Some good friends of ours recently gave us some oranges fresh off their orange tree and boy are they sweet and juicy. I've been trying to come up with creative ways to use them. Remember the chocolate oranges and the orange sticks that you can get during the holidays? The sticks are orange gel like on the inside and chocolate on the outside. I think the first time I had them was at my grandmother's house as she always had some around during the holidays. Besides satisfying any sweet craving you may have, this angel food cake will remind you of them.
First, I decided to add some orange zest, since I have extra oranges on hand. The original recipe for the angel food cake was developed by Ina Garten (one of my favorite cooks). She adds lemon zest to her recipe, which is appropriately called Lemon Angel Food Cake. As such, I thought orange would be just as good. I also thought that instead of adding vanilla that I would try adding some almond extract. Almonds and orange always taste good together. I think it turned out really good (my husband did too, judging by the size of the slice he took). It's not an overly sweet recipe, and as you know angel food cake is so light - if it weren't for the nice flavors still swirling around inside your mouth after you finish, you'd hardly feel like you've eaten dessert!
You can always make this recipe simpler and faster by buying a pre-made angel food cake or a cake mix to whip up yourself. This is perfectly okay. I've done it many times and sometimes you just don't have the time or inclination to spend a couple of hours baking. This would be a super recipe if you're looking for something quick and want to fancy up a store-bought cake. It's pretty simple if you already have the cake made as you'll see.
Orange Flavored Angel Food Cake (adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook)
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups egg whites, at room temperature (10~12 eggs)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine 1/2 cup of the sugar with the flour and sift it 4 times. Place the egg whites, salt, cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until the eggs make medium firm peaks, about 1 minute. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar over the egg whites. Whisk for a few more minutes until thick and shiny. Add the almond extract and the orange zest and continue to whisk until very thick, about another minute. Add a fourth of the flour mixture at a time to the egg whites, folding each quarter into the mixture until it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into an ungreased 10 inch tube pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and invert the pan on a cooling rack until cool. When you are ready to remove it from the pan, run a knife around all the edges to loosen the cake.
Orange Infusion Sauce
4 tablespoons fresh orange juice, strained
4 tablespoons orange liquor
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (could use dark or milk, whatever you like)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon orange oil (optional)
Over a double boiler, add all the ingredients and stir until chocolate melts. Remove from heat and pour the glaze over the top of the cake, gently spreading it so that it runs down the sides.