This is the original photo by Ben Fink, from Rose's Heavenly Cakes. filled and frosted with whipped cream and adorned with ValRhona chocolate pearls or mini chocolate chips. My dad had a major sweet tooth. He would pile three heaping tablespoons of sugar into his tea and when I expressed shocked indignation, after all his wife, my mother, was a dentist, he would out an out lie that he didn't stir the sugar into the tea! I thought he would adore angel food cake because it is so unremittingly sweet but, in fact, he complained that it was too sweet so I came up with this version that he loved. I fold grated bitter chocolate into the batter. The very lightest and most tender texture comes from using Wondra flour as it blends easily into the batter without deflating it significantly. This recipe is adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cakes. Note: Egg whites from Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs offer the most stable meringue foam. Be sure to double the cream of tartar for the best results.
The Chocolate Tweed Angel Food Cake
Equipment: a 5 quart or larger stand mixer, an uncoated 10-inch two-piece metal tube pan (16 cup capacity). A long necked soda or wine bottle, or a large inverted metal funnel that will fit into the opening at the top of the pan (have this ready before baking and weight it by filling it with water or marbles to keep it from tipping).
Preheat the oven 20 minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F /175˚C.
Make the Batter
Mix Together Half the Sugar, Flour, and Salt In a small bowl whisk together half the sugar, the flour, and salt until evenly combined. Sift the remaining sugar onto a piece of wax paper.
Beat the Egg Whites into a Stiff Meringue In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until frothy. With the mixer off, add the cream of tartar. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Gradually beat in the sifted sugar, and continue beating on medium-high speed until very stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly. While continuing to beat, add the vanilla and beat until combined.
Add the Flour Mixture and Grated Chocolate to the Meringue Dust the flour mixture over the beaten whites, 1/4 cup at a time, (if using cake flour sift it over the mixture) and with a large balloon whisk, slotted skimmer, or large silicone spatula fold it in quickly but gently. It is not necessary to incorporate every speck until the last addition. Add the grated chocolate and fold it in until evenly incorporated.
Bake the Cake Spread a thin layer of batter onto the sides of the prepared pan to ensure smooth sides. Empty the rest of the batter into the pan. In a 16 cup pan it will be 1/2 inch from the top of the. Run a small metal spatula or knife through the batter to prevent air pockets and smooth the surface. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown, a wire cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed. (A wooden skewer will still have a few moist crumbs clinging to it.) During baking, the center will rise about 2 inches above the pan but will sink to almost level with the pan when done. The surface will have deep cracks like a soufflé.
Cool and Unmold the Cake Invert the pan immediately, placing the tube opening over the neck of the bottle to suspend it well above the counter and cool the cake completely in the pan (this takes about 1-1/2 hours). Loosen the sides with a long metal spatula and remove the center core of the pan. Dislodge the bottom and center core with a metal spatula or thin, sharp knife. (A wire cake tester works well around the core. To keep the sides attractive, press the spatula firmly against the sides of the pan, moving the spatula up and down as you go around it.) Invert the cake onto a flat plate covered with plastic wrap, lightly coated with cooking spray, and reinvert it onto a serving plate. Allow the cake to sit for 1 hour or until the top is no longer tacky. Then cover it with a cake dome or wrap it airtight.
Store: 3 days room temperature, 10 days refrigerated. Freezing toughens the texture.
Complementary Adornments: a light sprinkling of cocoa. Lacy drizzles of melted chocolate or fresh flowers.
To Serve: for the fluffiest texture, use two forks back to back. Alternatively, use a serrated knife but hold the cake gently without compressing it as you cut.