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A few weeks ago, I had an excuse to bake a celebratory cake.  While searching for a suitable recipe, a small side note from the “About Angel Food Cakes” section in  Joy of Cooking caught my eye: it suggested that to jazz up an angel food cake, to stuff it with lemon curd.  The complementary flavours of tangy lemon layered inside a light angel food cake captivated my imagination (not to mention my tastebuds).  I decided to finish the cake with a whipped cream frosting stabilized by rich mascarpone cheese.   Mascarpone is a rich, spreadable, Italian cheese, almost custard-like in flavour.  It helps thicken the frosting, while retaining the lightness of the whipping cream.

The cake was suberb – with the flavours melding perfectly.  For my parent’s wedding anniversary this weekend, I tried it out on my mother (who is a self-declared dessert connoisseur),  and she too declared it an absolute success. While slightly fiddly to assemble, it is certainly worth every second of effort!

Coincidently, a few weeks after my initial test run,  Canadian Living came out with a similar recipe for mother’s day.  I suspect most mothers would love this special dessert next Sunday!

Angel Cake with Lemon Curd and Marscapone Frosting

Makes one 10-inch angel food cake

 

Ingredients:

Angel Food Cake

1 cup sifted cake flour

3/4 cup + 3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups egg whites (about 11 large whites)

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon almond abstract
 

Lemon Cheese

3 large eggs

1/3 cup sugar

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup strained fresh lemon juice

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 teaspoon vanilla
 

Marscapone Frosting

2 cups whipping cream

1 cup marscapone

1/4 to 1/2  cup icing sugar, depending on your preferred sweetness
 

Finishing Touches

1 pint blueberries

Grated zest of 1 lemon
 

Directions:

Angle Cake

Note: The egg whites should be at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Have ready an ungreased 10-inch tube pan (preferably with removable sides).

Sift together three times the flour, 3/4 cup sugar and salt.  In a separate large bowl, combine the egg whites, water, lemon juice, cream of tartar, and vanilla.  Beat on low speed for 1 minute.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture increases to 5 times in volume and resembles a soft foam, about 3-5 minutes.

On medium-high speed, beat in 1 tablespoon at a time, taking 2 to 3 minutes 3/4 cup sugar.  When all the sugar has been added, teh foam will be creamy white and hold soft, moist, glossy peaks that bend over at the points: do not beat until stiff.

Sift a fine layer of the flour mixture (about 1/4 cup) evenly over the batter and fold gently with a rubber spatula only until the flour is almost incorporated; do not stir or mix.  Repeat 7 more times, folding in the last addition until no traces of flour are visible.

Pour the batter into the pan and spread gently to level the top.  Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

When the cake is done, invert immediately and cool upside down in the pan, to prevent it from sinking.  Use the feet of the pan to hold it above the surface of the table or prop it higher by resting the tube on a bottle or inverted funnel.  Let the cake cool for at least 1 1/2 hours, until it is thoroughly set.

To remove the cake from the pan, slide a thin knive around the cake to detach it from the pan and the tube.  If you have removable sides, slide the knife under the cake to detach it from the bottom.  Let the cake cool completely before frosting.
 

Lemon Curd

Whisk together in a saucepan until light in colour the eggs, sugar, and lemon zest.  Add the fresh lemon juice and butter.  Cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat until the butter is melted, the mixture is thickened  and simmers gently for a few seconds.  Using a spatula, scrape the filling through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl.  Stir in the vanilla.  Let cool, cover, and refrigerate to thicken.
 

Marscapone Frosting

With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk whipping ceam until stiff peaks form (be careful not to overbeat, or cream will be grainy). In another bowl, whisk together mascarpone and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated.
 

Assembly

Using a very sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, carefully cut the cake horizontally in thirds. Lay the bottom layer on a serving platter.  Gently spread half of the lemon curd over the cake.  Place the middle layer over the curd.  Gently spread with the remaining lemon curd.  Cover with the final third.

Using a frosting spatula (or a butter knife), frost the entire cake including tops and sides.  Decorate with blueberries and lemon zest. Bon appetit!
 
– Catherine

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