This is my take on the divine Angel food cake, a cake that is like eating sweet bites of airy cloud! I went for a sponge that was speckled with chocolate, coated in a dark chocolate and coffee ganache and finished with salted caramel and caramelised hazelnuts.
I actually made two cakes: one for a Clandestine Cake Club meeting, for which I played around a bit more with 2-tone cream piping along the top as an experiment, and one, without the piping, for work.
An incredibly light sponge
I used Mary Berry’s basic sponge recipe, but I have added a little chocolate to the sponge mixture. The sponge is easy to make, and takes about 5 minutes to mix together.
The cake will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, although the caramel on the caramelised nuts will soften after about a day (but they still taste great!).
The cake is made in an Angel cake tin but if you haven’t got one, you can improvise by using a 9-10″ deep cake tin and place a narrow jam jar in the centre.
The tin should not be greased, so the mixture can cling to the sides as it bakes, giving a good height. Once the cake has baked you turn it upside down, still in the tin, until it has completely cooled: if you don’t turn it upside down, the cake is likely to sink as it cools.
Recipe for mocha & salted caramel Angel food cake
Angel cake sponge:
- 125g plain flour
- 300g caster sugar
- 360ml egg whites, at room temperature (or the whites of 10-12 large eggs)
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 25g best quality dark chocolate, at least 70% solids, grated coarsely
Dark chocolate & coffee ganache:
- 200ml double cream
- 150g best quality dark chocolate, at least 70% solids
- 1 teaspoon coffee granules dissolved in a little hot water
Salted caramel sauce:
- 160g granulated sugar
- 35ml water
- 50g unsalted butter, roughly chopped
- 75ml double cream
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- some of the caramel made for the salted caramel sauce
- a handful of whole hazelnuts
(1) Pre-heat the oven to 160C (fan)
(2) Sift the flour and 100g of the sugar in a bowl, repeating if necessary: you want a very fine mixture.
(3) Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric whisk for about a minute. Add the salt and the cream of tartar and continue whisking on high speed for a few minutes, until you get soft peaks.
(4) Add the rest of the sugar, a little at a time, whisking until you get firm peaks. Gently fold in the flour mixture, a little at a time, until fully incorporated.
(5) Fold in the dark chocolate and gently transfer the mixture to an un-greased angel cake tin.
(6) Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is a light golden colour. A skewer or cocktail stick inserted into the cake should come out clean. A little cracking on top is fine. Remove from the oven and top upside down over a baking tray, board or wire rack to cool fully. While the cake is cooling, make the ganache and the salted caramel:
(7) For the ganache: put the chocolate in a small bowl. Heat the cream in a small pan until it just reaches boiling point. Remove from the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Stir until you get a smooth, glossy mixture and mix in the coffee. Set aside until it has cooled and is becoming a just little firmer: it should be a soft, spreadable consistency.
(8) For the salted caramel & the caramelised nuts: pop a cocktail stick carefully into each nut – just enough so the cocktail stick can lift the nut. Heat the water and sugar in a medium pan until it starts to boil, shaking the pan gently a few times as the mixture heats to help dissolve the sugar: don’t stir, otherwise the sugar will chrystallise and you gave to start again. You can add extra water at the start to help the sugar along, as it will mostly evaporate anyhow. Let the syrup boil on a medium heat for several minutes until it turns a deep golden brown colour. Remove it from the heat when it is dark enough.
(9) Remove the caramel from the heat and dip the nuts into it to coat them, one at a time. Hang the nuts over the work surface, a little apart, with the nut end over the edge to allow the caramel to drip down and a heavy chopping board at the other end to keep them in place. I would suggest placing a towel on the floor to catch any drips. Leave until the caramel has set, which only takes a few minutes: when you are ready to decorate the cake you can snip off some of the excess caramel, but leave some of the caramel spikes. Gently remove the cocktail stick.
(10) Finish the salted caramel sauce: stir the butter into the rest of the hot caramel until it has melted. Slowly stir in the cream, being careful as it will sputter. Mix until you get a smooth caramel and add the salt. Set aside to cool.
(11) To finish the cake: remove the cooled sponge from the tin – it should come out easily, but if not run a palette knife around the edge and the base if necessary, and a small sharp knife around the central column. Place the cake on a cake board or a flat plate. Tuck some greaseproof just under the cake, all around the base: this will help give a neater base without any pooling of ganache and salted caramel.
(12) Spoon over the cooled ganache and either smooth it out or leave it rough. Drizzle over some of the cooled salted caramel, mixing it with a little cream if it is too firm. Carefully remove the greaseproof from around the base, and top with the caramelised nuts. Chill until slicing, using a serrated knife to cut the cake.