is that she has two slightly different recipes for it–the one in THE PIE AND PASTRY BIBLE is a touch more flavorful. A couple of times I’ve substituted olive oil after trying one at SF’s Craftsman and Wolves that’s made that way…it is fruitier, but I’d stick with butter if you want something thick enough to go between cake layers.) Anyway, I’ve never had the guts to tackle angel food cake, so I doff my cap to you…

  9. 9
    Trix says:

    Oh yeah, you can freeze leftover egg whites in ice cube trays so you’re not searching for eggs to separate. They defrost pretty quickly, but if you have to you can set the bowl of cubes in a bigger bowl of warm water to speed things up…

  10. 10
    Critterbee says:

    Pre-measuring ingredients without time pressure should definitely be allowed.

    I like making Angel Food Cakes, but they are very fiddly. Generally it is a once-a-year bake. I have never made it with lemon curd, which sounds delicious plus you then have an immediate use for all those yolks.

    After watching some of the GBBO, my sister asked me for a Battenberg for her birthday, and I think I would rather make 100 Angel Food cakes before another Battenberg.

    Hmmm, you have done scones and an Angel Food Cake. If you feel like a cake, Jaffa Cakes are amazing. If you want to make bread, than pretzels would be pretty interesting. It is important to pick something that you feel in the mood to make.

  11. 11
    EC Spurlock says:

    Hats off to you, Amanda! Looks like it turned out just right! I made one angel food cake for my hubby because it was his favorite kind of cake and I was feeling determined; it was quite a pain but it turned out pretty well. IIRC I used a pint of those pre-separated egg whites you can get at the grocery because I didn’t want to waste that many whole eggs that I could use for other things, and that worked just as well.

    @LauraL, I have one of those egg separators too! My sister passed it on when she was going through our mom’s kitchen things. I also have a potter friend who makes stoneware egg separators that look like little muppets and you pour the whites out the mouth; I’ve always wanted one of those and I keep forgetting to nab one when I see her at shows.

  12. 12
    Ren Benton says:

    @Laurel: Authors never know the pay scale with Amazon’s subscription programs (KU and now this) until after the fact. Now we know a 13-hour audiobook that costs $4K-$5K to produce is worth 75¢ (half that for those who did royalty split with the poor narrator before getting them into this) and can act accordingly, but somebody has to be the “this could be a great opportunity” guinea pig to get that data.

  13. 13
    Sandra says:

    @EC Spurlock, @LauraL: I have the Tupperware separator, too, along with a lot of other Tupperware promo items that I never use. (Orange peeler, anyone?) As @Elizabeth says, fingers work just fine when it comes to separating eggs. Then you can pull all the little white bits off.

  14. 14
    Kareni says:

    The cake looks delicious, Amanda. I regret that I didn’t stop by your apartment to get a slice!

  15. 15
    Susan says:

    Growing up, angel food cake was literally the only dessert we were allowed to have*, and not all that often. My mom was an expert at making them and I learned from her. They are quite the undertaking, but I didn’t think much of it at the time since it was old hat. Not surprisingly, tho, I’d kinda had enough of them by the time I got older and quit baking them myself, relying on store-bought if the need arose. (*The only dessert exception was that we each got to have a birthday cake of our choice. Mine was always homemade coconut cake.)

  16. 16
    Rebecca says:

    I too have a problem with this audible narrator.
    But love love love The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie, book 1 of this series.

  17. 17
    Samanda says:

    Separating eggs by using the shells isn’t all that difficult. Mostly, you need to be sure you don’t shatter the shell, so you have something to work with. If the idea of working without a fancy tool is a bit scary, practise a few times using the eggs in a recipe that doesn’t call for separating. That way, it doesn’t matter if you don’t get it perfect the first few tries.

  18. 18
    DonnaMarie says:

    Back in the day, the pans didn’t have feet Mom would buy a bottle of soda and invert the pan over the neck of the bottle. Much more nerve racking than inverting it snowed inch over the counter top. And then we got to have cake and soda.

