It’s my turn again to choose the weekly Project Pastry Queen recipe! I tend to mull over my PPQ choices for hours or even days but with this one, I literally opened the table of contents, saw the word strawberry, and my decision was made.
The cake is supposed to be a domed 3-layed cake but as you can see, I went for cupcakes. I filled the cupcakes with the ricotta filling but – wait for it – I added chopped strawberries to the ricotta mixture because you can’t have strawberry in the title of a recipe and only have strawberries on top. It’s just not right. It turned out to be a great decision and the ricotta mixture, after sitting for a couple hours in the fridge, tasted like strawberry frozen yogurt! It also kept the cupcakes super moist.
If you want to do cupcakes like I did, fill the liners to the top because these really don’t spring up much. Also, baking time – I’d say 15 – 20 minutes. Just keep a close eye on them. I halved the recipe and ended up with 12 cupcakes, only needed about 1/4 of the filling recipe, and 1/4 of the whipped cream so keep that in mind if you are doing cupcakes. I’d hate for you to waste ingredients! To fill the cupcakes, I took a paring knife and cut a small triangle out and spooned the filling in. Because of the texture of the angel food cake, it was more difficult than a regular cupcake but well worth the trouble. I promise.
Make sure you visit the rest of the Project Pastry Queen ladies to see how they did with the cake!
Angel Food Cake
1 1/3 cup sifted cake flour (sifted then measured)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup superfine sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
zest of 2 oranges
zest of 2 lemons
14 large egg whites (1 3/4 cup), at room temperature
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
4 cups whole or part-skin ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Whipped Cream Frosting
2 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
25 medium-size fresh strawberries
powdered sugar, for garnish
- To make the angel food cake: Set the oven rack on the lowest level and preheat the oven to 350F. Combine the flour, salt, and 1/4 cup of the sugar into a medium bowl. Combine the lemon juice and zests in a small bowl.
- Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl on low speed until frothy. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high until all of the sugar is added and the egg whites are stiff and shiny. Overbeating will create a tough crumb and dry cake. Use a large rubber spatula to gently but thoroughly fold in the flour mixture and the lemon juice and zest. Spoon the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. (The cake will not rise properly unless the pan is grease free.)
- Bake the cake for about 45 minutes, until it is golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert the cake pan and place the neck of a large soda bottle through the pan’s center hole to hang the cake upside down. (The idea is to keep the cake from touching any surface as it cools.) Cool completely, 1 to 2 hours.
- To make the filling: Line a 2-quart bowl with plastic wrap. (Don’t obsess about the bowl’s size; I use a slightly larger 72-ounce plastic bowl with fine results.) Combine the ricotta, cream, vanilla, powdered sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir vigorously until well mixed. Using a serrated knife, cut the angel food cake horizontally into 3 layers. Press the bottom layer lightly into the bottom of the prepared bowl. Spoon half of the ricotta mixture, about 1 1/2 cups, evenly over the cake layer. Top with the middle layer of cake and use the remaining ricotta mixture to cover it. Lightly press the last layer of cake on top.
- At this point you may cover and refrigerate the cake up to 1 day. When ready to assemble, flip the cake over onto a serving plate (remove any plastic wrap that has stuck to the top.)You’ll have a perfect little domed cake.
- To make the frosting: Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cream in a medium bowl on high speed until thick, with medium-soft peaks forming when you lift the mixer out of the bowl (this takes about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes with a handheld mixer, and even less time with a stand mixer). Be careful not to overwhip the cream, or it will separate. Stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract.
- Use a spatula to cover the cake with the whipped cream frosting, mounding a little extra on the top to accentuate the dome shape. Wash the strawberries and dry them thoroughly with paper towels. Cut off the green stems, set each strawberry stem end down, and cut each into as many thing, vertical slices as possible. Starting at the top of the dome, push the strawberry slices gently into the whipped cream frosting in vertical lines. The tops and bottoms of the slices should overlap as you decorate the cake with strawberries. (Visualize the way roof shingles are laid.) Using this method, cover the entire cake with the sliced strawberries. Sprinkle the cake lightly with powdered sugar. This cake is best served immediately. It will keep for several hours in the refrigerator, but it should be eaten the day you make it.