Leftovers — there’s lots of opportunity to turn last night’s dinner into tonight’s casserole. On the other hand, there isn’t usually a lot of creative opportunity in the leftover to dessert category — at least in my experience.
I’m happy to report that I’ve beaten the odds today! This cake and sauce combo comes almost entirely from leftovers. Here’s what’s been congregating in my fridge & freezer over the last few weeks:
- Some of you may remember that big batch of Blueberry Gin I made before Christmas. I couldn’t throw away 2 cups of blueberries that had been soaking in gin for 6 weeks, but my creativity was zapped in the rush towards the Christmas/New Years week — so into the freezer they went.
- Then in January, as I’ve done for the past couple of years, I preserved a dozen or so lemons in salt.
- Things came to a head last week when I made a big batch of Lemon Drops, which use a lot of eggs — mostly yolks — and when the remaining whites screamed, in a sort of warbly falsetto, “Angel Food Cake is what you should make,” I knew I had a plan.
I have loved angel food cake since I was a little girl. Of course, back then, angel food meant Betty Crocker — and if I got to choose the flavour, I always chose the box with the rainbow-coloured confetti sprinkles. The more processed the better, in the eyes of this 6 year-old girl. Oh, how things have changed.
Now I know that it really does make a difference to sift the flour 3 times, and just how important it is to be decisive, yet gentle, with your spatula as you fold the flour into the whipped egg whites. And most of all, I appreciate the flavour of simple homemade food treated with love. That’s the best flavour of all.
The preserved lemon rind gives a deep, multi-dimensional lemon flavour to this otherwise feather-light cake. The flavours are complex enough to stand on their own, but they also match beautifully with the Blueberry Gin Sauce. Moroccan in origin, preserved lemons are easy to make at home, or you can find them in specialty grocery stores.
You can also substitute the zest of 2 fresh lemons — which will give the cake a more subtle, but very fresh, lemon flavour.
Preserved Lemon Angel Food Cake
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 preserved lemon rind, julienned — or the zest of 2 fresh lemons (approx 2 tsp)
- 1 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted 3x
- 1 1/2 cups egg whites, at room temperature (10 to 12 eggs)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the sugar and lemon rind (or zest) in a food processor and process until it is the texture of wet sand and all of the rind is very finely chopped, about 2 minutes.
Beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tarter in an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, on high speed until they make soft peaks.
Turn the mixer down to medium speed then add the sugar by slowly sprinkling it over the beaten egg whites. Return the mixer to high speed and whisk until the egg whites are thick and shiny. Add the vanilla, then continue to whisk an additional minute until the mixture is very thick. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the egg whites and carefully fold it into the batter. Gently fold in the flour in 2 more additions, ensuring everything is well incorporated.
Pour the batter into an non-greased 9″ or 10″ tube pan, smooth the top and bake for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes our clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, remove the cake from the pan and sprinkle with a little powdered sugar. Serve with or without the Blueberry Gin Sauce.
Like I said, I used the gin-soaked blueberries that I had in the freezer. If you don’t have a batch of gin berries sitting around, then simply simmer some blueberries in gin, as I describe below.
Blueberry Gin Sauce
yield: 1 1/2 cups
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1/2 cup gin
- 3-4 tble sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup water
- 2 tsp cornstarch