    Also, you use the egg yolks to make curd, or one of several cakes that call for lors of yolks. I refer you to the aforementioned The Cake Bible.

  19. 19
    Kris says:

    Just here to squeal over The Madness of Lord Ian and Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage, both of which I listened to last week. My boyfriend of 5 years has Asperger’s and he and I both thought the representation was good (we discussed it; he wasn’t interested in listening himself). It was nice, having a hero who reminds me of him in a lot of ways.

    And FYI, the heroine of the next book, The Many Sins of Lord Cameron, is especially fond of cake, in case you need more baking inspiration.

  20. 20
    Susan Neace says:

    Make a Tres Letche cake next. Right now it is my favorite cake. You make a sheet cake, poke it full of holes and then pour a soaking liquid made of milk, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. After it sets, you ice it with whipped cream. It is amazing.

  21. 21
    Helen R-S says:

    @Lostshadows – I’ve separated eggs using a slotted spoon and can confirm that it works well.

  22. 22
    Hazel says:

    As a non-baker, and someone lacking experience with cake (which I hope to remedy) may I ask, how does angel food cake differ from, say, sponge cake? Vis a vis, the eating?

  23. 23
    Jae Lee says:

    No matter what tool you use, I 100% second separating the eggs over their own vessel before adding to the cumulative whites. It’s worth the extra dirty dish to not feel the white-hot rage of getting egg yolk into a bowl of one million whites. Admittedly, I am crap at cracking egg shells and it took way too many bowls of ruined egg whites to learn that lesson.

    @Hazel, angel food is really just a specific type of sponge cake, but I find it to be kind of marshmallow-y. It’s got that same sort of springy resistance and a delicately sweet flavor.

    I’d love to see the Bakewell tart! And I haven’t seen the earliest seasons but Cornish pasties are awesome. They require a lot of prep just because you have to chop all of the meat and vegetables, but unlike regular pie crust you don’t have to be gentle with the pastry.

  24. 24
    Meredith says:

    I keep meaning to learn how to make angelfood cake, because it’s a more diabetic-friendly option and my partner is diabetic (…and it’s so darn good with strawberries!). Maybe I’d also make a pound cake to use up the egg yolks!

  25. 25
    KtB says:

    If you are looking for a wonderful audio book, although it’s not a romance, Alan Cumming’s “Not my Father’s son” Was amazing.
    He reads his own book, and frankly, I think he has about the sexiest accent ever. The story sucked me in, because he overlapped it with the filming of his story on “who do you think you are” and I friggin love genealogy.
    Hmmmmm, I’m smiling just thinking of his voice. *Sigh*
    And angel food cakes were served every year on my birthday at grandma’s house. I didn’t find out until years later that she used boxes, because, UGH, So many egg whites!

  26. 26
    LML says:

    Until about 1991 a major boxed cake mix companies made angel food cake mixes with two packages. The first had powdered egg whites, the second the flour and sugar. When they changed to one package powered by chemicals instead of egg whites, I was dismayed to realize that if I wanted angel food cake I would have to make it from scratch – and I’ve been baking cakes from scratch since I was a teen. To this day I think the two-part box mixes had better flavor and height than any of the angel food cakes I’ve made from scratch. I deeply admire Amanda’s fearlessness in baking angel food as her first cake.

  27. 27
    Trix says:

    @KtB: You’ll love his YOU GOTTA GET BIGGER DREAMS audiobook, too…much more upbeat (funny! sexy as hell!), and there’s a bonus PDF of photos he’s taken (also funny and sexy as hell!)…

  28. 28
    Hazel says:

    @Jae Lee: Thanks very much. We don’t actually have a local bakery, but I’ll look around and see if I can find some.

  29. 29
    Katie C. says:

    @LauraL,

    If you are willing, could you please share the recipe or link to the recipe for your Eggnog Poundcake? That sounds right up my alley at Christmas.

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