My friend Sheila is the queen of estate sales. She doesn’t just happen upon them whilst driving through the countryside like the rest of us, she seeks them out weekly. She finds ads for them in the paper, and then comes up with a route and a schedule to make sure she gets to all of them. I go with her every so often, but frankly, I’m a little afraid of her. Not only does she attend them with military-like precision (she actually uses a GPS unit to make her way around the city), but I think she would literally fight me for a good find. I went with her last week, and I thought she was going to throw down with me over a set of vintage Pyrex bowls ($5.00 for the set – unbelievable!). She even carries a loupe to examine jewelry. It has its own special leather case. This woman is serious.
On our outing last week, a couple sales after hitting the Pyrex bowl jackpot, we went to one that had an astonishing amount of kitchen supplies. Those are my favorites. I’m always on the lookout for fun vintage cookery. This was my favorite find:
It’s a tiny angel food cake pan! About three or four inches across, I knew it was the perfect addition to my baking tins collection. I only wish there had been two of them.
I wasn’t sure when I’d use it, but today’s freakish drop in temperature inspired me to pull out the toaster oven and fire it up. It’s dreary today, which never really happens in the summer in Colorado. A perfect day to read a British mystery while drinking coffee and eating a tiny angel food cake.
You probably saw this one coming from the cheap seats, but of course I found a recipe in Small-Batch Baking. It’s a recipe for two cakes, so I baked the second one in a ramekin (it came out perfectly, well, they both did!). This recipe was really simple – it took just a few minutes to whip up. The cakes were delicious. They had the traditional angel food airy texture, and that sugary outside. You know, it’s not quite a crust, but it’s got its own special texture (I think it’s my favorite part of angel food cake.). I thought about making a glaze for them, but since this was my first time with this recipe, I didn’t want to cover or mask anything. I did, however, plop some blueberries on the side.
With a cup of coffee and a P.D. James novel, these were perfect!
Angel Food Cake (adapted from Small-Batch Baking by Debbie Maugans Nakos)
These don’t need to be baked in tiny angel food cake pans. Ordinary ramekins, or even jumbo muffin tins will work)
3 Tbs flour
4 Tbs superfine sugar (on Debbie’s suggestion, I whizzed some regular sugar in the food processor for a few seconds)
Dash of ground nutmeg (Wow! What a great addition this was – made it a little… wintery-tasting, though. I might omit it unless I’m making these on a cold autumn day)
whites of 2 large eggs
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350. DO NOT grease baking pans! I know, I know, I was scared of this, too, but they are easily extracted from the pan, and you need to suspend them upside-down while cooling, so you don’t want them to fall out!
Mix flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the nutmeg in a small bowl
Place egg whites, salt, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Beat with a mixer until frothy (Debbie says 5 seconds. It took more like 10 for me). Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites, and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form (maybe 30 seconds or so?). Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar to the egg whites, and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form (almost a minute).
Fold the flour into the egg white mixture. Not all at once! Do it in 2 batches. Spoon the mixture into two baking dishes.
Bake for 15 minutes, until tops begin to brown. Then cover with foil (to discourage over-browning) and bake 5 to 10 minutes longer, or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed.
To let them cool, you must turn them upside down and suspend them (so that they don’t smush down on themselves). Here’s what I did:
To extract the cake from the tin, just run a sharp knife around the edge, and then gently nudge it out. Easy! Enjoy with coffee or tea while reading a bloody good book!