Friday, May 25, 2012
Trifle on a Plate
I was tempted to call it a, deconstructed trifle, but knowing my audience you'd start sending me mail asking what the hell the dessert had to do with Derrida. So yeah, fuck it, I made trifle on a plate.
I made a few...OK several batches of ice cream last week, and damned if I was going to toss out egg whites. Sure, I could freeze them-along with all the other containers of frozen egg whites in my freezer (the downside of making large quantities of pasta and ice cream) but angel food cake is really so easy (almost) any idiot can can bake one and I've been rather idiotic of late. I also had really perfect peaches and blueberries to work with, and didn't feel like baking a pie. yeah, I know, I must be sick again.
I can't say there is any particular secret to making a good angel food cake, except that you should take your time adding ingredients. By adding the sugar slowly to the egg whites, and the sifting the dry ingredients over and folding a few tablespoons at a time, it prevents deflating the delicate whites. This is a good rule of thumb for most cakes that rely on eggs (yolks or whites) to rise. Slow down. If you can't, bake brownies-everyone likes brownies and you can dump it all in a single bowl.
I used the "De-Lux" (I hear that as, "deeee-lux") angel food cake recipe in the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, because I know it works. Employing icing sugar in place of the granulated in the dry ingredients is genius. It makes for a really light, sweet cake. We've all had tough, heavy angel food cake. If I wanted that, I could buy one at the supermarket.
I've baked this cake before, HERE. This time, I used coconut extract in place of the vanilla.
The custard is pretty straightforward:
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch (cornflour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a small saucepan, combine eggs, cornstarch, salt, sugar. Whisk in milk. Heat over medium heat and bring slowly to a boil, whisking constantly to prevent it scorching. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat, stir in extracts. Remove to a bowl, cover with cling film pressed on the surface, poke a few small holes with a sharp knife to vent. Chill until ready to assemble trifle.
Toss ripe peaches and blueberries with the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Add sugar to taste. Let sit at least 30 minutes to release juices.
The whipped cream:
Beat chilled whipped cream in a chilled bowl with chilled beaters (or whisk). Add icing sugar to taste and a small bit of either vanilla or coconut extract.
Slice angel food cake carefully with a serrated knife to prevent squishing (yeah, that's a technical term, don't believe me go ask Harold McGee). You'll need two thin-ish slices for each serving. On one slice, dollop some custard. Top with some fruit and another bit of custard. Arrange second slice atop first. Add a bit more custard, more fruit, and the whipped cream (stop channeling my mother and use a reasonable amount of whipped cream. A teaspoon is not a reasonable amount of whipped cream. Maybe a bit more...closer...yeah, just dump it over the cake. That's better). Drizzle some of the juice from the fruit over it all so you can make your dessert all elegant-n-stuff.