It’s hearty soups and crusty peasant bread. Thick stews and heavy biscuits. Casseroles laden with meats and sauces. Filling pies with buttery crusts. Holiday cookie after holiday cookie. Rich hot chocolate with whipped cream.
Last week I had the misfortune of catching a nasty stomach bug. I was limited to days of drinking coke and eating popsicles and oyster crackers. At first I was devastated that I couldn’t indulge in my afternoon pillage of the cracker jar or nightly rummage through my candy tin. However, as my appetite returned, I didn’t turn to my usual snacking culprits. I even grabbed a piece of fruit one night over a chocolate bar and tin of cashew nuts. A few days away from the over-salted snacks and sugary sweets curbed my cravings and made me feel so much better.
This inspired me to lighten things up a bit.
But not too much, as what’s life without cake?
I bring you Daffodil Cake. This cake is made with no butter and contains mostly whipped egg whites. I like to think of it as a protein shake masquerading as cake (or at least that’s how I justify eating more than one slice). It’s lemony and light, a definite sigh of relief after the pumpkin pies of thanksgiving and fruitcakes of Christmas.
It’s also a much needed reminder that spring is lurking somewhere around the corner. There’s just February and March to get through. So while we’re all waiting for the heaps of snow to melt, let’s just stay inside and eat cake!
Recipe Adapted from McCalls Cooking School by Mary Eckley (Food Editor) and Mary J. Norton (Associate Food Editor)
1 ¾ cups egg whites (12-14 eggs) at room temp
1 ¼ cups cake flour, sifted before measuring
1 ½ cups sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
5 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cake flour
2 tablespoons sugar
grated zest of two lemons
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
To make the white batter:
1. Sift the cake flour with ½ cup sugar three times.
2. Place the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip on high until soft peaks form. Add one cup of sugar, ¼ cup at a time. Be sure to slow the mixer to a low speed when pouring in the sugar or else the sugar will fly out. Continue beating until stiff peaks form.
3. Fold the vanilla into the egg white mixture with a spatula.
4. Add the flour mixture the egg whites in three parts to. Do this by sifting the flour over the egg whites, then folding with a spatula carefully to avoid deflating the whites. Repeat until all the flour has been added.
5. Place one third of the egg white mixture in a separate bowl, and preheat the oven to 375 F.
To make the yellow batter:
1. Place the egg yolks, sugar and flour in a bowl and whisk until thick and pale yellow. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix until incorporated.
2. Carefully fold the yellow batter into the reserved 1/3 of the egg white mixture.
To assemble and bake the cake:
1. Place the batters alternatively in a 10-inch tube pan, ending with all white batter on the top. Spread the top smooth with an offset spatula.
2. Bake at 375 F for roughly 40 minutes, or until the cake springs back when pressed down. Remove from the oven and let cool upside down, balanced on top of a bottle.
3. After two hours, run a knife around the inside of the tube pan to loosen the cake, and carefully remove.
4. To garnish, sprinkle with confectioners sugar, spread with a lemon juice and confectioners sugar glaze, or frost with icing. Since this cake is so light I opted for the more decadent choice and frosted the top.