by Stephanie Zonis
Light but chocolatey, this is a tall cake with no leavening other than the air that is beaten into egg whites. You'll need a two-piece tube pan, 10" by 4" tall, for this cake; a two-piece tube pan means that the bottom and tube are in one piece, and the sides are in another. You'll also need a lot of egg whites for this cake--about 14, if you use eggs graded "large". Since you can use whites that have been frozen and then thawed, save them up in the freezer to make this. It is important to note that a 4-1/2 quart mixer bowl, the size that comes with my electric mixer, is not large enough for this batter. I use a 6 quart, absolutely clean, nonreactive pot and a sturdy, powerful, hand-held electric mixer. Whatever you use, both container and beater(s) must be grease-free, and the egg whites should be at room temperature for greatest volume.
Like other foam-type cakes, this cools upside down, suspended over a sturdy, long-necked bottle. I know this sounds crazy (believe me, it looks weird, too), but it does work. The finished cake will be about 4" tall and extremely light-textured. It will have a definite chocolate taste without being too sweet. The best way to cut this is with a large, very sharp, serrated knife; saw gently to cut. This cake needs little in the way of a garnish, though you might like to dust the top lightly with confectioners' sugar just before serving. For a special treat, serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
1-3/4 cups sifted granulated sugar, divided
3/4 cup sifted cake flour
2/3 cup sifted unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1-3/4 cups egg whites, at room temperature
2 tsp. freshly-squeezed, strained lemon juice
2 tsp. vanilla
Adjust oven rack so that it is one-third up from bottom of oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Assemble a two-piece tube pan, but do not grease or line it. Have ready a baking or cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil; the assembled tube pan must fit on the sheet. Place the assembled pan on the lined baking sheet; set aside.
In food processor fitted with steel blade, combine 3/4 cup granulated sugar (reserve remainder), cake flour, and cocoa powder. Process at high speed for two bursts of about 10 seconds each, or until mixture is well-combined and very fine-textured.
In 6 quart, nonreactive, absolutely clean pot (or other clean, nonreactive bowl/pot of over 5 quart capacity), combine room temperature egg whites, lemon juice, and salt. Beat at high speed until very white and foamy. Gradually add remaining 1 cup sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating between each addition. With last addition, add vanilla. Continue beating at high speed until this meringue holds stiff peaks, but do not overbeat.
Sift about 1/4 cup of the processed sugar-flour-cocoa mixture over the beaten egg whites. With large spatula, fold into whites (don't be too thorough). Continue sifting and folding in of processed dry ingredients, about 1/4 cup at a time—don't fold in any one addition too thoroughly. If you are using a pot to make this, you must be certain to scrape the bottom edges and bottom well and often. The object is to fold in the dry ingredients gently but quickly, just until everything is combined. Do not overmix. You will see that this folding deflates the beaten whites slightly, but the finished batter should still be quite thick.
Turn batter into assembled tube pan. Gently level with spatula. Using a flat knife, cut through batter several times in a circular pattern to get rid of any large air bubbles. Immediately place cookie sheet (with pan on it) into preheated oven.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes. The cake will rise above the edge of the pan and develop very deep cracks in the top surface--OK. Cake is done when it springs back if touched lightly with a fingertip. Do not overbake! Remove from oven and place right side up on cooling rack.
Quickly, pick up tube pan (carefully—it's hot!!) while you insert the neck of the bottle through the tube; gently and carefully turn the whole assembly upside down so that the baked cake, still in the pan, rests (upside down) on the (right side up) bottle. I place the whole on a sturdy cooling rack; it should be about 12" above the surface of the table.
Cool undisturbed and out of drafts until the cake has reached room temperature—this will take at least an hour. While it cools, the cake will shrink slightly—OK.
When cooled completely, turn cake pan right side up. With stiff-bladed plastic spatula or knife, gently loosen cake from sides and tube, then lift tube portion of pan (with cake still attached) up from sides. Loosen cake from pan bottom; gently invert onto large serving plate (this will be served upside down). Store airtight at room temperature for up to three days, or refrigerate airtight for up to ten days. Note that this does not freeze!
Copyright © 1999 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.
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This page created May 1999
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