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My fear of making these cakes, which are an everyday bake in America, probably stems from the fact that I felt it important to get the right tin (a US pastry chef insisted they wouldn’t work otherwise).
I put the recipe aside as one of those things that I would never bake, until one brave day I decided to throw caution to the wind and just make the cake in whatever tin I could find. I was looking for something light made only with egg whites and no oil or butter, so the angel cake came back to mind.
After a couple of attempts it worked and I was so delighted and relieved. I have used lemon as the flavouring here but feel free to change that to chocolate, coffee, salted caramel or even green tea.
Not only is this an extremely light cake containing no egg yolks or butter, it is also made with as little sugar as I dare – so please add more sugar if you want it sweeter.
It is also possible to make the cake gluten-free by using rice flour instead of wheat flour. It is lovely served with a fruit compote and whipped cream.
(Makes 9 individual cakes)
Butter the cake moulds really well, then flour them lightly, tapping out any excess. Preheat oven to 180C.
100g + 100g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
12 egg whites (about 360ml)
1 rounded tsp cream of tartar
2 tsps lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla essence
Combine the flour and 100g sugar and sift three times. Beat the egg whites until you get soft peaks. Add the cream of tartar and then the rest of the sugar. Continue beating for a few minutes until slightly firmer but not dry. Add the vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice. Beat for 30 seconds more. Carefully fold the egg whites into the flour in three goes. Pour into the moulds and bake at 180C for about 25 minutes until set. Turn upside down on to parchment paper and cool. Take off the moulds and decorate as you wish … a drizzle of lemon icing or chocolate or just sifted icing sugar.
Rose Carrarini is co-owner of Rose Bakery in Paris and author of ‘Breakfast, Lunch, Tea’ (Phaidon, £19.95)