Sunday, June 10, 2012

Angel Food Cake with Red Wine Strawberries


My sweet mama's birthday is this week, and, due to the nature of everybody having busy lives, our family is getting together tonight, a couple of days early, to celebrate her.

My mother's mother was a tremendous baker and always made Angel Food cake for my mom's birthdays while she was growing up.  My mother doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, but she always requests angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream for her birthday still.  I think of it as a way to bring the spirit of my grandmother back as my mom marks the passing of another year.

As I only make it once a year, I can't say I have a go-to recipe for Angel Food.  However, I completely trust America's Test Kitchen, especially when it comes to baking, so I used the Angel Food recipe in this book and it turned out beautifully.  While I typically can't leave recipes alone and usually decrease something and add something else, I've learned my lesson with America's Test Kitchen and followed this recipe to a T, only adding an extra teaspoon of almond extract because my mom goes crazy for the stuff.  Though I almost always bake from scratch, I'm not one to turn my nose up at the convenience or taste of boxed mixes.  Use what works for you.  However, I might suggest adding a bit of extra almond extract or some lemon zest to a boxed mix, just to make it your own.  Incidentally, I also like to add a bit of almond extract to the whipped cream; maybe just 1/2 t. or so per cup of cream.  Delicious!

But onto my little secret.

Strawberries.

Yes, you can certainly just slice up some strawberries and eat them with cake and whipped cream and everybody will be in heaven.  You can even sprinkle on a little sugar before serving to bring out their juices.  However, especially since everybody in my family has reached solid adulthood and no little ones will be partaking of dessert tonight, I have my sliced up berries macerating in a little something extra:


Red wine.  Yum.

Maybe everybody already knows this trick, but I love to pull it out when I'm serving something plain that can really showcase a little extra flavor.  I also love to use it when my berries aren't super juicy or sweet--it dials up their strawberry-ness.

Ingredients:

2 lb. strawberries, hulled, washed and sliced
2 T. red wine, or to taste
3 T. sugar, or to taste
1 t. vanilla extract

Mix all together in a bowl, making sure all of the strawberries are coated.  Allow this mixture to sit at room temperature for at least an hour.  By this time, the mixture should have created a lovely, syrupy liquid.  Taste and add more wine or sugar as desired.



Serve as a topping for ice cream, cake, yogurt, etc.  I love the way the flavorful syrup soaks into the nooks and crannies of Angel Food!


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