Today Ashleigh from Scratchy Mama decided to help me out and make one of the recipes from my Great-Grandmother’s Old Recipe box. Ashleigh blogs all about cooking from scratch, saving money and enjoying real food. Plus she even lives in Washington state like me! Make sure and check out her blog here and see her amazing recipes.
She chose the recipe card called “Fairy Cake”. When I read the title of that recipe it just reminded me of a light pretty cake covered in fresh whipping cream and sprinkles. I bet it was used for Birthdays or when a visitor came by. Doesn’t it sound kinda dreamy? Here is Ashleigh’s post with pictures of the process.
Like an angel food cake, but with a little more texture and flavor. Light and airy, but not so airy you still want your real dessert afterwards.
I made this with my nieces who love to cook and bake. The 9-year-old has such advanced knife skills that her parents let her do much of the chopping for dinners. She handles a chef’s knife like some adults I’ve seen!
This recipe is simple when it comes to ingredients: just eggs, flour, sugar and water. The key to a successful fairy cake is the method. Just as with the angel food cake, the egg whites must be beaten enough and folded in gently so they’re not deflated. The instructions stated low oven, which my brother-in-law (former baker) and I discussed as being around 300 or 325. I baked the cake at 310, but I think 325 would have been perfect.
The recipe called for beating the egg yolks and water for 5 minutes, adding the sugar and beating for 5 minutes, then adding the flour and beating for 5 minutes. In addition to that, the egg whites needed to be beaten before they are folded in. When I started thinking about this, I imagined beating by hand for 20 minutes and I wonder how big these women’s muscles were. That takes a lot of arm strength that I definitely don’t have! Thanks to my trusty mixer, my beating time when I added an ingredient was 2 minutes or so, cutting the time and the energy expended to make this take in half.
Although I wanted to stay true to the recipe, I had to add a pinch of salt. I don’t think I’ve ever baked anything without salt since it brings out all the other flavors. Besides that, I didn’t change anything.
HOW DID IT TASTE?
The cake tasted very similar to an angel food cake. Simple and light, yet richer (due to the egg yolks). I didn’t have berries or compote, but if I did I would have eaten it with the cake. If I had one complaint, it would be that the flavors weren’t complex…the egg flavor was a little too overpowering and the other flavor was just sugar.
Based on all these things, I’ve rewritten the recipe for the modern housewife—one who has a hand mixer or stand mixer and one who needs a little more guidance when it comes to oven temperature and baking method.
My son liked this cake the way it was, but I’m excited to make this cake again with the addition of the extracts and serve it with berries and cream. And I love being included in this tradition of baking from scratch!
- 4 eggs separated
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- Pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour 1 large or 2 smaller angel food cake pans.
- Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat egg yolks on high speed with 7 tablespoons cold water, vanilla and almond extracts for 2-3 minutes, or until light. Add sugar and mix on medium-high another 2 minutes. Add flour and mix on medium-high another 2 minutes. Set aside while you beat the egg whites (I transferred to a different bowl, scraped out my mixing bowl, and washed it).
- Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, about 4 minutes.
- Fold egg whites into egg yolk mixture, a little at a time to be careful to not deflate the batter. Scrape into prepared pans. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden and the cake springs back just slightly when pressed. Cool upside down in pans on a wire rack (the cakes may fall out of the pan, which is ok).
- Cook to room temperature. Serve with berries and whipped cream.