Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Change, Statistics, Hope, and Cake

It was a beautiful day for change. Cold and sunny and filled with joy. I was overcome with emotion as Barack Obama was sworn in, as the music played, and the poem was read. I hope for positive change in this country, and for a collaboration of the great minds in government and business and community to bring about a better health care system and support new directions in medical research.

I watched the inauguration on television, surrounded by family and friends. I whispered to my youngest, Dominic, that he will always remember the remarkable day in American history when the first African American was sworn in as president. That he could be proud that his family supported it, and was lucky enough to see the moment. As Barack Obama walked into the crowd and took his seat, waiting to be sworn in, Dominic had something to say.

"Now that Obama will be president, there's a fifty percent chance that Daniel will be cured! Maybe a 90% chance!"

Daniel, being a teenager, told his little brother to shut up. But for me, hope is always there. Hope is tangible, precious, and necessary. Dominic has heard us talk about the health care system, stem cell research, funding for clinical trials, etc. etc. You just never know how a young kid processes all that info swirling around the dinner table. Today it was processed into hopeful dreams for a cure for diabetes, based on the inauguration of Barack Obama. Well, why not.

On a completely different topic, yesterday my in laws and parents came to dinner, and I decided to try a recipe I found for gluten-free angel food cake. There have been luscious strawberries and blueberries in the grocery store this week, and I figured we'd throw some on top of the cake and call it dessert.

I had never made angel food cake before, gluten free or not. This turned out so good though, that I though I'd post the recipe. I found the recipe at glutenfreemommy, and I thank her for sharing it.

Use 1 cup gluten free flour ( I used the suggested mixture of 1/4 cup millet flour, 1/4 cup tapioca flour, 1/4 cup white rice flour and 1/4 cup sweet rice flour.) The texture with this flour mix was delightful. I was lucky enough to find sweet rice flour when I went to Connecticut during the holidays. I haven't found it in my area.

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

12 egg whites, room temperature (to maximize volume of egg whites). But here's a tip: eggs separate easier when they are cold. So separate them right when you take them out of the refrigerator. Then put the yolks in the fridge for another use (I made custard, yum!) and let the whites get to room temp before beating.

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Separate egg whites in a stainless steel bowl and let them come to room temperature. In a separate medium bowl, sift gluten free flour, salt, xanthan gum, and 3/4 cup of the sugar (or whisk together well, if you don't have a sifter). Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar. Beat until the egg whites form soft peaks. Beat in the other reserved 3/4 cup of sugar about 3 Tablespoons at a time. Beat until stiff peaks form.

I have a Kitchen Aid standing mixer. Not the largest one, but it's still a good size. When I got to this point in the recipe, the egg whites were up to the top of the bowl. They didn't climb out of the bowl, but they were high enough that they looked like they were planning their escape! I thought perhaps they weren't getting mixed in well enough, but soon they took on a nice, glossy sheen, and they reached the proper stiffness.

Stop the mixer at this point. Slowly fold in flour mixture about 1/4 cup at a time using a large spatula. Don't be so aggressive that you deflate the whites, but be thorough enough to distribute the flour. Once the flour mixture is combined, fold in the vanilla in the same way.

Slowly pour the batter into an ungreased tube pan (preferably one where the inside lifts out) and spread the batter evenly. I didn't have one where the inside lifts out, so I just cut a piece of parchment paper to fit and put it on the bottom. Run a knife through the cake to get rid of any big air bubbles. Bake for 50-55 minutes until top is golden. The sides may or may not begin to pull away. Cool for 10 minutes. Run the edges of a knife along the pan and pull out the insert to the tube pan. Or, if you don't have an insert, turn the pan over to release the cake. Remove parchment paper, if used. Invert onto a cake plate. Serve with topping of choice!

It was so delicious. I served it with fresh strawberries. I also cooked some strawberries into sauce to go along side. The whole thing disappeared! Well, there were 9 of us...

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