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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Custard-Filled Angel Food Cake with Meringue Frosting and Cherries

By Juvy S. Iliwiliw

Here's a lovely cake, one that will look queenly and elegant on the holiday table yet is easy on the tummy. Custard-filled angel food cake with meringue frosting and cherries has a superbly moist and light body, with a wonderful texture that simply melts in the mouth.

The snowy white frosting makes an elegant background for the bright red, stemmed cherries, the swirls of cherry syrup sauce, tiny sprigs of mint leaves, and the shiny little balls of gold and silver dregees. Best of all, since only egg whites and no yolks are used for the cake, you'll find comfort in knowing that it's low-cholesterol dessert (you can use the egg yolks to make leche flan or eggnog).

Even when baked a day or two ahead, the cake will remain moist and soft as long as you wrap it securely in plastic wrap so it doesn't dry up in the refrigerator. You can make the meringue frosting on the day of the occasion, then frost and garnish the cake just hours before the guests arrive.


You will need:

For the angel food cake:
1    cup cake flour

¾   cup sugar, divided
½   teaspoon salt
1½ cups egg whites
1    tablespoon water
1    tablespoon lemon juice
¾   teaspoon cream of tartar
1    teaspoon vanilla

For the filling:
¼   cup + 1 tablespoon flour
½   cup sugar, divided
1    egg
¾   cup milk
¼   cup heavy cream
      Pinch of salt
1½ tablespoons butter
1    tablespoon rum
1    cup stiffly whipped cream

For the Swiss meringue:
1    cup egg whites
11/3cups sugar
½   teaspoon cream of tartar
 ¼  teaspoon vanilla

For the cherry sauce:
1     cup Maraschino cherry syrup
1     tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 
1     tablespoon Maraschino cherry syrup

To decorate:
Maraschino cherries with stems, as needed 
Fresh mint sprigs, as needed
Red, gold, green, and silver dragees, as needed

Here's how:

Prepare angel food cake: Preheat oven to 350oF. In a bowl sift together cake flour, six tablespoons of the sugar and salt three times. Set aside.In a mixing bowl of electric mixer, whip together egg whites, water, lemon juice, cream of tartar, and remaining sugar until stiff but not dry. Blend in vanilla, mixing well. Slowly fold in sifted dry ingredients, folding carefully. Pour batter into an ungreased 10" tube pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 to 45 minutes. Invert tube pan onto the neck of a bottle and leave until cool.

Prepare filling: In a bowl, mix flour and ¼ cup of the sugar. Whisk in egg, stirring until smooth. In a saucepan heat milk, cream, remaining ¼ cup sugar, and salt. When milk mixture boils, slowly add into sugar-flour mixture. Pour mixture back into saucepan and cook until it boils and becomes thick. Add butter and rum, turn off heat. Transfer mixture to a bowl and cover the surface directly with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming. Cool thoroughly. Fold in whipped cream.

Prepare meringue: Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a stainless steel bowl set over simmering water. Heat to warm, stirring often until temperature reaches 125oF. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add vanilla then whip until stiff but not dry.

Prepare sauce: In a saucepan, bring cherry syrup to a boil. Stir in cornstarch mixture and heat until thickened. Return to boiling, whisking constantly. Let cool before serving.

Assemble and decorate the cake: Cut the cooled cake horizontally in half. Spread filling over the first layer then top with remaining layer. Frost sides and top with Swiss meringue, swirling the meringue to make decorative patterns. Top with stemmed Maraschino cherries. Decorate with mint sprigs on top and insert dragees all over sides of cake. Drizzle cherry sauce on top of cake.

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