I have a child who doesn’t have a sweet tooth. He’s clearly missing one of my genes. He can walk past cookies, cakes, pastries, ice cream, even chocolate, especially chocolate. I don’t pretend to understand, but I try, and just hope he’ll grow out of it. The only type of desserts he will eat, without guilting him into it, are the fruity ones. He even baked a gorgeous rhubarb pie. So, when we celebrated his birthday, I made a traditional marble cake, with lots of sweet frosting for the rest of us, and this light angel food cake with fresh peaches for him. He had seconds, then thirds of the angel food and left the the sticky, gooey birthday cake untouched. The rest of us took care of it for him.
Although we are finally experiencing spring, we are far from peach season in Minnesota. They must be growing well in CA, because my local co-op had a bin full of the most beautiful, fragrant and juicy peaches. I may just be desperate for a sign of summer, but I think this may be the best crop I’ve had in years. I cooked them with just a touch of honey and a vanilla bean. The angel food has a healthy dose of citrus zest, which is a great balance to the sweet peaches, especially for people without the sugar gene.
Citrus Angel Food, inspired by a cake in Gesine Bullock-Prado’s Bake It Like You Mean It
1 1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (50 g) confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup cake flour, sifted
1 teaspoon salt
12 egg whites, at room temperature
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon and/or orange zest
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon orange extract (not oil)
10 medium-sized ripe peaches
1/4 cup honey
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
To bake the cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F
In a food processor, pulverize the sugars and cornstarch until very fine. In a large bowl, add half the sugar mixture (reserve the other half for later) with the cake flour. Sift the sugar/flour mixture 3 times, set aside.
In a stand mixer, whip the egg whites, lemon juice, zest, cream of tartar and extract with the whisk attachment, on high speed, until the whites are frothy. Slowly add the reserved sugar-cornstarch mixture to the whites and continue to whip until medium peaks.
Sift 1/4 of the sugar/flour mixture over the whipped whites. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold them together. Repeat with another 1/4 of the sugar/flour and gently fold them together. Continue in this way until all the sugar/flour is incorporated.
Spoon the batter into an ungreased Angel Food Pan.
Run a knife or spatula through the batter to get any large air bubbles out.
Bake for about 35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
Immediately invert the pan onto a wine bottle to prevent the cake from compressing.
To make the peaches:
To blanch and peel the peaches: Bring 8 quarts of water to a boil. Cut an X on the bottom of each peach and place them in the boiling water. Allow them to sit in the boiling water for up to 1 minute.
Place the peaches in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Use your fingers or a paring knife to remove the skin.
Pit and slice the peaches. Place them in a pot with the honey and vanilla bean. Cook until the fruit is soft and the juices start to thicken to the consistency of maple syrup.
Remove and place in a bowl. They can be served hot, room temperature or cold.
Remove the cake and place it on a serving plate.
Use an angel food comb to cut the cake and serve with the peaches.