How could something called angel food cake be so wicked? Maybe it’s the addition of pumpkin and spices and everything nice that does the trick. Or could it be the science behind making Italian meringue scarier than one might think? Read along as I take the mystery out of this Wicked Pumpkin Angel Food Cake w/Italian Meringue recipe for all to enjoy.
The secret to this cake is YIKES; I am going to suggest pre-made cake mix. Why? I am trying to be an angel here on your shoulder, and I am whispering Italian Meringue wishes in your ear. Yes, we are going to master the scientific art of meringue. It’s WICKED once you learn it. It’s FANTASTIC once you taste it.
The cake part is well a piece of cake. These are my tips to succeed, so let’s do this!
Meringue requires these three essential things: FRESH EGGS, ACID, METAL BOWL.
Want those wicked stiff peaks? Fresh eggs that are room temperature is key. The egg albumen has a high acidity level, when its close to the expiration date that level has dropped. When beating in the air on old eggs, you get less coagulation. It will foam quickly but not give you the body for those stiff peaks. No one wants a foamy flop; stiff peaks are where this cake shines.
ACID is like a cool kitchen experiment. Which one to use? Lemon juice, white wine vinegar or cream of tartar. Well, I certainly don’t want a lemon tang wang to my meringue unless it is going on something citrus then okay. White wine vinegar will be a better choice if you like your meringue gooey. I pick the infamous what the hell is cream of tartar because I wanted to ensure my peaks are crisp and on point. That how I roll, plus an ode to mothers spice cabinet she always had cream of tartar. I am not sure what she used it for, but by GOD we had it.
Metal bowl, glass or plastic. If you have superhuman scrubbing skills and can de-grease your dishes like a queen then, by all means, try it. However, by the time you spend boiling, whipping and praying you might as well use a metal bowl. Super dry, clean, grease-free. You will thank me.
What about a hint of yolk? You crack me up! NO YOLK, NO JOKE. The fat in the yolk will require you to whip till your arm falls off. My method is foolproof. First, put more eggs out than the recipe calls for to room temperature just in case you have a yolk mishap. Then use the two bowl method. Separate your first egg into bowl #1, if you succeed pour into bowl #2. I call the bowl #2 my goal bowl. Continue till all eggs are snug in the same container. Nothing worse than succeeding until egg #4 goes rogue and ruins the whole dish. I know cooking sometimes requires thinking, planning.
Did I mention, room temperature? Don’t forget this helps the protein strands bond with the sugar and make that fluff superlicious.
Also, go out and invest $7 in a candy thermometer. Not only does it ensure your syrup is good to go, but it also makes you feel like the mad scientist kitchen rock star that you are. Tools rule.
I am not big on playing with fire, but I did find a butane torch at the convenient mart that worked well for my toasting of the meringue. Alternatively, you can invest in a creme brulee torch, and toast like a pro in front of your guests. It will smell like roasting marshmallows over a crackling fire, and yes Fall has arrived.
Wicked Pumpkin Angel Food Cake w/Italian Meringue
Yield 12 servings
- 1 package Angel Food Cake + ingredients to make per box instructions
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. cloves
- 1/4 tsp. ginger
- 1 cup, 2 tsp. white sugar
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 4 1/2 egg whites, room temperature
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine pumpkin, and spices in a large mixing bowl, set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a separate bowl mix angel food cake and ingredients as directed on box. Mix until combined.
Begin folding in 1/4 of the angel food batter into the pumpkin mixture. Slowly add rest of batter to mixture folding gently.
Spoon batter into 10-inch bundt or chiffon pan. Bang pan against counter top to release air bubbles. Bake for 38 minutes and invert onto a wire rack to cool for one hour. If needed run a knife around the cake to loosen it before inverting onto a pedestal or platter.
Time to make meringue:
Preheat and boil water in a tea kettle or microwave. Place boiling water and sugar into a small saucepan and stir slightly.
Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Pick up the pan and swirl a few times to distribute sugar into the center of the pan. Do not stir.
At this time put egg whites, salt and cream of tartar into a mixing bowl with whisk attachment on mixer. Don’t mix yet.
Check to see if the sugar has dissolved and then turn up the heat to high, insert a candy thermometer. When surge syrup races 212 degrees F begin whipping the egg white mixture at medium speed till you reach the soft peak stage.
Return to saucepan and see that sugar mixture has reached 243 degrees F and remove from heat. Increase mixer to high speed and slowly pour syrup into egg whites.
Reduce speed to medium and beat till the meringue is stiff, keep mixing and add the vanilla extract.
Spoon meringue into dollops and twirl to get that perfect swirly peak, twirl tip of a spoon not the back into an outward, inward upward motion. Don’t get dizzy 🙂
With a mini blow torch toast the meringue. Smells like roasting marshmallows over a crackling fire!
Memorize, make a million times because your family will want this over pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving as well.
FYI, I photographed this in a smaller pan and made cupcakes as well for my office neighbors.